Share This Page

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts triples up on exhibits

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband
'Inappropriate Jokes and Bad Timing' by artist Corey Escoto is part of the Small Step Giant Leap show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
'Condolence, found empty notebook,' by artist Lenka Clayton is part of the Small Step Giant Leap show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
'Nova Ellipsis' by artist Tommy Bones is part of the Small Step Giant Leap show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
'Correspondent,' by David Montano is part of Small Step Giant Leap at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
'Sink,' by artist Mark Franchino is part of The White Show: Subtlety in the Age of Spectacle at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
'Beneath Sky,' by artist Michael Kukla is part of The White Show: Subtlety in the Age of Spectacle at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

The first all-white painting can be traced back to Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich's “White on White,” which he painted in 1918. Malevich's intent with the work was to create a “pure feeling” in the viewer, in effect the result of stripping art down to its essence.

Since then, several artists such as Ad Reinhart, Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman have tried to do the same, with Ryman building an entire career out of putting white paint on everything from canvas to sheets of aluminum.

Featuring the work of 21 artists from throughout the region, the exhibit “White Show,” on display at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, continues in that vein with all-white works, to varying degrees, that prove, yet again, that a lot can be done with the color white.

For example, using nothing more than white tape Delanie Jenkins displays two texture-laden pieces — “Red Pearl I and II” — comprised of all white-on-white compositions that come alive with subtle shifts in shadows as you move in front of them.

The same can be said of Jaq Belcher's cut-paper pieces “Opening” and “Humanity,” in which slightly raised designs create an overall pattern of shadow and texture that brings delight to the eyes when moving around them.

In three dimensions instead of two, Mark Franchino has fashioned an entire vanity set out of all-white materials, right down to two soap dispensers — one of the bottle variety, the other wall-hung — each carved out of a solid bar of white soap. And Michael Kukla has made three interior worlds out of blocks of white marble with his pieces “Star 1,” “Riser 1” and “Beneath Sky,” which will grab the viewer's attention for the obvious skill required to carry out such intricately designed and laboriously carved web-like designs in solid marble.

The remaining artists have undergone similar explorations in solid and void, with Eva Faye's “Punctured Painting #6 and #5” being the next best example.

“White Show” is just one of three group exhibitions on display at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. “Small Step Giant Leap” and “Romancing the Tone” take up the second half of the center's second-floor galleries, and are just as worthy a visit as the “White Show.”

“Small Step Giant Leap” is the third exhibit featuring the work of a local artist collective calling themselves “Keystone West.” The eight Pittsburgh-based artists in the group meet regularly to discuss their work and their art-making process. And, as can be seen in this exhibit, the processes vary greatly. Ranging from Thommy Conroy's traditionally themed, foxhunt oil painting “The huntsman knows all his hounds,” to Tommy Bones' “NOVA ELLIPSIS,” a model of a space station ingeniously cobbled together from reclaimed materials, such as plastic squirt-bottle tops and electronic parts.

Other standout works on display in this exhibit include ingeniously combined ink and embroidery pieces by Carolyn Kelly, and a witty found-object sculpture by David Montano titled “Correspondent” that requires a little thought to pay off with a punchline in the end.

Finally, “Romancing the Tone” features the language-based works of half a dozen artists who each utilizes text as an entry point for the viewer to actively “read” the work.

For example, Lenka Clayton's “Accidental Haiku,” is comprised of several pages from a partly completed diary from 1975 that the artist found. Though each of the eight pages (among many) of the diary on display are made up of entries that include the day's weather, along with a brief description of the same day's activities, surprisingly each entry accidentally adheres to the rules of the Japanese poetic form Haiku, which Clayton has flagged with Post-It note tags.

Other works by Clayton on display are just as compelling. They include “New York Day,” which is another found notebook filled with a travel itinerary from a 12-hour trip to New York, and “Condolence,” which is the back part of an empty notebook Clayton found, then covering it with a charcoal rub, discovered the remnants (in relief) of a letter of condolence. This latter piece has both a haunting quality and an element of policework, making it all the more interesting.

Adding a humorous twist to this exhibit, Corey Escoto displays three thrift-store sweaters darned with ironic sayings — “Mindless Usages of Profane Language,” “Gestures of Intimacy Left Unreciprocated” and “Inappropriate Jokes and Bad Timing.” Jokes in and of themselves, they are, nevertheless, just as fun to look at as objects of craft as they are to read.

The remaining text-driven works on display are a bit more obscure in their focus, but just as worthy of investigation.

Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kshaw@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.