Friday, December 28, 2007

Art of the Week

This week's offering is from the series "Glamour Behind the Lens" by Laura Petrilla. The first edition pinup-style photos are available in a variety of sizes and price range.

Laura Petrilla (Elements on Butler Street)
"Puppy Love"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Good on Paper at Fe

Considering its central location and longevity, the Fe Gallery may very well be the anchor of the Art Community on Butler Street. The current show, "Good on Paper" is an exhibit by ten regional, national and international artists; not limited to simply a show of drawings, the pieces here incorporate a variety of mediums, styles and techniques. One of the simplest offerings, in terms of materials and style, is Karin Bergdolt's "Power Lines." Executed in ballpoint pen on fifteen sheets of notebook paper arranged in a grid, Bergdolt shows us the huge man-made drawing in the sky. That intricate play of power lines is always there, changing with weather, wind, time of day and perspective. And so rarely do we even notice it.
Bergdolt, a Munich native, has established a Pittsburgh connection with her "Topology", a map of Lawrenceville gridded with hand-written notations and note card-size sketches of everyday life. Bergdolt continues her "tour of Pittsburgh" on First Night with the presentation of "Strollology" at 709 Penn Gallery.
Deanna Mance's "Teabag Series #1—5" is reminiscent of the cartographer's art as well. The small free-hand drawings are executed with a variety of media including ink, graphite, wood, teabags and transparencies and embody a love of the little things in life—intricate lines of often overlooked details. With their delicate lines and orange-sepia washes, the series evokes the visage of the map-makers engravings found in ancient books.
Also in the show are Craig Kirby's "Presciptions: Drugstore Memories" a brightly-colored array of faux labels offering remedies ranging from protective ointments to artificial tears. And the "Encyclopedia Destructica", an art-zine inspired collection harvested from sketchbooks and journals, has a display of some dozen issues. First published in 2007, the zine started as a concept in the mind of Chris Kardambikis and is available at local bookstores and coffee houses. Several stunning drawings by Ryan Roth comprise "Time Flies." The ink on vellum portraits with their mask/headdress overlays of animals, clocks and flashlights bring to mind the fantastic paintings of Arcimboldo.
Fe Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12—4; "Good on Paper" continues through February 9, 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Art of the Week

I was talking the other day with a very smart friend (I know she's smart, she blogs) and discovered that she was unaware that most of the art on display around town is for sale. So, at the suggestion of another smart friend (also a blogger) I've decided to post the "Art of the Week"— an interesting piece, reasonably priced, hanginging somewhere around town. This is purely altruistic, I have no vested interest (unless I should happen to post one of my pieces.) I just think more people should buy more art. So, forego that Starbucks' latte for a couple of days, skip the sushi or just watch a movie at home.
First up—

Susan Sparks (AAP 97th Annual at the Carnegie)
Art of Noise #1
Ink, tape and magic

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blogger Show at Digging Pitt

Recently, the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York City exhibited “Artists Who Paint”, featuring the visual endeavors of such literary luminaries as Kurt Vonnegut and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The” Blogger Show” at the Digging Pitt Gallery offers work in much the same vein, but with a greater sense of immediacy and accessibility. And the exhibit covers a wider range of venues including the Agni Gallery in New York City and, of course, the web.
The “Blogger Show” features bloggers who create art, artists who create blogs and some who blur the line between the two. But this in no way implies any diminished quality of the work exhibited; each artist brings a unique perspective to the show—some are representative of their body of artwork, some reflect their musings in the blogosphere.
One of the best examples of the latter is the display by Loren Munk (James Kahm)—most entries include a parenthetical screen name. “The Kahm Report” consists of still photos ripped from his various youtube videos; each photo features a bicycle parked in front of a museum opening. With shows ranging from Mark Rothko (National Gallery) to Frank Stella (the Met), it is well-worth logging on to check out this Brooklyn-based artist.
The main room at Digging Pitt is overflowing with art: hanging on walls, stacked on shelves and stored in flat files. It even spills into the bathroom. There I discovered Jean McClung (Urban Bytes)’s “Lower Eastside Dog”, a backlit collage mounted on plexiglass—especially striking in the darkened water closet. McClung’s blog features interviews with the people that make Pittsburgh so interesting. Check out the October interview with John Morris, Digging Pitt’s owner and raconteur.
The second room at Digging Pitt is a far more spacious and open gallery space. Here the delicate smaller pieces, such as Kevin Clancy (Soft soft pink pulls through the ivory void)’s “Meditation on a Line (12.5 feet)” are able to hold their own with larger, more colorful works. Clancy’s pencil on multilayered cut paper has an Escheresque quality of time and space slightly out of phase. Here we also find an intriguing archival display by Elizabeth Perry (Woolgathering.) Enshrined in a museum display case is the record of Perry’s museum drawing project: permission slips, passes and the finished booklets of watercolors. The full range of works—a drawing a day for nine months—can be found at Woolgathering.
The Blogger Show runs through January 12th at the Butler Street gallery at which time both the show and the gallery will close. The significance of this space has been inestimable as a gallery and outlet for emerging artists and their blogs, and an online bulletin board for the artist community and a little bit of New York in Pittsburgh. With its passing, it will be sorely missed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cookie Tour in Lawrenceville

The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Tour features cookies from around the world accompanied by recipes and a potpourri of arts and crafts, entertainment and a bite to eat. This year’s tour is the seventh and is dedicated to Jay Bernard, the tour’s founder who died last May.
Bernard, who owned Jay’s Designs, was involved with many activities in Lawrenceville and will be sorely missed. But the Cookie Tour will live on.
There were twenty-five stops on the Cookie Tour which ran from Thursday November 29 through Sunday December 2 and traversed almost twenty blocks on Butler Street. I limited myself to a cross-section of participants partly due to time constraints and partly due to the fact that I shouldn’t eat too many cookies. Starting “up town” the Zombo Art Gallery (actually on Hatfield Street) is billed as a “fun art gallery” and features t-shirts, computer-generated art and kitschy collectables. Much of the merchandise has a ’50s retro-look with a strong Cartoon Network influence. One special gift package featured a Fiesta ware teapot.
The Trinity Gallery, a little further down Hatfield, exhibits fine art black and white photography and included several craft-oriented tables for the tour. The silver-gelatin photos by gallery owner Dan Gaser are predominately of Pittsburgh cityscapes and are hand-printed using the same process that photographers have used for over a hundred years.
Several boutiques featured on the tour offer fashion, furnishings and accessories from the past and present. Elements is showcasing the work of three local artists: Laura Petrilla (photography), John Repko (jewelry) and Joktan Faulk (fashion.) Especially interesting is Petrilla’s “Glamour Behind the Lens”, a series of pin-up photos that captures the spirit of the classic calendar art with a Twenty-first Century approach. Accezzorize is a chic accessory boutique offering the latest in jewelry, shoes and handbags all with a heavy doze of glitz and bling. Both establishments feature pieces by local designers, but in contrast to the overflowing merchandise at Elements, Accezzorize has an airy, open display floor.
The Borelli-Edwards Gallery has been featuring local and international artists for over twenty-eight years. The selected works on display by Mary Mazziotti include the “cowgirl series”, miniature watercolors based on Medieval illuminations and acrylic paintings of local interest.
While the cookies may be gone (at least for this year) the art and the fashion remain up and down Butler Street for all to enjoy. I'm sure they will return next season.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Alumni Show at Art Institute

The gallery at the Art Institute (located on the Boulevard of the Allies) is a comfortable, innovative space well suited for a group show. The current Alumni Show, curated by Dave DiBella, offers pieces which range from the familiar and comfortable to the new and innovative. As with most every group show, one finds the traditional painting, drawing and photography ; hanging by their side are commercially printed pieces, book designs and video games. Much of this can be credited to DiBella, the Alumni Coordinator, who has managed to secure and display important works from Pittsburgh’s often-overlooked artists.
Perhaps the most traditional pieces fall in the realm of illustration. Thomas Fluharty’s satirical political caricatures (“Hillary” and “Bushie the Kid”) have been featured in major publications such as the “Village Voice.” Ron Thurston’s several watercolors include a tribute to long-time instructor Henry Koerner. Charles A. Smith III is a relative new comer who creates portraits in a variety of media. From his Loft 9 Contemporary Art Studio on Penn Avenue Charles has immortalized heroes from Heinz Field to South Africa.
Stig Asmussen, this years featured alum, has a job to drool for–he makes video games. Considering himself “among luckiest dudes on the planet,” Asmussen has contributed several pieces he created for Sony Playstation including a limited edition action figure. Game aficionados will recognize his “God of War” and “God of War II.” Also representing the world of gaming is Miguel Lleras of 7 Studios. His atmospheric backgrounds for “Pirates of the Caribbean” are curiously ominous and romantic.
One delightful aspect of the show is the discovery of the familiar, including pieces you’ve probably seen promotingLawrenceville or the Pittsburgh Grand Prix. Seen now in a gallery setting, they take on a special significance where before they were only part of the commercial landscape. Even something as ubiquitous as a point-of-purchase display (and where but at the AI show would you see a POP) can be appreciated for its artistic quality.
The Alumni Show continues through January 12 and the gallery is open Monday through Thursday 9:00 am–8:00 pm, Fridays until 5, and Saturday until 4.