Friday, December 14, 2007

The Blogger Show Opening @ Panza Frame and Gallery, Millvale.

There will be a slight hint of sadness to my activities this weekend. That's because Saturday marks the last Pittsburgh opening reception that the Digging Pitt Gallery will be involved in. The ironic thing is that the show doesn't even take place in Lawrenceville. Instead it's in Millvale at the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick Street) between the hours of 6 and 9PM. It's the last installment of The Blogger Show, which ran concurrently in NYC and Pittsburgh last month. I have a fair amount of work displayed for this exhibition. The binding commonality among the artists included is their involvement in blogs with art-related themes. By this definition Serendipity is a bit of an exception. Although I occasionally write conceptually about art products and process, my site isn't anywhere near as centered on these subjects as the others represented in the show. I suppose my sporadic participation in The Diggging Pitt blog worked to my favor.

If it weren't for John Morris (Digging Pitt's owner/curator), I wouldn't have established Serendipity when I did. It was through his prodding that I started writing for blogs- first for the gallery, and then for myself. I became affiliated with the Digging Pitt when local art star Bob Ziller included me in a group show that John had asked him to put together. I had expected to get a few photographs accepted for display, but it turned out that John happened to be (atypically) free of distraction when I brought my stuff in. He decided almost immmediately that he liked my work, and asked if I'd be willing to keep some of it in the flat files at the gallery. Thus started a multi-year interaction that kick-started my entry into the local arts scene. It wasn't long after that fateful day that I was planning to co-curate a themed group show at the Digging Pitt (Carnivalesque- A Grim Guignol- 2006). We had a lot of fun putting that together, and I'd have to say it was a reasonable success.

Earlier this year I had my first gallery solo at Digging Pitt Too. It included 40 photographs from a conceptual series called Regenesis. My experience with hanging (thanks, Susan C.!) and selling that show was invaluable. As time progressed I started forming a friendship with John that I hope continues when he goes back to NYC. We even tramped around Chelsea, Brooklyn, and Queens together this past summer. I have to say that I learned an inordinate amount about art from John, who was already a well-established artist before he ever showed up in the 'Burgh. Unfortunately I also had to sit through a series of lectures about urban planning, as that is another one of his obsessions. It's incredibly rare to meet people so well-versed in their passions, and so willing to share information, as John Morris.

So that's why my enjoyment of The Blogger Show has been tinged with a hint of sorrow. Soon after the show wraps up, Pittsburgh will lose a valuable asset. I guess that it's ultimately fitting that the pieces I'm showing this Saturday are from my bodies of work that John likes the best. There is a series of shots I took of an outdoor bible walk behind a Franciscan Friary in West Virgina. And there is an enigmatic collection of raw and emotional drawings I made over ten years ago. These are incredibly personal creations, and John was the first (besides myself) to see something valuable in them. In fact, he's one of the few people that has heard the full story behind the creation of this work. Despite getting to know me primarily as a photographer, John has been consistently encouraging of my return to drawing. For this I owe him a debt of gratitude.

I don't think I'm the only person in Pittsburgh who has benefited from Digging Pitt's presence these last few years. John's commitment to art and artists has always outstripped whatever negative feelings he might have had about this city. Through my participation in the gallery's activities, I have met many artists and collectors that I expect to stay in touch with. A sense of community is built from the accumulation of individual energy that people put into their passions. John Morris certainly became a part of the community, and he'll be missed when he leaves. Take the opportunity to stop by Panza Gallery tomorrow night, and wish John well in his future endeavors. Also introduce yourself to Mark Panza who remains in the area, maintainig a decades-long commitment to the Pittsburgh art scene.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry that John hasn't chosen to stay in Pittsburgh and make a living out of town. Artists are everywhere in this city but there are few buyers. I'm sure that he will put the lessons learned here to good use.
JM

12:49 AM  
Anonymous jefg said...

..and I'm sorry that I missed the Panza opening this weekend.

Best wishes to John for a successful venture back in familiar territory. I enjoyed my brief encounters with him.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

We had fun. It was an icy night, so attendance was a bit limited. Everyone there seemed to enjoy it.

7:28 PM  

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