Here is a close-up look at Puppet City, my sculptural installation in the group show, Pulp Friction, opening Friday at James Gallery, Pittsburgh. Puppets (and Puppet City) will be for sale.
SCALE at SPACE
This show was über-slick and more pretentious than I thought it would be. My favorite piece is the functional public shower by Derk Volmuth. The piece invites an array of thoughts ranging from social taboos to class issues. It speaks to passersby. It is hilarious and inviting. I’m planning to take a shower there this week. In regards to the theme, I was expecting to see a bit more chaos and improvisation. Bill Daniel’s Tumbleweed Connection is a collection of found artifacts and personal photography narrating the artist’s travels as “drifter” in and anarchist, off-the-grid America. In presentation, this work is missing the grittiness that I would expect in such a display. The Guffey Hollow installation gives me the impression of a hipster design studio branding a new product. It seemed kind of silly to me, as it didn’t connect to the historical reference in a meaningful or provocative way. Overall, the show is worth a look. I would suggest bringing your own shampoo, towel, and shower shoes just in case.
Things That Float at PCA
It was hard to get a good look at everything at the opening for this show, but what I saw was impressive. Greg Witt has constructed a clever array of sculptures utilizing electrical gadgets and everyday materials like drywall. One of the pieces, a giant machine with operational drywall gears, shimmies and wobbles in manner that is both seductive and unnerving. (Someone next to me at the opening mentioned feeling seasick in the room.) The work is far beyond “emerging artist material.” I hope it travels to Chelsea.
Also Downtown….I wish there were more galleries beyond the Trust’s conglomerate. At least they are consistent in offering clean, well-staffed spaces. The Forest Through The Trees by Deanna Mance and Maria Mangano is worth visiting. Mangano’s installation of grasshoppers is my favorite for this show. (A great blend of craft, printmaking tradition and innovative concept.) If you are looking for some interactive entertainment, Wood Street Galleries has a fun sound installation up through December 31st.
I held a bulldog on a leash. I watched an artist light a painting on fire with gunpowder. I was nearly asphyxiated by the chemicals in his studio. The smell didn’t seem to bother him. I tried to visit galleries in Downtown Pittsburgh but they were closed. I looked into the window of one and saw some random items on a blanket on the floor. Traffic in the city was a nightmare. A bus forced me to make a right turn (instead of a left) directing me toward a roadblock that I did not remember. I sat in the Beehive and drank a couple cups of coffee. A lot of old friends were there. I recognized an actress from some local plays sitting at a table next to me. I wanted to say hello and tell her that I had seen her performances, but that would have been awkward. I walked down East Carson Street and stopped for hot roast beef sandwiches with some friends. I looked around the old Brew House and wondering if the place would ever be filled with activity again. A door was collaged with some old baseball cards from the 1980’s.
I haven’t exhibited work in a Pittsburgh group show in a while. This will be my first time showing at James Gallery in the West End. Considering this lineup of artists and the Pulp Friction title, the show will definitely have some interesting surprises. I will be presenting a puppet-themed sculptural installation inspired by time spent “people watching” in both New York City and Downtown Pittsburgh.
“Nosebleeds, rashes, welts, stuttering and shaking.”* (What airborne chemicals from shale gas drilling may cause.) What will the chemicals in our water supplies cause?
Pittsburgh City Council members deserve a lot of credit. In standing up for the health and future of city residents, they have resisted the temptation of rapid, unregulated industrialization. In voting to ban gas drilling in the city, they are aiming to protect communities, culture, and the ideals of creative residents that strive to hold the city up to the “most livable city” title. Residents of Pittsburgh take pride in the transformation of the city from the soot, smog and rust image of the past, to a place of environmental and high-tech innovation. Concern for the environment is a common topic in Pittsburgh. It is prevalent in art exhibitions, in eco-friendly small businesses, in outdoor groups, and in almost every educational program that I have been a part of. Kayaking in the river is now a regular pastime. New bicycle and pedestrian paths wrap along the rivers and connect communities. Pittsburgh is also known for restoration of buildings and creative reuse initiatives. Fishing in the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela has also become popular. Two nationally televised fishing tournaments have been held in Pittsburgh within the past ten years. Thirty years ago, fishing in Pittsburgh was abysmal. Even with the positive changes, a lot more can be done. Cancer rates in Western Pennsylvania are high. Sewage still overflows into the rivers with every hard rain. Chemicals from sewage water are entering waterways, causing biological changes in certain fish species. All in all, and despite economic struggle, Pittsburgh is moving in the right direction.