Concrete Ideas and Paper Architecture: Artists Looking for Buildings in the Big City


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Wilkinsburg, PA. Photograph by Joey Behrens.

This is a love story about two women looking for the right match. For months, Pittsburgh artists Joey Behrens and Haylee Ebersole have been on the hunt for a commercial building they could transform into an artist residency and home. It is an ambitious plan fraught with bureaucratic and financial hurdles. Considering the guts and gumption of these two protagonists, this story is worth hearing from the beginning.

Artistic dreams that trump the nightmare of bureaucratic and financial obstacles are infectious and inspiring. There are many interesting and quirky success stories in Pittsburgh to emulate, starting with Jennifer Beals’s industrial-sized single gal apartment and rehearsal space in Flashdance (1983). Haylee Ebersole’s former studio was located in the Mine Factory, an art collective and exhibition space housed in a 4,000 square foot former mine safety equipment factory in the Homewood/North Point Breeze area. The Mine Factory opened last year after a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, a cultural phenomenon that in the last half decade has offered ebullient hope for making pie-in-the-sky projects a reality. Brick and mortar banks now seem imposing, old fashioned, and sluggish by comparison.

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December Snapshots: Looking Ahead to 2015


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Film still from ‘Subatomic: The European Organization for Nuclear Research,’ the final installment of The Invisible Photograph documentary series.

The Invisible Photograph: World Premiere of Subatomic set for February 26, 2015

Join us for the fifth and final documentary world premiere for The Invisible Photograph, set at the European Organization for Nuclear Research on the border between France and Switzerland! The same series that has featured photographs buried underground, retrieved from old Amiga floppy discs, rescued from data created in outer space, and resuscitated from the trash heap, now journeys to its final destination to explore how photographic technologies are being used to visualize the subatomic world. Join us on February 26th for the world premiere screening of Subatomic and enjoy custom cocktails, lively discussions, and a chance to meet CERN scientists! Click here to read more and register.

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What’s That under Teenie’s Christmas Tree?


36887_1200pWhile there are a number of images of Teenie Harris’s family events in the collection, there are just a few without people in them. One December in the late 1940s or early 1950s, he took a picture of their Christmas tree in a corner of his living room. The room is dim and cozy, the tree is lit, and the presents beneath opened and in slight disarray (pictured above).

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How Museums Offer Teachers a Sense of Community, Shared Experience


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Advisory board teachers use permanent collection photographs to discuss how students might practice visual literacy during a museum visit.

Carnegie Museum of Art has a lot of different audiences, and one of the biggest is groups of K-12 school students. So far in 2014, we’ve seen almost 11,000 of them for guided gallery visits. It’s important that we offer programs that complement what teachers and students are doing in schools. This happens somewhere between the art content (from contemporary to classical antiquity, architecture to photography) and the 21st-century skills that students practice during these visits (like observation, interpretation, making inferences, and backing up their reasoning with evidence).

As museum educators, we strive to provide something valuable and motivating to prompt teachers to sign up for a guided gallery tour or workshop. This is why we have an application-based teacher advisory board. We carefully select teachers who come from a variety of disciplines, school districts, and grade levels. This interdisciplinary approach has been important to our school programs for years.

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Art Tracks: The People That You Meet in Museum Files


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A sampling of the paper trail that often accompanies an artwork once it enters the collection. Photo: Bryan Conley.

When an artwork enters a museum’s collection, it usually has an extensive paper trail, and possibly an electronic trail, but that documentation doesn’t stop after acquisition.

Museum staff, volunteers, and students often do additional research into the artwork’s history, provenance, or significance. All of that knowledge generates tons of paper-condition reports, loan agreements, conservation treatment reports, photocopies of auction catalogs, scholarly articles, incident reports, the occasional MA thesis rough draft, magazine articles, bibliographies, sticky notes, letters, copies of letters, deeds of gift, wills, acknowledgements of gifts, and, prior to the adaptation of electronic collection databases in the late 1990s, card catalogs. Yes, catalogs plural.

All of this paper gets sorted and copied into curatorial files, donor files, and meeting minutes as a way of creating a structured story of an artwork’s existence prior to its arrival at Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) and the mechanism by which we assumed stewardship of it. Some files are huge and stuffed full of handwritten letters on heavy official paper, with mounds of photocopied articles. Others are svelte, and contain only the trusty catalog document, lovingly typewritten by registrars long ago (and not so long ago, as the typewriter at CMOA still gets weekly use). But each of these paper breadcrumbs helps build a compelling narrative.

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