Pillbox

Local artists showcase work

The Carnegie Museum of Art exhibit showcases works of art ranging from political photography and Pittsburgh-centric pieces to more abstract structures exploring shape and color. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | Photo Staff) The Carnegie Museum of Art exhibit showcases works of art ranging from political photography and Pittsburgh-centric pieces to more abstract structures exploring shape and color. (credit: Angel Gonzalez | Photo Staff)

We’ve all been there: that giant building right across from Kiva Han, with awkwardly sized steps inside leading upstairs. Architecture majors are especially familiar with this place after attending lectures and countless drawing classes there. As for the rest of us, we’ve probably been dragged out here by our RAs at some point, or have even taken it upon ourselves to make a visit of our own to the Carnegie Museum of Art.

For several weeks, The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 100th Annual Exhibition, which features the work of a selection of artists from within 150 miles of Pittsburgh, has been tucked away in the Heinz Galleries. This exhibition consists of five spaces, each leading to the next in a seemingly linear fashion.

Immediately upon entry, visitors can find Anna Patsch’s “Russian Workers.” With a quick glance, it seems as if this piece is nothing more than a rectangular piece of rusty iron hung on the wall, but soon enough, faces begin to appear within the metal. What’s most remarkable isn’t even the skill that one can imagine is required for creating such a piece, but the very idea to take this conventionally ugly material and transform it into art.

Looking around within the other exhibits, one can find several political statements and works of photography. William D. Wade combines these two ideas in his collection, Portals and Passageways. His prints prove that embracing the very nature or limitations of a process such as photography can actually take the art one step further. By doing this, Wade magnificently portrays light and movement through space and time.

Ron Nigro’s “Silver on Black” is a piece even more open for interpretation. Most anyone can appreciate the beauty of mystery that exists here, and questions run in the minds of onlookers: What is it? What does it look like? What does it remind me of? Here, visitors begin to discover more and more instances where art is constantly being redefined.

To some, Dirk Vandenberg’s “City without Art” is an exhibit favorite. After taking a series of images all over the city of Pittsburgh, Vandenberg cut puzzle-shaped pieces out of each print. The cutouts were then placed around the perimeter of the piece, portraying the title quite nicely and reminding us that art is the world that surrounds us. It is the sculptures we see, the bridges we cross, the buildings we enter, and even the roads we travel.

One common theme within the exhibit seems to dominate the space, and that is the use of abstract color. Maura Koehler Keeney’s “For Everything There Is a Season” takes the visitor deep inside nature with a magnified view of plants. The portrayal of light, shadows, color, and detail makes the whole piece simply unreal.

Nearby, Shelle Barron’s “Search Engine” and Vaughn Clay’s “Confronting Maya” both explore composition, the layering of images, and a highly varied use of both color and media, resulting in two fascinating pieces.

Even as the exhibition space seems to come to a close, the artwork does not. Daniel Burke’s “Church Mice,” for example, is simply mind-boggling. Although the frame could not have been more than two inches deep, the depth portrayed within the piece is quite effective with the use of color and the overlaying of materials, bringing to life an image that is often unseen.

Simply said, no visitor will regret making a trip to the museum to check out this exhibition. It gives rise to both questions and discoveries not only about art, but also about oneself.