Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 9/18-19/09.


Zombo gallery (4900 Hatfield St.) upholds its status as the most active art space in the city with its reception for Catfish & Such (7-11PM). TJ Reddick likes animals and bright colors. See what I mean?

It's not too late to buy a $50 ticket to the Unicorn Mountain Fundraiser @ Remedy. The event is called The Esoteric Order of the Illustrious Owl Bear, and includes live entertainment, a Bavarian dinner served family-style, an art auction, the new issue of UM (called Black Forest, to be released later this month), and a T-shirt advertising Pittsburgh's hippest art collective. For $35 you can attend the dinner without the material goodies, and for a mere $5 you can participate in the dance party. For details, check out the link.

Future Tenant (819 Penn Avenue, downtown) features a show curated by Jeff Schreckengost and Lisa Toboz called 'Dividing the Goose". The title apparently refers to the themes of folklore and fairy tales that underpin this multimedia exhibition.


Cleveland-based Arabella Proffer is unleashing "Splendor and Safety Pins", which highlights her "faux portrait paintings" at Boxheart (4523 Liberty Avenue, Bloomfield) from 6-9PM. She creates mythical European countries and populates them with the characters she envisions. Her work is flat, cartoon-like, and vibrantly colored... and thus perfectly appealing to my aesthetic sensibilities. I believe I'll make a point of attending this one.

When was the last time you made it over to Braddock? See what Fetterman and Co. have been up to by attending the Obscurae Art Lottery over at UnSmoke Systems (1137 Braddock Avenue). For $45 ($55 at the door) you can buy a ticket to purchase a fine art photograph documenting the community. Depending upon when that ticket is drawn, you may get to select your favorite piece, from first to last. It is free to attend this event, but they are trying to raise money to revitalize their neighborhood, so donations are accepted. Eat some fresh bread cooked nearby while you are at it.

Imagebox (4933 Penn Avenue) is opening their doors for "The Red Tag Studio Sale" to benefit the Persad Center. It's rare to see the gallery welcome guests on a day other than First Friday, so it's probably worth a stop (6PM) to see the work of local and national artists.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Who is the tool?

My (relatively) new domestic arrangement has exposed me to habits and patterns that sometimes confound me. For instance, my roommates have the capacity to be entertained by television shows that I’ve never considered viable sources of amusement. I’ve seen things that have shocked me with the most banal and ridiculous examples of human behavior. I had no idea that both cable and network programming had reached its current depths. Neither would I have expected intelligent viewers to settle for the poor quality product put in front of them.

Still, I’ve been told repeatedly throughout my life that folks value escapism, and apparently the more mind-numbing it is, the better it satisfies the singular need of the audience. Certainly the choices made in my household illustrate that point. The MTV music awards prove to be a meaningless and contrived spectacle, meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Reality shows offer insipid dialog, loathsome personalities, and situations that would strain credibility if penned by a scriptwriter for (even) the dullest of dramas. And consumers are meant to laugh at the most cliché jokes of today’s so-called sitcoms.

If I’m in the room when the idiot box is on, it’s sometimes impossible to ignore. As a result, I’ve learned that L.A. is still filled with self-absorbed, sub-human, empty shells that cynical producers put forth as fascinating subjects of study. I find it all insulting to the social condition. But obviously there are plenty that disagree. So I make my best attempt to find something redeeming about whatever’s on. Otherwise my hatred for my fellow man will know no bounds. Most of the time I’m thwarted in my efforts.

Yesterday I discovered “Tool Academy”. The set-up for this show is a supposed nationwide search for the ultimate “bad boy’. Unsuspecting dolts audition for a competition that will identify the “Alpha Males” of America. But within the first (or so) episode they realize that a trick has been played on them. Their girlfriends have submitted them for consideration as the worst mates in the nation. And all the video footage that they willingly had shot of themselves mouthing off and bragging becomes evidentiary material. They get to sit beside their disconsolate honeys as the very worst parts of their personas are displayed for a live crowd and America at large.

To add insult to injury, the creators of “Tool Academy” have enlisted the aid of an imperious relationship counselor with a distinguished British accent apparently meant to mask the vast level of stupidity the proceedings represent. And so it goes- a parade of self-delusion, an awesome lack of common sense, and a cavalcade of absolute nonsense. Is it representative of the quality of intimate pairings of the populace? If it is, then evolution has truly reversed itself, and our species must soon inevitably cede to another classification of animal. Our citizens are literally retarded, emotionally and otherwise.

Could it be that this show actually serves some sort of useful purpose other than the empty calories derived from the titillation of digesting extreme obnoxiousness? Is it a useful guide in what to avoid in dealing with your significant other? Perhaps some unfortunate viewers will see reflections of their own lives in the hapless guys and gals onscreen. I suppose if even a single woman decides to dump her misbehaving man after noting his resemblance to one of these buffoon contestants, then some redemption for its existence might be proven. Yet it’s easy to counter that anyone who has chosen to invite the presence of such a creature into her life deserves the burden of its continued presence.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pittsburgh Events: 9/11-12/09.

Hey folks... I'm back with a weekly round-up of doings in and around town. I do want to point out right up front that this is NOT meant to be a comprehensive outline of everything available. So if I don't mention an event you have some sort of personal investment in... tough luck. Maybe I haven't heard of it. Or maybe it didn't catch my fancy. Or maybe I just didn't care enough to highlight it. Go find another shoulder to cry on. Or do a Facebook blast. Or hell... just leave a comment at the bottom of this post.


This week brings us the grand opening party (5:30-9PM) for Pittsburgh Tribune Review art critic Kurt Shaw's self-titled galleries (805 Liberty Avenue, Downtown). Highlights include original lithographs, woodblock and 'Pochoir Prints' (whatever the hell those are) by such luminaries as Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Ernst, Miro and Braque. Feel free to go down there and see what those pikers accomplished.

The second issue of TAV (an online publication featuring a collective of artists, filmmakers, musicians and writers associated with Encyclopedia Destructica) is being unleashed this weekend. Folks on display at the publication's studio (156 41st Street in Lawrenceville) include founder Chris Kardambikas and CMU-graduate Peter Burr. The festivities kick off at 7PM.

Also in the neighborhood- Coca Cafe (3811 Butler Street) presents a photography exhibit called Green Eye on Western PA to benefit Group Against Smog & Pollution. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing there will be some urban landscapes in this show. If you care about that sort of thing, this will likely be worth a visit. And painter Sam Thorp is down at the Zombo Gallery (4900 Hatfield Street). Pop in and say hi to her from 6-10PM.

The 707/709 Galleries (on Penn, Downtown) are having their tribute to the G20 with 15 local artists meant to display "the region's artistic diversity in various media." Expect to see a plethora of arbitrary groupings leading up to this conference. Obviously everyone is wanting a piece of the action.

It's been awhile since I've heard about an opening at Morning Glory Coffeehouse (1806 Chislett Street) in Morningside. Amy Scafuri (owner of 3G Gallery) will host a reception for her collages, sketches and original poetry, beginning at 6PM. She's promising free food and drink. That should bring 'em in.

Toby Keith is coming to the Post Gazette Pavilion. This is a fortuitous event because it will ensure that all the yahoos are out of town for the evening. Enjoy the extra space!


Want something to take the children to? I'm considering schlepping mine out to Carnegie for its Arts and Heritage Festival. It actually starts on Thursday, but I can't make it until the last day. Why would I go all the way out there for what is sure to be an amalgamation of greasy food and pedestrian arts and crafts? Well... Carnegie kind of fascinates me in the efforts it makes to be a destination town. Plus I hear that there are some fine restaurants out that way. Besides, how many times a week can you take your kid to the local playground?

If you want to look at art this Saturday, you can stop by Construction Junction (214 N Lexington St. in Point Breeze) for the Pillow Project's Second Saturday. This event has a lot to offer- Time Capture themed photography, dance & experimental music. I can't claim to have ever participated in this series, but with the relatively limited options, this just might be my first visit. It costs a fin.

For just $25 you can can take your dog to Sandcastle to swim and eat "chicken-flavored" snow cones. Not being a particular fan of the canine, this sounds sorta disgusting to me. I wonder how the region's clans of Celtic descent feel about their ethnic festival being interrupted by packs of hairy interlopers and their masters.... I guess I'll never go to that water park again.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 9/4-5/2009.

It's been awhile, so I thought I'd pop in with a hasty roundup of the many offerings the local art scene is rolling out this weekend. Forget about going out of town... you'll miss way too much if you do.


Unblurred is back again. Most Wanted Fine Art is celebrating with "Jon Howe vs Jason Sauer: MWFA 2-Year Anniversary". It runs from 6-10PM and offers discriminating viewers the chance to see bands like Grand Snafu, Fulmarine Petrels, and Das Black Milk.

How do two artists get married? Apparently they build an installation piece. See artist interpretations of the union of Dave Bernabo and Lindsey Clark at Modern Formations @ 7PM. Also, stop by 5020 Penn Avenue for Harvest, a group show of illustrative painters who seemingly share an interest in the type of images found in Juxtapoz Magazine. There are some great images of the work (along with lots of other great stuff) over at Bitersweet Harvest.

And there's a new gallery at 3700 Butler Street in Lawrenceville. It's apparently called Fast<Lots of Pulp: Works on Paper Group Exhibition". The opening reception for this show is from 6-10PM. I'm having difficulty finding any information online, so you'll just have to stop by and see for yourself until we find out more details about who's behind this project.

*** I forgot to mention (thanks MW!) that my buddy Bob Ziller will be having his first jam session for the new Sprout-funded Pittsburgh Beautification Project. It's basically a painting party whereby participants will be able to color/paint templates, producing works that will be hanging all over abandoned buildings throughout the city. Bob will be down at the old Red Star building (4810 Penn Avenue) from 7-midnight. Check out more info here...

Also, check out Lucas Stock and Alison Pochapin at the "Philosophy Kings Art Show" (5131 Penn) from 7-10PM.

Meanwhile Shadyside offers its own version of First Friday. Gallerie Chiz is still kicking, and hosting "The Pleasure of Their Company (Tom Nozum) & mirrors, miniatures, mugs & more (Ida Michaeli)". That runs from 6-9PM. And Steve Mendelson opens his annual Salon des Refuses. Based on a historical collection of rejects from a prestigious European art show from the beginning of last century, this is the gallery's (5874 Ellsworth Avenue) effort at honoring the stuff that doesn't make it into the big AAP show. Judge for yourself whether the curatorial decisions this year were merited or simply misguided .


Experience Crafts N'at over at the Union Project, starting at 10 AM. There will be over 50 different artisans displaying and selling their wares in this fundraiser for Parkinson's Disease. This is an excellent opportunity to participate in the homegrown economy during these tough economic times. The only sweatshop victims are the crafters themselves!

Have a taste for a bit of the bubbly during the afternoon? Check out the "Art: East Meets West Champagne Reception" at the Michael Berger Gallery (their new location is 30 South Sixth Street, over on the South Side) at noon. The show features an international lineup of names you can't pronounce. How culturally sophisticated of you to show up...

And finally... stop by (6-10PM) the Panza Gallery in Millvale for Form of Fission, a collaboration between Pittsburgh Society of Sculptures, the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators and Pittsburgh Poets.

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