It’s a problem most artists can only dream of: having your work exhibited at two different art spaces on the same night. How to choose which opening to attend? But nine Pittsburgh glass artists have found themselves in this enviable predicament, with a non-profit and a commercial art gallery both turning their attention to local artists working in glass. The work of 10 Pittsburgh-based artists — Judi Charlson, Brian Engel, Jason Forck, Arthur Guilford, Drew Hine, Adam Kenney, Michael Mangiafico, Gillian Preston, and Heather Joy Puskarich — will be unveiled at the Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery this Friday, February 4th, as part of “by local,” an exhibition that highlights the city’s vibrant arts scene. Except for Charlson, all of the artists will also have their work in ”TENacity,” an exhibition opening the same day over at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC).
None of the artists view the double header as a predicament; instead, they see Friday as a great night for glass art in Pittsburgh. Hine plans on starting at PGC before heading over to the “by local” reception. ”It’s exciting for Pittsburgh to have this in one evening; it gets a nice buzz going,” he said. Puskarich echoed his sentiments; like Forck and Engel, she works at PGC and will go back and forth between the two spaces. Reflecting on the Pittsburgh glass scene, Puskarich emphasized the sense of community. “It’s incredibly energetic and very collaborative in nature,” she said. “Many of us work together when we have specific ideas. That’s one of the things I love about being in Pittsburgh.”
With no overarching theme beyond the geography of the artists, “by local” presents a smorgasbord of subject matters, styles, and techniques that, although rooted in Pittsburgh, travel as far away as ancient Egypt. Charlson, who previously worked in bronze and clay, now focuses her attention on glass, including cast glass mummies, pyramids, and gods as a means by which to explore the human form. “My subjects often represent objects and figures that have been lost, found, forgotten or remembered from life,” Charlson writes in her Artist’s Statement. Duamutef (Jackal-Headed Son of Horus) depicts a little-known deity, one of the four gods that were believed to protect canopic jars, the vessels in which a mummified individual’s organs were stored.
Pieces by Forck and Engel both reflect a reverence for nature deeply associated with Japanese art. For Serene, Forck uses glass to construct an earthenware vessel that serves as the base for a lone bare branch. He follows the assymmetry so prized in ikebana (flower arranging) with a slight curve in the branch and brown paint on the base to break the monotony of the dominant pale blue. The width of the base facilitates an awareness of the negative space around the branch. Engel utilizes this same approach in Mineral Creek, a gleaming obsidian half-circle inlaid with copper topographic lines that act like grace notes, playing off of the basic semicircular shape of the piece.
Topographic lines also weave their way through Guilford’s People & Places, a futuristic vessel with a shiny white base reminiscent of an iPod. Wavy blue lines undulate against brown squares and rectangles that evoke the same high-concept geometric simplifications so loved (and hated) in Massimo Vignelli’s infamous take on the New York City subway system in 1972. The scope of Puskarich’s landscape is decidedly more personal than Guilford’s; all three of her works in by local come from her My Deviant Muse series and feature ethereal photos of herself fixed on pieces of kilnformed glass, sometimes with inlaid handwritten poems as well.
You can read more about the Pittsburgh Glass Center exhibition here.
IF YOU GO:“by local” February 4th, 2011 – March 26th, 2011 Artist reception: Friday, February 4th, 5:30-9 PM Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery 5833 Ellsworth Avenue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232 Tel: 412 441 5200 E-mail: email@example.com