Art Tracks: Parties, Marriage, and Provenance


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War Bride by Clarence Holbrook Carter, 1940 © Estate of Clarence Carter. Photo Credit: Richard Stoner.

Things said infrequently to the Curator of Fine Arts: “We need to talk about marriage.”

As we begin Art Tracks, one of the first tasks is identifying each person, or party, who was involved in the transfer, movement, and custody of an artwork before it came to Carnegie Museum of Art.

Then we have to build a timeline of each party’s movements over their lifetime, and associate a distinct location identifier for each movement. Currently, we’re using Geonames as our authority, though the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) just became linked-open-data. Using an authority helps us be explicit that we’re talking about the Paris in France, and not Paris, Ontario, Paris, Texas, or Paris, Togo. Continue reading

August Snapshots: This Picture Wants You!


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Hand pointing, light beams in background © SuperStock/Corbis.

August’s This Picture photograph has been, to my mind, one of the most enigmatic we’ve had so far. Depending on how you see it, the pointing finger can be accusatory, celebratory, or just plain puzzling. The responses we have received from all of you have risen gamely to the challenge of unpacking the meaning and associations of this picture. The four responses that stand out to me as the most intriguing are:

  • “What your retina records the millisecond prior to your eyeball being poked. ‘At least it’s not a sharp stick.’” —George Slade
  • Roy Lichenstein’s Finger Pointing (Corlett 126), 1973 as a rebuttal to. —April
  • “The first and most obvious reaction I have is to think of the famous 1917 WWI Army recruitment poster by Flagg. The image is both accusatory and motivational…it is identifying you (me) for action or lack of action.” —Mike
  • “Power. But does he have it, or does the viewer? Don’t let those light beams fool you…there’s something almost accusatory about that pointing finger. It’s almost as thought the finger is urging the light beam to move forward in an aggressive manner. Something disturbing and aggressive about this image.” —Becka Wright

Congratulations to George, April, Mike, and Becka! You are this month’s winners of the Program Manager’s Picks contest. Your prize (coming soon) is free admission to an upcoming World Premiere of The Invisible Photograph, which can be redeemed at one of our two remaining screenings, including our next one on September 19. Continue reading

On This Day: The Legacy of A. Philip Randolph


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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Labor Day celebration honoring A. Philip Randolph (waving from balcony of Civic Arena), surrounded by clergy, Lower Hill District, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 4, 1967, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.3994 © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive.

On this day in September 1967, labor leader and civil rights pioneer A. Philip Randolph was honored during a Labor Day Mass at the Civic Arena, where Bishop John Wright presented him with an award for his outstanding leadership in a distinguished career that spanned more than half a century. Photographer Teenie Harris was in attendance that day, covering the event for the Pittsburgh Courier, when he captured this stark black-and-white image of Randolph being welcomed by a delegation of clergy from the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Continue reading

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