Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pittsburgh PA Primary Art Report from the Pittsburgh Galleries Blog

As the national political scene focuses on Pittsburgh and many other places in Pennsylvania for the upcoming primary I think it's a good time to highlight Pittsburgh art and what has been going on here in the region and what is up ahead. The obvious art gallery magnates like the Mattress Factory, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Silver Eye Center for Photography continue to place Pittsburgh in the national and international spotlights. Who in the art world doesn't know about the upcoming Carnegie International's "Life on Mars"? The exhibits will debut May 3, 2008. And Next American City recently ran a detailed article on the Pittsburgh art scene and challenges, one anyone should find worth the read.

From March 19-22 of 2008 Pittsburgh experienced a truly amazing phenomenon with hundreds of art exhibits for the NCECA Ceramics Convention which brought over 5,000 members and collectors to the city. Due in large part to Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen Guild's luminary President Bill Strickland and the efforts of MCG Arts Director Josh Green and many, many volunteers Pittsburgh was immersed in ceramic art and many local exhibits went on for the month. For someone like myself I was grateful to be introduced to an art medium I knew little of and have become a true fan as a result.

While the national and international scene is obviously important to artists and patrons there are siginifcant reasons why Pittsburgh stands on it's own in terms of public art and art of many mediums in general created here in Pittsburgh. The famous Pittsburgh pride is evident by the hundreds of beautiful art murals which can be found in the many city neighborhoods. Emerging artists and established ones exhibit their work in the 120 plus art galleries within the city limits as well as other venues and galleries in the region. On the non-proft front the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council announced a breakthrough in affordable health care options available to artists and non-profits who are members and I recently joined for that and may other reasons.

Gallery crawls are a mainstay in the art scene here which bring out tons of people. Galleries with regular hours who feature talented emerging artists from the area like La Vie, are receiving well deserved attention in the form of regular patrons, sales and an upcoming national article about them. Zombo Gallery in Lawrenceville adds greatly to the scene with hip "lowbrow" art, a genre once thought by many in the art world to be unworthy but it's clear when a nationally known artist like Mr. Hooper from Tennessee came to Moxie Dada Gallery that lowbrow art is celebrated and compelling. And it's good to see artists like Andy Kehoe who have made their way to showing in New York and California, a reminder to many the limits of any "local" art scene when it comes to varying mediums and subject matter.

On the immediate horizon of events we have an Obama Art Auction Fundraiser this Sunday, April 20 which brings together many Pittsburgh artists and their work to raise money for Barack Obama. It's at a temporary art space called the Green Building Gallery in Garfield. Living Jazz legend Roger Humphries plays for free at the Pgh Cultural Trust's Backstage Bar on Tuesday, April 22, something groups like the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and MCAI (Multicultural Arts Initiative) are known and respected for. If you're lucky enough to be reading this in time you can check out the tribute to Roy Eldredge from the Kente Arts Alliance.

The downtown Pittsburgh gallery crawl is this Friday April 25 as well as Fein Art Gallery's Pittsburgh 150-250 on the North Side, which includes never before seen images of Pittsburgh from 1908 as well as current artwork in many mediums. The widely participated Art All Night is set for April 26/27 and will be full of art, music and no censorship. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pittsburgh Filmmakers hold their Biennial which kicks off May 3, 2008. Persad's Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art auction will be held May 12, 2008 at the Carnegie Museum of Art and one it's longstanding participants and donors is Artist Charles Smith II. The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh are getting ready for their annual at the Andy Warhol Museum which runs from August 1 to September 14, 2008 and have even started planning their centennial celebration in 2010!

I find myself wanting to endlessly write about all the art events and developments happening here in Pittsburgh and in truth there are so many events it's hard to get a handle on everything, another testament to this region's arts scene.

The Pittsburgh art scene is one I'm proud to be a part of and spread the word about.

Rick Byerly

This story was written to primarily participate in the Pittsburgh Primary Project, but also because I'm a bit of an art nut.

Rick Byerly is a fine art photographer who runs the Pittsburgh Galleries Blog and Gallery Directory Website on a volunteer basis. His photography websites are and . When he's not working on his photography or promoting art events he's daydreaming about Pittsburgh art.


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