I'll get to the robots in a moment. First of all, my class at the SCC... There isn't much to say about the class at the SCC as we weren't really making projects, more exploring techniques through making samples and finding ways of problem-solving for processes which the people in the class used. As such, I have no photographs of work to show. What I do have is a photograph of all the people involved:
Back row, left to right: Karen, Gerry, Robert (my excellent studio assistant) and Me. Front row, Celeste (L) and Mary (R). I am so pleased to have had such an attentive, interested group who were so willing to try new things, especially as the group were of such diverse making backgrounds. Celeste is already a very fine jeweller; Karen works mostly in fibre; Gerry has arthritis in her hands an has previously restricted herself to wire-work; Mary is a fine enameller but has little experience of more dimensional or moving works. I am so very grateful that we were such a coherent, friendly bunch, with similar experiences and objectives, willing to try new things and happy to explore and play with techniques and materials.
As part of one of the classes, we visited Construction Junction and Creative Reuse, two organisations who must be thanked - and supported - most fulsomely for their assistance and for helping to promote my classes at the SCC. Here we are at Creative Reuse, being served by the lovely Erika:
I've started making a piece with a load of old screws which Karen found for me at Construction Junction. I may get it finished next week.
Pittsburgh has gone robot crazy. Everywhere you turn, there are robots, robots and more robots. This is because the Carnegie-Mellon University is having a robotics conference here in Pittsburgh and the art world has responded. As I am very fond of the slightly kitch 1950s-style of robots, I'm pleased to say that almost everything I've encountered has been relatedto that aesthetic, if not actually of it.
The first exhibit which I noticed was the fantastic "Robot Repair Shop", an installation by Toby Atticus Fraley (great name!)
The next exhibit I saw was on Butler Street at the small Fe Gallery, "Robots Of Unusual Size", which had one of Toby's robots next to a variety of others:
My own personal favourite:
I enjoyed this show a lot and would suggest visiting both of these if you are in Pittsburgh. I even bought a couple of pieces from the Fe gallery show. One final robot note: I spotted one of the Fraley robots collecting donations in the Wood Street gallery. It is worth throwing a few coins into his box:
The food in Pittsburgh is surprisingly good. There is a really strong local food movement and there are farmers' markets across the city. It was at one of these markets that I got to taste the deliciously unhealthy but very local Pierogis, a strange little fried dumpling, stuffed with cheese and served with fried onions:
Salty, savoury, fatty and very tasty!
These were made for me in PPG Plaza:
I hadn't quite realised that Pittsburgh was such a creative hub for so many artists and craftspeople. I am currently sharing a house with Robert Mickelson, a glass artist who is working at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. I went along to the centre to have a look at what is going on and found that it was a very impressive facility.
In the gallery at the moment is a show of work by Nick Mount. I can't say that I like all of the work shown, but every single piece shows a phenomenal control of the glass and a consistent, refined aesthetic:
Pittsburgh is home to a very unusual photography museum, a collection of photographs, photographic apparatus and ephemera relating to 1) the history of photography and 2) Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. The Museum of Photo Antiquities is run by a mad-keen collector and it is a little private museum of the sort I really like, one run by an enthusiast rather than any sort of formal curator. It opens by request - asking, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the camera shop below - and the owner gives you a guided tour, explaining everything on the way. I found it fascinating and it was brilliant to be able to actually handle a daguerrotype, a tintype and other rare or obscure photographs to see how they work.
Although I've only shown two photographs above, there are three or four rooms and thousands of items, including a reconstruction of a photographer's studio from the early 1900s.
Finally, it was time for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust "Gallery Crawl", which I did with Brigitte and Dingo last year and upon which I was accompanied this year by Robert Mullen and Sharon Massey after spending two hours nibbling appetisers and drinking cocktails in Kaya. Somewhat inevitably, the galleries were all closing after we had been to a couple and it struck us that it was rather stupid to shut the galleries at 9pm when the whole point of opening late on a Friday was to entice people into the city and to spend time there.
Last year, I felt the exhibits were a little "so-so". This year, I was blown away by the exhibition of drawings by Michael Benedetti
I also really liked Yoko Seyama's installation at Wood Street Galleries which all of us found restful and somehow nostlgic, as well as being styled like a 1960s "happening":
Finally - because I need to go to bed and there is a fierce thunder-storm kicking off - this last installation by someone whose name I failed to note, made from recycled junk, a series of kinetic sculptures which cast beautiful, changing patterns on the walls: