Here is a piece I made in 2008 using random junk, some toy motors, and scrap wood.
Here is a piece I made in 2008 using random junk, some toy motors, and scrap wood.
The Sideways Museum is officially up for viewing today. The project features the work of seven Pittsburgh artists including Jim Rettinger, Liz Hammond, the late Dorothy Williams, Steve Smith, Joann Kielar and Doug Hill. As organizer, I’ve styled the show with logo, Chartreuse green walls and a few of my own works.
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.
I’ll be rotating work by the late Pittsburgh visionary artist Dorothy Williams through The Sideways Museum starting Friday, January 23rd. Williams (1926-2005) created dozens of works in her retirement remembering important events of her life growing up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. The works were created by gluing strands of embroidery floss, one string at a time, to various types of cardboard. Her subject matter included family and social scenes, floral arrangements, nature and abstractions. I’ve been trying to spark some interest in her works since 2001.
My latest storefront project will be unveiled on January 23rd, 2015 in the newly developed Window SPACE, a special projects/installation room of SPACE gallery in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. The project is titled The Sideways Museum. It will be viewable 24 hours a day as a window display at 812 Liberty Avenue. Interior viewing of The Sideways Museum will be limited to appointments and special occasions. The project will be up through May 3rd.
The Sideways Museum will feature a collection of works by Pittsburgh-based artists exploring folk and visionary art traditions. Artists include Doug Hill, Joann Kielar, Jim Rettinger, Steve Smith, Liz Hammond and Dorothy Williams. I will also have some of my own works in the mix. Works will be arranged salon-style with a numbered chart for identification of paintings, sculptures, puppets and other art objects. As organizer, I will arrange and maintain the project. Alterations will be made to the display periodically and new works will be added, keeping the display in a state of flux.
The Sideways Museum focuses on artists who often go unnoticed by art-world institutions. These artists have developed styles that are inspired by the Pittsburgh region as well as by daily life in the specific communities in which they live. Rather than reacting to trends in the art world, these artists pursue depth of meaning and invention, creating work on their own terms.
The Sideways Museum is an extension of my community-based projects. It begins as a window display at SPACE. It has the potential to grow legs and become a long-term project, in a site of its own. Below are a list of artists who will be featured in the initial presentation of the museum. As the project grows, more artists may be be added.
Interdisciplinary artist Liz Hammond has been active in music, performance art, sculpture, and theater. In the 1990s she was a member of the Industrial Arts Co-op, the team of salvage artists that created the monumental Carrie Deer sculpture at the abandoned Carrie Furnace industrial site in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Recently, Hammond has been creating a collection of soft sculpture fiber work she calls Simple Cells. These abstract works, exploring form and materials, suggest ideas for larger structures.
East Pittsburgh artist Doug Hill creates simple machines out of cardboard. Hill’s inspiration for these sculptures comes from the gadgets of everyday life. He closely observes everything from bus doors to clocks and Venetian blinds. Hill’s work was featured in an exhibition at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 2008. His work has also been shown at The Brew House and The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination.
Joann Kielar is a Pittsburgh artist, puppeteer, and storyteller. As an educator, she promotes the art of puppetry with projects in schools and at community events. In her work she explores the interaction of words and images. Her handcrafted glove puppets, rod puppets, and doll-like characters are designed in visual accompaniment to the stories that she writes.
Jim Rettinger has been active in the arts in Western Pennsylvania for many years, and he was a public school art teacher for 38 years. His sculptural assemblages fuse decaying wood, obscure antique objects, and hand-formed clay. The resulting creations are expressive creatures, symbolic constructions, and surrealist visions. In one of his works, Rettinger comments on the passage of time by stacking and gluing together many clock radios, all plugged in with flashing displays.
Tom Sarver is a Pittsburgh puppeteer, artist, and curator. His projects with Pittsburgh visionary artists include curating a 2008 exhibition at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, titled Binding Forces, and a 2004 show at The Brew House, titled From the Inside. From September 2006 through May 2008, Sarver included work by local self-taught and professional artists in his live-in project at the Mattress Factory, The Tom Museum.
Steve Smith’s paintings are inspired by personal experience, world events, and news broadcasts. His style is influenced by ancient and primitive cultures. As a teenage art student in Braddock, Pennsylvania, Smith was fascinated by the early cultures of Egypt, Africa, and the Americas. Although health issues challenged his career dreams, Smith pushed ahead and continued to make art. Today, Smith has a collection of drawings, sketches, and paintings that document the events of his lifetime. His bold, patterned works have been shown in Pittsburgh hospitals, shops, and neighborhood art galleries.
Dorothy Williams (1926–2005), from the Hill District and later East Liberty, had a professional career as counselor for women in prison. Later in life, she began creating images made by gluing colored embroidery floss, one string at a time, to pieces of cardboard. The works document rich memories of her African-American heritage, and they also reveal themes of racial equality and integration. Her many string painting images include an integrated dance party, a fishing outing, and running home from school in the rain. Her work has been exhibited in shows at Top Notch Art Centre, The Tom Museum, The Brew House, and Pittsburgh Center for The Arts.
SPACE is located at 812 Liberty Avenue. Gallery Hours: Wed & Thurs: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fri & Sat: 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public. SPACE is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit TrustArts.org.
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.
Here are some more shots of Obsessions. Also make sure to check out the review by Kurt Shaw in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. CLICK HERE
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.