With the G-20 conference upon us, you practically have to open a seasonal visual-arts roundup with the theme. So we begin at The Andy Warhol Museum, which hosts Drawn to the Summit, a show of international political cartoons gathered for the occasion, through Oct. 18.
It also feels appropriate that the Warhol's next big show is Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand. It's a 20-year retrospective from the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, opening Oct. 18. This name artist's distinctive work -- which still adorns brick walls around town after his recent visit -- is often politically suggestive. He is, after all, the guy who did the Obama "Hope" poster.
Up in Lawrenceville, meanwhile, little Fe Gallery goes head-to-head with the G-20 with G Spot, a three-day group show of work by local artists addressing the global-finance confab. It opens with a reception 7-9 p.m. Thu., Sept. 24.
There is more afoot, however, than international summitry. In fact, artists with local ties provide many of fall's highlights.
This year's Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Artist of the Year honor belongs to Tim Kaulen, whose latest large-scale sculptures from reclaimed materials are inspired by vintage toys. They'll grace the PCA lawn starting Fri., Sept. 25. Inside the gallery, Emerging Artist of the Year Dylan Vitone brings his signature panoramic photodocumentary style to bear on the streets of flamboyant Miami, Fla.
Nearby, Pittsburgh native Sheila Klein visits from the Left Coast for The Return. This Pittsburgh Glass Center installation (opening Oct. 2) explores the relationship between what Klein saw here as a child and the acclaimed work she's done as an adult. And in Squirrel Hill, the Jewish Community Center gallery hosts Body of Work: Philip Mendlow, an Oct. 12-Dec. 18 retrospective honoring the prolific local painter, sculptor and teacher.
Also showcasing local voices is the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. The Museum offers Four Perspectives on Fifty Years, featuring works from the permanent collection guest-curated by artist Adrienne Heinrich, collector Marty O'Brien, critic Graham Shearing and patron Anne Robertshaw. Also opening at the museum Sept. 27 is James Osher: Three Seconds With the Masters, the photographer's uniquely provocative take on what we "see" when we look at great art.
Photography seems especially popular this fall. The Silver Eye Center for Photography focuses on photojournalism with The World at Our Door, featuring stunning images from around the world by locally based National Geographic Magazine contributors Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson. The show runs through Dec. 5.
Similarly, the Carnegie Museum of Art continues three big photo exhibitions: Documenting our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project (through Nov. 1); Digital to Daguerreotype: Photographs of People; and the architecturally themed Palm Springs Modern: Photographs by Julius Shulman (the latter two through Jan. 31).
The Frick Art Museum hosts Icons of American Photography: A Century of Photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art (Oct. 3-Jan. 3). The show chronicles the medium from pioneers like Matthew Brady through such masters as Stieglitz, Bourke-White, VanDerZee and Evans.
Elsewhere, artists tackle the very concept of portraiture in Likeness, a Mattress Factory group show opening Oct. 10, curated by Carnegie Mellon professor Elaine A. King. The Miller Gallery, already showcasing the future-visionary 29 Chains to the Moon, adds Experimental Geography (Oct. 9-Jan. 31), examining place with an eye toward the distinctions between art and geography.
Downtown, Wood Street Galleries hosts the U.S. debut of French installation artist Julien Marie, who works with experimental projections (Oct. 2-Dec. 31). And SPACE presents Transfer Lounge (Oct. 2-Nov. 21), collaborations between artists from the U.S. and Spain.
Other notable shows by local artists include paintings by Evan Knauer at Garfield Artworks (opening Oct. 2).
Meanwhile, even in a down economy, people are opening new venues. The Gallery on Baum's novel inaugural show, for instance, features commercial sketches and storyboards by the later-famous, from Charles Schulz and Dr. Seuss to Haring and Warhol. Advertising and Illustration Art runs through Oct. 10. And on Oct. 9, artist and educator Sheila D. Ali opens a new addition to the still-growing Penn Avenue corridor: the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, a community art space.