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.
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I’m in the process of planning an Art Olympic Festival to take place on Saturday, August 29th 2015 on the North Side of Pittsburgh. The event, a contest inspired by the Iron Chef TV show, features three teams of artists competing over three hours to make winning sculptures out of piles of junk. Teams are judged in categories such as “creative use of materials and best performance.” The highly interactive event allows audience members to get up close and see the work in progress. Visitors are welcome to make commentary on the show, and to participate in a “half-time show” competition. The August 29th event will by hosted by the Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center as part of their Fallow Grounds artist residency series. Festivities are scheduled to begin at 4 PM and run until 6:30 PM. The event, located at an empty lot near the Neu Kirche Center, is free and open to the public. Previous Art Olympic main event shows have happened at the Mattress Factory, The Union Project, the New Hazlett Theater, and Market Square. Shorter, table top events have taken place at the August Wilson Center and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
Here are three kinetic pieces that I recently made and shipped out to Brooklyn for a small works show (set to take place during the 2015 Bushwick open studios). The Tiny Art Show (organized by NY artist Mary Ivy Martin) is taking place at 114 Forrest Street, Studio 4A. Show times are: Friday, June 5, 7 PM – 9 PM, Saturday June 6, Noon – 7 PM and Sunday, June 7, Noon – 7 PM.
Here is a piece I made in 2008 using random junk, some toy motors, and scrap wood.
Obsessions at SPACE Gallery will be wrapping up this weekend. It’s been a great show. Lots of people are drawn in by the buzzing sound of insects in the outdoor video piece by Jason Lockyer. I encountered these children “dancing for the bees” on a cold January morning.
Here is a link to Lissa Brennan’s review of the show in the Pittsburgh CP: Artists explore their Obsessions at Space
And more by Mike May in Pittsburgh Magazine.
A collection of my puppets and props used in puppet show over the past 15 years will be on display January and February of 2015 at the Sewickley Public Library, in Sewickley, PA. Curated by Randi Morgan, the show is viewable during library hours. Highlights of the display include puppets from a production the Aristophanes play Peace, and puppets from my Dada show Flight Out of Time. All characters are handmade from wood, cardboard, papier-mâché, repurposed materials and paint. On Saturday, February 28th, I’ll be performing shows with puppeteer Mike Cuccaro in the library community room. The family shows will start at 2 PM and 3:30 PM. Please watch the Sewickley Public Library Website for details.
I met Steve Smith around 2001 when I was working at the art supply store on S. Craig Street, near the Carnegie Museum of Art. Steve stopped in regularly to get supplies and show off his latest creations. He always had a sketchbook in the works. He would fill ten or more pages a day with memories from his childhood, interpretations of stories in the news, or historical events. He drew the compositions quickly, and then filled them in with pattern and color. His earlier works in colored pencil and pastel are very meticulous. His later works in acrylic are bold and spontaneous. In his teenage years, Steve spend a lot of time studying tribal artwork from Africa, Ancient Egyptian Art and Pre-Columbian Art. Although his career dreams were challenged by health issues, Steve pushed ahead and continued to make art.
Steve’s works have appeared in many of my projects. In 2004, I featured his work in an exhibition at The Brew House titled, From the Inside. In 2006, Steve had a solo exhibition at my Tom Museum project at the Mattress Factory. Steve’s works have also been featured in exhibitions in Pittsburgh hospitals and shops.
Today Steve has a collection of paintings and drawings that document the events of his life. He continues to make work at his home in the East End of Pittsburgh. His work will be featured in my upcoming project, The Sideways Museum, opening in late January in the Cultural District of Downtown Pittsburgh.
I just found this in a stack of sketches. A couple of days before the opening of the 2013 Carnegie International, the museum threw a party at the basement bowling alley of the William Pitt Union. Artists let loose, exhibiting some of the strangest bowling techniques I’ve ever seen. Drawing includes Lara Favaretto, Wade Guyton, Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, Tina Kukielski, Tobias Madison, Dinh Q. Lê, Pedro Reyes, Pierre Leguillon, Lynne & Paul Zelevansky.