Archive for the ‘Gallery’ Category

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Ron Donoughe

November 27, 2010

Ron Donoughe is a Pittsburgh artist known for his plein air method. He finds outdoor locations in and around Pittsburgh, sets up shop, and paints outdoors. Once he has created his painting, he brings it into his studio to create a larger version. He began his outdoor paintings years ago because he “wanted to do work directly from life in an honest way.” He is interested in light and shadow, as well as how colors change over distance.

When he had begun painting, the work he was doing was “clever. It felt like jumping through intellectual exercises,” and did not involve “experiencing the landscape.” He refers to this as “drawing from the interior rather than the exterior.” He switched to the plein air method because the plein air works were “more honest. They felt true to who I was.”

Donoughe comes from a large family and had seven siblings, one of whom is his identical twin. They grew up in the country, surrounded by cows and chickens, “immersed in the landscape.” During his youth he had a variety of jobs, including landscaping and grave digging, which he did with his twin. The graves were hollowed out with a back hoe, but he and his brother had to climb in with shovels to even them out. “It was a crazy job, but the undertaker always tipped well.” They also had a job that involved catching chickens in the chicken coup, which Donoughe describes as “character building.”

house shadowWhen he began outdoor painting, he painted rural landscapes in all seasons. He has since “warmed up to the urban landscape.” Nowadays he paints both urban and rural landscapes. With his twin brother he owns his parents home, which he frequently visits, finding locations in the area to paint. He also paints every day in Pittsburgh. “It’s part of my routine. I go out looking for subject matter. Something will stop me and call out to be painted.” In his urban paintings, he strives to “give voice to areas of Pittsburgh that don’t get a voice visually.” These days he has been painting in Garfield, Lawrenceville, and Braddock.

At the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Donoughe is currently selling his smaller Melt linepaintings that he completed while outdoors. His winter paintings are some of his most famous for the way they show the play of light, shadow and color on snow. He has paintings from every season in both rural and urban environments.

For more of his work visit his website at : http://www.donoughe.com/ or go to the PCA shop.
http://www.pittsburgharts.org/shop_index.php

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Divided Sky, by Michael Sherwin

September 2, 2010

Michael Sherwin’s exhibit Divided Sky is on display at the Melwood Gallery through October 17th.  A reception will be held on September 30th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, at which Michael Sherwin will discuss his art.

Filmmakers interviewed Michael Sherwin on August 31st about his art, his process, and this current exhibit.

A variety of series created by Sherwin explore the theme of the change inherent in nature. “Everything is in a constant state of change,” he says. “It’s what connects us all. Even the inanimate, at the microscopic level, is changing.” Everything is in “a perpetual state of entropy. Cars, computers, buildings are all alike.”

The interaction of art and science is a theme in many of Sherwin’s works. Art and science overlap in that “artists and scientists are fascinated by wonder and mystery and the natural world.” The main difference is that “scientists are seeking answers; they aren’t content until they get answers.” Whereas, “artists are asking questions, presenting questions to the viewer to come up with their own answers. My work is about the mystery.”Collective Direction by Michael Sherwin

A variety of scientific insights have influenced Sherwin’s work. One of his compilations is a set of arrows from the parking lot of a mall. They are all clearly of the same species, but no two are exactly the same. This relates to evolution and the nature of animals and species that is greatly different from our platonic common sense about the categories of life.

Another major theme in Sherwin’s work is the connection between the macroscopic and the microscopic. Instances of such connections include his work Minor Planets, in which he photographs small rocks against a black background, causing them to look like asteroids and planets. “Deliberately placing clouds with bubbles from waves” is another way in which he deals with this theme. He visually compares the tangible with the inaccessible. “There is just as much going on in your backyard, just as much mystery and fascination, as in the solar system.” Sherwin calls it “the cosmic in your backyard.”

One influence on this way of thinking is his young daughter. “Her relationship with the natural world has infused my work.” The childlike wonder of a world in which everything is new and moving, mysterious and intriguing, is apparent in his art. Sherwin is also interested in the Butterfly effect,the causal relationships between separate things. The web of relations.”

Some of Sherwin’s works involve the appropriation of videos and images from webcams. This is due to his “fascination with the everyday and the ordinary. Webcams are designed and intended to be objective instruments for scientific purposes.” However, often, “objectivity fails” when they are “recording an abstraction.” As an example, Sherwin cites his work entitled True North. This work from True North by Michael Sherwinconsists of images from the webcam situated at the North Pole. “The true North Pole is under water, so the camera is placed on a floating chunk of ice. It is bombarded by extreme weather and can only photograph three months a year. Sometimes the camera is hanging from its mount, or caked in ice. Every few minutes to an hour, an image is transmitted. It is of no real use to scientists.” However, it has an aesthetic appeal. “To me it is really attractive. I have a visceral response to the abstraction.”

Currently on display at Filmmakers’ Melwood Gallery is Divided Sky, a work which includes the combination of photographs by Sherwin of the sky with appropriated images from webcams and the internet. One piece of the work is entitled In The Clouds and contains photographs of the sky that are broken up by Facebook status updates. The sky represents the universality of human experience, and the appropriated images from the internet represent the divide that our technology creates between ourselves and the natural and social world we all inhabit. “Webcams, youtube, internet, social media, and technology have divided us from the natural world, separated us from each other.” The title works “literally for some pieces,” because the sky is overlaid with grid or text. Sherwin says of the work, “it symbolizes the feeling I have about our society and the effect media has on us.”

Sherwin chooses to draw his his images from webcams that depict abstractions. This way, “the viewer has to work,” and can participate in the artistic/scientific processes of observing phenomena and asking questions.

Included in the exhibit are three books derived from Google image searches. Sherwin googles phrases in quotations and collects the images that emerge. When performing the searches, he has an intent, but not an exact vision of what the final outcome will be. The work arises based on the images that are out there on the internet. These books are “commenting on human society’s relationship to the natural world.” In so doing he shows a variety of subjective visions of what we tend to consider objectively describable phenomenon.

The internet has changed our sense of place, time, and physical mapping. According to Sherwin, this is both positive and negative. It has upped our connectivity, but “the process of connecting via wires has separated us from our desperate need for physical connection.” Although Google Earth is an excellent educational tool that gives us perspective on our planet, “it has taken away from our internal compass. The more we rely on GPS and maps, the less independent we are, the more automated we are by machines and technology.” Sherwin says he is as guilty as anyone of this reliance. “I don’t mean to critique society because I am an active part of it. I want to explore.”

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Paper Politics

August 19, 2010

Paper Politics , on display at Space gallery until October 24th, 2010 , is an exhibit of grassroots political posters from around the world. The images depict and react to political and social issues of the past ten years. The messages are of solidarity, revolution, and empowering communities and individuals against capitalism and war.

paper politicsTopics of the posters range from war to evictions, pollution, genocide, Abu Ghraib, women’s issues, health care, transgenic foods, and labor history in Pennsylvania.

Many images play on corporate imagery, essentially uncoopting youth culture from corporations. One shows the McDonald’s arches upside down, reminiscent of the upside down flag, a symbol of maritime distress.

One striking image shows Jesus driving an SUV that is equipped with a rocket launcher.

Many posters show images from war, or from the streets, accompanied by facts or quotes.

Why must these images be put on posters and hung in community spaces? These are images that are not shown in the mainstream media because they show an America that many are uncomfortable with.

Let’s take a minute and talk about our current national discourse. What images and ideas are given to the people? What facts are presented? What phrases are repeated? Our national discourse tends to involve one person or organization proposing legislation. An opposing group claims that said American discourselegislation is being ‘shoved down our throats.’ In order not to seem too overbearing, the legislation is nixed. If a party or organization makes unpopular legislation, blocks popular legislation, or suffers from corruption, they take some other story and blow it up into a media frenzy. The media reports on the emotions of people, and facts are left at the wayside. So, if you want to present information and images about the world we live in, a world with an undercurrent of violence, a world with poverty, unchecked capitalism, war, genocide, greed and weapons, what can you do? You can make a poster and hang it in a public space. Space has a collection of hundreds of such posters, many of which show real images accompanied by facts. All the posters show what we the people are concerned about, and what the media doesn’t address.

Let’s talk about what ideas are considered unacceptable in mainstream America. Marxism is taboo. It seems heretical to many Americans to say that workers should own the profits of their labors. One American mantra is that the rich create jobs, and should thus profit heavily and be taxed lightly in order to incentivize them to create more jobs. I apologize for using the nasty word ‘incentivize’. The fact that that word even exists shows a fundamental believe that people only do things in order to reap a tangible reward.

In America, another entrenched thought is that we are all at the will of the economy. The economy is our ultimate boss, the force that shapes our lives more than any other, and one we cannot control, but can only mildly affect. However, as the posters at Space point out, the economy is a social construct that exists because enough people believe in it to make it manifest. It should not control us. We should control it. If we, as a nation, decided that poverty must be ended, we could end it. We could improve housing, distribute healthy food, and give everyone health care. But these things, although doable, are seen as impossibilities in a capitalist economy. The poster makers at Space are angry about this situation, but also hopeful that given a sea change of opinion, this circumstance can be changed.

capitalism

Another common notion is that war can make the world better. People are killed because of their political beliefs, or because they happen to live in an area governed by people with unsavory political beliefs. It seems obvious that guns cannot bring peace, but somehow that is not part of our national discourse. The media argues how many guns and tanks are necessary to secure an area for democracy, but no talking head ventures that zero might be the ideal number.

The posters in the Space Gallery present images that address these issues. They represent ideas that so many of us agree with, but that are never presented in the mainstream. Seeing these images is refreshing, engaging, and provocative. The best advice I can give you is to turn off your TV, never turn it back on, and go out into the world and see what ideas are floating around in our free, shared, public space.

Space gallery is free and open to the public.

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Hot Stuff: John Miller at Pittsburgh Glass Center

July 28, 2010

Seeing an everyday object in gigantic proportions helps you see the absurdity of it. This is apparent in roadside statues, the giant chickens and insects and Muffler Men who line the highways. It is also apparent in John Miller’s Hot Stuff, now being exhibited at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

Miller has taken Martini glasses, cigarettes, fast food, and car keys and made perfect, oversized renditions of them out of glass. The works have evocative titles, such as “Breakfast of Champions” for a giant beer and cigarette, or “Do Not Duplicate” for a set of car keys. Many works feature the coupling of tobacco and alcohol, while others relate to fast food. They poke fun at our consumer culture by simply being what they are, only larger and well-crafted.

A martini, a cigarette, and a pill are all units of consumption. They are quantifiable, and we often describe our day by saying “I took two aspirin,” or “I had three martinis,” or “I smoke a pack a day.” These little consumables are symbols for greater and less definable forces in our lives, like pain, pleasure, the desire for social acceptance, and addiction. Seeing these items separated from the emotions and situations with which they are usually entangled, and seeing them as sizable, exposes both their power and their silliness. It is silly to allow a unit of alcohol or tobacco represent a day or a night or a life. I’m not sure if this tendency toward metonymy is something bred by commercials, or if it is an inherent psychological principle to narrow ideas and feeling into symbols. Either way, Miller has fun creating and displaying these large objects, and his joy is easily perceivable.

Hot Stuff will be on display at the Pittsburgh Glass Center until September 26th.

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Interplay

June 30, 2010

Interplay, a collaborative exhibition of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and eight affiliated guilds, is open to the public at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts until August 22nd.  It contains 49 works by 45 artists working in a variety of media, from paint, to film, to metal, to found objects. The central theme of the exhibit, interplay, has been interpreted by the artists in a variety of ways. Some explore the interplay of societal elements, some the intersection of opposite ideas, some the visual interplay between colors, words, objects, and images, and some strive to uncover cognitive dissonance.

PCA

Artists have a certain ability to expose unexpected dualities. There are the bright hues of domestic banality, seen through the door and window of a house at nighttime in a video by Lizzy De Vita. In Alan Byrne’s “Crime and Punishment,” there is the glamour of crime set opposite the electric chair, that most brutal, grimy, and barbaric object of correction.  Interplay juror Eric Shiner refers to these as “binarisms and juxtapositions.” They are thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, combing nature and urbanity, wealth and poverty, sentimentality and scientific profundity, and even the crushing sadness of homelessness with the Barbie-dream life gaiety.

wormhole schematicSome artists focused on a visual interplay. Daniel Brickman’s ”Wormhole Schematic” is made of straight lines of thread which yield the illusion of curved space. The crossing of angles and lines creates a sense of roundness.

Christina Zaris, in her video Kaleyedoscope, looks backwards through a kaleidoscope at an eye,  turning it into an element of an ever-changing pattern. It is a creepily fascinating mosaic, in which eyelashes, veins, and the iris and pupil rise and subside, form stars, ovals, and cross hatches, and occasionally flash out of view for a moment due to a blink.

Nature vs. NurtureHisham Youssef’s “Nature vs. Nurture” consists of barbed wire around a tree, as well as some pesticide and fungicide. It creates a radically different interpretation of the word versus in that eternal psychological debate. It does not ask which one is more prominent, but rather which one is capable of destroying the other.

Continental DriftWendy Osher’s  “Continental Drift” is a map of the world made of clothing labels. Each nation is the size of the labels that make it up, causing Hong Kong to be the size of China, Mexico to be larger than the USA, and altogether causing a general bulge around the equator, that part of the Earth where hot climates and industrial slavery intersect.

James Maszle’s  “Perfect Night” is a mixed media piece with glow in the dark, disassembled mannequins, a small glowing Jesus standing prayerful next to a severed plastic hand, owls, flowers, a fence, and various other staples of suburban society. It reminds me of a summer night in the suburbs, when, in an attempt to stave off ennui, we would vacillate between staying in our black-light lit basements filled with our parents’ old broken objects and our glow-in-the-dark posters, and being outside on the vast lawns that passed for nature.

Each of the 49 pieces exposes a different contradiction, explores a different dichotomy, or rightly fractures what is often considered a unity.

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Ag Works Artist Collective at Melwood Gallery

June 24, 2010

The purpose of the Ag Works artist collective is to provide a cooperative environment in which artists can share work, learn from one another, and ultimately grow as artists. They started as a group of Filmmakers photography alumni, but now also include artists working in a variety of media. They are currently exhibiting works in a show called Interstitial at the Melwood Gallery.

Each artist has his own vision, and there are a great variety of styles, messages and moods to be seen in the exhibit. Many of the works focus on the phenomenon and manipulation of memory or on identity. The show starts out with the works of Matt Robison, whose untitled works depict the contrast between rustic and industrial symbols, and which accentuate the shapes of everyday objects.

Julia BoduraOpposite Matt’s photos are the works of Julia Bodura, personal pieces about transformation. They are entitled Photosynthesis: Seeing the Light, and consist of pictures of people superimposed on autumn leaves. They range from the roots, the dream, the conflict, and the epiphany to the awakening, each growing more personal and each showing a subsequent stage in the transformation of the artist.

Laura Jean Kahl’s piece, The Onerous Nature of Oneself, is deeply personal, and it shows the artist’s process of trying to discover how she is perceived by other people. Each picture shows Laura, at first clothed and wearing a mask that was originally intended to be a self-portrait, but proved to be unrecognizable as such to viewers. In subsequent photos, she undresses and removes the mask. At the end she is in her basement, naked, cutting her hair, and thus greatly altering her physical identity.

Bryan ConleyBryan Conley’s works are psychological in nature. They explore how memories are manipulated by the brain, which warps, blends, and often loses information. His photos represent this phenomenon in their use of lines, shadows, blurred faces, almost unrecognizable forms, ambiguous shapes, and shadows.

mandy kendallMandy Kendall explores what she calls our “collective childhood,” that orange hued vision of odd and remarkable plastic creatures to be found at carnivals and theme parks. She used a tricolor gum bichromate process to produce dreamy, colorful, sepia-ish images of a clown, a lion fountain, a jack-in-the-box, a chicken, and the shoe of old-lady-who-lived-in-a-shoe fame. It is reminiscent of Zippy the Pinhead and his living in a state of perpetual nostalgia.

Magali Duzant also focuses on nostalgia, but in her case it is “a nostalgia that is not the artist’s own.” Our memory is often superseded by the images others have put before us, especially in film. She refers to this process as “appropriation of memory.” Her photos pose people as if they were in movies, and there is a moody and purposeful placement of objects.

Interstitial will be at the Melwood gallery through August 1st.


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Shifting Panoramas: by Elizabeth Mooney at the PCA

May 24, 2010

I hate to admit this, but I should be honest. I come from the suburbs. I’m not even from the pastoral, semi-wild Western Pennsylvania suburbs, but the New England suburbs. It’s the type of place with hyper-green grass, where nature is out beyond the window, or between the lattices of the screen porch, or behind a strip mall parking lot, visible but remote.

Elizabeth Mooney’s Shifting Panoramas, on display at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts until June 13th, has two major themes. One is the speed and energy of a landscape; the other is the effect of the medium of perception on the viewer. The speed is apparent in her paintings, done on wood panels, which contain collections of lines and figures evoking super-colored grasses, trees, hectic spaces, and hints of meadows and skies behind the mix. Everything is active and moving, almost-but-not-quite-overstimulating. There are chunks of hard color interspersed with with patches of blending. The paintings contrast our pixelated with our natural view.

Shifting Panorama

The effect of the medium is present primarily in the two kinetic installations. One is a reflective ball surrounded by a picket fence. When you look into the ball you see yourself fenced in by something lovely but suffocating, which represents exactly how it feels to be in the suburbs.

Another perspective-changing mechanism is and upside down orange traffic cone retooled to be a kaleidoscope. Through it you see a portion of a landscape spinning, repeatedly and fragmentedly reflected.

Mooney’s images are fast and yet distant, showing the landscape with great energy and vim, but always keeping it slightly away from us, seen not directly, but through a medium.

Shifting Panoramas is currently on display at Gallery 6 in the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.