Pittsburgh artist Palermo Stone released a short six-minute documentary chronicling his journey to the A3C Festival in Atlanta, an annual five-day hip hop festival that features music, art, film, style, and education. Stone remarked that he was honored to represent the city of Pittsburgh and the music scene here at a national level. The video sheds some light on what it’s like to go at a festival as an indie artist and gives viewers access to behind-the-scenes action. You can watch the video below and listen to a track from Palermo Stone from our MP3 Monday. Due in part to his performance at A3C, Palermo Stone will be playing a show with Ty Dolla $ign in Pittsburgh on Thu., Nov. 4 at Altar Bar.
Check him out online.
The organizer of Pittsburgh’s first showcase for under-the-radar performance says that while attendance at the May 2-11 event fell short of his expectations, “We’re not in the red. … We pretty much broke even this year.”
Dan Stiker says he’d hoped for 2,500 attendees and got an estimated 1,200. (He hasn’t yet tallied official figures.)
While 90 percent of the box office went directly to the performance companies, funding and other support from backers like The Sprout Fund kept the two-weekend fest financially solvent, he says.
Moreover, Stiker and his team of volunteers pulled off the remarkable logistical feat of staging some 70 performances by 26 acts in four different Shadyside venues. (I attended three of the shows, and they all started on time, with no serious tech glitches.)
So Stiker’s primary goal was achieved, with positive feedback from both attendees and performers. “Everyone who came to see the fest really enjoyed themselves and started understanding what fringe really means,” he says.
The new documentary series produced by Point Park University has found a home. The Chair will air on STARZ this fall.
The Chair is a 10-episode series, shot in Pittsburgh, that follows two first-time feature-film directors making their films based on the same source material. More details are here.
Filming — of both the dueling features and the documentary series — took place in February and March at various locations around town.
Locations for the film directed by YouTube star Shane Dawson included places like Garfield’s Most Wanted Fine Art gallery (disguised as a used-record store). Writer, actress and producer Anna Martemucci shot in locations including a private home in Upper St. Clair.
The two films are both based on a coming-of-age comedy script by Dan Schoffer about former high school classmates who return home from college for Thanksgiving. However, said the films’ producer, Josh Shader, both directors had leeway to adapt the script, and Dawson’s is pitched more as a raucous comedy while Martemucci’s is more bittersweet.
The Chair will document the making, marketing and theatrical release of the two films, which themselves will also air on STARZ. (The project was launched before producers Chris Moore and Before the Door Pictures — whose principals include Pittsburgh native and film star Zachary Quinto — had an outlet for it.)
After the films air, audience voting will determine which filmmaker wins the $250,000 prize.
Point Park says that “more than 100 Point Park Students and alumni .. supported the TV series and two feature films as interns, employees and through class projects.”
Pittsburgh City Council is among the first in the country to pass a resolution calling for federal legislation to rein in antibiotics use on factory farms.
On Tuesday, council adopted the resolution, which “supports a statewide and national ban on nontherapeutic uses of antibiotics in livestock production.”
As detailed in CP in February, nationally based group Food & Water Watch had asked council to approve the measure as part of its campaign to pass the Protection of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) and the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA), in the U.S. House and Senate, respectively. The resolution says Council “will send letters to our Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators” urging them to co-sponsor the bills.
In particular, the group is targeting U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Bans on nontherapeutic uses of antibiotics on cattle, pigs and chicken, for instance, are controversial, though much of the opposition seems to originate in the pharmaceutical industry. Similar bans in European countries, including the Netherlands, are generally regarded as successful.
“We applaud Pittsburgh, PA for passing one of the first city-council resolutions in the country, calling on federal legislators rein in the rampant use of antibiotics on factory farms,” Food & Water Watch volunteer Nicole Kubiczki, a Pittsburgh resident, said in a press release.
“Factory farms feed low doses of antibiotics to livestock to promote unnatural growth and compensate for filthy, crowded living conditions,” said Kubiczki. “As a result, we’re entering an age in which these life-saving medicines are no longer working to treat infections in humans. We need to change course in our handling of antibiotics in this country, and Pittsburgh took action to stand in support of public health this morning.”
Carnegie Mellon University has yet to announce detailed plans for the Miller Gallery, whose course abruptly shifted in January, when the school parted ways with longtime director Astria Suparak.
CMU spokesperson Pam Wigley says a faculty committee is currently meeting about how to advance the school’s decision to turn the on-campus art gallery into what an earlier statement described as a “combined gallery, teaching and research space that includes space for installations, seminars, hands-on art-creating workshops, artist lectures, and applied research in curatorial/exhibition practices.” Wigley says a formal update is expected by the end of March.
Meanwhile, questions about Suparak’s termination linger: Many in the art community don’t understand why a cutting-edge gallery director who spent six years boosting attendance and drawing rave reviews for exhibits that often went on to tour nationally isn’t still working there.
Suparak isn’t talking to the media about her departure, and CMU declines to discuss personnel matters. But others close to the school and the gallery tell CP there were issues at play beyond the attention Suparak and the Miller drew.
On campus, for instance, critics faulted Suparak’s curatorial approach. For some tastes, too many of her exhibits relied too heavily on texts, documentary photos and natural-history-museum-style display cases, rather than on paintings, sculpture or even installation works.
“Artistically, I felt it was a pretty narrow perspective,” says one CMU faculty member who asked to remain anonymous. The faculty member generally supported Suparak’s approach, but said, “The actual nature of the work, there is a kind of monotony to it. I think people were getting frustrated with that.”
Suparak’s shows often presented documentation — like the photos of research projects in Intimate Science — or artifacts of a subculture, like the home-made concert posters and slogan-bearing T-shirts in Alien She. Students and professors visiting a campus-based gallery “need work that engages more with the materiality of media,” said the faculty member.
Put another way, “People who make more traditional objects were feeling left out,” says one of Suparak’s art-community colleagues.
Some observers have also noted dissatisfaction with the frequency of the shows. The Miller occupies its own spacious, three-story building, but in recent years Suparak had staged only one or two new full-scale exhibits a year (not counting the two longstanding annual showcases for the university’s BFA seniors and its MFA graduate students). In the years before Suparak’s arrival, the Miller had typically hosted at least four exhibits a year.
“For the budget, for the staff, for our status, I don’t think that we had enough programming,” said the CMU faculty member.
Meanwhile, although attendance at the gallery increased under Suparak, especially for the big opening events, it might not have been enough for CMU officials. “They wanted those numbers to be higher,” says CMU art professor Richard Pell, a member of the gallery’s advisory committee. (For his part, Pell laments Suparak’s departure: “It seems really shortsighted, with what she’s done,” he says.)
Personality might have played a role in Suparak’s departure as well, some surmise: “stubborn” and “uncompromising” are two terms often used to describe Suparak at work. And while her supporters point out that such qualities are often viewed as positive traits in leaders — especially if those leaders are men — they acknowledge that she’s scarely the back-slapping, go-along-to-get along type. “She’s not easy to know, and in some ways it’s a who-you-know town,” says one such supporter. “She’s not gonna be the compromiser in the room. And it irritates some people.”
But in the wake of Suparak’s departure, the overriding sentiment remained shock that she is gone.
Hilary Robinson, a former dean of CMU’s College of Fine Arts and the person who hired Suparak, says that in 2008, the Miller was “moribund” — little known off campus and running a deficit. Robinson, interviewed in February, says she gave Suparak three years to turn the gallery around, and “she rose to that challenge. … She got back on budget, and she made the place known. … Astria Suparak made it a place people wanted to go.”
The shows remain popular elswhere, too. Intimate Science, a 2012 exhibit at the Miller, is still touring; it opened Feb. 6, at New York City’s Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, part of Parsons The New School for Design. Alien She, the final exhibit Suparak presented (and co-curated) at the Miller, just opened at Philadelphia’s Vox Populi.
But those tours might not have helped Suparak’s status with CMU officials. “As far as I can tell … the touring exhibitions and the amount of visitors they attracted didn’t seem to calculate into their statistics,” Pell says. He noted the big February opening reception in New York for Intimate Science, which he attended because it included contributions by his Center for PostNatural History. “The amount of attention that show received in Manhattan is huge. We can’t get that kind of a crowd here.”
Robinson, who left CMU in late 2012 to return to Great Britain, notes that in 2012, Suparak was one of 15 nominees in the world for Independent Curators International’s Independent Vision Curatorial Award, for mid-career curators. (Other nominees included Jay Sanders, of the Whitney Museum of American Art.)
“If that was a faculty member [who’d been nominated], they’d be saying ‘This is good for your tenure case,’” says Robinson.
Robinson said it was ironic that CMU planned to turn the Miller into a space focused on the needs of students and instructors. “Where else in Carnegie Mellon would a school say, ‘We’re going to look more inwardly’ and get praised for it? Absolutely nowhere. … Everyone would fall ’round laughing.”
Indeed, even the Miller Gallery itself continues to tout Suparak’s impact. Weeks after her final day at work, on the closing weekend of her final exhibit at the Miller, clippings still posted on a bulletin board outside the gallery announced her successes over the years. Postings visible Feb. 15 included coverage in The New York Times and the Huffington Post; that final show, the riot-grrrl-themed Alien She, was a critic’s pick in ArtForum.
As of last week, the Miller Gallery’s website included this testimonial from Nicolas Lampert, a senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Pect School of the Arts: “Suparak and her staff have set the bar for contemporary art exhibitions about art and social justice. My message to artists and art students seeking inspiration in the US: look first at Pittsburgh and the Miller Gallery, then look at NYC, LA and Chicago.”
That endorsement seems to have since been removed.
The Pittsburgh debut of New Jersey-based honky tonk artist Moot Davis is going to have to wait a couple of weeks. The show scheduled for tomorrow night at the Dead Horse Cantina and Music Hall in McKees Rocks has been cancelled.
As City Paper reported in this week’s issue, Davis was beginning and ending a month-long tour to Texas and back in the area. However, Davis tells CP that the venue called and cancelled the show on Wednesday.
But not to worry, Davis will stop back in the area on his return to the Garden State with a Feb. 15 show at Moondog’s in Blawnox (378 Freeport Road).
Davis says the cancellation sent him scrambling for a replacement venue and he will now be playing at 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Purple Cow Lounge in Morgantown, WV.