Archive for October, 2011

Rich Pell / Center for PostNatural History at Apartment Talks

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Apartment Talk #5: Rich Pell / Center for PostNatural History

Rich Pell came down to the Lawrenceville apartment to talk about his Center For PostNatural History, a cultural outreach center dedicated to the collection and documentation of life forms that have been intentionally altered through selective breeding or genetic engineering. We had quite some enlightening visual and mental 3D moments, and Rich is soon going to open a new permanent home for the Center on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh in early 2012.

This took place on Sunday, October 30th, 2011, 6–9 p.m., at 113 44th Street, in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh. The Apartment Talks series serves as a satellite space of the Carnegie International and the Contemporary Art Department of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

A Brief History of CMoA’s Forum Gallery

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum gallery, located right of the busy lobby, has an interesting history. (Lynn Zelevansky just wrote one of her “Inside the Museum” letters about the space). As the museum’s main venue for non-Carnegie International contemporary art, it has functioned as a kind of project gallery since the early 1990s, when it was bolstered by generous NEA funds to present an ambitious and oft-changing rotation of shows. The first few shows were organized by Vicky Clark and by Mark Francis.

In 1990, the program was inaugurated with Forum 1: Jeff Wall, followed by Forum 2: Jon Kessler, Forum 3: Georg Herold, Forum 4: Meg Webster, and Forum 5: Ed Eberle, Pittsburgh’s incredible ceramicist. In addition to Clark and Francis, and soon new Contemporary Curator Richard Armstrong, the space was also programmed by Film Curator Bill Judson, who introduced video installations by artists such as Paul Glabicki and Rita Myers. Armstrong organized exhibitions of work by Alexis Rockman, Andrew Lord, and Craigie Horsfield in Forum.  Madeleine Grynsztejn organized Forum shows by artists such as Diana Thater and James Welling. The gallery has also hosted small group exhibitions, often drawn from the collection. More recently, former curator Elizabeth Thomas initiated a series called “Mixed Doubles” that paired video works, by combos such as Nam June Paik and Omer Fast, and Anri Sala and Edgar Arceneaux. Thomas also commissioned Christian Jankowski’s excellent Puppet Conference video for the gallery.  More on what we’ve been doing in the last few years in another post…

Tîpî Zankoy Silêmanî

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Tîpî Zankoy Silêmanî—Faruq & Kamîl

Carolee Schneemann at Apartment Talks

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Apartment Talk #4: Carolee Schneemann (Co-organized with Melissa Ragona and CMU School of Art)

Legendary multidisciplinary artist Carolee Schneemann was recently in town to give a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, and dropped in at the Lawrenceville apartment on October 19th to share a couple videos and some great stories.  More than 50 people turned out to see Americana I Ching Apple Pie (1972/2007) and Mysteries of the Pussies (1998/2010) (descriptions after the jump), which are based on performances the artist did years ago, but which still feel as fresh, funny, and provocative as ever.

Before making her way over to the apartment, Carolee met me for coffee at the Museum. I meant to give her a tour of the collection galleries, but we ended up poring over the contents of a folder marked “Carolee Schneemann” from the old Film Section files. The file includes a few real gems from the 1970s, like collages and lovingly adorned letters that Carolee sent then film curator, Sally Dixon, during the fledgling years of the Carnegie’s film program. Dixon invited Schneemann to screen her controversial film Fuses (1967) at the Museum in 1973, a bold move during a conservative period in the museum’s history (we screened it again in 2010 in conjunction with the exhibition Ordinary Madness to much uncomfortable fidgeting and clearing of throats, but no critical hoopla). The artist also presented a performance about her friend Joseph Cornell at the museum in 1978; hopefully I’ll be able to post related video in future, upon completion of our film and video preservation project.

A few things from Carolee’s film file, and images from her presentation at the apartment follow.



The Satires of David Gilmour Blythe

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

David Gilmour Blythe, Post Office, 1859–1863. Collection of Carnegie Museum of Art

One of my favorite rooms at the museum is the small regionalist gallery amid the Fine Arts collection in the Scaife wing, Gallery 3 on the museum’s second floor. On the left-hand wall when you enter the gallery hangs a selection of the museum’s holdings of the work of the American satirist painter, David Gilmore Blythe. I knew about Blythe from my nineteenth-century American art history classes—he was part of the same generation as Daumier and Hogarth, yet he was likely unaware of his European brothers. Blythe, born in East Liverpool, Ohio, started his career in Pittsburgh first as a carpenter and then as an itinerant painter, at one time also based in Uniontown. Sometime around 1852, after the death of his young wife and his father, and the failure of a moving panorama entertainment project that drained his savings, Blythe started to make small vignettes in the style and subject of then popular genre paintings, but with a satirical bite. His goal was to highlight the social injustices he saw rampant in Civil War-era America. Businessmen and judges appear in his paintings with some frequency, often as grotesque fat and greedy men. Young street urchins dressed in dirty rags lurk amid the urban squalor that Blythe witnessed firsthand in a rapidly industrializing urban center like Pittsburgh, then still struggling with rampant poverty.

The Post Office offered an especially lively mix of clientele, once sending letters was made more affordable. Thankfully for Pittsburgh, it was in this climate of social turmoil that Andrew Carnegie’s interest in philanthropy and public libraries would develop late in the century and leave a lasting mark on the culture of this city today. For Blythe, however, in the 1850s and 1860s, sinful and deviant behavior stood hazardously in the way of American ideals of religious and political liberty. Learn more about the Carnegie’s collection of Blythe’s work.