Re:New Art Olympic Champions!

Pittsburgh artist Ryder Henry led team Answers to victory in the tenth Art Olympic competition on Saturday at the Re:NEW Festival, Downtown Pittsburgh. Henry’s team members included Nick Falwell, Kate Bechak and Jennifer Bechak. Henry and team were permitted to bring one brown paper bag of tools into the contest, a bag that appeared to contain a bunch of rusty hand tools. Wasting no time, Answers began by dumping their giant palette of Goodwill merchandise onto their nine foot by nine foot working area. Adversity struck early as a greasy mess oozed from an unidentifiable object being cut with a Sawzall. As their space transformed into an oil slick, event organizers raced to contain the spill.  Frantic team members broke down furniture by smashing chairs to the ground. Eventually Answers caught their stride. Objects provided by Goodwill, the event sponsor, were used in clever ways. A rotary telephone was created, complete with dialing mechanism and ringer. At the end, Henry dialed the phone and ordered pizza, singing a jingle recalled from the distant past, “twenty-nine minutes or it’s free!”

Several audience member’s were victorious in the audience participation games. Ryder Henry’s wife Maya took a break from cheering and won the puppet making competition. A recent arrival from Russia, Sasha, won the Halftime Sculpture Contest.  Kirsten Ervin won the Seventh Inning Sketch, capturing a confident likeness of art critic Graham Shearing.

Images by Larry Rippel Photography.

Art Olympics Crew, Kristen Barca, Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro.

Art Olympics crew: Kristen Barca, Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro.

 

Team Answers making the call that sealed their victory.

Team Answers making the call that sealed their victory.

 

Sasha is declared winner of the Halftime Sculpture Contest.

Sasha is declared winner of the Halftime Sculpture Contest.

 

Zach and Maya competing in the Puppet Making Audience Challenge.

Zach and Maya competing in the Puppet Making Audience Challenge.

 

 

Coming in a close second place was Team: Our Powers Combined, led by Audra Clayton.

Coming in a close second place was Our Powers Combined, led by Audra Clayton.

 

Team "Trebuchet" Led by Sam Turich, toasting the start of the competition.

Team “Trebuchet” Led by Sam Turich, toasting the start of the competition.

 

Kirsten Ervin with Graham Shearing after the Seventh Inning Sketch.

Kirsten Ervin with Graham Shearing after the Seventh Inning Sketch.

 

Art Olympics at Re:New Festival

Five audience member took part in the Seventh Inning Sketch, a portrait sketching contest with art critic and event judge Graham Shearing serving as model.

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Each Art Olympic Team was provided with a basic tool kit and a giant bin of Goodwill items.  Teams were allowed to bring in one brown paper grocery bag of their own objects.

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Alisha Wormsley of “Team Trebuchet” interacting with a member of the audience.

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Ryan (Water) and Audra (Earth) of team “Our Powers Combined” discuss strategy.

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Event judge Gwen Bowman observes the theatrical developments of Gab Cody and “Team Trebuchet.”

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Artist T.Foley, a participant in first Art Olympics of 2007, provides a personal account of her time in the Art Olympic arena.

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Activity branched out well beyond the team nine foot by nine foot spaces.

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The crowd awaits the winner of the puppet making contest.

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An audience member provided feedback on the work in progress.

b0133 “Team Trebuchet” arrived with their brown paper bag filled with books. Here team leader Sam Turich reads as judge Graham Shearing looks on.

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Team “Our Powers Combined” invited audience members into their square to MAKE ART.

 

 

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Teams & Judges Announced for September 17th Art Olympics.

It’s going to be an interdisciplinary arts showdown on Saturday September 17th in Downtown Pittsburgh as three teams of Pittsburgh artists representing a wide range of creative practices face off in a two-hour art-making challenge.  Art Olympics begins with an opening ceremony at 6 PM at the Re:NEW Festival’s 623 Smithfield Street location.  The teams will begin building at 6:30 PM and work for two hours.  The winning team will be announced just before 9 PM.  The event is free and open to the public.

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The Teams:

Team leader Sam Turich has a background in film and theater.  He will be joined by teammates Alisha Wormsley, Derek Reese and Gab Cody.  Team leader Ryder Henry is a painter and visionary model builder.  His team includes Kate Bechak, Jen Bechak and Nick Falwell.  Team leader Audra Clayton is a clay artist / educator.  Her team will include Ryan McCormick, Christopher Wright and Kara Zuzu.

The Judges:

Judges will include art critic Graham Shearing, Gwen Bowman of Pittsburgh Puppet Works, artist Travis Mitzel and Diana Shark of Goodwill Industries.

Emcees for the event are Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro, with deejay Dave Zak spinning the tunes.

 

 

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Art Olympics at Re:NEW Festival – September 17th, 2016

This September brings a new festival to Pittsburgh.  The Re:NEW Festival celebrates creative reuse, with a monthlong line-up of exhibitions, performances, educational activities and events throughout Downtown Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.  A highlight of Re:NEW is the North American premier of Drap-Art, an international show of art made from repurposed materials.

Re:NEW is the perfect venue for Art Olympics, my game-show style performance project that involves teams making sculptural works out of piles of junk over a two-hour period.  Goodwill Industries is sponsoring the event, so teams will discover a plethora of old wooden furniture and well-used housewares as their building materials are unveiled.

2015 Art Olympics (Larry Rippel Photograph).  The September 17th event will be indoors.

2015 Art Olympics (Larry Rippel Photograph). The September 17th event will take place in a repurposed retail store in Downtown Pittsburgh. 

Art Olympics will take place on Saturday, September 17th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at 623 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. The show will be free to the public.  Stay tuned for more information about teams, judges, and audience activities.

 

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Puppet Shows at The Westmoreland Museum

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located in Downtown Greensburg, Pennsylvania opened its spectacular, newly renovated museum to the public on Sunday, October 25th, 2015. The Westmoreland has nearly doubled its exhibition space, part of which is a massive cantilever wing walled with windows at its farthest end. The museum has a great variety of historical painting, folk art, bronze sculpture and work by self-taught artists. Mike Cuccaro and I were commissioned to create a series of four puppet shows inspired by the museum collection to present at the public opening. The shows were based on the popular Washington Irving character Rip Van Winkle, featured in a prominent museum oil paining by George Frederick Bensell. Shows happened in four separate galleries of the museum. The first show reviewed the Irving story and imaged his famous character traveling to destinations pictured in museum works. The second show is set in a steel mill, with Van Winkle meeting the millworker Mike Kessel, pictured in a painting by Francis Komperda. The third work is inspired by the carnival paintings at the museum, specifically Carnival at the County Fair, by Dorothy Lauer Davids (1939). Puppets and set for the third piece featured carnival goers, carnival workers and a working wheel of fortune for audience members to spin. The final show happened in the ship-like cantilever wing of the museum. Titled A Nautical Adventure, it was a final furthering of the Van Winkle story, with Rip and his sidekick Cubby the dog setting setting sail for a journey of fishing and exploration.

A carnival character inspired by the sculpture The Great Speckled Bird.

A carnival character inspired by the sculpture The Great Speckled Bird.

Rip Van Winkle and Cubby the dog puppets in progress.

Rip Van Winkle and Cubby the dog puppets in progress.

Van Winkle puppet snoozes next to a tree with his crazy quilt covering in Part 1.

Van Winkle puppet snoozes next to a tree with his crazy quilt covering in Part 1.

In Part 1, a toy theater scene features miniatures of main characters.

In Part 1, a toy theater scene features miniatures of the main characters.

Part 1.

Part 1.

Rip and Rip.

Rip and Rip.

Rip's sidekick, Cubby.

Rip’s sidekick, Cubby.

Steel mill setting for second puppet show.

Steel mill setting for second puppet show.

Hand puppet of steelworker Mike Kessel, operated by Mike Cuccaro.

Hand puppet of steelworker Mike Kessel, operated by Mike Cuccaro.

Hot Puppetato!

Hot Puppetato, yeah!

Mike Cuccaro with Mike Kessel puppet, under the Portrait of Mike Kessel.

Mike Cuccaro with Mike Kessel puppet, under the Portrait of Mike Kessel.

The singing eagle.

The singing eagle.

Part 2. Mike Kessel:

Part 2. Mike Kessel: “I take a potato and put in next to the furnace…”

Rip visits a steel mill.

Rip visits a steel mill.

Carnival Time!

Carnival Time!

"Bird's Beards! Best fun on the midway! Everyone's favorite game!"

“Bird’s Beards! Best fun on the midway! Everyone’s favorite game!”

A young baseball player at the carnival.

A young baseball player at the carnival.

Statue of Peace with the infant genius strolling at the carnival.

Statue of Peace with the infant genius strolling at the carnival.

The set for Carnival Time!

The set for Carnival Time!

Part 4, A Nautical Adventure.

Part 4, A Nautical Adventure.

Rip's dog Cubby retrieves his lost possessions, to be repurposed as a sail, ropes and tiller for a ship.

Rip’s dog Cubby retrieves his lost possessions, to be repurposed as a sail, ropes and tiller for a ship.

A toy theater scene in the final act of the puppet show. Rip and his dog set sail on a final adventure at sea.

A toy theater scene in the final act of the puppet show. Rip and his dog set sail on a final adventure at sea.

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Art Olympics – Photo Portfolio

Here is a portfolio of images from the August 29th Art Olympic Festival by Pittsburgh photographer Larry Rippel.  Images Copyright 2015.

Julie Mallis, D.S. Kinsel and Daryl Collier of team Boom Concepts.

Julie Mallis, D.S. Kinsel, Anqwenique Wingfield and Daryl Collier of team Boom Concepts.

Craig Freeman and David Zak of the Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission.

Craig Freeman and David Zak of the Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission.

Tom Sarver Projects

Before the show, piles of junk lay hidden under tarps.

Before the show, piles of junk lay hidden under tarps.

Laura Ramie from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and volunteer Amy Masters ran the Hat Making area.

Laura Ramie from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and volunteer Amy Masters ran the hat making activity.

Teams parade from the Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center to Art Olympic Field, accompanied by Colonel Eagleburger's Highstepping Goodtime Band.

Teams parade from the Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center to Art Olympic Field accompanied by Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band.

Team leader D.S. Kinsel delivers his artist statement.

Team leader D.S. Kinsel delivers his artist statement.

Felipe Garcia-Huidobro, Ryan A. Murray, Hyla Willis and Hannah G. Thompson deliver a team manifesto.

Felipe Garcia-Huidobro, Ryan A. Murray, Hyla Willis and Hannah G. Thompson deliver a team manifesto.

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Art Olympics by Larry Rippel

D.S. Kinsel in action.

D.S. Kinsel in action.

Colonel Eagleburger's Highstepping Goodtime Band.

Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band.

Team Boom Concepts working outside the lines.

Team Boom Concepts working outside the lines.

Interviewing team leader Craig Freeman in the first round of the competition.

Interviewing team leader Craig Freeman in the first round of the competition.

Judge Erika Johnson of Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse critiques the activity.

Judge Erika Johnson of Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse critiques the activity.

Anqwenique Wingfield with an operatic performance.

Anqwenique Wingfield with an operatic performance.

Julie Mallis in action

Julie Mallis in action.

Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission prepares to send a signal into the cosmos.

Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission prepares to send a signal into the cosmos.

Visitors taking part in craft activities.

Visitors taking part in craft activities.

Mike Cuccaro moderates the

Mike Cuccaro moderates the “halftime show.” Two audience members had seven minutes to create sculptures out of the contents of small boxes. Boxes were filled with random items from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

Art Olympics Pittsburgh Halftime Show

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Judges Maritza Mosquera, Erika Johnson, Christiane D, and Wayne Younger debate the winner of the halftime show.

Judges Maritza Mosquera, Erika Johnson, Christiane D, and Wayne Younger debate the winner of the halftime show.

The Art Olympic Festival took place in a rare patch of green space in the East Deutschtown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

The Art Olympic Festival took place in a rare patch of green space in the East Deutschtown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

David Zak and Nathan Curtis working meticulously to use all of their provided junk items.

David Zak and Nathan Curtis working meticulously to use all of their provided junk items.

Led by artist Hyla Willis, team Huff & Puff invited audience members into the square to assist in creating inflated plastic bag forms.

Led by artist Hyla Willis, team Puff and Stuff invited audience members into the square to assist in creating inflated plastic bag forms.

Mike Cuccaro interviews a young audience member.

Mike Cuccaro interviews a young audience member.

“Are you having fun today?”

“I’m the next Art Olympian!”

Team Huff & Puff in action!

Team Puff and Stuff in action!

Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission in action!

Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission in action!

Art Olympics Pittsburgh

Rounding up the judges before the final decision.

Judges making final comments on the show.

Team Boom Concepts after their final presentation.

Team Boom Concepts after their final presentation.

Hyla Willis accepting the second place trophy. It was a very close contest!

Hyla Willis accepting the second place trophy. It was a very close contest!

Nathan Curtis, Craig Freeman, Elizabeth Rudnick and David Zak - winners of the 2015 Art Olympics.

Nathan Curtis, Craig Freeman, Elizabeth Rudnick and David Zak – winners of the 2015 Art Olympics.

Art Olympic Trophy

Comments from Liz Hammond, Emcee, musician and crew member for the 2007 and 2008 Art Olympics.

Comments from Liz Hammond, Emcee, musician and crew member of the 2007 and 2008 Art Olympics.

Finishing touches by Nathan Curtis.

Finishing touches by Nathan Curtis.

The intense seven-minute halftime show.

The seven-minute halftime show.

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Art Olympics Winners Announced!

Art Olympics champions, Nathan Curtis, Elizabeth Rudnick, David Zak and Craig Freeman.  Photo copyright, Larry Rippel.

Art Olympics champions Nathan Curtis, Elizabeth Rudnick, David Zak and Craig Freeman. Photo copyright, Larry Rippel.

Craig Freeman and team crowned “Masters of 2015 Art Olympics.”

On Saturday, August 29th at 6:30 PM, Artist Craig Freeman and his team, the Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission, were declared winners at the Art Olympic Festival in East Deutschtown, Pittsburgh. Rounding out Mr. Freeman’s team were artists Elizabeth Rudnick, Nathan Curtis and David Zak. The team members, who are also skilled art installers at some of Pittsburgh’s most prominent galleries, exhibited focus and ingenuity in repurposing the random junk provided for the contest. Their science fiction theme included the use of screen-printed costumes with a flying saucer logo and team abbreviation, C.C.C.T. Their performance involved attempting to contact extraterrestrials with the intention of petitioning for a living wage for Pittsburgh artists. An antenna was raised and their plea was answered by a supportive signal from the beyond.

Also exhibiting strong showings at the Olympics were Hyla Willis, with teammates Ryan A. Murray, Felipe Garcia-Huidobro and Hannah G. Thompson and D.S. Kinsel with teammates Daryl Collier, Anqwenique Wingfield and Julie Mallis. Ms. Willis and team invited audience members to participate in the creation of inflated plastic sculptural forms, some of which became props for catching the wind. Mr. Kinsel and his team, representing the Garfield art studio Boom Concepts, explored the Black Lives Matter theme. Their performance culminated in a multidisciplinary display of operatic voice, sculptural form and symbolic gesture.

Judges for the competition included Erika Johnson, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Center For Creative Reuse, multidisciplinary artists Christiane D and Maritza Mosquera and Wayne Younger of Cityview Church. Teams were rated in various categories including: creative use of materials provided, following the rules, adherence to team artist statement, aesthetic quality of the final product, and the performance element during the two-hour long event.

Developed by Pittsburgh artist Tom Sarver, Art Olympics features three teams of Pittsburgh artists competing over two hours to build winning sculptures out of random junk materials. The high-energy, reality TV-inspired event allows visitors to get up close and see the art making in progress. Previous Art Olympic events have been held at the Mattress Factory Museum of Art, the Union Project, Market Square during the Three Rivers Arts Festival, New Hazlett Theater, and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

 

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East Deutschtown Mural – MAKE ART!

After about seven days of painting, including a mural painting workshop with neighborhood teenagers, the East Deutschtown, Pittsburgh mural, titled MAKE ART! is completed.  The piece celebrates the spirit of assemblage sculpture, as demonstrated in the event, Art Olympics.  In the center of the piece, three sculpture-like figures attempt to create a kinetic sculpture out of found materials.  On the left, a sign marks the East Deutschtown location for the August 29th 2015 Art Olympic Festival.  Two musicians and a spectator represent the interactive nature of the event.  At the suggestion of local residents, the City of Pittsburgh and other local landmarks were added.  Generous donations of paint were provided by The Home Depot at Ohio Township and Pat Catan’s / Prism Art Supplies at Mt. Nebo.

The new Northside Pittsburgh mural titled, Make Art was completed on August 24th.

The new Northside Pittsburgh mural titled, “Make Art!” was completed on August 24th.

The City of Pittsburgh was added after hearing some feedback from local residents.

The City of Pittsburgh was added after hearing some feedback from local residents.

The completed mural spans the length of an apartment building.

The completed mural spans the length of an apartment building.

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Neu Kirche Art

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