Let's talk about art: Qualters on film

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Pittsburgh artist Robert Qualters has been inspired by this city's architecture and neighborhoods his whole life. His paintings -- dense, brightly rendered buildings and street scenes with comments on the edges -- are easily recognizable to the natives.

Celebrating decades of work inspired by and created in Pittsburgh, a retrospective called "Robert Qualters: A Life" is on view at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside through April 20. The still active Mr. Qualters turns 80 this month.

A documentary about this quintessential Pittsburgh artist was created by Joe and Elizabeth Seamans. "Bob Qualters: The Artist in Action" is being shown at PCA as part of the exhibition, from noon to 3 p.m. each day.

In addition, Mr. Qualters will be in attendance during a special screening of the film at 6:30 p.m. March 20 at the Melwood Screening Room in Oakland. The event is free and open to the public; the filmmakers will also be in attendance.

"The film is a beautiful artwork in its own right," said Brady Lewis, the director of education at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. "And it fully captures the spirit of Robert Qualters' work."

For more than 40 years the award-winning filmmakers have collaborated and worked independently on some projects. Mrs. Seamans, who had the original concept for a Qualters profile, began her career as a scriptwriter with Fred Rogers for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." (She also played the part of Mrs. McFeely for the TV program.)

Recently, her short documentary about the rural South, "On Cane Creek," played at PCA.

Her husband is a producer, director, writer and photographer. He has worked on many of the "National Geographic" programs seen on PBS. Most recently he directed "The Great Robot Race" for "NOVA," and the upcoming "Car of the Future."

Mr. Seamans says they shared many ideas that shaped the Qualters project, including the use of video. "Video allows the audience to observe the artist in action and have the shared experience of seeing that," he said.

For more information: 412-681-5449.

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