Artist Alexandre Arrechea will speak, lead tour, in Pittsburgh


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Alexandre Arrechea’s tortured architectural references are symbolic of the power vested in our built environments. But the three sculptures that remain Downtown also indicate the direction the Three Rivers Arts Festival is taking as it strives to offer sophisticated cultural experiences.

During this year’s festival, three sculptures from the New York artist’s “No Limits” series were installed Downtown, two at Four Gateway Center and one at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. They will remain through Sept. 5.

At 6 p.m Monday Mr. Arrechea will speak about his work in the Peirce Studio of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., Downtown. A screening of a documentary film “No Limits” — which documents the conceptualization, fabrication and installation of the series in New York — also will be held. He will lead a public art walking tour starting at noon Tuesday  in front of his “Seagram” sculpture at Penn Avenue and 10th Street near the convention center. The hourlong tour will visit the three Arrechea works and also Tony Tasset’s “Magnolias for Pittsburgh” and Romare Bearden’s “Pittsburgh Recollections.” Both events are free. Reservations may be made at www.publicartpittsburgh.org or 412-391-2060, ext. 237. 

Mr. Arrechea, born in Cuba in 1970, was a founding member of the collective Los Carpinteros. He represented Cuba in the country’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and has also exhibited in biennial exhibitions in Spain, Greece, Moscow and Havana. His video titled “Black Sun,” displayed on the NASDAQ Billboard in Times Square, was an animation of a wrecking ball repeatedly hitting the billboard.

The 10 towering sculptures of “No Limits” (“Seagram” is 20 feet tall) were installed along Park Avenue in New York City in 2013. Each suggests an iconic building. “Courthouse” and “Metropolitan Life Insurance” are displayed in Pittsburgh in addition to “Seagram.” The formal qualities of the buildings are intact but are convoluted, coiled or stretched in a way that challenges their staid presence.

“I believe the same way that a building is exposed to daily elements and changes — cold, heat, rain, fog — it is also exposed to constant changes in function, increases and decreases in market value, tenant use, and therefore purpose and social value,” Mr. Arrechea has said. “With this installation, I have created a set of works that confront dynamism versus static, the whole versus the fragmented, control versus chaos, utopia versus reality.”

“What I like about the sculptures is how I’m seeing the architecture around them differently,” said Veronica Corpuz, arts festival director and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s director of festival management. “They’ve drawn my attention to buildings I’ve passed but not really looked at.”

She also likes that they’ve stayed beyond the arts festival and that the trust is able to bring the artist to Pittsburgh to interact with the community. “Hopefully it’s a trend that we’ll be able to carry out, both the extended exhibit length and more artist engagement. The expense of bringing in or commissioning [public art work] warrants more than 10 days to allow multiple looks at it, the opportunity to come back and reflect a little more.”

And she’s looking to expand those values in future years. “How can we look at a venue as a point of broader community dialogue? Where are the places where these kinds of engagements can happen in a safe space, in an open and lucid space? Art can be one entry point, where an exchange of art and ideas would hopefully lead to innovation and more personal and cultural awareness.”

An idea that came up during a Cultural Trust strategic planning meeting was “the concept of third place,” Ms. Corpuz said.

 “You’re not at work. You’re not at home. But a third place to gather. And I kind of took a piece of that for the arts festival, which has an open and fluid environment. The whole festival becomes a kind of third place. This walking tour is a nice example of a gathering point. Hopefully, there wlll be some conversation, and questions about the work for the artist.”

Caplan and Bolmgren

A closing reception for the exhibition “Jerry Caplan and Donna Hollen Bolmgren: Partners in Art” will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the Chatham University Art Gallery in Woodland Hall. The event is free. Included are self-portraits by Ms. Hollen Bolmgren from a series shown in the 2006 exhibition “Faces: Self-Portraits of Caring” at Chatham, and photographs Mr. Caplan took during World War II as a member of the Camouflage Battalion in North Africa. Both artists are deceased. The exhibition is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday.  

AAP Annual talks

Four artists exhibiting in the 103rd Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition will talk about their work at 6:30 p.m. Thursday  at Westmoreland @30, 4764 Route 30, east of Greensburg. They are Patrick Daugherty, David Stanger, Christopher Ruane and Mary Weidner. The event is free; refreshments will be served. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 at the temporary site of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Information: www.wmuseumaa.org or 724-837-1500. 

Errazuriz workshop

A drawing workshop, “Divergent Drawing,” will be led by Chilean-born designer and artist Sebastian Errazuriz from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 6 at Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland. The workshop coincides with the opening day of his exhibition, “Look Again,” at the museum. The emphasis will be on how ideas diverge from expectations, as in his taxidermy duck/lamp. The workshop is suited to both novice and advanced artists; some drawing experience required. The fee is $60, members $48, workshop materials included. Register at www.cmoa.org or call 412-622-3131.


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

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