Friday, April 18, 2008

Celebrate Sewickley at Sweetwater

“Celebrate Sewickley!” partners the Sweetwater Center for the Arts, the Sewickley Valley Historical Society and the Old Sewickley Post Office Corporation for and exhibit and auction of works of art. All of the artists represented in the exhibition either reside in Sewickley or create work that is depictive of the area. Artists range from well-known established professionals to students who take classes at Sweetwater and the instructors who teach them.
Among the instructors represented are Deborah McLaren, Joyce Werie Perry and Lisa Rasmussen. It is always encouraging to see instructors exhibiting—it’s a inspiration to their students and may even lead to future enrollment. Sweetwater offers a wide variety of classes (including cooking and yoga!) for all ages.

“Celebrate!” reflects the diversity of Sweetwater’s academic schedule and includes traditional arts, crafts and state-of-the-art computerized work. Will C. White’s “Broad and Beaver Streets” falls into the traditional category. This colorful watercolor captures the hustle and bustle of a crowded street and it’s energy reminds one of such urban painters as Isabel Bishop and Paul Cadmus. The inclusion of a famous “Pittsburgher” in the multitude adds a touch of local whimsy. Many of the pieces on display will be included in a silent auction; Proceeds from this event will benefit the Sewickley Valley Cultural Center. Some works have been donated by the artists others by local businesses. The latter is the case with the hand-knit sweater created by Sasha Kagen for Yarns Unlimited.

Richard Thompson’s “Allegheny Country Club” is a panoramic “giclee” print on canvas. This form of digital photography has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Another form of computer art is to be seen in the work of Elizabeth Douglas. Her digital paintings are done without the benefit of a photographic image and the resulting pieces more closely resemble traditional painting (and stained glass.)
The Auction will be held on Saturday, April 26 (5:00-8:00pm) and will feature delicious food, drink and live piano jazz by Howie Alexander.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Graphica at the Butler Art Center

We’ve all heard—a picture is worth a thousand words—but for truly effective graphics the reciprocal can also be true. If the words and the images are mutually dependent then the combined effect will be greater than the sum of the individual parts. This is the case and the underlying theme at “Graphica”, the current show at the Art Center in Butler. Several years ago one of the guilds at the PCA hosted a similar exhibit—words and images—the Butler holds up very well in comparison.
The exhibitors in Butler range from high school students to seasoned professionals, the works from photographs and paintings to computer graphic design. Since the message and the media are so completely integrated in this type of show, I took special notice of those pieces that had an important and relevant theme and conveyed it in bold manner.
Louise Pappageorge’s “Flawed Logic” is a collage piece and makes a statement on many levels. The subtext--that society sets unrealistic goals for young girls in the standard that it sets for physical appearance. The use of glossy fashion magazines as a source for visual material only tends to reinforce this premise. The woman’s face, composed in a jigsaw puzzle effect is sadly reminiscent of the work of the plastic surgeon. And the captions further reveal the tragically unattainable ideal. “Think Before You Drink” is an advocacy poster by Joanie Wilson. The psychedelic imagery has the aura of the impaired perception brought on by alcohol. This is carried through in the style of type and even the bottle brings to mind the Absolut campaign.
Bill Perry is an accomplished watercolorist and a regular exhibitor at the Art Center. His Operation Iraqi Freedom trilogy grewout of his habit of working while watching news reports. The images he saw on the small screen gradually worked their way into his paintings. “The Combatants” is a multicultural montage

that takes us back several years and helps us reflect on the aftermath of those events. David (Bowman X) Wintermute has several pieces in the show that blend ideas of ethics and aesthetics with modern technology. His portrait of Ludwig Wittgenstein includes the quote: “The facts that the elements of a picture are related to one another in a determinate way represents that things are related to one another in the same way.” I hadn’t been to the Art Center for almost a year and I was impressed by the changes they’ve made. The physical changes—remodeling and improvements to the exhibition space were immediately recognizable. More importantly, the quality of the art and the professionalism of the organization represent great strides forward. As artists we all contribute and support our culture and society. I believe “Graphica” is an important step for the Butler Arts Center in acknowledging a creative art climate through education, exhibition and promotion of freedom of expression.