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Arts

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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Jazzy notes

On a painted mural behind the small stage of Pittsburgh’s newest jazz club, a singer in a dark red, strapless gown with a black bob hairdo sings to a sketched cityscape resembling Pittsburgh’s skyline at dusk. The real thing—Etta Cox—was there too, crooning standards “Teach Me Tonight” and “Misty” with the Harold Betters quartet, all …

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Reconsidering the ‘40s

Especially nowadays, you get a different kind of art in times of war, variously patriotic, indignant and escapist. When these elements exist together, they are best nurtured by the democratic postulate, which, in times of war, itself hangs only by the skin of its teeth. Painting in the United States 2008, the superb show at …

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Off the Wall

Passing the little yellow Romanesque church next to Rt. 28 outside Pittsburgh, most drivers don’t give it a thought. Perched on a hill overlooking the highway, St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale is not grand — its pews seat 350 worshippers — but inside is one of the region’s most interesting artistic creations. St. …

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Rich with Art

In the centennial year of his birth, Paul Mellon has been universally celebrated. The Bank of New York Mellon’s corporate art collection was itself inspired by this great collector and is currently at The Carnegie. It is one of the few surviving, curated, corporate collections in the city. Paul Mellon wasn’t interested in masses of …

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A Frame to Conjure With

A few years ago, if you had the good fortune to work as a porter at one of the major auction houses in New York or London, you might have had the greater good fortune to be handed a picture frame, discarded by one of the purchasers of the painting. It was one of the …

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