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Arts festival: Regional artists showcased in juried exhibit

| Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
'Heavy” by Ryan Hertrich of Baldwin
'Heavy” by Ryan Hertrich of Baldwin
'Bee Mourning Brooch” by Luci Jockel
'Bee Mourning Brooch” by Luci Jockel
“Wabi Sabi” by Manjushree Roy of North Huntingdon.
“Wabi Sabi” by Manjushree Roy of North Huntingdon.
“Mom,” by Richard Harydzak of Murrysville
“Mom,” by Richard Harydzak of Murrysville
“Galvanized Gems” by Sharon Massey from Homer City.
“Galvanized Gems” by Sharon Massey from Homer City.
'What If' by Silvija Singh of Squirrel Hill
'What If' by Silvija Singh of Squirrel Hill

The Juried Visual Art Exhibition, on display at 805-807 Liberty Ave. in the Trust Arts Education Center, is a must see component of Three Rivers Arts Festival.

The exhibit reflects solid choices by jurors Casey Droege, Betty Douglas and Aaron Henderson. Artists themselves, they chose 58 high-quality works by 51 regional artists from a pool of nearly 400 submissions.

This year, the Best In Show, and $2,500 award, went to Silvija Singh of Squirrel Hill for her ceramic vessels, “If Only” and “What if.”

Singh says her porcelain pieces were inspired by her mother and the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, among other things.

“As I build, I think about my mother who is almost 81 years old. I think about the physical indignities of aging, but also about her important and unnoticed place in the world,” Singh says. “I think about the title of Milan Kundera's book: ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.' As I build, I think about the polar icecaps melting. I think about the delicacy of flowers, and Georgia O'Keeffe's comment that no one really sees a flower. I think about our many fragile equilibria.”

Built from slabs of porcelain clay, they also represent a precarious process. Singh says the phrase that goes through her head while she is struggling with the clay is: “Will the center hold?”

“There is a center of gravity in the piece,” she says. “If you ignore the center of gravity, the piece won't stand up. I also take that as metaphorical. Will the clay spin out of control, will the balance in other people, in our physical environment, spin out of control?”

Another piece inspired by a mother is “Mom,” a massive oil portrait by Richard Harydzak of Murrysville. At 6 feet by 6 feet, it's the largest piece in the show, and the most commanding.

“My painting is of my mother, hence the title ‘Mom,' ” Harydzak says. “She is 89 and currently lives in a care home in Plum. Her physical decline and restrictions that now define her life have been frustrating for her and difficult for me to witness. She was always independent, strong, and generous. And encouraged me at a young age to pursue art. I wanted to paint her portrait to honor her, but also as an outlet for my conflicted emotions.”

Another emotionally charged portrait is “Wabi Sabi” by Manjushree Roy of North Huntingdon.

“The person I painted, Priyanka, used to work as a domestic help in my father's home in New Delhi, India,” Roy says. “At the time, I myself was struggling in more than one way and just wanted to paint, but never could find the ‘perfect model.' I chose Priyanka but her disheveled look, her bony hands, her nonstop stories of life not being fair to her were driving me crazy ‘tll I reminded myself of the Japanese term ‘Wabi Sabi', and asked myself to look for perfection through imperfection.

“She was real, raw and beautifully imperfect and I cannot imagine her in any other way, so this painting is a tribute to her mismatched outfit, her beautiful face and worn out hands, the cracked walls with exposed wires and nails right next to the iPhone charger ... and most importantly to my Wabi Sabi model and our Wabi Sabi lives.”

From big, bold portraits that commemorate people to the tiniest of sculptures that memorialize bees, both “Bloom” and “Bee Mourning Brooch” by Luci Jockel of Indiana are something to seek out in this wildly varied show.

“These pieces are memorials for honey bees that are dying due to Colony Collapse Disorder,” Jockel says. “The work references Victorian mourning jewelry and wreaths, which had used the hair of the deceased. I used ethically sourced honey bee by-products, an animal skull, seed pods and steel to make these forms into wearable art.”

Not jewelry, but gems were the focus of Sharon Massey from Homer City. But not just any gems. Her “Galvanized Gems” are made from salvaged galvanized steel, a material with a beautiful crystalline surface that is typically hidden from sight and taken for granted as the ductwork that heats our homes. “I wanted to highlight the beauty of this industrial material and call attention to the value that it provides by creating gem-like forms,” says the artist, who teaches jewelry making and metal working at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to a few video-based works, there is an abundance of photographic works on display.

One standout is “Heavy” by Ryan Hertrich of Baldwin, which features an Afghani man standing in the bucket of a bulldozer.

“I took this photo while deployed in Afghanistan,” Hertrich says. “The man in the photo is an Afghani civilian working on the U.S. base. I think his position in the bucket, being transported inside the machinery, and the stark look on his face all speak to the impact of the war — he is literally and figuratively inside the machine of war.”

The remaining works are just as compelling, making for an exciting addition to this year's festival.

The Juried Visual Art Exhibition is open from noon to 8 p.m. through June 12 at the Trust Education Arts Center, 805-807 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

Kurt Shaw is the Tribune-Review art critic.

Three Rivers Arts Festival schedule

When: Through June 12, noon-8 p.m. daily

Details: traf.trustarts.org

June 9

Noon-1 p.m.: Pittsburgh Opera, Dollar Bank Main Stage

5-6 p.m.: Sun Hound, Acoustic Stage

5-6 p.m.: The Ricecookers, Dollar Bank Main Stage

5:45-7:45 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 1),” Harris Theater

6-7 p.m.: Jesse Denaro, Dollar Bank Main Stage

7-8:30 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, 937 Liberty Gallery

7:30-9 p.m.: Beth Orton, Dollar Bank Main Stage

8-9:45 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 2),” Harris Theater

June 10

Noon-1 p.m.: Nik Sea, Dollar Bank Main Stage

5-6 p.m.: Zoob, Acoustic Stage

6-7 p.m.: Donora, Dollar Bank Main Stage

7-8:30 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, 937 Liberty Gallery

7:30-9 p.m.: Guster, Dollar Bank Main Stage

8-9:45 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 3),” Harris Theater

June 11

Noon-12:30 p.m.: Afro-Cuban Dance by Yemaya Pittsburgh, Trust Arts Education Center

Noon-1 p.m.: Pittsburgh Concert Chorale, Dollar Bank Main Stage

Noon-1 p.m.: Addison Albert & Colin Aikins, Acoustic Stage

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, 937 Liberty Gallery

1-1:30 p.m.: “Giraffes Can Dance,” storytelling with Joanna Abel, Acoustic Stage

1-2 p.m.: Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, Stanwix Stage

2-2:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

2-2:45 p.m.: Pittsburgh Musical Theater's Xtreme Teen Broadway, Trust Arts Education Center

2-3:30 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, 937 Liberty Gallery

3-3:30 p.m.: “Too Many Spiders!” storytelling with Christina Ferrell, Acoustic Stage

3-3:30 p.m.: Reed Dance's “Let My People Go,” Trust Arts Education Center

4-4:30 p.m.: Bodiography's “Change,” Trust Arts Education Center

4-4:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

4-5 p.m.: Kassia Ensemble, Acoustic Stage

4-5:30 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, 937 Liberty Gallery

5:30-7:30 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 1),” Harris Theater

5:45-7:30 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 2),” Harris Theater

6-6:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

6-7 p.m.: Cello Fury, Dollar Bank Main Stage

7:30-9 p.m.: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Dollar Bank Main Stage

8-9 p.m.: Theatre Festival in Black and White, 937 Liberty Gallery

8-9:45 p.m.: “River of Fundament (Act 3),” Harris Theater

June 12

Noon-1 p.m.: Rhythm ‘n Steel, Dollar Bank Main Stage

Noon-1 p.m.: Brianna Nelson, Acoustic Stage

2-2:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

2-3 p.m.: 4 Wheel City, Dollar Bank Main Stage

2-3 p.m.: Lydia Hyde, Acoustic Stage

4-4:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

4-5 p.m.: Butch Parnell, Acoustic Stage

4-5 p.m.: Thomas Page McBee's “Fight Like a Man,” Trust Arts Education Center

5-6 p.m.: Zende, Acoustic Stage

6-6:30 p.m.: Squonk's “Cycle Sonic,” Gateway 4, Gateway Plaza

6-7 p.m.: Ruby Amanfu, Dollar Bank Main Stage

7:30-9 p.m.: Lake Street Dive, Dollar Bank Main Stage

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