Art Notes: An update on Westmoreland; women artists in exhibit


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When the Westmoreland Museum of American Art debuts its renovated and expanded building in spring 2015, the outside spaces will carry as much weight as those inside. Landscaping by LaQuatra Bonci, Pittsburgh, will be innovative and environmentally sound, and the museum will be visually connected with the downtown Greensburg business district by a new public art project.

An update on the artwork will be given at 6 p.m. Thursday at the museum's temporary location, 4764 Route 30, east of Greensburg. Speakers will be landscape architect Fred Bonci and Brooklyn artist Janet Zweig, who was awarded the "Bridging the Gap" art commission through an open competition.

Also at the museum are an exhibition of sculpture by Duncan MacDiarmid and a short demo of an in-process Fallingwater film by Kenneth Love that appears three-dimensional without requiring viewer glasses.

The event is free but reservations are appreciated at 724-837-1500, ext. 129. Information: www.wmuseumaa.org.

Women artists inaugural

An exhibition opening from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the FrameHouse gallery in Lawrenceville will launch what is planned to become an annual presentation of graphic works by women artists.

"Seen in Pittsburgh: Works on Paper by Women: A preliminary survey" was organized by critic, curator and collector Graham Shearing. In the future, he hopes "to hand the curation of the show over to a rotating group of other curatorially minded individuals, preferably women."

Mr. Shearing was challenged by an art professional's remark that market interest in drawings was negligible in Pittsburgh. "And I thought, 'Let's see about that.' "

Other artists include Lila Hetzel, daughter of Scalp Level School founder George Hetzel, and Elvira Peake when she was Elvira Mae Loreski and a student at Carnegie Tech in the 1940s, when Andy Warhol was in attendance. Ms. Peake, who is now retired and living in Florida, was proprietress of the long-running Clay Place gallery, formerly of Shadyside and Carnegie. She is known for her clay sculpture.

Also the late Marie Kelly, who Mr. Shearing said is the last local woman artist to have exhibited in a Carnegie International until those of the collaborative Transformazium in CI2014, also represented.

And Dee Briggs, Caldwell Linker, Linn Meyers, Kathy Montgomery, Ayanah Moor, Martha Rial, Diane Samuels, Kitty Spangler, Janet Towbin, Laurie Trok and Kathleen Zimbicki. The list may grow by Friday.

Media include drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs and even sculptural work made of paper.

"The hope is that [the exhibition series] will highlight current practice in the city and also rediscover the graphic work of women artists," Mr. Shearing said.

The exhibition continues through late May at 100 43rd St. Unit 107, Lawrenceville. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. 412-586-4559.

Muhammad Ali film

In conjunction with the exhibit "RACE: Are We So Different?" the film "The Trials of Muhammad Ali" will be screened at noon Saturday in the Earth Theater at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Oakland. The feature-length documentary addresses Ali's litigation to overturn a five-year prison sentence for refusing U.S. military service. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and a panel discussion follows. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required at www.wqed.org/community/cinema.php. The screening is presented by WQED Multimedia and the Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is free with museum admission. Information: 412-622-3131 or www.carnegiemnh.org.

Slow Art Day

Museumgoers spend an average of just 17 seconds looking at an individual painting, according to a study published in the journal Empirical Studies of the Arts and quoted in the April 2011 ARTnews. Maybe one reason people think they don't understand art is that they don't give it a chance.

Slow Art Day began as an exercise by Phil Terry, founder of the Reading Odyssey and CEO of Creative Good, in 2008 when he decided to spend some quality time in a museum. In 2009, he tested the practice with three other individuals and a select number of artworks, and then with 16 North American and European museums. Fifty-five venues participated in the official 2010 launch, and last year 272 venues participated.

The 2014 Slow Art Day is Saturday and to date 219 venues have signed on. Institutions are located in a dozen European countries, two African, three Latin American, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. In the U.S., they're spread from Rhode Island to Hawaii including, surprisingly, only one each in New York City and Washington, D.C. (at the National Museum of Women in the Arts).

The game plan is simple: Sign up at a participating venue, attend and look at five pieces of art slowly, and meet with the host and other participants to discuss the experience over lunch (www.slowartday.com).

Fortunately, we have a participating venue in our region, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg. Artwork viewing will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and viewers should plan to spend 10 minutes with each of five selected artworks. Discussion will be held over a brown bag lunch (you bring) from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

The selected artworks are "Shepherdess With Sheep and Child" by Alfred Bryan Wall, "By the Sea" by Robert Gwathmey, "Red Apple" by Hubert Fitzgerald, "Self Portrait in Feathered Hat" by Jerome Myers, "Steel Valley" by Otto Kuhler and "Pittsburgh Mills, Monongahela River" by Ernest Lawson.

A poetry reading also will be held beginning at 2 p.m. in the galleries. University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg professors Lori Jakiela and Judith Vollmer and their students Keegan Love and Shannon Sankey will read.

Information: 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org.

Touchstone spring cleanup

Touchstone, the Fayette County residential craft school, is looking for volunteers willing to wield rakes and cleaning rags to tidy its campus in preparation for 2014 programming. The Spring Campus Clean-Up will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. A free lunch will be provided to volunteers in the communal dining hall. Sign up to help with Stefanie Glover at 724-329-1370.

The 2014 class season begins April 25 and includes blacksmithing, ceramics, glass, metals and jewelry, mosaic arts, and painting, drawing and print-making. Fiber arts has been re-introduced with 17 workshops scheduled. After a hiatus, Thaddeus Mosley returns to teach July 20-26. The special topics category ranges from paper cutting this month to creating rain gardens and re-purposing musical instruments into mechanical amplifiers in May to building wood fired brick ovens in June. Check out classes or register at www.touchstonecrafts.org. Early-bird lodging discounts are still available for summer and fall classes.

Other programming on campus includes the sixth annual Jim Campbell Hammer-In, a celebration of all things blacksmithing, May 3-4; the "Alchemist Picnic: A Mid-Atlantic Metals Retreat hosted by Wayne Werner, metalsmith, jeweler and musician, May 3-4; and a Yoga Hive Woodland Retreat, May 23-24. Cost and registration information available on the website.


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.

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