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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Arts Fest Juried Visual-Art Show

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 1:56 PM

As usual, it’s a few blocks from the mains arts-fest action. But the Juried Visual Art Exhibition (and neighboring Flight School exhibit) are worth the short detour up Liberty Avenue.

Both shows are housed in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Trust Arts Education Center, at 805-807 Liberty.

Highlights of the juried show, featuring 50 works by 38 regional artists, include another fine entry in painter Seth Clark’s mixed-media “Collapse” series, rendering buildings in the process of falling apart. (Clark is, deservedly, near-ubiquitous: He’s also got work on the third floor, in the Flight School Show, and in the Associated Artists annual, at the Carnegie; elsewhere Downtown, he’s even manning his own booth in the festival’s Artists’ Market!)

Other notable paintings include distinctive abstract works in oil by Thomas Bigatel, and Rex Chronister’s “The Last Supper,” which is a one-liner, but a good one.

Other intriguing 2D work includes Vincent Grech’s “RED 400” and “RED 5,” which impose elegantly minimal design elements over World War II-era Chicago newspapers, with their blend of fraught global bulletins (“McArthur’s Air Force Batters Formosa Bases”) and early-mid-century consumer come-ons (“Wise men are buying Wearington suits”). I also liked Bea Chiapelli’s sharp-eyed, mordantly humored “You Forgot the Corpses,” capturing graffitti on a flag-waving mural.

Among the installation works is Jenna Boyles’ “Why, Denny,” “a collar of nylon pantyhose” whose feet are nailed to the floor; it’s less effective as a dormant installation work than as the performance piece the installation enables, as documented in accompanying video and stills.

Also memorable is Matty Davis’ “(excerpt from) Amidst Endless Repetition Lies Equally Endless Variability,” which is both more and less conceptual than it sounds. Davis bought some hammers with either “lifetime” or “100-year” guarantees and used them to flatten nails on thick steel discs. He did this for three-and-a-half months; the hammers eventually shattered, and he displays five of them on the wall, along with the makeshift anvils and a pile of flattened nails.

And don’t miss Kyle Milne’s site-specifically clever “Red-Light Culture 1981.” On one of the exhibition spots along the window-wall facing Liberty, Milne’s hung on the wall and the windows themselves red tags and arrows recalling many of the landmarks of that vanished era’s nightlife: Jitters, Chez Kimberly, Condom Nation. As a reminder of impermanence, it’s a nice complement to Davis’ “Amidst Endless Repetition.”

The juried show was chosen by Cecile Shellman, of the August Wilson Center; Adam Welch, of Pittsburgh Center for the Arts; and Lauren Wetmore, a curatorial assistant for the 2013 Carnegie International. It was curated by Moxie DaDA. (Visitors can also choose their own favorites, with votes tallying toward a People’s Choice Award.)

The Flight School show, meanwhile, is a little sparser, but also worth a look. It’s assembled from work by recent fellows in a professional-development program for artists, and features work from such emerging practitioners as comics artist Jim Rugg, photographer Ben Hernstrom, painter/photographer Ryan Woodring, photographer Jennifer Nagle Myers, and abstract painter Stephanie Armbruster. My favorite here was Rafael Abreu-Canedo’s short video work “Commodities Trading”: From a high-elevation vantage point, looking out over a low flat cityscape at dusk, the camera captures flocks of birds moving in balletic tandem, swooping and turning in huge spectral forms, each made of dozens or hundreds of tiny bewinged bodies.

Both the Juried Visual Art Exhibition and the Flight School show continue through Sun., June 16.

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