2012 offered diversified palette of artistic achievement locally

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A few local art highlights from last year:

• "Maxo Vanka's Masterpiece: The Murals at St. Nicholas Church," a documentary by Pittsburgh filmmaker Kenneth Love that integrates the unique Millvale works and the parish that birthed them, debuted in January at Duquesne University and played the Three Rivers Film Festival in November.

• Internationally acclaimed artist Maya Lin not only created a new work inspired by our rivers for her exhibition in the Heinz Architectural Center, but also spoke to a packed Carnegie Music Hall audience in February.

• The 60-by-13-foot ceramic tile Romare Bearden mural "Pittsburgh Recollections" was reinstalled in the new Gateway Center light-rail station Downtown in March, returning a key city artwork to public view.

• The Pittsburgh Festival of Fire Arts, Pyrotopia, debuted on a less-than-perfect April day at the Homestead Waterfront and still drew crowds; the website promises an annual event.

• In May, Carnegie Museum of Art announced a permanently endowed curatorial position, the Richard Armstrong curator of modern and contemporary art, and named as its first appointee Dan Byers, 2013 Carnegie International co-curator and former museum associate curator of contemporary art.

• Australian "Living Treasure" and glass artist Nick Mount attended receptions for exhibitions of his work at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery in June.

• The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., organized an exhibition inspired by Andy Warhol's infatuation with newspaper headlines that traveled in October to The Andy Warhol Museum.

• Artist Toby Fraley was recognized in November with the Mayor's Award for Public Art for his Downtown installation, Fraley's Robot Repair.

• Carnegie Museum of Art received a $300,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue its good work on the Charles "Teenie" Harris archive.

• Curators gave opportunity for specialized groups to exhibit, enriching the area's cultural mix, as with Cecile Shellman's (with Sharif Bey) exhibition of African-American artists living in the Appalachian region at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and Brother Nathan Cochran's fourth biennial Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Competition at Saint Vincent College.

• Artists tackled major contemporary issues, championing subjects as widespread as autism spectrum disorder (Arne Svenson at The Warhol) and the environment (Kate Cheney Chappell on Rachel Carson's legacy at Chatham University Art Gallery, and 90 artists organized by Ann Payne lamenting the pollution of Dunkard Creek at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and other regional venues). Will Steacy took on the broken American Dream at Silver Eye Center for Photography, and the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University explored the brave new intersections of art, science and technology in "Intimate Science."

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