This one is quite long, with lots of pictures, so I won't feel bad if you don't read it all the way through.
April 25th, 2008
This was the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl once more! I had considered going with a singles group on the tour, but after some forethought I decided it was against my interests - I'm perfectly certain that there were some charming people there, but being the extremely unattractive person that I am I felt it would be best for me to not go lest I run the risk of being the most unattractive person there and ruining everyone else's evening. I had on my Most Pretentious Art Hat (M.P.A.H., for short), to duly hide my bald head as well as protecting it from the elements.
I ate my lunch/dinner at Jimmy John's, one of the many sub places that I like more than Subway. I ordered the Billy Club combo on a roll, loaded and with pep (that's roast beef, ham and provolone with lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, cherry peppers and an oil dressing). Mmmm... I could go for one of those right now... Too bad they're not open right now.
Jimmy John's isn't anything fancy, it's just good.
My sandwich ingested I headed over to my usual first stop: The Wood Street Galleries. The theme this time was Text Memory. The third floor installation was two printers on the cieling that would randomly drop excerpts from databases out on little slips of paper that you could pick up and read. A good many of them were prayers for loved ones or friends, and a lot of the other ones were personal ads (without names or details). It gave me the impression of the crap that God would have to go through to answer prayers if he actually gave a damn.*
I tried to get a photo of one of the slips, but my camera just doesn't have the focal length for it, so you can't read it. I would have taken the paper and scanned it, but it just seemed wrong to take someone else's prayers without the intention of fulfilling them. Fuck you, God.**
The second floor was a mixed bag. I couldn't get any real photos, as I think my camera's flash would have ruined the "effect" and probably would have gotten me thrown out. In the lobby when you get off of the elevator there are two photos in glass frames, and the frames diffuse at different speeds, blurring out the images. I don't know how the effect was achieved, but it was really cool. I shot some video of it and if MySpace wasn't being so hostile right now I would upload it. As things are it will have to wait until later. There was also a display of two analog clocks which stopped at random times. I must admit I didn't get this one. Maybe they were trying to show what life is like when you live in rural Pennsylvania and Penelec is your electrical service provider. Again, I shot video, but it will have to wait until later. The main installation on the second floor was just a bunch of lights that flashed rhythmically to simulate various effects. It was a pretty poor showing in my opinion didn't add much or raise my conciousness to any new level. Anyway...
My next stop was the Space Gallery. I didn't really see any connection with most of the art here, but there was a nice variety. The first thing I noticed when I walked through the door was the bagpipes that looked like some kind of mutant bird.
Which was near another sculpture that looked like a bomb capsule, the innards of which were composed of recycled flutes, making me think that there was a common musical theme.
Then I saw the wall of "postcard" photographs, which were interesting to be sure, but most of them looked cheap and staged (a monk statue wearing a Steeler's helmet for example).
And then came the big painting...
I don't know if it was symbolic or representative of anything, but you can't make a painting that size and not inspire some sense of awe.
There were two projectors in the gallery with live images constantly streaming out of them, but I didn't see any cameras. After some careful triangulation I narrowed it down to a particular area of the gallery, which led me to the big green face.
(The cameras were in the eyes).
There were also some slag sculptures there. That is to say, people collected pieces of slag and called them art.
Interesting to look at, but not especially artistic, I think.
My next stop was at the 820 Liberty Gallery, which was running a show called "One Cold Hand" made up of hundreds of lost gloves found on the streets of Pittsburgh.
There's even a website that you can go to, to see if they have one of your gloves so that you can get it back.
From there I went to the August Wilson Center Gallery, which I have to admit had one of the better shows this time around. There was some amazing sculpture by many inspired African-American artists representing different stages of their struggle in "Black Clay." Now, normally I find this sort of politically-correct guilt-badgering derogatory, much in the same way I'm getting sick of seeing topical art poking fun at President Dumb-ass (it's just not original anymore, I'm sorry), but when this much talent, craftsmanship and originality are involved you can't deny that art from people with something to say is more interesting than EVERYTHING coming out of our art schools today.
Check out these pipes
These are tobacco pipes, and they're just amazing! This necklace looks like it's fighting for its life
and that's something! This sculpture of a dress was easily the most disturbing thing I saw that night
These sculptures looked inherently noble and sad, and that really is something in a world of useless pop art.
Now to play the hypocrite for a moment, this piece of pop art was fantastic too.
Teacups screened with photos of celebrities and historical figures. They led down the stairs to the main piece at the bottom here. Just so one doesn't think that they were all limited to just African-Americans, here's one I picked out:
My next stop was to the Northside Urban Pathways Gallery, which is a public school for disadvantaged children with a focus on art. The main focus was African and Asian symbols and the children's representations of them. It was accompanied by the steel drum music of "Sounds of Steel." Who doesn't like steel drum bands?
My next two stops were uneventful. One was a hair salon and the other was a piano showroom. Large pianos give me the creeps. They just seem unearthly and dead, like coffins.
Having tired of those relatively soon I made my way to 937 Liberty Avenue, to the gallery that is always ironically called 937 Liberty Avenue. This is usually my favorite gallery, but the space tonight just wasn't in my taste. The first floor was just still pornography shot by local film makers, the second floor wasn't too bad, but this gallery has the unpleasant way of showcasing the male figure. Last time it was a naked cardboard guy which wasn't too bad from a Greco-Roman standpoint, but this time it was
And it wasn't just one wall, either. It was nearly half of the floor. The only thing weirder than staring at sculpted man-butts is strange old men watching a slideshow about man-butts.
There were some nifty old-timey slide viewers with slides in them, though they weren't especially interesting.
From there I journeyed to Future Tenant, but my photos didn't turn out very good, and there wasn't a whole lot there to see anyway. It was mostly a commentary on how people from different walks of life view their name, called "I am a Heather." There was an interactive work made by one of the Heathers, but it was occupied by some stupid little kid who couldn't figure out that it was just a visual thing and not "Halo."
My last stop of the evening was the 707 Gallery, which was showcasing a new architectural project for Pittsburgh. This entirely "green" plaza is supposed to be built sometime in the not-too-distant future. My own estimation of it is that it will not look nearly so cool when it is actually built, and what company would actually pay through the nose to have a store there and have to put up with all of the "eco-friendly" rules. Zero to none, that's how many!
Plus, this elevated park thing would be cool, but if I know the area (and I can safely say that I do), they will eliminate the second tier due to building codes or some other manufactured bullshit and just turn it into some boring office buildings. Even if they do come through with the elevated park they'll just close it to the public anyway. That's just the way this dumb city is.
I ended my night with a stroll across the Federal Street Bridge, or whatever their calling now (Roberto Clemente or Warhol, I don't know which is which), and snagged a bit of the Alcoa building in all of its early late-night glory.
Anyhow. That's all I have to say about that. It's late, I'm tired and my cat is trying to eat some leftover Christmas decorations I was throwing out.
* I realize that my views on God border on blasphemy, but a just and loving God would forgive me anyway.
** Seriously, get over yourself.