Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 5/1-2/09

This weekend the art is jammed-packed into the evening hours of Friday. Apparently May 1st is such an auspicious date for openings that the galleries around town all seized the same moment to unveil their offerings. My advice to you? Pick-and-choose carefully, because you are bound to (once again) miss a lot of what there is to see.


I’ll get the vanity out of the way with the announcement that I will have a piece in a group show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. It’s part of “SALIGLIA: A Seven Deadly Sins Exhibition”- which is juried and curated by Steven R. Mendelson, and presented by Pittsburgh Society of Artists. This is the first work that I’ve ever shown at this institution, so suffice it to say I am rather excited. Maybe I’ll even be nervous. Who knows? Meanwhile, there are seven additional exhibitions opening on Friday at PCA, including those featuring Christopher Kardambikis (of Encyclopedia Destructica fame) and Aasta Deth. This is an opportunity to see lots of diverse artwork while making just one stop. Come by 6300 Fifth Avenue, between 5:30 and 8PM.

While you’re in that part of town (from 6-8PM), you can jump into the Miller Gallery at CMU (5000 Forbes Avenue) for “From the Vault”- a selection of pieces by the 2009 BFA class, including Olga Brindar. These students are billing themselves as “panpsychists, selcouthists, paralogists, and strikhedonists.” Crack that code how and when you so choose.

Of course… since this happens to be First Friday, we have a full bill over in the Penn Avenue Corridor for the May Unblurred, Here’s the schedule. The presence of several unfamiliar venues is particularly conspicuous this month. There’s a new clothing store called Tweek (4913 Penn), tree photography at the storefront office of Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest (5427 Penn), and three shutterbugs (including my friend Allison Pochapin) at 5131 Penn. There’s also a display of post-apocalyptic architecture down at EDGE studio (5411 Penn, drive there if you have the option) and shots from Route 66 by Scott Roller at Imagebox (4933 Penn). Be sure to visit the anchors as well- Garfield Artworks, Modern Formations, and Most Wanted Fine Art. Most of the stuff happens between the hours of 6 and 10PM. Can you handle all that?

And we’re not done yet, boys and girls. Because some local film industry people have collected some stuff for display at Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue) in Shadyside. Jolene Elyse Drylie, Mark L. Gualtieri, Smith Harper Hutchings, Shawn Watrous & Kevin Wenner are included in “The Scenics”, opening 6-9PM. Good stuff indeed.

At the risk of sounding like Ron Popeil, I feel some obligation to mention the fact that there’s EVEN MORE to see. Because the Society for Contemporary Craft is hosting their first reception (5:30-8PM) in more than half a year- “Beyond Shared Language: Contemporary Art & the Latin American Experience”. Don’t let the swanky atmosphere of this Strip District location (2100 Smallman Street) put you off- you are welcome to browse, and I have enjoyed my previous visits there. If they let a scumbag like me in… well…

Finally, Zombo Gallery (4900 Hatfield St.) is once again rolling out the art. This go ‘round they have works by Kill Taupe. The show is called “Imaginary Friends Club”. I have no idea what that’s all about. But the reception lasts from 6-11PM, making this a possible last stop for your meanderings on what should be a very busy night.


We’ve got slim pickings after the whirlwind of activity on Friday. But Boxheart (on Liberty Ave. in Blooomfield) has the opening for Kim Curinga’s “Legacy: Digital Paintings Reception”. Check it after 5PM. Have fun.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yinz is a shibboleth.

Occasionally I come across a word that has such a compelling spoken form or appearance that I file it away for study at a later date. Today, for some reason, I thought of the word “shibboleth”. I had no idea what it meant, but believed it had something to do with uttered curses. It turns out that I wasn’t even close to its definition. It’s a term tied to a very specific event, biblical in nature. Apparently there was a war between the Gileadites and the Ephraimites, in which the former prevailed. When the latter group tried to circumspectly escape across the Jordan River, the Gileadites set up checkpoints to impede their passage. I guess there was no way to tell an Ephraimite by appearance, so a test was necessary.

“Shibboleth” is the Hebrew word for “the part of a plant containing grains, such as an ear of corn or a stalk of grain”. In context it could also refer to a stream or torrent. It seems that its distinguishing characteristic to the Gileadites was that the dialect of the Ephraimites did not include the “sh” sound. Instead they said the word with a hard “s”. Once an Ephraimite was caught out, he/she was quickly dispatched to death. There was no hiding from the tongue’s inability to articulate this word. After this event, the definition of “shibboleth” slowly shifted toward its modern day usage. Now it refers to anything that can specifically identify a person as part of a social or regional culture.

The stakes are rarely as high as they were during the time of the origination of the new meaning of “shibboleth”. Likely no one has ever been killed for saying “y’all” or “youse guys” instead of “yinz”. On the other hand, I’ve learned that the word “lollapalooza” was used in this manner by American soldiers to identify Japanese infiltrators during WWII. Similarly the G.I.’s used baseball knowledge to distinguish Americans from German spies. God help those who preferred basketball, or no sport at all. I guess they faced a minor risk of being shot by their own comrades at a sentry post. Regardless, this factoid attests to the importance of the sporting life in the United States.

Indeed I’ve been aware of fandom as an essential component in accessing the world of the red-blooded patriotic male. If you go out to the bars and have to interact with a stranger, it helps to be able to toss around some names, whether individuals or favored teams. Being able to do this goes a long way toward identifying yourself as kinfolk without actually having to reveal anything about your personal life. If you are out having a drink on your own, this can be important to remember. I’ve known more than a few women who have adopted this trick in order to make contact or cadge free drinks. But of course there’s something rather unseemly about that, right?

While I don’t necessarily enjoy having to invest time in collecting a rudimentary base of sports knowledge, I will admit to being taken with the idea of a shibboleth as a password. How great would it be to live in a larger society with members that could be identified by a common appreciation of art and literature? Perhaps the answer is “not so much” for the intellectually lazy. Anyway, I suppose I am capable of experiencing a special enjoyment from being an adherent to a smaller, more select group. As our culture becomes more and more stratified due to the ever-expanding access to a wealth of content spanning centuries, we will likely see an increasing reliance on all the forms and varieties of the shibboleth. How delectable…

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The 1st Photo.

copyright 2008 David M. Grim

What emerges
from the primordial ooze,

a spectral creature
of light?

Or the shadow
some spirit

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 4/24-27/09.

This weekend there’s a time management workshop on offer down at Duquesne. I’m not going to offer you the details, but I will have you know that this talk would have been useful for fitting in all of the great events happening over the next several days. There’s so much to do that you probably won’t have time to listen to a lecture about scheduling. But if you find yourself amenable to the suggestion, have a quick scan over my picks…


To be honest, I have no idea whether or not the seasonal Downtown Gallery Crawl has morphed into this thing called “One Night Stand”… but it sure seems like the Cultural Trust is in the mood for a makeover. Several galleries in the Golden Triangle are hosting receptions with live entertainment on Friday, and it might be an efficient use of your time to drive around for 45 minutes or so and look for a proper parking spot. Mary Mack will be spinning to a backdrop of Czech photos at SPACE, Netherlands-based Telcosystems will appear to support the “at times visually violent, sonically extreme and physically intimidating” art displayed at Wood Street, and there will be spoken word by Brian Francis at Future Tenant. Apparently there’s an after party at Remedy in Larryville. It all (and more) gets underway at 7:30PM.

Perhaps you missed Tim Kerr’s opening at Zombo Gallery (4900 Hatfield Street) a few weeks ago? The closing is Friday from 6PM to around 10PM (or so). Take your time and read the words on his paintings. It seems like a bit of a risky choice to write directly on your visual work. But in this case, I found it rather inspiring.

The Brew House Distillery program annually offers emerging artists six-month residencies at their facility on 2100 Mary Street in the South Side. Stop by at Space 101 (from 7-11PM) for the opening reception starring the latest batch of home-grown creators. Just get out of that hood before the suburban tools start to flood in with their cheap beer piss and whiskey-muscles.


My buddy Tom Henry is performing his wryly wacky form of comedy at the Improv in Homestead for a three night stretch (starting Thursday @ 8PM, with shows @ 8PM and 10PM on Fri and 7PM and 9PM on Sat), opening for national comic T.J. Miller. It’s $15 per show, plus money enough for the two drink minimum. Drop in and show support for the local jokester. If you don’t laugh at least once, then… well, um… then you’re a douchebag?!


Ok, I haven’t really ridden a bike in years. But I do appreciate it when I see others doing so. That’s why I’m mentioning the pancake breakfast at the East Liberty Whole Foods on Saturday morning (8 AM). It’s $7, sponsored by the Community Design Center, and offers guests a chance to register for Pedal Pittsburgh. I can only speculate, but I imagine there’s nothing more pleasant than having a stomach full of griddle cakes expanding in your belly as you two-wheel up-and-down the hills of the ‘Burgh.

If you need to sit after your ride, stop by (11AM) at Fe Gallery in the L-Ville and find out “how art stuff happens” @ the Workshop for the Working Artist. It’s $5 (which should give you an essential clue in solving the thematic problem posed herein), and features local scenesters including Jennifer Baron, Susan Blackman, Eric Shiner, and T Foley. Then at 2PM you can check out the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Workshop, led by photo-essayist and memoirist Sandra Gould Ford, @ the Carnegie Library in Oakland. That one’s free.

Permit me to say that one of the major highlights this weekend should be the reception for the one-week run of CMU –grad Olga Brindar’s “Sketchbook Release: Moments and Minutiae” at the Panza gallery in Millvale (115 Sedgwick Street). I’ve been checking out her drawings for a few years now, and I’m excited for her first solo exhibition. Olga is a young artist who’s not afraid to put herself on display, and we are all the better off for it. It is imperative that you fit this into your Saturday agenda (6-9PM).

The aforementioned Remedy (5121 Butler St) is hosting an opening/reception (from 11PM-1AM) for their in-house muralist Emmeric Konrad. The theme is “Drawings Done in Bars & the Paintings They've Inspired”. Make sure to visit the dining room and learn what his art does for your appetite(s). Have their fine cooks make you somethin’ good while you are at it. I recommend most everything.


Art all Night, Pittsburgh’s premiere non-juried visual and auditory extravaganza starts at 6PM on Saturday night and runs until Sunday @ 2PM. It’s a Lawrenceville annual tradition, and takes place at the Red Warehouse (3510 Smallman Street) this year. According to the “official” numbers, last year saw 810 participating artists and attracted over 10,000 guests. Get there early for parking and refreshments. And if you want to display your work, drop off is Saturday afternoon (Noon-4PM). See the website for all the details you need. And yes… it’s all free.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ask Heisenberg

Sign says
“Leave No Trace”
And it gives me

At once impossible
And potentially

When conformed to
The imprecation



We know
That ain’t

A denial of
All the selves
Occupying a

The idea
Itself provoking
Fear in each

And yet

If adhered to
We can open
A window
On a reality
Our existence.

Wouldn’t it be
Just something

If everyone
Took the
To leave
No trace?

A national
Might be

If such honor
Didn’t contradict
The essential


People might
Embrace intention
If they allowed
To simply

For just one day.


Monday, April 20, 2009

He and His

I saw a boy
Punching another
Wanted to
Know why.

A friend had called
His sister
A ho.

He admitted
That he thought
this true.

Told me about
His sister
And some guy
In a shower


Said that
He had
As well.

I found

Standard aside,
I was a bit

I’m glad
I had
A brother.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Yours and Mine.

Pick up
Those things
That fall
From pockets.

Give them

Or use them

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pittsburgh Weekend Events: 4/17-18

Now that the unseasonably cold weather and grey skies have passed, it’s time to get outside and enjoy April. ‘He” has risen indeed and you Christians need not abstain from vice anymore (after all, didn’t he die for your sins?!) - take lots of showers and you know what will happen in a couple of weeks…

There are a lot of options this weekend… many of which are not specifically “art-related”, so what the hell- check ‘em out.


Did you know that The CMU activities board annually brings to Pittsburgh some of the best indie rock bands on the national scene? Did you know that you can show up on the CFA lawn and see super-group The New Pornographers and Ted Leo’s band for FREE? You can if you get there several hours before the 8PM scheduled show time. Bring plenty of liquids and whatever else you might require for the wait.

If happiness isn’t your bag, you can stop at the Warhol for a Depression double feature (including John Ford’s Grapes of Wrath and a Busby Berkely film). That’ll cost you $10. Check the listings for the times.

You could also consider taking an evening walk through Pittsburgh’s best neighborhood- the Lawrenceville Blossom Tour is here once again. There are 25 establishments giving out free seeds in honor of Earth Day. Get in touch with Maya Haptas of the Lawrenceville Corporation at (412) 782-5100 ext 103 for more details.

Maybe you want to continue spending time in the great outdoors? Consider checking out the Public Star Party at Mingo Creek Park Observatory. The Amateur Astronomers Association Of Pittsburgh supplies the telescopes. It gets underway just before sunset. I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure I’d see a UFO.

There are also a couple of openings downtown at 707/709 Penn Gallery. Apparently Joe DeFerrari’s keeping tabs on Isabella Rossellini. He’s put together an exhibit (Ritual Decadence) examining animal mating rituals at Future Tenant, and the opening starts at 6PM. Over at 707/709 you can see Michael Ninehouser’s meditations (On This, The Land) on early man, familiar fables and gospel myths. That reception runs from 5-7PM.


If you don’t stay out too late partying, you can take advantage of several events this morning. There are flea markets at St. Louise DeMarillac's LeGras Parish Center (320 McMurray Road, Pittsburgh), St Aloysius (3614 Mount Troy Road, Reserve Township), and Saint Gabriel Of The Sorrowful Virgin (5200 Greenridge Drive). Do a bit of hunting for the details if you are interested. If you can’t prepare yourself, then there’s no way you are going anywhere early enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Alternatively, you could nerd out with two other destinations. Grab your caped crusader costume and head out to North Park for the Superhero 5K Run/Walk. No, I am not kidding. It starts at 9AM and fittingly benefits the Parental Stress Center. The Superhero Foundation (which operates a similar event in Austin, TX) seeks to raise awareness about child abuse prevention. If you move quickly (like you should in a leotard) you can meet the regional "Star Wars" fan group Garrison Carida at the Warhol. They will be hanging out (apparently dressed as stormtroopers and such) to support the museum’s “Vader Project” exhibit). Show up at 1PM and they won’t sic the Death Star on you.

So yeah… geek out. But make sure you don’t beat yourself up over it. If you have that tendency (and you are a writer), you should take a minute (10AM) with psychotherapist Don Laird at the Greentree Public Library. Presented by the Pittsburgh Writers Project, Laird is hosting a discussion about the anxiety-ridden prospect of facing down your “inner critic”. That may be a debilitating thought, but what’s your alternative? (loser)

Once you get through with your daytime activities, ya might want to think about seeing the Squonk Opera at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts (7:20PM, $17-20). The expense might give you pause, but I assure you that this group is well worth seeing. I’ve done so myself on occasion.

Or if you’re feeling frisky… splurge on a ticket ($50 general, $100 Velvet Lounge, $250 Dirty Donor) for the Attack Theater’s Dirty Ball (8 pm - midnight 135 51st Street, Lawrenceville). You’ll be contributing to the dance troupe’s cause, and you might even get (un)lucky with a partner of your own choosing. Who says you gotta settle for free internet porn? The organizers promise that it will be luscious, flirty and salacious. And I believe that drinks and food are covered in the admission price. Damn, that’s tempting.

At the end of the night, I understand if you want to dance. You have a choice at 10PM. The Shadow Lounge has Classic Material #24-"These Are The Breaks" Edition, with the “Breakbeats that have shaped many classic hip-hop tracks.” And the New Amsterdam is offering the ultimate after-party with the production teams of Hijack and Humanaut, “teaming up for night of solid house and minimal”. Dress in layers, yo.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Message From the Sponsors

The best words
I heard
This morning:

“Restrain from this

Don’t kick

Don’t see

Not even

When you

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sleep Deprivation

Lately I haven’t been sleeping quite as much as I usually do. There are a number of reasons for this change in my schedule, and I’m not going to outline them. No doubt those factors contribute to my attitude regarding my decreased hours of slumber, so I’m not willing to generalize the effects of sleep deprivation based upon my own personal experiences. But as with many other things that manifest in my life, I have become curious and compelled to do a bit of exploration into the subject. Naturally the scope of my research has been limited, and so I implore readers to take that into consideration as I share my thoughts.

First of all, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of firm scientific consensus on the deleterious effects of not sleeping. People have gone as long as 449 hours voluntarily without sleep (Maureen Weston, 1977). Past that, there are cases of folks claiming to have gone up to 33 years without their z’s (Thai Ngoc form Vietnam). Such individuals seem to report an inability or lack of desire to sleep. Tellingly, the doctors who have examined such subjects report little to no adverse reactions. Yet a quick internet search revealed that a lack of “adequate rest” can result in impaired memory, imperfect concentration, a depressed immune system, reduced stress coping mechanisms, compromised decision-making, hallucinations, hypertension, slurred speech, depression,irritability, slower reaction times, and tremors,

And yet… much of the research resulting in such findings is difficult to verify for human beings. After all, it’s inhumane to subject the most “sophisticated” of animals to these types of lab experiments. So basically we know what happens to rats under conditions of sleep deprivation. But I don’t know how much further we can go with those findings. There seems to be a lot of contradictions when it comes to applying any of these conclusions to Homo Sapiens. For instance, you might easily read that a lack of adequate rest can cause you to lose weight, yet another site will tell you that the same thing causes a chemical imbalance that makes you want to eat more and gain pounds.

So I would assume that sleep deprivation affects different people in varying ways, much like any other human condition. If you’d like to see a pessimistic portrayal of someone suffering from this “malaise”, check out Brad Anderson’s The Machinist, with Christian Bale. Five minutes into the film, you’ll realize what side of the weight fluctuation debate Anderson sides with. You’ll also catch a smattering of the aforementioned symptoms associated with the inability to sleep properly. To get an opposite perspective, try looking for accounts of Eastern mystics who claim to need absolutely no sleep and suffer no ill effect. Maybe you’ll find the key to enlightenment.

As for me, I can’t really say that what I’ve been experiencing is all that extreme or out of the ordinary. I have bouts of drowsiness akin to what I imagine narcolepsy would feel like. I’m used to getting about six hours a day, and I nod off at that level about as much as I’ve been doing lately. Perhaps I function at a perpetual deficit of sleep. I have noticed that the barrier between what I understand to be my conscious and subconscious seems to be getting increasingly permeable. And that’s not a particularly worrisome development, In fact, I rather enjoy it. If it weren’t for the dream state accompanying REM, I think I could willingly part with my need to sleep altogether, If “they” ever devise a pill that makes it unnecessary, I’m sure I’ll try it.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On Intention.

Y’all listen up, because I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of this post. I’ve noticed a distinct lack of attention to intentionality in words and deeds. I’m not simply throwing stones against the glass either. I’m not exempting myself from this characterization. It’s just that there’s a rash of reactionary response flowing out of the collective consciousness, and it’s starting to chafe a bit. I believe that a lot of people are finding themselves doing things without due prior consideration. I understand all about blowing in the wind and blooming where one’s planted, but I think that there are appropriate places to use those approaches and others where a different strategy might be in order.

I’m not trying to dictate terms, or offer advice, or come off as judgmental. What I’m proposing is only a suggestion- take a moment to breathe and center yourself before you make that next rash move. Truth is consequence and results are inevitable. You are having a palpable effect on the rest of us, whether you realize it or not. So simply consider whether you are being authentic to yourself. Be rational, but don’t discount your emotions. There is a lot at stake.

Choose every word carefully unless you are in the space where you can trust your intuition. And remember what we’ve learned about climate change. I’m not talking about this phenomenon at a global level, but rather a personal one. You may believe that you have figured yourself out. Perhaps you think that you have completed yourself. But if so, try to remember that you are merely playing catch-up. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the past. However… you are only doomed to repeat it if you make the decision to do so, whether or not you are doing it consciously or reflectively. And even then, it will be an imperfect recapitulation because the universe has since rearranged itself.

My truth is that we are about to see a paradigm shift. There is too much happening around us to believe otherwise. Feel free to embrace your fear as long as you need to. Material attachment is a difficult thing to contend with, especially when you’ve used it to form your identity. If you want to move on, you might as well dance. If you handicap yourself, you shouldn’t be in the business of blame. Be on the lookout for your insecurities, and find someone you love to talk to about them. I believe that together, we can transcend our current consensual reality. But intention is necessary.


Monday, April 06, 2009

You Can Have My Gun...

Do you remember the campaign rally where John McCain was finally forced to confront the escalation of the hateful rhetoric that seemed to plague his campaign? In the weeks after Sarah Palin was named the VP candidate, certain bad seeds began to whip the reactionary crowds into frenzied mobs, and there was some shady invective being tossed about. McCain had to reassure an old biddy that Obama did indeed love his country, and that he wasn’t a Muslim, nor was he a terrorist. I remember feeling the bad juju in the air, and there was a period when I felt a palpable fear that the future president would be attacked, and maybe even killed. Fortunately a combination of effective security and cooler heads prevailed, and our man was sworn in without incident (other than a John Roberts gaffe during the administration of the oath).

I realized at that time that there was a sizable minority in this nation that would never accept the legitimacy of his ascension. Granted the same thing applied during the Bush terms, but I don’t ever remember any reporting of credible threats against his life. The man just didn’t inspire as much hatred among the groups likely to engage in politically-minded violence. He was an anti-tax, flag-waving Christian. And he never made the extreme right worry that he would take away their guns. Obama, on the other hand, had few qualms about stating his support for gun control. He even publicly expressed his support for the handgun ban in DC (overturned recently by the Federal Supreme Court).

Within the past few months firearms purchases have spiked dramatically. Some of this increase has been due to a growing wave of gun smuggling flowing from the United States to Mexico, a nation currently in the midst of chaos caused by violent drug wars. But I believe that political paranoia and insecurity in-country is the driving force behind the bulk of this activity. For some reason, it seems that there will always be a segment of society that believes that the Democratic Party seeks to eliminate the Second Amendment Rights ensured by the government. No amount of logical reasoning or patient explanation seems to allay the fears of this group. They trend toward the extreme. And because they think that knock on the door could come at any time, they stockpile weapons and ammunition.

Such appears to have been the case with 22-year old Richard Poplawski. A dishonorably discharged Marine, Poplawski killed three police officers who responded to a domestic dispute call early this past Saturday morning. Apparently his mother (who he lived with) got into an argument with him after his cat pissed on the floor. After mama called the 5-0, Poplawski donned his bulletproof vest, brandished his illegally acquired AK-47, and waited for his moment of confrontation. Those cops never had a chance. And to add to the senseless tragedy of this event, there seems to have been evidence that Poplawski was insane, despite the denials of his friends and family. He also carried a record which included disorderly conduct and protection from abuse orders.

No doubt there will be additional information about the sad life of Richard Poplawski filtering out into the media in the coming week, and during what is sure to be a highly publicized criminal case involving capital crimes. A quick internet search reveals possible ties to a Neo Nazi white supremacist group called Stormfront. If you want to have a look at that stuff… do your own research. But you don’t have to track down the Aryan brotherhood to hear alarmist wingnuts sound the clarion call. Just tune into any number of conservative hack radio hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity, and/or Glenn Beck. They are not at all shy about provoking hate to advance their own selfish aims in their sick games. Unfortunately, they aren’t about to be held accountable for unsettling the deeply disturbed... people like Richard Poplawski. I think we’re going to see a lot more of this stuff over the next couple of years.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 4/3-4/09

So what’s it going to be like this weekend? Will this Thursday foretaste of the weekend reflect its flavors? Hell if I know. But I do know this… there are plenty of options tomorrow and Saturday. Take a minute or two to scan this post and you just might find something to make your mouth moist.


I could almost be forgiven for believing the Pittsburgh Arts scene was in hibernation for virtually the entire winter (with a few notable exceptions, of course). So this First Friday represents a wake-up call for those of you who stayed tucked in through the long, cold season.

Unblurred features the return of the Modern Formations Spring Salon Annual Juried Exhibition. This is often a highlight on Penn Avenue (4919 PENN AVE), and through the years I’ve been exposed to more than a few exciting young artists there- Andy and Ben Kehoe, Katherine Young, Gabe Felice, and Jairan Sadeghi among them. Naturally there are no guarantees, but you could certainly find more futile ways to spend your time. Have at it.

Elsewhere you might run into some throat singers from the steppes of Central Asia (Garfield Artworks- 10 PM, $10 @ 4931 PENN AVE), or be offered an opportunity to take a free hour-long Argentine Tango crash course (5020 PENN AVE 3RD FLOOR,7-8PM, Free). If that ain’t your bag, you can check out the MOXBOX Fine Art Party (5014 PENN AVE) or see an opening for a mosaic down the street at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (5472 PENN AVE, 6-9PM). Carol Speranza has her hand-cut paintings at the International Children’s Art Gallery (5020 PENN AVE) and Dawn Hartman is displaying photos from Ghana at ImageBox (4933 PENN AVE).

After you’ve rambled along the Penn Avenue Corridor, make at least a quick digression to the Zombo Gallery for a look at the Folk Art of Tim Kerr. Apparently dude plays in a band… which wouldn’t ordinarily impress me, but I saw the image on the hot card, and it does look good. I sure do like to look at drawings. See ‘em here.

Likewise there is at least one opening downtown (@SPACE), and of course the competing first Friday over on Ellsworth in Shadyside. Maybe that’s where you belong instead?


Moxie Dada (1416 Arch Street on the North Side) returns this month with a show of sculptures curated by Shannon Kuhns. Participating artists include the aforementioned Kuhns, Thomas Brunger, and Elizabeth Ashe Douglas. I find it hard to believe that despite the longstanding efforts of the proprietors, there are still a lot of otherwise savvy scenesters that have yet to visit the old firehouse that the gallery now inhabits. Perhaps you ought to do something about that…

Ok, so I guess I can quit scolding you. I’ll just drop one more suggestion before I leave off. The David Lawrence Convention Center (downtown PGH) is hosting Tekkoshocon- a celebration of Anime and Japanese Culture. It runs from Friday until Sunday, and they seem to have a full schedule planned. I don’t know if I can slip in for a couple of hours or not, but I sure do feel like trying. Cosplay, vendors, fan art… who wouldn’t want to go?

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April What?

The month of showers is upon the land and people will start to get restless, echoing the essential upheaval of Spring. The pollen in the air will soon tickle the cilia, and those who don’t inure themselves with cigarettes will reap its full blessing, whatever that is. Reproduction is the motivation behind this arc of the cycle, and some will take that impulse too literally. And yet others will channel it into strange and sundry activities, which will be on display all over town.

Breathe in deep and absorb the fecundity- for within time the simmering, sweltering, languid heat of summer will lay like a heavy wool blanket over your spirit and make you careless.

And so it is that this first day of April is a holiday. It’s been given an ignoble name- with a message of playful warning. Suppose this was the birth of the God of Mischief. How would you choose to honor that event? Would you do a head count of your friends, taking care to plan a surprise for every one of them? Or would you alternatively plot to release your demons in what appears to be a temporarily acceptable manner? Which of these would make you the fool, and who would be fooled?

Take a moment to consider that the number of The Fool is often said to be “0”, the value itself a great cosmic joke causing much consternation. But remember too that this figure is Major Arcana, and thus has multiple faces. (S)he is alternatively a jester, a mad man, a vagabond, and a beggar. (S)he may carry roses or a bindle… may be pursued by a cat or a dog, and situated between judgment and the world. Even in modern translation, this joker is most often a wild card. If you play a game with “trumps”, the Fool is an excuse for not following suit.

Apparently April 1st is a day of sanctioned irreverence. Perhaps we can indulge ourselves a bit. Bereft of reason, The Fool stands at the edge of a precipice, and risks a long slide or heavy collision, depending on the nature of the fall. And yet… and yet… perhaps (s)he will sprout wings (or a parachute) and attain smooth landing. The spirit seeking experience has earned the chance to risk a leap of faith.

And so we return to this day, year after year, and people give themselves the permission to act out their scripts. But just as with jokes, there is a seed of truth embedded in every trick. Perhaps it’s wise to pay close attention to deflection, obscuration and diversion- for likely there is someone sizing you up and spinning a web. Pay attention to the signs along the road. The Fool’s Journey can be many things, but don’t be shocked or embarrassed if you find yourself rendered naked in front of the eyes of the World.

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