Saturday, July 12, 2008

Highlights From a Whirlwind Tour of Pittsburgh Art.

Despite an attack of some virulent infection and/or virus I was able to make it around town on Friday night to check out the art offerings. I really didn't think I'd get out because I actually ran a fever on Thursday night. For some reason I always seem to get sick a few days after visiting the dentist. Supposedly my mouth and teeth are in great shape- and if that's the case I don't understand why my gums and glands swell up after a cleaning. All I can come up with is the possibility of the hygienist puncturing the gum lines, and getting bacteria into my bloodstream. At any rate, it's nasty being sick during summer. And it doesn't seem fair. But despite the exigencies of fate, the show must go on, and I with it.

So I started with the Downtown Crawl. Despite my expectations that I might be pleasantly surprised during my first stop at Wood Street, it wasn't to be. The work was as cold and antiseptic as usual. I don't mean to be overly critical, but I'd think that a gallery with Wood Street's international draw could come up with a more varied and compelling series of presentations. I'm getting bored with their technology fetish. Still... what do I know? I don't have an MFA. Maybe I'm just missing the point. On the other hand I was impressed with the show at SPACE. I was familiar with the name Clayton Merrell, but I had never seen his work. While I wouldn't necessarily purchase it for my walls, I enjoyed it. And the rest of the roster was proficient as well. Well done, Mr. Robert Raczka!

I can't necessarily isolate any other highlights downtown, other than the Kathleen Lolley painting that arrived for Sylvania after the "soft opening". Though small in scale, it was enticing in its woodsy charm and exactly the kind of thing I'd love to add to my collection. Having gotten my fill of the crawl, I headed to the North Side for the "Gestures" robot-themed show. I didn't stick around long enough to see the results of Kim Beck's uncompleted interactive-grid piece. I guess I'll have to return. I did however get a nice long look at Chris Lisowsky's roto-tilling locust. Did you know that a locust is simply a more social grasshopper with a black suit? (I'm almost positive that you didn't know that rice was magnetic) By all accounts, the nearly 6-foot tall insect was a wild hit.

Another hot spot at the Mattress Factory Annex was the laptop survey that patrons could take in order to receive a robot-designed, customized cupcake. Somehow these formerly mundane treats have captured the imagination of hipster society. There was a line for them that extended past the entrance. After pondering the rather byzantine electronic workings of Adam Shreckhise's distinctly non-humanoid creation, I made a hasty exit and quick visit to Moxie Dada, where the proprietors were putting the finishing touches on tomorrow's group show. Particular standouts include Amy Casey and Deanna Mance.

I had seen Casey's work at Garfield Artworks several years ago. Her paintings tumble with residences, buildings and other urban detritus that we usually take for granted in our daily travels. Her execution is clean and illustrative, and her composition is almost breath-taking. It's a shame that she is completely out of my price range, because I would love to own some of her work. I wonder of she ever does trades? Deanna Mance is a veteran of the Digging Pitt. Her flattened cityscapes throb with byzantine architecture and odd perspectives. They are maps of places one might stumble upon in an illuminated manuscript of some oddly imagined future, when things might be less precise, yet more fanciful. The work of these two artists alone would justify a trip to the North Side.

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