oranje - recent posts from my current home

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Living with art

Nathan Nissim is not a collector; he's an accumulator. He lives in two floors of a row house in Pittsburgh's Mexican War Streets district on the Northside. The neighborhood has seen a resurgence of interest over the last several years, with many of the row houses being restored to an elegant beauty.

Nathan's accumulation includes antiques, ethnic art and work by local artists. An artist himself, he has been accumulating for the last twenty years. Pictured at top left is Nathan and at top right is one of his pieces, currently installed in the bathroom.

His home is filled with a wide range of work. Each wall, corner, surface had an intimate selection of objects. At left is one view of his sitting room.

Nathan has taken great care in selecting works for his dresser. The hallway is a showcase of work, too.

At left are a couple close up shots of works in Nathan's accumulation.

This intense sculpture is placed in the bedroom. At the base of the sculpture is a slave bracelet.

I am looking forward to going back to visit with Nathan and his accumulations. Hopefully, the next visit will be to his studio.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Change the plane

Today at Digging Pitt Gallery!
Change the Plane Origami workshop
We had about fourteen people at the gallery today for a workshop on folding paper. We had students, adults, children, artists... anyway, you get the picture! Everybody left with something that they could fold. Anjee and Hongla, who will be helping with the Origami Menagerie project next week, were also there. And I was glad that they were able to lend support during the workshop!

Below are Becca (left) and Tory (right)

Seth and Christine came to the workshop. Both are accomplished folders. Here they are posing with their day's projects....

All in all, a productive and enjoyable afternoon. Stay tuned for the TRAF project, coming to this blog in a few days. (tickticktick)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


The exhibit went up without a hitch on Thursday. So, we had a no-sweat opening last night. At left is Rich Brown and Pat Barefoot. Pat and I have been coordinating the Barely Brunch model sessions for the past four years at the Brew House. This is our second exhibit. Rich started coming to the brunches last year and has been designing our postcards and posters. Thanks Rich and Pat!

At left is John Morris and Renee Ruth Ickes.

Here's a nice, long shot of the gallery. SPACE 101 is located in the Brew House on Pittsburgh's Southside. The building is an artists' live and work community. Currently, there are about twenty studios operating in the old brewery.

There are additional installation and reception images on my site. You can view them here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Three Rivers Arts Festival

We are starting the countdown for the TRAF Origami menagerie project. Beginning on June 2nd, the project will be installed in the family area of the festival. On Monday and Tuesday evening, we got together to go over some models and prep materials. Above left is Tai and above right is Anjee, two of the team that will be bringing the menagerie to the festival.

I have posted my schedule for the project here, so if you have a moment, please stop by and say hello. I am interested in getting your pictures of the project. I'll post them in this blog if you email them to this email.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Where are you, Victor Hugo?

Lately, I have been gravitating towards articles that address issues in our prison and homeless populations. It has seemed to me that, with the reports of the privatization of the prison system, that something had changed in our system that provoked this change. I read an article today about the increase in the prison population here. One alarming statistic is the increase of prisoners that are incarcerated without trial because the judge is not allowing accused individuals bail. This seems to me to be related to the growth of our homeless population. Another article (AP at NYT, so you'll need a log-in to read) puts L.A.'s homeless population at 14,000.

1 in 136 people in the United States are incarcerated. Right now. This means that the number of citizens in our population who will experience incarceration in their life is on the increase. The number of minority prisoners is on the rise, including women.

Another trend that has been disturbing is number of prisoners who are exonerated by new findings through DNA testing. Although the prisoners that have been exonerated were originally accused of heinous crimes (murder, rape) it makes me think that there are some people that are incarcerated who really didn't do the crimes they are accused of but have no recourse that would exonerate them through this type of testing.

Ther is something so wrong with the picture that is being painted by these satistics. The United States needs a Vicor Hugo to champion the cause of the under classes.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Garden Patch

It's definitely Spring. There have been some interesting things happening in the gardens of Pittsburgh. Besides seasonal decorations, like shamrocks in March and egg trees in April, some folks go all out with their yards. Or in this case (left), their postage-stamp sized front porch.

This district is made up of row houses, built in the 1880's and originally occupied by mill workers. The houses are generally narrow and have common backyard areas. most have stoops, very few have even a small front porch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The human zoo

I hate being sick. Just typing the last sentence, I found two typos. Even my hair hurts. And my syntax is backwards. I have sunk so low that the only thing I have read in the last two days are articles about human zoos in London and Shanghai.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Beauty and the best

I started out the day reading Edward Winkelman's Artist of the Week post about Jennifer Coates and then read Bill Gusky's post Saltz on Beauty. And it started me thinking about the place of beauty in art.

Why has beauty bcome so maligned in contemporary art? I'm not talking about insipid, pretty paintings. I'm talking about true, gut wrenching, heart-melting beauty. It seems it is more acceptable to be moved by the beauty of a tree than to be moved by the beauty of a painting.

What has happened to us that we are more accepting of pain than healing? Is pain the only emotion that can be felt deeply. Have we become so blunted that only the most outrageous passions and atrocious pains can reach our sensibilities?

It takes thought to unravel the beautiful. It takes an acknowledgement of the deliberate choices that an artist makes. Surely, we as artists, shouldn't have to rely on a megaphone to get a point across.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


You know that last hour or so of the day, when you're too tired to do anything strenuous, to think anything? embroidery is great for filling that time. After you've drawn out the design and picked your colors, everything else is automatic. But I needed a break from my embroidery, so I started doodling at night. They started out looking like stitchery.

This type of work is really meditative. Busy hands seem to let my mind roam, like dreaming with my eyes open. Like night dreaming, sometimes this space is filled with reviews of the days events. There is time to examine, to reach resolutions and to plan.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Attack Theatre usually does the seven minute performance series during Unblurred. Last night's performance was an excerpt from their concert Games of Steel. Pictured at right are Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza. It made may we want to go and see the concert in its entirety. The beam that Michelle is standing on converts to a see-saw and a carousel. It was like watching very sophisticated children at play, someone for whom the concept of game has grown to include negotiation, compromise and balance. Attack Theatre is an amazing performance group.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Word of the day

Indogmatate in-dog-'ma-tAt
Inflected Form(s): -nat·ed; -nat·ing
Etymology: Tomism
1 : to use whatever means is at your disposal to force an unexamined principle on naive individuals
See: Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, George Bush

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This week in Pittsburgh

I finally had a little bit of time to load pictures onto my computer. So, even though this isn't in order...

April 29, 2006


Art All Night began on Saturday. This is a twenty-four hour artfest that takes place in some unoccupied building in Lawrenceville annually. It's been growing every year! This, year, nearly one thousand works were on display and the unofficial attandance was eight thousand. It was really crowded. I mean really crowded. Pictured at left is David Leone, who coordinated the event this year and last year. Thanks, David, for all that you do.

May 3, 2006

Yesterday was a studio day. I got a little distracted from the piece I am making for the BARE II exhibit. I found some old slide mounts, which set off a bunch of thoughts. They looked so much like picture frames. And I started to wonder if the mounts would hold heavy paper. Using some wooden kitchen matches, I worked smoke patterns onto paper and then trimmed the paper down to fit the format of the mounts. It seems to me that the scale of the smoke patterns work well with the small format of the slide mounts. I have about sixty of these mounts. I plan to develop this into a narrative series of drawings.

Progress is being made on the work for the piece that is going into the BARE II exhibit. I have decided to stand the drawers on end. The interior of the last drawer is ready and the vellum has been attached to AIR. I can't wait to get this out of my dark hole of a studio and into the light. Somebody had suggested to me that I backlight the pieces, but I really like that these are subtle light plays.

On Friday, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will have a reception for all of the summer exhibits, Unblurred is happening on Penn Avenue and there is a gallery opening in Larryville that I need to attend.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Over the last several years, I have had a front row seat in Pittsburgh's efforts to reinvent itself. The neighborhood and business associations are doing all in their power to attract artists to the city's decaying and marginalized neighborhoods. Why? Because the theory is that real estate values rise after artists have moved into an area. Well, maybe not theory. It's happened in other cities and the technique has been used effectively.

Here's the part of the equasion that always gets overlooked. The artist, an integral part of this process, rarely benefits. The artist is there because it is possible to live and work within meager means.

Why can't we, as artists, take advantage of this phenomenon? Why can't we figure out a way to use this to our advantage?