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Sunday, January 23, 2011

PCA Artist of Year Closing Party

Posted By on Sun, Jan 23, 2011 at 8:41 AM

While one must empathize with any arts event happening this Sunday, there's one I can recommend that won't interfere with your game-watching -- promise.

It's the closing event for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Artist of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year shows, 1-4 p.m. Sun., Jan. 23 (at 6300 Fifth Ave., in Shadyside).

Both are good shows. The emerging-artist honoree is Gregory Witt, whose Things That Float consists of several of his cunningly weird, and weirdly cunning, machines that serve no functional purpose but to make you think about them and maybe laugh a little.

The machines are sort of avatars from an alternate universe. One, the room-sized "Room," uses gears made of drywall to slowly and slightly raise and lower some platforms and the metal arms attached to them, at the end of a couple of which are clusters of cinder blocks hung from stout ropes. The odd stasis of it all somehow makes you ponder the space you're in, though what conclusions you might reach I couldn't guess.

I am still more enthusiastic about Brian Dean Richmond's artist-of-the-year show. Richmond works in several media, though the show is dominated by his large-scale mixed-media paintings, most of which he creates in collaboration with nature – leaving canvas or paper outdoors, with objects on top and pigment selectively deployed. The effect is frequently stunning; the multi-panel paintings invoke the rhythm and mystery of nature perhaps even more than they incorporate it.

Still, my favorite piece might be Richmond's short film "Unter der Mittlerbrüke." It's a black-and-white work shot in an urban area, much of it on and around a river, and it's glorious. Richmond's characteristic layered imagery (multiple exposures, in effect), instinctive hand-held camera movements and other in-camera effects (like making light sources streak) create a nine-minute tour de force. In one sequence, a multiple-exposed water lily literally pulses with life.

In fact, I just stopped by the PCA today, and Richmond himself showed up and mentioned that he considers "Mittlerbrüke" his best film. Recommendation enough.

It was also Richmond who tipped me to the Sunday closing event, which he said will feature a "pots-and-pans marching band" and a performance by The Working Poor, the splendid band for which he plays bass.

And don't worry: It'll all be done in plenty of time to catch the 6:30 p.m. game: Richmond, a devout Steelers fan, doesn't plan on missing it either.

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