oranje - recent posts from my current home

Friday, December 28, 2007

I can hear the swans singing

For the last two years, I have been working at Digging Pitt Gallery for John Morris. The gallery, and its operations, have been a major part of my life for that time. In two years, Digging Pitt has produced over thirty exhibits, not to mention artist talks, workshops and readings. The most recent exhibit, The Blogger Show, has been a monumental effort. It is also Digging Pitt's swan song.

In just two short weeks, the gallery will be closing its doors. We began handing work back to the artists in mid-December. With nearly two hundred artists represented in the flat file archive, this is proving to be as monumental a task as coordinating The Blogger Show.

Several people have lent their time and energy to the gallery in significant ways over the last two years that I have worked at the gallery. Jean McClung has been a tireless advocate, closely involved with gallery operations. Larry Swiech has, without fail, been available to assist with his presence when we needed an extra hand. When he was still living in Pittsburgh, Robert Franklin made himself available in a number of ways. There are many other people that have played a part in keeping the gallery alive, too many to catalog here. But please know that all of you have my gratitude for your kindness.

And so, we come to the end. But also to the beginning of this fine madness: John Morris.

Dear John,

Your tireless advocacy of Pittsburgh artists on their home ground is very much appreciated by a significant number of the gallery artists. Your vision cast light on a different path for many of them, encouraging many, and especially me, to consider other avenues. Your generosity in supporting and championing the visual arts is humbling.

Thank you, John Morris. You're a hero.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The elephant in the room

A little late to notice, but it seems that the Pittsburgh Post Gazatte has another arts reviewer. Most of the reviews are written by Mary Thomas, who has been writing for the Post for years.

I admit that I rarely look at the Post's art reviews. They are somewhat sporadic and generally buried. Like most regional newspapers, the Post doesn't even have a visual arts link in their menu banner. And it seemed to me that the majority of the coverage was on the museum and institution blockbuster shows.

But I read Terry Young's review of the Mattress Factory's India this morning --

When we look at the intent of the larger exhibition, in relationship to institutional funding in Pittsburgh, we find an ill-informed curator and director who found nothing "New," as the exhibition title suggests, or even contemporary, but instead brought back mediocrity labeled with the exotic misnomer "India."

The title "India" fulfills a multicultural prerequisite for contemporary arts funding, the original intent of which, like that of the Mattress Factory itself, was supportive of cultural and aesthetic change decades ago but now serves as a linguistic barrier excluding actual contemporary ideas of cultural and aesthetic change. Read the article

Oh ouch, I thought. The elephant in the room is finally seen. While I do believe that non-profit funding is a great avenue for promoting work that is unusual, I do tend to agree that "institutional funding" creates a whole other set of aesthetics and influences of what is seen in our non-profit cultural organizations. At any rate, I ran a search and found this Pop City article about an exhibit, Appalachian Spring Summer and Fall, that Mr. Young put together a couple years ago. From the article --

After leaving Pittsburgh for New York, London and Berlin, Young realized that “how it was everywhere” in the art world was much more trend- and commercial-conscious, and much more gallery oriented. While artists in the art-world capitals were opening vast shows, selling pieces, and striving for an ever-looming specter of fame and success, the artists Young grew up around in Pittsburgh were generally just getting on with the business of making art. Read the article

Well, but, what's wrong with selling your work? It's almost like he's saying it's okay for Pittsburgh artists to be left out of the "booming art market" that artists in other cities enjoy. Because that's what makes our region's art so, well, regional. I would also point out that this perception of Pittsburgh artists is also what keeps them from competing in the larger arena and forces so many talented artists to leave the region.

I am here because I sincerely like this city. But I also sincerely believe that art makers should enjoy the same attributes of success as members of any other profession. I don't believe that poverty is an appropriate ground for the seeds of creativity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bad Santa, no cookie

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
So, I know it has been awhile since I posted about drink & draw. I've just been a little bit busy lately. I missed about three posts for this, I think. Anyway, December 11 was memorable! Our model was Ian Green, who clowns for Zany Umbrella Circus. He was an amazing model, developing an entire character for the evening.

I want to mention, too, that Ian is a painter as well as a clown.

We are taking a brief hiatus from drink & draw, but will be returning on January 8 with Brian Czarniecki. Stay tuned!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Forget

Christmas in Fallujah

Happy Christmas music video by John Lennon

Highway to Hell - Nightmare Before Christmas Music Video

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The SAFE Act

Yes folks, another WTF moment, brought to you by those lovely folks that we've entrusted with our governance -

Wednesday's vote caught Internet companies by surprise: the Democratic leadership rushed the SAFE Act to the floor under a procedure that's supposed to be reserved for noncontroversial legislation. It was introduced October 10, but has never received even one hearing or committee vote. In addition, the legislation approved this week has changed substantially since the earlier version and was not available for public review. - read the article

The SAFE Act is supposed to protect our children from internet predators. Tell me something, aren't the parents supposed to raise their offspring? Hey, I have an idea: let's legislate ourselves into a soft and fuzzy cocoon so that we don't have to make any hard choices or, heaven forbid, actually sit down and have a real conversation with our children about the world.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

December Barely (Merry Christmas) Brunch

December Barely Brunch is coming! Please forward to any and all interested parties. Barely Brunch will be taking place on the second Sunday of each month.

A special Holiday -


Extended session, with two models for five hours!!! 'Cause we love you guys...
Oh, this is going to be such a fun way to celebrate the holidays! See you on Sunday ...

Brew House
Sunday, December 9, 2007
12:00pm - 5:00pm,
doors open at 11:30am
Cost: $10
two models

All skill levels are welcome, and all mediums. (Sorry! No photography!) This is an uninstructed, drop-in session. We have some tables for your use, but bring your own easel if you can!

Please RSVP to this email

Pat Barefoot
The Brew House
2100 Mary Street #402B
Pittsburgh PA 15203

Monday, December 03, 2007

Artist Made Books @Tom Museum

This Saturday December 8th from 7pm to 10pm is the opening of the Artist Made Books exhibit AND....MIMA an installation of miniature art pieces by Alberto Almarza. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Stop on over and enjoy some HOT and cold beverages, snacks, music, and the latest developments of the Tom Museum.

The Tom Museum
410 Sampsonia Way
North Side
of Pittsburgh

Saturday, December 8th from 7pm to 10pm

Artists exhibiting in the book show include Alexis Covato, etta cetera, Rose Clancy, Becky Spevack, Scott Andrew, Jessica Scott, Chris Kardambikis, Morgan Cahn, Susan Constanse, Claudia Giannini, Alberto Almarza, and Sheila Ali.