Combining humor, social commentary and a low-tech aesthetic, Tom Sarver explores relationships between the art world and the everyday. His projects span a variety of disciplines including performance, installation, puppetry and events. Sarver’s concepts are often realized in storefronts, houses, and public spaces. These include building an evolving museum in a city row house (The Tom Museum at The Mattress Factory), opening a “bait & tackle” shop installation in Downtown Pittsburgh, and coordinating a series of Olympic-inspired performance events. Sarver also practices traditional art making methods including drawing, painting and sculpture. From 1999 through 2008, Sarver was a core organizer of The Black Sheep Puppet Festival, a national festival of activist and experimental puppetry. He holds a B.F.A. in Painting from Tyler School of Art, Temple University and an M.F.A. in multidisciplinary Arts from SUNY Purchase College. Sarver continues to perform and promote puppetry in Pittsburgh. A selection of his work (28 puppets from shows developed from 1997 through 2013) was featured in an installation at the 2013 Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. From 2016 through 2019 he was an organizer of the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh.

Solo Exhibitions & Larger Projects 


Pittsburgh Drawings – To be announced!


Selected Works, 1990’s through 2017, Eastside Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Art Olympics at Re:New Festival, Pittsburgh, PA


Art Olympic Festival, East Deutschtown, Pittsburgh, PA

Puppet World, Nutting Art Gallery, West Liberty University, West Liberty, WV

Behind the Curtain, Sewickley Public Library, Sewickley, PA


The Occasional Market, 707 Penn Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Queasy, Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery, Purchase, NY


Sarver’s Bait & Tackle, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA


Cooking With Sticks, Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA


The Tom Museum, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA


Political Gizmology, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA


From Puppets to Paintings, AAP Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Dreamscapes, The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions


The Salvation of Art, Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Artists, Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, Pittsburgh, PA

Curated by Sheila Ali

Pretty Ugly, James Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


John Riegert, SPACE Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Tiny Art Show, 2015 Bushwick Open Studios, New York, NY


2013 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (Collection of 28 puppets made and used in performance between 1997 and 2013, presented within Paulina Olowska’s installation, Puppetry in America is Truly a Lonely Craft).

Curators: Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski

Crowdsourced, SPACE Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: Robert Raczka

The One That Got Away, Brew House, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: Jaci Rice


Small Step, Giant Leap, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA


Reflectons: Homage to Dunkard Creek, Jackson Kelly Gallery, Morgantown, WV

Your Place at the Banquet, Future Tenant Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Pulp Friction, James Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

Planet of Slums, Mason Gross Galleries, New Brunswick, NJ

Curators: LaToya Frazier and Omar Lopez-Chahoud

Gulf Oil Disaster Response, Landslide Gallery, Chicago, IL

Curated by The Foster Collective

The Real LR word, Ligne Roset, Park Avenue South, New York, NY

Curator: Omar Lopez-Chahoud

AbstrACTION, The Arts Exchange, White Plains, NY

Curator: Dara Meyers-Kingsley

Five Alive, Mona Rowe Gallery, New York, NY


Faux Show, Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery, Purchase, NY


Pittsburgh Biennial, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA


8 – Hour Drawings, Bowman Gallery, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

Curator: Robert Raczka


My Space, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: Sharmila Venkatasubban

Tom Sarver and Francis Crisafio, Digging Pitt Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: John Morris


Members Exhibition, Brew House Space 101, Pittsburgh, PA

Annual Exhibition, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: Katherine Talcott

Puppets, Masks and Art in Motion, Artists Upstairs, Pittsburgh, PA

Curator: Tavia LaFolette


AMP, The Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

Juried by Tom Sokolowski


Gestures, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA

Curators: Michael Olijnyk and Graham Shearing

Selected Performances


The Farmers and The Bugs, Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh Annual Puppet Slam, WBU Event Venue, Pittsburgh, PA


Joe Magarac Stores, A Puppet Show in Three Parts

Commissioned by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art for their annual Family Day event. With collaborator Michael Cuccaro.  Greensburg, PA


Rip Van Winkle and The Crazy Quilt, A Puppet Show in Four Parts

Commissioned by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art for their grand re-opening. With collaborator Michael Cuccaro.  Greensburg, PA


Flight Out of Time, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA

Puppetry performance with Michael Cuccaro (2013 Carnegie International programming)


Serra Site for End Times Therapy, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA

With collaborators Daniel Baumann, Tobias Madison and Flavio Merlo

Excerpts of Aristophanes’ Peace, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA

Puppet show with Mike Cuccaro


Digestion, Future Tenant Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Art Olympic Theatre IV, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Market Square,

Pittsburgh, PA (featured festival event)

Art Olympic Theatre III, Union Project, Pittsburgh, PA


Installation Olympic Theatre, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA

Art Olympic Theatre II, New Hazlett Theater, Pittsburgh, PA


Global Warming, Art All Night, Pittsburgh, PA (solo site-specific performance)

World Stage, Flux 12, Pittsburgh, PA (solo site-specific performance)

Curator: Sharmila Venkatasubban


Perseus, Medusa and The Magic Frisbee, Fifth Annual Black Sheep Puppet

Festival, Pittsburgh, PA (puppetry collaboration with team of ten artists and




ioby crowdfunding award for Art Olympic Festival


A.W. Mellon Award, Pittsburgh Foundation


A.W. Mellon Award, Pittsburgh Foundation


Seed Award, Sprout Fund

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Mayor’s Award for Public Art

Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Grant

Small Arts Initiative Grant, Heinz Endowments


Creative Heights Initiative Grant, Heinz Endowments



Fallow Grounds for Sculpture Residency, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh, PA


Future Tenant Art Space, Trespass Performance Residency (Puppet Happening project), Pittsburgh, PA


Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA

2007 – ongoing

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts School and Community


Exhibitions Curated


Future/Present, Group A exhibition at Panza Gallery (juror), Millvale, PA


The Sideways Museum, Window SPACE, Pittsburgh, PA


Obsessions, SPACE Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA


Lascaux to Garfield, Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, Pittsburgh, PA


Binding Forces, Works by self-taught artists Dorothy Williams and Doug

Hill, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA


From the Inside, Works by self-taught artists Steve Smith, Robert Wright

and Dorothy Williams, Brew House Space 101, Pittsburgh, PA


What It Is, Brew House, Pittsburgh, PA (street art festival and exhibition

included over forty artists and musicians; co-curated with Alexis Covato)


Dorothy Williams and Steve Smith, Top Notch Art Centre Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA

Selected Bibliography

Heyl, Eric. “Upper St. Clair Students Collaborate With Area Artists.” Patch Media, June 6, 2018.

Fleegle, Erika. “Neu Kirche celebrates public art initiatives…” The Northside Chronicle, September 3rd, 2015

Thomas, Mary. “Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center opens Saturday.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 25th, 2015

Brennan, Lisssa. “WINDOWSPACE.” Pittsburgh City Paper, March 25th, 2015

Mohan, Nina. “26 Ways Pittsburgh Ruins Your Life”, BuzzFeed, March 4th, 2015

Shaw, Kurt. “Sideways Museum at Space.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 25, 2015

Larson, Kyle. “Puppet artist brings creations, performance to Sewickley Public Library.” Trib Total Media / Sewickley Herald, February 18, 2015

Brennan, Lissa. “Artists Explore Their Obsessions at Space.” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 15, 2015

Examiner.com. “Tilt Your Way Into the Sideways Museum.” January 10, 2015

Shaw, Kurt. “Obsessions at Space gallery in Cultural District.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 17, 2014

Shaw, Kurt. “Tom Sarver, The Occasional Market.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 11, 2014

Raczka, Robert. “Marketing Strategies.” Pittsburgh City Paper, May 21, 2014

Thomas, Mary. “Art Notes: Carnegie International gears up for second half.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 14, 2014

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Carnegie Museum of Art presents puppet programs for adults & children, January 14, 2014

Griffin, Jonathan. “2013 Carnegie International.” Art Agenda, January 7, 2014

Contemporary Art Daily, “Carnegie International.” October 22, 2013

Russeth, Andrew, “The 2013 Carnegie International in Photos.” Gallerist NY, October 8, 2013

Turri, Scott, “Crowdsourcing Creativity.” artHOPPER, August 2, 2013

Shaw, Kurt. “The Public Helped…” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 31, 2013

Raczka, Robert. “The artists of Keystone West…” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 9, 2013

Piechocki, Renee; Zorch, Laura; Hansen, Kate. “Pittsburgh Art in Public Places.” Office of Public Art, 2013

Hodara, Susan.  “Celebrating Artists Who Keep the Action in Abstraction.” The New York Times, May 7, 2010

Thomas, Mary. “2009 Turned International Spotlight on Pittsburgh’s Art Scene.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 6, 2010

Nelson Jones, Diana. “A wee alley, a world stage.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 16, 2009

Crawley, Dave, “Fish Artist.”  KD Country, KDKA, CBS Broadcasting, Pittsburgh, June 12, 2009

Shaw, Kurt, “Faux bait shop hooks Three Rivers Arts Festival visitors.”  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 10, 2009

Thomas, Mary.  “Tom Sarver goes fishing for ideas at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 4, 2009

Puppetry International, “40 Under 40, Quick Takes on Young Masters World-Wide.”  Spring and summer, 2009

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, WV.  “3 teams of artists face off in challenge.” October 11, 2007

Diehl, Dawnlyn, “From Puppets to Political Activism.”  Pittsburgh Metropolitan, March / April 2007

Ganster, Kathleen, “His home, his work, His museum.”  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 24, 2006

Shaw, Kurt.  “Puppet Master.”  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 7, 2006

O’Toole, Christine.  “The Tom Show.” Pittsburgh Magazine, September 2006

Hundt, Brad.  “At the Tom Museum, it’s all about an artist named Tom.”  Washington Pennsylvania Observer-Reporter, September 8, 2006

Shaw, Kurt.  “Personal Space.”  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 13, 2006

Knepp, Gregory M.  “Space Crafts.”  Pittsburgh City Paper, April 2006

Mickens, Julie and Mull, Heather. “New Visions, Old and Young. Self-taught Artists Dorothy Williams and Steve Smith at Top Notch.” Pittsburgh City Paper, December 2003

Venkatasubban, Sharmila.  “Small, Good Things.”  Pittsburgh City Paper, December 25, 2002

Thomas, Mary.  “Bright Images, “home” assemblages light up galleries.”  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 13, 2001