Arts

An outside view

“Embedded” is a strange word, which we have come to recognize nowadays as the term used for journalists and photographers permitted to report in war zones under military protection and some limitation. That was the experience of British photographer Mark Neville working in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in 2011 as an official war artist, …

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Richard Mellon Scaife

When Dick Scaife died last summer, there surfaced a rash of brief memoirs of a man most often described as “reclusive,” and, more ambivalently, “mercurial.” Before then, he had been shielded from close scrutiny by the code of Omertà, a protective silence, at least by his friends and close associates. This frustrated those less friendly …

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Robert Qualters: When Retrospection Gets Personal

As we get older, as age begins to play tricks with our memories, as our surroundings change and the immediately familiar becomes obliterated, we come to rely on simple strategies like keeping a photograph album or simply hanging on to significant things. Many artists make memory their stock-in-trade, not simply as documentation, but rather by …

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A lens on life

1. An old woman is seated in an upright armchair in a sparely furnished room. 2. A slightly younger man in a suit approaches from a room beyond. He is not perfectly in focus. She does not appear to be aware of him. 3. The man seems to pause and fixes his attention on the …

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New and newer

The founding director of the Andy Warhol Museum, Mark Francis, recounts this story: A few weeks before the museum opened, Francis had taken the distinguished curator, Walter Hopps, on an advance tour of the completed building. (Hopps was instrumental in putting on Warhol’s first Pop Art show, in June 1962 at the Ferus Gallery in …

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The Carnegie International: 2013

Let me say at the beginning that I adore the current Carnegie International, curated by Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski. It has made me change my mind about a number of things I have held dear in the past. And, to me at least, it is already old hat, because for nearly two …

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The Formidable Frick

One hundred and twenty five years ago, the eastern side of Pittsburgh’s East End—its grand villas powered by electricity and surrounded by gleaming motorcars—was arguably the richest and most tech-savvy neighborhood in the country. Within a half-mile stretch between Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg dwelt a dazzle of shrewd self-made millionaires: Henry Heinz, the Carnegie brothers, …

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A purposeful re-hang

A useful trick for carnegie museum of Art visitors is to read the label on the wall beside the art. In the lower corner is the accession number, for example, 96.1, which indicates the year in which the work was acquired, 1896, followed by the order in which the work was entered into the museum’s …

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The Arts Engine

On a cold spring night in April, arts traffic streamed along Penn Avenue in several frenetic directions. Downtown, patrons for the PSO’s performance of Bach’s beloved Brandenburg Concertos poured out of restaurants toward Heinz Hall, dodging ticket-holders for the sold-out “Book of Mormon” at the Benedum Center. Four miles miles east, the cheap end of …

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The Time of Arkus

Leon Arkus was the fifth director (1968–80) of the Carnegie Museum of Art during its most transformational phase since the building of the museum in the late 19th century. The Scaife Wing and the Heinz Galleries came into being under his supervision, allowing The Carnegie to function as a contemporary museum of art as never …

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Inventing the Modern World

World’s Fairs asks two questions of themselves: “Who are we?” and “Where are we going?” Sometimes they look backwards as well, perhaps a little wistfully. They also fall into the category of jamboree, a 19th-century slang word of American origin indicating a noisy assembly of people and things for a variety of purposes. Usually they …

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Gershwin in Pittsburgh

George Gershwin will be forever associated with New York City. This most American of composers derived his inspiration from Manhattan’s energy, skyscrapers, jazz, nightlife, and evolving Broadway-musical art form. Nevertheless, in the 1920s and ’30s Gershwin and his music traversed the nation, often ending up in Pittsburgh. New York musicals and plays of the time …

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Changing the Venerable

Almost no building remains fit for its purpose forever, except perhaps a mausoleum. However great a museum or a gallery may be, there is always the lure of a new wing or a re-fit. Nothing remains the same, even in western Pennsylvania. Let’s look at how some of our institutions have faced, and continue to …

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The Gospel of Brass

Pointing a handheld video camera at himself, James Gourlay made an eccentric sight on the streets of Pittsburgh, as the native of Scotland made tiny films literally “picturing” what it would be like to live in this city. The eminent tuba player, educator and brass band director was in town not quite two years ago …

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A New Pittsburgh Biennial

The pittsburgh biennial, which you will have encountered before in smaller incarnations going back to 1994, is back with a vengeance. It now lasts six months, putting it on a par with The Carnegie International; it engages more artists (some of whom might be more valuably presented in that International); and it has no fewer …

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An Artrageous Centennial

Centennials don’t happen every day. For the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh it is lasting a good year and then some. In 2008 Vicky Clark curated an exhibition at The Carnegie Museum of Art, “The Popular Salon of the People,” which surveyed the history of the AAP’s Annual Exhibition and showed just how good and diverse …

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Point and Shoot

You would never have thought it. That an ordinary medium, which simply traps the light that falls onto a surface and somehow saves it could be so powerful. You could rank it with the invention of the printing press. Nearly 200 years later, my little point-and-shoot may surprise you, as you have been surprised by …

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Reanimation

Night drivers in western Pennsylvania will know the quickening experience when a deer is caught by the car’s headlamps. Usually it’s a momentary, harmless event, but always a bit of a shock. Filmmakers (Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch) use the same kind of device to sometimes devastating effect. In black and white, it works …

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Art in the Trees

Junior high woodworking class is as close as many of us have ever gotten to making something with our own hands. We developed a tactile awareness of the silky smoothness of well-sanded wood and that need to run our fingers over the soft warmth of a finished piece of walnut. John Metzler never out grew …

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Dramatic Movement

In an empty annex of the Strip District’s typically post-industrial Gage Building, propped against a supporting beam on the hard factory floor, disparate objects sit like the sad leftovers from a garage sale. Karla Boos, founder and artistic director of Quantum Theatre, surveys the items with Jed Harris, veteran Pittsburgh written theater experimentalist and director …

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Collected Treasures

When Ailsa Mellon Bruce died in 1969, she left behind a collection of fine and decorative arts that was as extraordinary as it was extensive. The daughter of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon and sister of the equally noted collector Paul Mellon, she had spent much of her life and considerable fortune amassing …

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A Dance to Remember

A series of events this fall observe the Holocaust by Reid Frazier // Fall 2009 On September 12, 2001, Steven Mills, the artistic director of Ballet Austin, staggered into work with a cup of coffee in hand, and, like most of America, began talking about the national calamity he’d watched on television the previous day. Mills …

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