Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pittsburgh Weekend Events: 6/12-13/09.

I realize that most prideful 'Burghers are likely to focus on the fortunes of their beloved Pens this weekend, and believe me... as far as vicarious pleasures of the sporting nature, I can think of few better than NHL hockey. Having said that, don't forget that you have many opportunities to engage in much more direct amusements, and on a much more intimate scale. For instance...


Local arts collective Unicorn Mountain is having the reception for a group show of participating artists, featuring many stellar works including those of rising star Elina Malkin. It all goes down at the Steve Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue, Shadyside) between 5:30-8:30. Participants include Jon Carling, Bill Wehmann, Jeff Schreckengost, Masha Vereshchenko, Ian Finch, David Grim, Christopher Kardambikis, Jenifer Cooney, Ben Kehoe, Beano, Christopher Cornwell, Tom Hall, Katherine Young, Amy Conroy, Brian Holderman, Laura Jean McLaughlin,
Paul Roden, and Valerie Lueth.

Continue the swank by making a hop to the North Side for the Urban Garden Party fundraiser at the Mattress Factory. Gourmet food, drinks, entertainment, artwork, and this year's "rock theme" should justify the exorbitant admission price. Besides you'll just feel cooler if you are there, rather than sitting at your local neighborhood bar doing whiskey shooters and talking about how great it feels to piss in a public sink (not that I know anyone who has ever done such a thing).

If you feel some pressing need to head downtown, stop by the SPACE gallery for "Smoke and Mirrors". Check out this roster- Cory Arcangel, Matt Barton, Chris Bearegard, Robin Brasington, Jacob Ciocci, Olivia Ciumo, Thad Kellstadt, Ladyboy, Guthrie Lonergain, Spencer Longo, Eileen Maxson, Jesse Jamaica McLean, Alex Miller, Jae Ruberto, Mike Smith, Scotty Vera, Jeffrey Vulture, John Daniel Walsh and David Wightman. Too bad I'm gonna miss this one. Also see ArtUp's "Homeland Insecurity" (937 Liberty, 8PM, $10).

And in the South Side (for the real masochists), Sam Thorp will be showing her latest work under the title "Adjournment" (7:30-11PM) @ The Rex (1602 East Carson). I've always enjoyed the clean lines and bright pallette of her portraits.


If you want a window into the vast diversity of celebratory options in Pittsburgh, consider visiting the Cultural District on Liberty Avenue in glorious downtown for "Pride in the Streets"- a block party featuring DJs, food, and fierce fun. That gets underway at 7Pm, and costs a mere $20. Jennifer Holliday headlines, and while I don't know who that is, I am assured that she is famous, and honey... that's all that matters.

Or for a completely different scene, check out the free opening for Warhol Live at the Andy Warhol Museum (competing at the 7PM slot). This show focuses on the themes of music and dance in the great one's work. Also, you get a chance to see Dean and Britta (of the band Luna) for a very reasonable $10.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Artist Statement for "Vanishings"

For those that either can't or won't be at my show tonight, here is my artist statement. If you would like to come to the reception, it is at Imagebox (4933 Penn Avenue in Garfield), from 7-10PM.

"About 'Vanishings':

I had the idea to visit Eastern Penitentiary last summer, in the midst of a particularly acrimonious national election. Originally I meant the series to be a commentary on the direction of our nation, and the political and social climate of our society. I believe that this original purpose would have been consistent with the spirit of Alexis de Tocqueville, the Parisian who came to the US in 1831 to study this specific institution (modeled on Quaker philosophies and beliefs), as well as the American prison system in general.

In the intervening year since I booked the show, the content has taken on a host of additional personal meanings. While the specifics of the events that have lent additional heft to my feelings about the show are best left unexplained at this point, I will say that the symbolic weight of “prisons” has made its mark on my spirit. I would suggest that we are all limited by walls, whether literal or figurative, self-constructed or imposed, and our challenge is to identify them and assess their true utility for our existence.

About my process:

All my shots are taken in the field, and there is absolutely no intentional post-production on my part. I make every effort to ensure that the final print looks as close as possible to the image I saw on my LCD screen when I took each photograph. My efforts are not intended to express a negative commentary about editing software, but they are essential to the immediacy of my work.

About purchasing the artwork:

Framed prints are $100. If you are especially economically-minded, you can purchase a naked one for $66. Please keep in mind that the frames in this show were hand-made by local artisans, and each image is limited to an edition of ten. The inks and papers used in the print process are meant to ensure lasting quality over a lifetime.

Thank you for your considered support,

My Name
My Phone Number
My E-Mail

I wish to extend my gratitude to the following individuals who helped make this show possible: John Mahood, Paul Roden, Valerie Leuth, Jeffry Grim, J. Cleo Zell, Jeanne Zell, and Katie Zell."

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: Weekend of 6/5-6/2009.

This weekend arts summary is going to be a rush job, as I still have too much to do to prepare for my own obligations. Speaking of which- there is some unavoidable self-promotion about to happen, so bear with me...


Go to Unblurred (of course). For some reason, the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative schedule page is down and has been all day... so I suggest you juat show up somewhere along Penn (between Garfield and Friendship) and grab yourself a schedule. Make sure to stop at the Sprout Fund headquarters (5423 Penn, 5:30PM) for their annual social, visit ARTica (5110 Penn, where my friend Susan Constance is displaying some of her fine work). and come say "Hi!" to me at Imagebox (4933 Penn). Other highlights include Benedict Oddi at Modern Formations and Joey Kennedy at 5427 Penn.

Or alternatively, go on down to the opening of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. It will be jam-packed with sweaty cornballs eating fried foods and screaming kids with ice cream dripping down their chins. Seriously though- The Black Keys are playing for free, and (believe me) you'll have plenty of fun finding a place to park. If you do venture forth, you must see Tom Sarver's new installation, entitled "Bait & Tackle". It's great to have him back in the 'Burgh for the summer, while he's got a break from his fancy NY MFA program. Also, pop in at 937 Liberty for an AAP group show, and dig some pieces by my buddies Rick Byerly and Mia Tarducci Henry.


Moxie Dada (1416 Arch Street, the North Side) has an opening reception for artist Connie Cantor's "Scribbling for Dummies", starting at 6PM. I don't know what crazy stuff she has planned, but Cantor has been laboring on the local arts scene for decades, and I'm certain that whatever she puts up will be worth looking at.

You should also plan on spending some time at the Zombo Gallery to see Eric Luden's latest batch of illustrative gems. Personally, I haven't missed one of his shows at the gallery yet, and I don't intend to start now. Busty chicks, gritty lizard-like con men, etc... who wouldn't want to take a gaze at that sort of thing? It's called "Chicks and Beer", and the opening runs from 6-10PM. There's also photography by Laura Petrilla, which I find fascinatingly odd, since our good ol' Michael D. insists that shutter-buggery isn't "real art". Perhaps he's had an epiphany?

If you need something to do during the day, check out the new thrift stores along Butler in Lawrenceville. Don't let the new crop of would-be hipsters get all the good stuff.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Now what?

Things have been a bit of a blur for me lately, and I feel a bit self-conscious about slacking off... especially here on Serendipity. As many long-time readers of this blog know (and I honestly don't expect that there are many of you left), not too long ago I posted every single day. That's why I have arrived at my thousandth entry after a mere three years. Alas, such productivity couldn't continue forever. Of course I've been posting poetry and the occasional local events update. But I wonder who I'm serving at this point, and I'm not certain the answer is not "nobody". I do know that I exhausted the essay format I was using for much of the past few years. Perhaps I'll be inspired to return to that someday. I can't make any promises.

I had grand plans of doings something special for this occasion. I thought maybe that I'd go out and celebrate or (god forbid) write something extraordinary. Obviously the plans have changed, and you are getting this instead. I'm taking stock here, folks. A lot has changed in my life over the last three months and I'm still rearranging things. Perhaps I simply haven't felt emboldened enough to lay it all out here on the net. But I'm trying not to beat myself up over all of that. I do feel I've earned a break.

There have been a lot of benefits to doing this project, but very few of them match my original expectations. I've written book reviews that have resulted in personal and direct contact with the authors of some of those books. I've also generated some fairly robust hatred, and if you sift through the comments here (or at least those of several months ago), you'll get an eyeful. I've even lost friends over what I've decided to publish on the net. On the other hand, there are a few things that I feel proud of. A highlight for me was being hyperlinked in a column by a Huffington Post author (after the Ashley Todd incident). That little boon resulted in a nice sustained hike in traffic, which I've since pissed away. Also, I'll take this moment to brag that I predicted Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency in August of 2006.

Ultimately the most rewarding thing about writing Serendipity has been the experience of discipline and focus resulting from the arbitrary commitment I impulsively made to post every day. Whether or not the decision was made to boost my own self-esteem is probably beside the point. I feel like I learned something from the process. I hope it has been periodically edifying to its small audience as well.

This post isn't necessarily a "goodbye", but I do view it as a kind of release. I'd say that there's been a bit of a low fizzle here recently, and I'm sick of feeling like I've let myself down. So this is official notice that I may discontinue this public exposure at any time. I haven't quit writing entirely. In fact, I've written nearly a hundred poems over the last nine weeks. I've just stopped making it all immediately available to an unspecified and indeterminate readership. Maybe I'll take the time to be more deliberate in what I share. Or alternatively, I may simply sustain my current habit of stumbling along haphazardly. Anyway, if you are still reading this, then you have my appreciation and gratitude. Stop by now and again and you may find yourself surprised. Who knows?

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