The purpose of Wild Things, an upcoming juried exhibition in Wilkinsburg, extends beyond just showcasing art. Its opening reception on Sat., June 29 will serve as the official debut of the Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP) Project Space, a new artist-run, woman-owned business located in the former Percolate Gallery. It will also raise awareness about — and work to support — a diverse variety of artists in the area.
The group show will feature paintings, drawings, and photography, as well as some sculptures, from 34 local artists. A press release describes the exhibit as a way to “celebrate, deconstruct, embellish, and challenge how we interact with nature on a daily basis.”
All the artists were chosen through an open call for submission.
“It’s a very eclectic show,” says Casey Droege, executive director of CDCP Project Space. “It’s definitely an interesting group of work.”
Droege says Wild Things will mark the space’s full transition from Percolate to CDCP Project Space. As part of that process, former Percolate director, Carolyn Pierotti, stepped in as a juror and curator for the show. Pierotti will also stay on as a board member for CDCP Project Space.
Included in the exhibition are pieces from eight artists from Creative Citizen Studios (CCS), a women-owned arts and advocacy organization that seeks to build bridges between the arts and disabilities communities. Founded in 2012, CCS holds weekly professional visual arts classes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It also creates opportunities for adult artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities to produce, exhibit, and sell their work.
Droege hopes that Wild Things will help broaden the audience for CCS artists.
“The goal of the show … is really to help the public see a lot of these CCS artists as artists,” says Droege. “There is this great mixture of work, and you’re not thinking about the artist’s ability. You’re just taking in the work.”
Droege, an artist and self-dubbed cultural producer, originally created CDCP as a way to boost the Pittsburgh arts community by “offering accessible, quality art experiences that connect the local and the global, encourage the growth of a local arts economy and build a diverse arts audience,” according to its website. Past and continuing CDCP projects include the artist lecture series, SIX x ATE, the annual PGH Photo Fair at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and Small Mall, a Lawrenceville-based retail space selling locally made art and design objects.
Moving into the Wilkinsburg building gives CDCP another venue to spread its mission of supporting artists. The space will include a Small Mall, while the back will host exhibitions or more experimental projects.
“The goal for Small Mall overall is to really help Pittsburgh engage with buying art,” says Droege, adding that CDCP keeps everything “really affordable” and only carries work from artists within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. “We want to make sure that people, instead of running to Target to buy a poster, they can buy a print from us and support somebody locally.”