Pittsburgh Downtown Gallery Crawl openings includes spotlight on Black women artists | Art Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Pittsburgh Downtown Gallery Crawl openings includes spotlight on Black women artists 

See a group show by Women of Visions Inc., plus sculpture, light installations, machines, and more

click to enlarge Mayota Hill’s “Sun Catcher” from Art on the Walls - PHOTO: FRANK F. HIGHTOWER
  • Photo: Frank F. Hightower
  • Mayota Hill’s “Sun Catcher” from Art on the Walls

The Pittsburgh Downtown Gallery Crawl honors one of the city’s longest standing organizations focused on Black women visual artists with the opening of Art on the Walls: A Retrospective Moment.

Presented as part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s (GPAC) Art on the Walls program, which uses office spaces to showcase local and regional artists, the show features work by members of Women of Visions, Inc. Founded in 1981, the group — described by GPAC artist relations manager Christiane Leach as “a testament to the enduring creativity of black women” — boasts around two dozen members. 

The exhibit includes prints, mixed media painting, sculpture, and more by artists such as 2017 Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Artist of the Year winner Jo-Anne Bates and Christine Bethea.

click to enlarge Tina Brewer’s “Cry In” from Art on the Walls - PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
  • Tina Brewer’s “Cry In” from Art on the Walls

“The thing about Women of Visions is [its] work is so spiritual, powerful, and colorful,” says Leach. “If anything, people should expect a lot of vibrant color.”

Leach joined Women of Visions, Inc. in the early 1990s after returning to Pittsburgh from months traveling and “studying philosophy and tai chi and making art” in the Southwest. She credits its members, particularly president Tina Williams Brewer (who was named Pennsylvania's 2018 Artist of the Year by Gov. Wolf), for helping her gain a foothold in the city’s arts community.

She believes the group show aligns closely with GPAC’s work of promoting “equity, accessibility, and inclusion” in the Pittsburgh arts scene, an issue with which the office is all too familiar. Last May, GPAC released Racial Equity and Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh, a comprehensive, 52-page report showing ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) arts organizations received less funding than white-majority organizations. The report came after a 2016 GPAC survey of the region’s arts community found that 84 percent of non-white respondents thought Greater Pittsburgh’s arts funding was inequitable.

click to enlarge Elizabeth A. Douglas’ “Chanteuse” from Art on the Walls - PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
  • Elizabeth A. Douglas’ “Chanteuse” from Art on the Walls

GPAC tries to combat the disparity by showcasing artists of color through Art on the Walls — previous shows include Reflective Locations, a collection of work by black male visual artists that was curated by BOOM Concepts co-founder D.S. Kinsel and the recently closed Karmalogue, which featured paintings by Indian-American artist Francis Cleetus, and Nepali artist A.A.

Leach hopes Art on the Walls: A Retrospective Moment brings attention to the important and necessary work being done by Women of Visions, Inc.

“Pittsburgh is full of many incredible legacies, and an organization like this that’s been around for 37 years is rare,” says Leach. “I would love for people to take away that fact, celebrate it and support it more.”

Art on the Walls: A Retrospective Moment. Sept. 21-Jan. 2019. Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. 810 Penn Ave., Suite 600, Downtown. pittsburghartscouncil.org

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Take A Look

• Carnegie Mellon University advanced sculpture students will take over Future Tenant for Object + Body, a show that examines the body in relationship to sculpture and as sculpture. Object + Body. Sept. 21. 6-10 p.m. Free. Future Tenant, 819 Penn Ave., Downtown. futuretenant.org

• Young artists show off their mechanical side with Machine Culture, an exhibition that curator Murray Horne says incorporates the “kinetic qualities of gears in motion and motorized moving parts produce both ironic and amusing results.” Machine Culture. Sept. 21-Dec. 9. Times vary. Free. SPACE Gallery, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. trustarts.org

• View kinetic and sculptural works at the world premiere of Antumbra, an exhibit showcasing works by artist, Keny Marshall, who uses found objects and hand-built devices to construct mechanisms that act as parodies of the technology that surrounds us. Antumbra | Kent Marshall. Sept. 21-Dec. 9. Times vary. Free. 707 Penn Gallery, 707 Penn Ave., Downtown. trustarts.org

• There will be light at Wood Street Galleries when the arts duo NONOTAK present the U.S. premiere of two new installations. The works combine the interests of visual artist, Noemi Schipfer, and architect musician, Takami Nakamoto, to immerse viewers in bright, futuristic-looking environments full of light and sound. NONOTAK | Noemi Schipfer & Takami Nakamoto. Sept. 21-Dec. 31. Times vary. Free. Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown. trustarts.org

Follow senior A&E writer Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP.

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