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.
“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
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.
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__
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
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