Counterfeit Commonality

1. Wonder and Awe

2. Doubt

3. Forsakenness; retreat to self.

Karl Jaspers talked at me about this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You Can't Take it With You, and Leaving it at the Crossover Will be Humiliating

Unblurred on Penn Avenue is always a crap shoot. Most of the time just crap. No A's for effort. Here and there some of it manages something memorable.

But it isn't as though Shadyside or Downtown gallery spaces capture an audience in any meaningful way either. I know so many people that live here and bemoan the apathy and dullness. They're the same ones that settle in and talk love on this town and it's football heroes and the grit that's really just industrial waste and Penndot fuck ups and not character.

But I love people here. Gems end up anywhere. Gems for anyone.

The Unblurred art walk on Penn Ave is usually a grim reminder that people need to be shaken up and that I should just go. No one wants it. But I'm happy enough for anyone that gets enough out of what's here. When personal dissatisfaction outweighs compassion you're just a prick.

I've been contributing to my friend's space at the corner of Penn and Millvale in Garfield. Carolyn Wenning. Her space was the first at which I showed work here in Pittsburgh some years ago. She's a firecracker. She looks like a cuter gay Nancy Spero. Her work is much more somber than her personality. Something of somnambulant wandering. Lacquered blurry photos on heavy wooden panels sometimes with piles and slashes of thick tar and paint surrounding it. Like a little glowing tv monitor just freshly unearthed.

Her friend Derek Sober contributed to our last show. I thought his telephone and actual little tv monitors were someone else I showed with a while back. They were interesting for a little bit, the novelty of old timey phones with tiny screens built in that talked at you about loss and yearning. But kind of corny.

Only two or three doors up is Modern Formations. My friend Jen owns and operates that one. It's been an area mainstay and frankly one of the best galleries in the city. She's been ready to throw in the towel a number of times but stuck with it.

Her show this month is two fellows. One of them won a show at her annual Salon in which he garnered enough votes for the pieces he submitted. Heavy lacquer again. Something seems to not work with lacquer. It's too easy and lazy to me most of the time. It just lays on a candy shell for some false dimension both visually and conceptually. But I liked what he had in the show. Collage cityscapes. Kind of poppy a la local superhero Burton Morriss but minus the shitty aspect. Grimy Pittsburgh instead of Morriss's tidy boring soft jazz version of Pop Art. Corporate coffee house rubbish whereas this guy's are more like elevated local coffee house.

They had somewhat mysterious words plugged into a number of them, too. That usually falls flat, but it had a little something to it here. I like the one that said "Mable" coming from a thought bubble of what looks like the last moments of a drowning girl. It's sad and funny and not a little confounding. Actually I recall the girl in water looking despondent but seeing the photo of the piece again it seems she's a pilot in the dome of a single engine craft. Pining for her lover? Still sad and funny. A little dreamy, too.

There's something about isolation in vastness that appeals to me. Being obviously obliterated by elements instead of swallowed by routine. That's why I made the Elephant Island series. Not everyone sees death as part of their destiny. What a shame.

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