Friday, May 13, 2011

The Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art, June 17–September 18, 2011

The Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art

June 17–September 18, 2011

Heinz Galleries

Works by artists Peggy Ahwesh, Stephanie Beroes, Brandon Boan, Lenka Clayton, Ed Eberle, Fabrizio Gerbino, Jamie Gruzska, Zak Prekop, and Frank Santoro

explore broad themes of “labor” and “work”

Pittsburgh, PA… Carnegie Museum of Art’s contribution to the multi-venue 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial presents nine contemporary artists with strong ties to Pittsburgh addressing a broad range of subjects that touch on the idea of “work.” The exhibition runs from June 17 to September 18, 2011, in the museum’s Heinz Galleries and is organized by associate curator of contemporary art Dan Byers. The Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art will feature both established and emerging artists who work in a variety of media from painting, drawing, and sculpture to multi-channel video and comic books. The exhibition represents the museum’s largest, most concentrated effort to date to curate and present the work of local artists in a globally recognized setting that was one of the country’s first museums of contemporary art.

The 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial also sets a new precedent for collaboration among major Pittsburgh art institutions, with co-presenters The Andy Warhol Museum, The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Carnegie Museum of Art, and Biennial founders Pittsburgh Center for the Arts/Pittsburgh Filmmakers each exhibiting a unique group of artists associated with the Pittsburgh region. Each institution’s show will be linked to the others by broad themes and ambitions, yet independently curated. The result is that four major exhibitions will simultaneously focus the city’s attention on Pittsburgh artists, bringing them into a broader national and international discourse. The exhibition debuts at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts/Pittsburgh Filmmakers on June 10 and closes on October 23. The second half of the Biennial kicks off in the fall at the Miller Gallery at CMU, on September 16 and at The Warhol, from September 26. Both exhibitions will end on December 11. For more information, visit

At Carnegie Museum of Art

The artists in the Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art explore in a variety of interpretations of the concepts of “work” and “labor”—“work,” meaning the act or process of making, and also the product or outcome of one’s efforts; and “labor,” as the investment of effort, the value society places on that effort, and the broader social and cultural contexts for industry and work.

“As a curator, I wanted the Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art to present in-depth selections of work by a particular group of artists, creating intense connections among their different practices that intensify over time. Pittsburgh, as both a specific place and a more abstract, atmospheric context, crops up in the exhibition’s works, animating art that also addresses broader concerns,” said Byers. “Personally, I am thrilled to work with such a talented group of artists.”

Many of the artworks look at the very act of “making,” the backbone of artistic practice. In ceramicist Ed Eberle’s series, broken abstract forms represent objects in the process of creation. Stephanie Beroes’s cult-classic 16mm film, Debt Begins at Twenty—chronicling Pittsburgh’s punk scene of the early 1980s through fictionalized and documentary footage, and exposing the raw experimentalism of that era’s musicians—both portrays and plays with the fragmented social context of Pittsburgh that acted as incubator to those artists. Zak Prekop’s paintings and collages make evident the artist’s hand as he stacks paint and paper on canvas, layering, covering, and uncovering aspects of the surface. And Jamie Gruzska’s photographs— some shot in his adolescence but only now printed—reveal a highly idiosyncratic vision and yeoman’s effort in the now-nearly-obsolete worksite of the traditional darkroom.

Other works in the exhibition will examine the city and the museum itself as the subject of artists’ labor. In the case of ceramicist and performance artist Brandon Boan, that link is overt: He’s a teacher in Carnegie Museum of Art’s ceramics studio. For his piece commissioned for the Biennial, Boan will create site-specific works made from cast off materials in the museum’s basement ceramics studios. Comics artist and painter Frank Santoro’s work, filled with bridges, tunnels, and rivers, evokes a Pittsburgh of the mind in small oil paintings, and a selection of new series of airbrush paintings based loosely on Pompeii. His commissioned comic book The Glory That Was Pittsburgh (free copies will be available in the galleries) addresses Pittsburgh through images of the city and poetic writing.

Other exhibitions have already examined the rise, fall, and renaissance of Pittsburgh’s fortunes. In this exhibition, industry’s concepts of “labor” thrive in very different ways. Fabrizio Gerbino’s ambitious paintings and drawings portray an enigmatic factory worker shrouded in a sense of ambiguity and mystery. Peggy Ahwesh’s film installation The Ape of Nature intertwines images of an industrial glass factory and subjects under hypnosis. Artist Lenka Clayton looks at her own “work” in a very different light: Through audio monitoring equipment, Clayton will continuously broadcast her experience as the mother of a newborn baby into the museum, raising questions about the value our culture places on maternity, and bringing the intimacy of her home into the gallery.


In addition to the exhibition, the Pittsburgh Biennial at Carnegie Museum of Art includes an opening party, artist talks, and other programming:

Culture Club: Pittsburgh Biennial Opening Event

Thursday, June 16, 5:30–9 p.m.; artists in the gallery beginning at 6:15 p.m.

Free with cash bar

In this first look at the exhibition, meet the artists with ties to the Pittsburgh area, and experience the local and the global in a whole new way.

Artists on Art Gallery Talks

Sundays, 2:30–3:30 p.m.

Free with museum admission

Get to know the intriguing artists behind the work in the Pittsburgh Biennial. Join in the conversation as pairs of artists discuss their work and share their insights about local connections and global views.

June 19: Peggy Ahwesh and Frank Santoro

July 10: Fabrizio Gerbino and Lenka Clayton

August 7: Ed Eberle and Brandon Boan

September 11: Zak Prekop and Jamie Gruzska

“Bound Together” Book Club

Thursday, July 7, 6:30–7:45 p.m.

Anne Sanow’s Triple Time (exhibition: Pittsburgh Biennial)

Meet in the Museum of Art lobby; Free

This collaborative program of Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh presents a casual and thoughtful 15-minute gallery talk highlighting visual and literary connections. The talks are followed by book discussion in the galleries with fellow readers and library staff. Most books are available at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Space is limited; call 412.622.3288 to register.

Sound Series: Out in the Elements Festival

Thursday and Friday, July 7 and 8, 8 p.m.

Thursday, July 7: Pittsburgh-based Ladybug Transistor and guests

Friday, July 8: Texas-based Bill Callahan (SMOG) and guest

Carnegie Museum of Art Sculpture Court

Single performance: $12 students and members/$15 nonmembers

Both performances: $20 students and members/$25 nonmembers

The performance collaboration between The Warhol and Carnegie Museum of Art shifts outdoors for the summer with two special evenings of indie folk/pop music in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Sculpture Court.

Lunch & Learn: Inside Views

Pittsburgh Biennial

Thursday, July 21, 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

$20 members/$22 nonmembers

Dan Byers, associate curator of contemporary art, discusses his curatorial decisions and experiences in putting together his first exhibition showcasing Pittsburgh-area artists. The dialogue continues over a light meal in the Carnegie Café. Lunch is included. Teachers earn 2.5 Act 48 hours. Limited to 25 people; call 412.622.3288 to register.

Culture Club: Second Annual Two-Minute Film Festival

Thursday, July 21

Food and drink available at 7:30 p.m.; film screening in the Sculpture Court begins at 9:30 p.m.

Culture Club goes late night! Start with a visit to Pittsburgh Biennial and Ragnar Kjartansson: Song. Then enjoy drinks, summer fare, and a screening of two-minute films submitted by the public. Two drink tickets are included with admission; picnic dinner is available for purchase. See for guidelines on submitting your own two-minute film. There is no fee to enter; deadline is June 20.

Culture Club: Stephanie Beroes Debt Begins at Twenty Film Screening

Thursday, September 15, 5:30–9 p.m.

Screening and discussion: 6–7:30 p.m., CMA Theater

$10; includes museum admission and one drink ticket

See the cult-classic 16mm film Debt Begins at Twenty, which chronicles the 1980s Pittsburgh punk scene through fictionalized sequences and documentary footage. Filmmaker Stephanie Beroes will be available for questions after the screening.


General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Museum of Art

Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the physical environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our Web site at


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