oranje - recent posts from my current home

Friday, December 22, 2006

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition

Christine Creuzzi Bartell Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms

James Scott Munshour Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs

John Eastman American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way
Ruth Levine Traversed: Passage I

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition
October 27, 2006-January 14, 2007
Opening reception: October 26, 6:30 - 9:00pm
Carnegie Museum of Art - Heinz Galleries
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080

It has been nearly a month since I went to the Carnegie Museum of Art to spend time viewing the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 96th Annual. I had not intended to take so long to post this review but finishing Mean Stream had to be a priority.

The exhibit really is particularly strong this year. The range of works represented abstract through figurative, which is something that would be expected in a large survey show. Overall, I would say that the selected works emphasized rich surfaces and textures. Now, don’t tell me about exceptions; there are notable ones.

I got busted taking pictures by the guards, so I don’t have images of all of the pieces that I noted. As a little piece of back story, the pieces for the Annual are traditionally chosen fro actual work instead of slides or digital images. While I was dropping off, I saw these wonderful works by Christine Creuzzi Bartell. I was so pleased to see one of them, Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms, included in the exhibit. As with many works on paper, the above image does not come close to giving you a sense of the subtle detail in mark and texture of the actual work.

Ruth Levine is always a favorite artist. In Traversed: Passage I, she has overlapped marks in degrees of transparency, building a rich surface. The work, with its marks arranged in columns, reads as a code or something that verges on language.

In Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs, James Scott Munshour seems to be commenting on several conceptions that American society holds dear; the right to bear arms and the puritan work ethic. In this instance, the narrative of the title is imperative in deciphering the artist’s intent. The work was well balanced with an immediate visual appeal.

Elaine Morris was unable to provide an image of Inscribed. This small work has and intimate and personal quality, assembling clippings and letters into a scrapbook image that feels like a brief look into the trials and tribulations of an individual life.

Scott A. Turri’s Poppies and Heroines is interesting for a couple reasons. It had the kind of flat posterized imagery you would expect in Pop art. The colors that he chose, however, took the piece beyond expectations for the genre.

John Yochem Winberg’s At Home in the Forest combines the disparate elements of gridiron and trees. There was something about the work that reminded me of Eastern European painters, with their delight in twisting the parameters of formal ground/object relationships.

John Eastman has an energetic and aggressive painting style. His abstract, American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way, dominated the room. In this case, the title did not help me gain entry into the artist’s intent. But it also did not in any way deter me from enjoying his piece.

The 96th Annual is on exhibit through January 14th, 2007. So if you haven’t made it to see the show, there are still a few weeks left. In order to make your visit more enjoyable, you should prepare yourself for some of the many rules of behavior that the museum guards enforce. You may not carry any bag larger than 11” x 14”. You may not carry your back pack with both straps on your shoulder but must walk around with it dangling off one side of your body. You may not take pictures. You may not wear a pick in your hair. Do not, under any circumstance, come within a foot of any area that is currently undergoing installation no matter how enticing it is. Also note that if you do bring a larger bag to the museum with you that you will have to check it into self-serve coin-operated lockers. Bring quarters! If you should violate any of these unwritten rules, be prepared to be followed by museum guards throughout your tour of the museum.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Munch's The Scream

Have you seen this Herald Tribune article?

Museum fears recovered Munch masterpiece "The Scream" suffered permanent damage in theft

A paper party

On Monday, I spent the afternoon at Society for Contemporary Crafts, working with the staff on folding paper.
If you haven't been there for a while, make time in your schedule. It is well worth the trip.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cease and Desist Letter to Pittsburgh First, Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force

Thank you, Kim Ellis, for sending this on to me.

Hill District Community Issues Open Cease and Desist Letter to Pittsburgh First, Pgh Gaming Task Force and Elected Officials

Cuz if you think you're gonna build on this site
Don't think you won't have a helluva fight
Cuz we don't want no casino on the Hill
Somebody raise your hand
We're gonna keep raising our hands

Hill District community elders, ministers, residents, artists, activists and representatives continue to highlight their collective opposition to the Pittsburgh First / Isle of Capri Casino development proposal and demand that the plan be stopped:

1. Freedom Corner is the location of the "Not Another Inch" standoff with residents 50 years ago, who sought to protect the historic Hill District from further encroachment. Now, in 2006, residents find themselves again circling to protect the community from casino encroachment and contempt-filled actions against its leaders and concerned citizens.
2. On November 18, 2006, the Isle of Capri company law firm sent Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, a Hill District resident, scholar, artist and activist a letter of legal intimidation, demanding that she "cease and desist" her opposition to the Isle of Capri Category 2 slots license application for the state of Pennsylvania.
3. Community residents and supporters were outraged by the attack, particularly considering the fact that Dr. Ellis' stance represented thousands of Hill residents and supporters throughout the city of Pittsburgh, state of Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally.
4. On December 16, 2006, approximately 100 Hill residents from the lower, middle and upper Hill, as well as supporters from across the city joined hands in prayer and celebration to, once again, express their opposition to and disappointment in the Isle of Capri / Pittsburgh First plan, emphasizing that there is a way to keep the Pens and build a new arena without destroying a neighborhood in the process; and any attempt to move forward with the Isle of Capri plan will be wrought with continued opposition.

Open "Cease and Desist" letter to Pittsburgh First, the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force and Elected Officials

(State Senator Ferlo, Mayor Ravenstahl, County Councilman Robinson, City Councilwoman Payne, in particular)

Pittsburgh First we hereby demand that you CEASE and DESIST your attempts to place a casino in our historic, residential community without the consent of our residents.

We further demand that you CEASE and DESIST your continued attempts to represent your organization as community-based or representative of the majority of Hill District residents when, in fact, your group's sole purpose is to support the Isles of Capri (IOC) Category 2 slots license application.

And we demand that you CEASE and DESIST your campaign of misinformation that has been waged against the entire city of Pittsburgh, in general, and the Hill District community, in particular, suggesting that the only plan of development for the Lower Hill is being proposed by Pittsburgh First. In fact, another gaming applicant has proposed development on the same site without a casino. In fact, your continuous suggestions and outright statements that the only way to keep the Penguins Franchise is to support Pittsburgh First is exceptionally misleading when, in fact, all of the gaming applicants have pledged substantial funds for a new arena.

Finally, we demand that you CEASE and DESIST all legal and other forms of intimidation against Hill District residents, other Pittsburghers and any and all concerned citizens who have a right to oppose your superfluous plan.

Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force, we hereby demand that you CEASE and DESIST your support of IOC as your favored gaming applicant as they are the only applicant seeking to place a casino in a residential community, not to mention that community's historical significance and importance to the City of Pittsburgh.

We further demand that you CEASE and DESIST your support of IOC as they are the only applicant seeking to place a casino in both a predominantly African-American community and within walking distance of Duquesne University, particularly considering the fact that college students and African-Americans are three and four times more likely, respectively, to become problem gamblers and gambling addicts than the general population.

Lastly, we demand that you CEASE and DESIST your support of IOC and, instead, ask questions about why their application for gaming in the state of Missouri and the Missouri Gaming Control Board's investigative findings remain private and, therefore, unknown.

Elected Officials (State Senator Ferlo, Mayor Ravenstahl, County Councilman Robinson, City Councilwoman Payne) we hereby demand that you immediately CEASE and DESIST your support of the IOC / Pittsburgh First gaming application and instead act to support and protect the interests of your citizen constituents and the historic Hill District.

We further demand that you CEASE and DESIST your support of the IOC / Pittsburgh First organization for the aforementioned reasons expressed in this letter to the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force.

Lastly we demand that you CEASE and DESIST your support of the IOC / Pittsburgh First gaming application, as their eleventh-hour attempt to address the quality of life issues and social impact on our historic community with the hastily promised formation of the "Hill Entertainment Services District" is representative of their dismissive and disrespectful attitude throughout this entire process and is, in no way adequate, given the fact that no details have been presented and is not included in their application for a license.

We stand together in saying we do not want a casino on the Hill!

Very truly yours,

James Archie - Community Elder, Community Activist
Stephanie Beechaum - longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Derrick Bell, Esquire – Born and raised in Hill District, First African American tenured Harvard Law School Professor, Visiting Professor, University of Pittsburgh Law School
James Boddy, Jr. - longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Annie Carter – Hill District Resident, Community Elder
Edna Council – Hill District Resident, Community Elder, Member, Hill District Consensus Group
Freda Ellis – Lifelong Hill District Resident, Community Elder, sister of the late August Wilson
Kimberly C. Ellis, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Goddess) – longtime Hill District Resident, Organizer, Raise Your Hand! No Casino on the Hill Campaign, niece of the late August Wilson
Paul Ellis, Jr., Esquire – longtime Hill District Resident, nephew of the late August Wilson
Rev. and Mrs. George – longtime Hill District Community Elders and worshippers, Retired Pastor and First Lady Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church
Rev. Glenn G. Grayson – Pastor Wesley AME Church, Hill District Resident
Tamanika Howze – longtime Hill District Resident, Community Elder and Activist
Winnifred Jackson - longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Ruby Kendricks - longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Bonnie Laing, Ph.D. – Hill District Resident, Community Activist
Justin Laing – Hill District Resident, Community Activist
Robert D. Lavelle - lifelong Hill District Resident, Community Activist
Robert M. Lavelle – longtime Hill District Resident, President Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, Scout Master Boy Scout Troop 93
Robert R. Lavelle – longtime Hill District Resident, Community Elder, Founder, Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, Founder, Lavelle Real Estate Co.
Thelma Lovette – longtime Hill District Resident, Community Elder and Activist
Jeanne McNutt – Hill District Business Owner, Uptown
Momar Milliones – lifelong Hill District Resident
Rev. Johnnie Monroe – Pastor, Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church
Veronica Morgan-Lee, Ph.D. – longtime worker in the Hill District, Community Elder, worshipper at St. Benedict the Moor Church
Betty Penny – Hill District Resident, Community Elder and Activist, wife of the late Rob Penny
Sharon Porter – Community Elder, Long time Hill District Resident
Lou Ransom – Hill District Resident
Gerri Ransom – Hill District Resident
Carmen Smith - longtime Hill District Resident, Bentley Dr.
Mark Southers – Lifelong Hill District Resident, Founder & Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater
Rev. Lee Wall – Community Activist, Hill District Resident
Jake Wheatley Jr. - Hill District Resident, State Representative 19th Legislative District
Pamela Whitaker, longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Ruth Whitndr - longtime Hill resident, Uptown
Jasiri X – Hill District Resident, Crawford Square
Mary Young – longtime Hill District Resident

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In favor of pluralism

Bill Gusky at Artblog Comments has a wonderful and thought-provoking post about Danto's After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History. Definitely a good read.

Responding to Contemporary Art After the End of Art History

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Overheard in Pittsburgh

I know that almost every city has an overheard blog. So, I was poking around in Pittsburgh's and ran across this gem --

Penn Ave, Strip District.
A 30-something Guy browses the Steelers-related merchandise on the street, reading a few clever t-shirts outload:

Guy: [turning to no one in particulay] What’s a Jag-Off?

Everyone around ignores him.

Guy: I’m serious: What is a Jag-Off?

Mission accomplished

For the last two months, I have been struggling to complete the final cycle of Mean Stream. The project, which I was able to complete because of the generous support of the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, is an epic that covers three generations. I wrote the last verse this afternoon and have just finished formatting the manuscript.

This project has absorbed an enormous amount of energy over the last year. The first two cycles went on paper without any struggle at all and were both complete by May. The last cycle, though, proved much more difficult to write. Also, the project had evolved by the time I had started to third cycle. The original plan was to write the third cycle from the viewpoint of one daughter. The last poem was planned to be the grandmother's funeral from the viewpoint of that child.

I ended up writing the third cycle from the viewpoint of three children, with one having a major role. The last poem centers around an impromtu wake that takes place in a bar.

I am relieved to have completed this project. I will sit on it one more day, read it over one last time, and send the manuscript on to the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation with my heartfelt thanks.

Drink and draw with Tinsel Garland!

We had a great session last night. Tinsel Garland was our model; He had some very inspiring poses. There were a couple costume changes, too. Many thanks to Tommy for putting the set together. The staging was wonderful.


Mike took one of his drawings from the last session and put this together. Pretty great, huh?

If you want to get on the update list for the brillobox Drink and Draw, just email us. And don't forget to check out our Myspace.

The next session is on December 26, Burlesque Boxing on boxing day!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Folds @ Digging Pitt Too

We had a great time folding paper last Saturday. We concentrated mostly on making boxes and gift bags with a few forays into folded shirts and ornaments. Keep your eyes open for other origami workshops at Digging Pitt Gallery and Digging Pitt Too.

Casino troubles

Well, gambling may be legal, but only if you can find a place to put a casino. Personally, I think that there are better options than the Hill district. Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an op/ed piece about the attempts to place a new casino in the Hill district. It got me to think a bit about where a casino should be. Mr. Norman points out that a casino would never be proposed for two of the more affluent neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Although he has a point about the racial make up of those neighborhoods playing a factor, I think it would be just as unlikely for a casino to be placed in any suburban area.

First of all, the city of Pittsburgh needs the revenue that will be generated, so it should stay in the city limits. Our downtown sits in the crux of three rivers, so real estate in downtown is pretty limited. While there are several open open properties, the geography of the city does not allow for much growth. I can understand why the Hill was chosen as a possible site; it is situated right above downtown. But it is also isolated, with the arena and major roadways interupting the flow from downtown. It is also a strictly residential area. There are no, and I mean no, businesses in the Hill district.

I think the best place for the casino would be on the south shore, accross the bridge from downtown. There is already a mall, Station Square, a couple of natioanl chain entertainment venues (like Hooters)and room for growth along the strip between the rise of land to Mount Washington and the Monongahela river. There is also an outdoor arena that has hosted bands and other events.

The north shore would be a good alternative. The two new stadiums are already there, so there's plenty of parking.

They should just leave the Hill alone. Why ruin a perfectly good residential area? You should see the vista of the city from the crests of the Hill district. There is a lot of beauty in the Hill.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Digging Pitt Gallery small works

While you're out and about, checking in with the galleries here in the 'burgh, make sure that Digging Pitt Gallery is on your list of stops. The current small works exhibit amasses a varity of work that shows to great advantage artists represented in Digging Pitt's flat file archive.

At no other time has Digging Pitt's ideology been so apparent as with this show. The work is consistently good, ranging from the truly bizarre to the deeply beautiful. Digging Pitt is the antithesis of the white-box gallery. While the work presented in traditional galleries are without doubt of high quality, there is also no doubt about who is in charge in these presentations. The artist has, at best, a secondary role with the curator or director the real star. This includes a number of so-called alternative spaces whose presentations, while challenging, are far from democratic or inclusive. While many make the effort to present challenges to the viewer, they share the same insider bias that is prevalent within the traditional gallery system. In addition, viewing is limited since many of these venues have erratic or limited hours.
The gallery was started by John Morris, who moved here from New York in 2004 with the express purpose of opening a gallery. Digging Pitt is modeled after the Pierogi Gallery, located in Brooklyn. Digging Pitt, much like the Pierogi gallery, brings a wide range of works from a vast array of artists, into one small area. Several articles have been written about Pierogi. You can read more on their site. Following is an excerpt from Gregory Volk's essay on Pierogi's flat files:
Moreover, there seems to be a vast gulf between this era and others when
galleries—in addition to their major business of selling or merchandising
art—were also cathartic arenas where people met, exchanged ideas, mixed it up,
formed friendships, engaged in foolishness and exploration, and where other
genres like music and literature made frequent appearances.
The gallery itself is dominated by large flat files, the drawers of which contain folios of carefully stored artwork. Perusing the collection of artwork gives one a sense of discovery, delving into unknown depths in search of some hidden gem. When you walk into the gallery you get such a sense of discovery, with a feeling that there are no wrong choices.