Out on a Limb: Advocating for a Bold Local Art Scene


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An assembled crowd attends a film screening during the Apartment Talks in Lawrenceville © Carnegie Museum of Art.

Let me start by saying this: Carnegie Museum of Art, where I am curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, could go further to be more welcoming, more accessible, and frankly, more fun for Pittsburgh’s artists. Working toward this goal has been a priority, among many, for me—and my colleagues, including Amanda Donnan (guest editor at Pittsburgh Articulate, where this essay originally appeared)—since I got here in May 2009.

As part of this effort, the five curators then in the contemporary art department (Daniel Baumann, me, Amanda, Tina Kukielski, and Lauren Wetmore) initiated the Apartment Talks series at a space in Lawrenceville. We ran this alternative space, a component of the 2013 Carnegie International, for almost two years on top of 12-13 hour days at the museum, and loved doing it. Pittsburgh artists made up the majority of the presenters, and their names and images of their work were published in the International catalog. This is not nothing. That catalog is in the hands of curators, collectors, critics, and artists all around the world. For two years that small apartment in Lawrenceville became what I would like to see all over Pittsburgh: a place for Pittsburgh artists, writers, filmmakers, educators, collectors, curators, and others to connect and exhibit with artists from all over the world. This coming together should not be the exception, but rather the rule. Continue reading

Help Inform the Future of Play in Pittsburgh


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Two young girls climb on the Lozziwurm play sculpture at Carnegie Museum of Art during The Ultimate Play Day on April 27, 2014 © Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Josh Franzos.

Call to Action: Take the Pittsburgh Playability Survey and help Carnegie Museum of Art make the city more playable and family-friendly. 

Play was a central theme of the 2013 Carnegie International, with The Playground Project exhibition and Lozziwurm play sculpture encouraging a larger ongoing discussion about the way we approach childhood, risk, public space, and education. And it’s a topic that remains timely. In a recent segment on NPR, for example, it was reported that time on the playground may be more important than time in the classroom.

“The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, told NPR’s Jon Hamilton. “And without play experience,” he said, “those neurons aren’t changed.” Continue reading

New Hire: Tom Fisher


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What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

Multimedia Producer. I plan, shoot, and edit videos that can be found in and around CMOA’s exhibitions and on the museum’s Vimeo channel. These videos include event documentation and original works like the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Invisible Photograph series. I also work closely with my supervisor Jeff Inscho to help organize and archive the museum’s digital assets.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?

In May I graduated from the Filmmaking Intensive at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I’ve since been freelancing and was fortunate enough to intern with CMOA’s Multimedia Department. I’ve also spent the last two years working in a photo lab. Yes, people still shoot on film. Yes, people take ‘selfies’ with disposable cameras. Continue reading

This Picture: Guy Bourdin, Ad for Charles Jourdan Shoes


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Guy Bourdin, Ad for Charles Jourdan shoes, c. 1970, Estate of Guy Boudin, represented by Michael Hoppen Gallery, London. Used by permission.

I remember seeing this ad as an art student—it kind of had everything: a post-Carnaby Street, pre-hippie moment with mixed and matched colorful shoes and tights, presenting an edgy story and a sense of unattainable style.

It’s impossible to explain how unbelievably cool Charles Jourdan shoes were back then, and how coveted. None of us could afford them, but I was eventually able to buy a pair of red slip-on moonboots at a 70%-off sale at Macy’s. I wore them to death. Continue reading

New Hire: Kevin Mercer


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What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

Construction and Facilities Coordinator. I provide support for the administration and execution of all aspects of construction-related activities associated with the museum’s temporary exhibitions, major permanent collection installations, and special projects.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?

I had just finished my graduate degree in drawing and painting at Penn State, where I taught 2-D and 3-D design courses. I was also a wood and metal shop technician at PSU’s School of the Visual Arts. Continue reading