Archive for the ‘Pittsburgh’ Category

President Taft, the International, and the Pirates

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

s-day KE-Honus-Wagner-by-Bingaman

During some archival research for the upcoming re-installation of the International’s collection, I came across an unlabeled black-and-white photograph (top). After some some further digging it became apparent that the picture represents a highlight in the early history of both the exhibition and Major League Baseball. The photo features a huge painted billboard which bears an image of Pittsburgh Pirates fans packed into the stands at Exposition Park and is flanked by two inscriptions: PRESIDENT TAFT APPLAUDING WAGNER’S TWO-BAGGER MAY 29, 1909 and WELCOME MR. PRESIDENT FOUNDER’S DAY MAY 2, 1910. The painting on the board was a reproduction of a photo taken by Frank Bingaman first published in the Pittsburgh Press on May 30, 1909. The related article, “Taft Has Jolly Time at Ball Game but Upsets Plans,” detailed how William Howard Taft (an avid baseball fan) was “the first U.S. President to attend a Major League baseball game at a location other than Washington.” The game also gave Taft the chance to witness the legendary play of Pirate Honus Wagner, “The Flying Dutchman.” The Pirates lost this game 3–8 to the Chicago Cubs, but ultimately won the World Series later that year (thanks in large part to Wagner’s .339 batting average for the season).

President Taft remained in Pittsburgh for two days. Besides attending the Pirates game, he participated in the initiation of Memorial Fountain in Arsenal Park and visited the Allegheny County Club, confirmed by several photographs in the museum’s archives (below).

Just one year later, President Taft returned to Pittsburgh and again attended a Pirates game, which the Pirates won this time 5–2 against the Cubs on May 2, 1910. According to the press, Taft’s visit to Forbes Field was part of a tight schedule the President had to complete during his two-day stay in Pittsburgh. An article in the Pittsburgh Press read “Great Preparations Made to Entertain Head of Nation.” On the morning of May 2, 1910, thousands must have lined the streets in Oakland to catch a glimpse of the President residing in the Schenley Hotel and leaving for the Carnegie Music Hall later on. President Taft attended the museum’s Founder’s Day celebration, which coincided with the opening of the Annual Exhibition (now known as the Carnegie International). He gave a speech and officially opened the fourteenth International.

The following day the Pittsburgh Press article “President Gives Talk about Art” described the atmosphere and decorations in the Carnegie Music Hall for the event and featured a summary of the President’s speech. The small annual booklet that typically contains the Founder’s Day summary included a report on the occurrences and a reproduction of the entire address. Here is an excerpt:

“The contrast necessarily impresses itself on one’s mind of  the enormous material development and progress of Pittsburgh on the one hand, with the smoke and the fire that indicate the great industries on every hand, and then the esthetic side of the community, that is shown and encouraged in this great temple of art, of music, and of learning….In the old countries the people—the common people—love art and music, and therefore, those who have the control of the government do not hesitate to use the proceeds of taxes to encourage those tastes, and to give the pleasure that music and art give to those people….In Europe you cannot help being impressed with the love of art of the common people. And while we may be pardoned in our first hundred years for not having spread wider that love because of the difficulties we had to encounter in settling this country and in making it prosperous in a material way, we certainly cannot as a people escape from severe condemnation if in the next hundred years we do not make great progress, great strides in the matter of the love of art, and its cultivation on every hand.”

In more recent news, Taft has recently been elected to join the Washington Nationals’ “Racing Presidents” Mascots.

Nicola Schroeder is a German art historian currently living in Pittsburgh and working on the archive of the Carnegie International.

Outlines Gallery

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Despite a 100+ year relationship with new art, Pittsburgh has sometimes had an awkward relationship with the avant-garde. In the early 1940s, Outlines Gallery was way ahead of the Carnegie International (abstract art wasn’t really shown in the Internationals until the 1950s).

In 1941, 21-year-old Elizabeth Rockwell opened a gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This little gallery, Outlines, showcased the works of now iconic artists such as Alexander Calder, John Cage, Maya Deren, Merce Cunningham, and more. Outlines featured performances, lectures, music, and film, and it hosted many exhibits before it was finally forced to close its doors in 1947 due to lack of support. With the recent discovery of the gallery chronology and two scrapbooks kept by Elizabeth Rockwell, we embarked on a journey four years ago and have ever since been Tracing Outlines! @outlinesfilm


Sorry I haven’t posted

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013


Sorry I haven’t posted… We opened Cory Arcangel: Masters on November 2nd, 2012, with a special artist talk with Cory. The same evening we also launched a social media intervention designed by Cory. Here are some of the results. Visit us during this last week of the exhibition and don’t miss Arcangel’s band, Title TK, perform this Saturday at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. They open for Bonnie Prince Billy.

P, Public Enemy, Pittsburgh

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Pop City Media – Pittsburgh just sent out the link to the new Public Enemy song & video, Everything. First reason to watch it: an unexpected song for Public Enemy (not sure if it isn’t kitsch though). Second reason to watch it: a lot of it is filmed in Pittsburgh and it renders some of the city’s mood. I always argue that Pittsburgh is a real city with real people (and no boring boutique town) and it pretty much looks like it is in this film. Love it!

The Ellis School & the 2013 Carnegie International

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

assume vivid astro focus

During the 2011–2012 school year, nine juniors and seniors from The Ellis School (Pittsburgh) were enrolled in a modern and contemporary art class called “Art Now.” For the culminating project we each chose one contemporary artist or piece of contemporary art that we would like to be included in the 2013 Carnegie International. We then each created a poster explaining our rationale. Our art history teacher, Sara Sturdevant, decided to send our completed posters to the curators of the show. They graciously received our projects and extended an invitation to meet with us in order to share insights into the curatorial process. We were delighted to hear that one of our fellow students predicted an artist who will be featured in the show!…but we are all still anxiously awaiting the final list to see who got it right! Below are our projects.

Laila Al-Soulaiman, Lucy Crelli, Shana Leshko, Marina Lorenzini, Tessa McArdie, Tova Perlman, and Aveeka Vats are students at The Ellis School, Pittsburgh’s only age 3–grade 12 independent school dedicated to the education of girls and young women.