Thursday, December 20, 2007

How to spend a pre-holiday Friday night in Pittsburgh.

As one might expect, happenings around town this weekend are limited by the looming holiday. I guess it is assumed that most people will be expending all their energy and money on gift shopping. While I believe that's a fair assumption, it doesn't take into account the sizable minority of the population who have little or no inclination to observe Christmas. Likewise there are a number of folks looking to spend their time in non-traditional ways- such as going out to an art opening and/or seeing a show. Despite the fact that spending time with family is obligatory (for many of us), we should be forgiven for wanting a break from them. Before you write off the coming days as an opportunity to stay in and get drunk by yourself, allow me to make a couple of suggestions for tomorrow evening.

Bob Ziller and August Rolin will host an opening reception for their work at The Beehive on Friday night, from 6-9PM. Ziller has been curating the series of storefronts along Carson Street that make up this coffeehouse for as long as most of us can remember. As a result many artists have gotten their starts exhibiting on Beehive walls. Once in awhile Bob will book an already-established artist who isn't necessarily obsessed with selling his/her work. Although patrons have always been able to purchase artwork from the Hive, many who have shown there see it simply as an opportunity for greater exposure. Perhaps you have a series of pieces that doesn't jive with mainstream commercial intentions. Or maybe you just don't want the pressure of thinking about selling your art as "product". The Beehive is a niche that allows you to primarily focus on presentation and free expression. There's no cost to hang your stuff, and thousands of people will end up seeing it. Bob takes a loose approach to curating the shop, so don't let fears of rejection stop you. If you are looking to bring your work out into the public eye- get in touch with him. I know that now is a great time to get in on the action.

Anyway, Ziller has grabbed the chance to roll out some of his own work. I don't know what he's planning to exhibit, but chances are that it will be thought-provoking and contain a hearty dose of ironic humor. He's never been afraid of taking risks, and he doesn't get hung up in adhering to any particular style or form. Ziller makes conceptual art for the common man... not just for those with an MFA. Meanwhile, August Rolin's work is immediately identifiable as his own. His drawings are illustrative fantasy works depicting all manner of strange, humanoid, mythical beasts. They are vaguely reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy painting, but at the same time they create a visual lexicon that is personally idiosyncratic. Stop in and meet these accomplished creators, and let them know how much you appreciate the venue.

After you are done with the South Side (and given that weekend evenings get extremely irritating in that neighborhood... it shouldn't be an all-nighter), make your way over to the Brillo Box on Penn Avenue (Lawrenceville/Bloomfield). The proprietors have been kind enough to offer up a special treat tomorrow night. Slim Cessna (of Auto Club fame) will be performing with his son George. If you haven't seen Cessna's solo show- you should know that it encapsulates a bit of the magic that you've come to expect from the full band, but has an intimacy that you really can't get among an amped-up crowd of revivalists. It's a bit quieter and a mite slower, and that means you've got a better chance of digesting his message. Some have made the mistake of assuming that Cessna is merely a Christian rock act. In some ways, that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only is the idea reductionist, but also extremely narrow-minded. Still, the only way you are going to know the truth is to see him in person.

So come out an see what is on offer tomorrow. The Anonymous Schizoids and Corn Pone open up for Slim Cessna (and son!), and it all starts at 10 PM for just $5.

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