Friday, October 19, 2007

Fall 2007 Downtown Gallery Crawl.

After a fairly odd week, its end comes as a welcome haven. This evening I plan to go downtown and see what the Cultural Trust is passing for art this season. It's unusual for a gallery crawl to occur mid-month, and the upside of this scheduling is that the event doesn't conflict with any other major art openings. So even if I am disappointed with whatever is featured, at least I won't have the sense that I am missing something somewhere else in the city. Being in the city at 6PM tonight is the obvious option for followers of the local arts scene. Hopefully this time around will be more impressive than the last few crawls.

Pittsburgh is in the midst of an atypical cultural visitation, as artists and performers from Australia are in town to share their special gifts with the Western hemisphere. Tonight at SPACE Gallery they are presenting paintings by the aboriginal inhabitants of Utopia- desert dwellers northeast of a town named Alice Springs. While the presented work is characterized as "contemporary cutting-edge", it describes the relationship between ancestral spirits, dreams, and the development of the land itself.

Meanwhile, Wood Street Galleries features the video and installation works of an additional six Aussie artists. Commenting on issues both specific to their home country, and broader phenomena that affects us all, the assembled creators all have something to say about identity "across cultures and times". Their message should resonate with a city's population that is desperately seeking to reconcile a proud past with an uncertain future.

Local artist Chris Lisowski and Buffalo-based Tullis Johnson are rolling out a large-scale installation piece at 707 Penn Avenue. SONAR explores the phenomena of whales becoming stranded on our borders with the sea. Testing of military-based applied sound technology presents a significant threat to the ongoing survival of animal species which have thrived in their vast natural habitat for millions of years. Environmentally conscious and interactive (as Lisowski's creations typically are), this show should be worth visiting. It includes sound components, paintings, and a 23-foot model of a beached whale. Bring the kids!

Finally I want to mention John Eastman's First Avenue Sculpture Exhibit. For the first time artists have seized the downtown banks of the Monongahela River (along the Eliza Furnace Trail), and installed a series of indoor and outdoor works. Individual pieces by noted locals Bob Ziller, Jen Bechak and James Shipman will be among the highlights. Granted this exhibition is a fairly substantial walk from the usual gallery crawl venues, but I think it will be worth wearing your most comfortable shoes. Along with the art on display, the location promises food, drink and live music. The reception runs from 6-10PM, but the work will be up until December 14th.

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