Thursday, April 03, 2008

April Unblurred. (This Friday Evening).

Another long, cold winter is finally behind us and this month's Unblurred is waiting to welcome us into spring. We might get a bit of rain this Friday evening, but temperatures should be mild and a little bit of moisture shouldn't keep you away from seeing what the Pittsburgh arts scene has to offer. If you've never been to Penn Avenue (between Friendship and Garfield) for this event, you'll likely be pleasantly surprised by the amount of galleries that thrive along the street. You can easily spend a couple of hours meandering about. Have a cup of wine, maybe see a performance, and consider purchasing an affordable piece of art. There are several highlights you shouldn't miss this go 'round.

If the weather kept you home last month, you can still see the closing at The Green Building Gallery (5515 Penn Avenue). It features the work of two distinguished artists, one currently based in Pittsburgh and another who used to be a fixture here in town. James Shipman is president of the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, and creates mixed media edifices that suggest a hankering for long-past rural and industrial glories. John Sokol uses tar, oil, and acrylic to achieve classically-styled paintings featuring pastoral subjects, suggesting old-timey advertising on a large scale. The exhibition was curated by local favorite Bob Ziller, who has proudly sat the inaugural show of the new gallery for the past month.

Meanwhile, down at the Clay Penn (5111 Penn Avenue), proprietor Laura Jean McLaughlin is showing off a brand new series of paintings by the Mt. Washington-based Victoria Cessna. The artist is a particular favorite of mine, and I've been looking forward to another solo show of her work since her last one at Coca Cafe (Lawrenceville) in 2006. Previously Cessna's imagination has been stirred by old found snapshots that she has discovered in her travels. Her current batch of paintings (entitled Friendly Fire) have been inspired by a series of unfortunate events that have occurred to her and her family over the last year. With her postmodern-impressionist aesthetic, and a mix of forlorn nostalgia and dark humor, Cessna's work is absolutely something you want hanging on your wall. If you want a preview, check out her excellent website.

The other main highlight (as far as I'm concerned) is the Annual Spring Salon Juried Exhibition over at Modern Formations (4919 Penn). Jen and Devin have done an extraordinary job with this space from day one. Few in Pittsburgh know how genuinely difficult it is to run an art gallery- especially with no side business such as framing. Yet the proprietors here have consistently brought in interesting (and often excellent) artwork. There are quite a few young local artists that got there start here. In the years I've been frequenting the gallery, I've become acquainted with the works of the Kehoe brothers, Katherine Young, Jairan Sadeghi and Josh Tonies. I have no doubt that this year's salon will introduce me to some additional quality work.

As usual there will be other venues with entertainment and artwork. Although I'm not familiar with the featured artists this month, it's always worthwhile to stop in at Metamorphose (4922 Penn) and Imagebox (4933 Penn). Both locations are owned and operated by people who are dedicated to the viability of the neighborhoods they inhabit. Much the same can be said about the Attack Theater (4805 Penn), which regularly offers ten-minute previews of their new dance performances. Their space is also a good place to sit down for a bit with a beer or some wine, socialize with someone new, and play an old-school Atari 2600 videogame.

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