For an immersion in art, performance, some serious partying and an eye-popping subculture that will explode your notion of fashion, check out the Naughty-or-Nice Holiday Bash from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at The Andy Warhol Museum. The night's hostess is Sharon Needles, whose mix of sauce, flash and creative costuming won the Pittsburgh resident this year's "RuPaul's Drag Race" crown.
When she spoke in Pittsburgh City Council chambers on June 13, Sharon Needles Day in Pittsburgh, Ms. Needles, aka Aaron Coady, said: "Beneath the 30 pounds of makeup and corsets and gowns are real beating hearts of real people and they usually come from a place of pain. A win for Sharon Needles is a win for every single kid in this city who's still being bullied."
That mix of overt stage persona and reserved interiority is part of what fascinates in the subjects of New York artist Jeremy Kost's photographic works, and the opening of his Warhol exhibition "Friends With Benefits" will also be celebrated Saturday. The artist will be present.
Mr. Kost's imagery includes Pittsburgh drag queens, Ms. Needles among them, and Warhol's grave, but you may have to study the pieces a moment to find specifics. His use of the Polaroid camera has inspired comparisons to Warhol, but the outcome is vastly different. Where Warhol employed celebrity as sheen, Mr. Kost deconstructs the flash of his subjects, hinting at the sheltered interior Ms. Needles referenced.
The works are, thus, a morph of realities, the presumed instantaneous product denied by the artist's studied technique.
Intimate multi-exposure Polariods, only 3.6 by 2.9 inches, are moody, only partially revealing. In "Untitled (Alaska at Allegheny Cemetery)" the human is spectral next to the weathered stone sculpture. Warhol's tomb hovers behind a foreground of abstracted flowers and "Untitled (Heidi at Andy's Grave)."
In contrast, the large collages of multiple Polaroids almost shout, their staccato rhythm formed by overlapping surfaces and broken images.
Created specifically for this Pittsburgh exhibition, "Friends With Benefits (Communing With Andy)" comprises hundreds of Polaroid photographs of various local drag queens at Warhol and Warhola family graves. Mr. Kost spent two days shooting in Pittsburgh and a much longer period composing the work at his New York studio. It measures approximately 60 by 55 inches.
The exhibition follows on the heels of a collaboration between The Warhol and Hugo Boss on a solo New York exhibition of Mr. Kost's works.
The artworks, coupled with the weekend's events (see below), offer opportunity to see the world through a different pair of eyeglasses. It's what the humanities do best, substituting experiential discoveries for speculative fears, finding strange commonality in difference.
Bash tickets are $99 and include hors d'oeuvres and two drink tickets. "Friends" continues through Jan. 27. Admission is $20; seniors, students and children, $10; 5-10 p.m. Friday, half-price; members free. Information: 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org.
If you still have energy, continue in the spirit of the weekend at an exhibition opening from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Pittsburgh Gay & Lesbian Community Center, 210 Grant St., Downtown. The "Royal Portrait Exhibition: A Collaboration of Art & Drag," curated by Pittsburgh artist Sam Thorp, features drag queens and kings portrayed by local visual artists. Most are from Pittsburgh, but include Cleveland, Erie and Philadelphia residents.
The reception is free and public, and all attendees are encouraged to dress in drag. The show continues through Jan. 27. Admission is free. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (www.glccpgh.org or 412-422-0114).
The Society for Contemporary Craft is one of the stops on the inaugural "Stroll the Strip" from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Besides the current exhibition, "Bridge 12: Melissa Cameron, Kevin Snipes, Betty Vera," they'll offer wine and tastings from The Enrico Biscotti Co. and Thin Man Sandwich Shop. Other venues include Wigle Whiskey and Mon Aimee Chocolat, Pittsburgh Public Market, Bar Marco and an after-party at Cruze Bar with dancing, refreshments and live band Random Play, from 7 to 9:30 pm. Tickets, including samplings at 12 participating locations and transport by circulating double decker bus, are $65 at the door. (www.neighborsinthestrip.com).
Pittsburgh artist Toby Fraley will be presented with the Mayor's Award for Public Art for his installation, Fraley's Robot Repair, at 10 a.m. Friday during the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council annual meeting.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will recognize the artist for a "dynamic project that has captured the hearts and imaginations of Pittsburgh residents and visitors," generating fan mail and other messages. The window installation, at 210 6th St., near Heinz Hall, is a futuristic robot repair shop with strewn parts and one entrapped little guy whose activities change regularly (http://pghrobotrepair.com).
In 2007, the mayor established the award to acknowledge the contributions public art makes to the city. Past recipients include Tom Sarver, R.M. Fischer and Janet Zweig. Mr. Fraley's installation was commissioned by Project Pop Up: Downtown, which offers vacant storefronts for art and retail use. The project is a collaboration among the mayor's office, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.
The annual meeting, which is open to the public, will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. The keynote speaker is Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts. Register at www.pittsburghartscouncil.org (GPAC members free; non-members, $25; artist non-members, $5). For an image and story on the installation, search Fraley on post-gazette.com.
Artist Kathy Trexel-Reed will demonstrate scherenschnitte -- paper cutting art -- techniques (and will have handouts you can try) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Westmoreland Museum of American, 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. Ms. Trexel-Reed is a board member of The Guild of American Papercutters National Museum at the Philip Dressler Center for the Arts, Somerset. Complimentary coffee and cookies will be served during museum hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; pick up a voucher before Saturday for $5 off any Saturday purchase $10 or above. (724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org).
An artist reception for an exhibition of new paintings by Kevin Kutz will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bedford County Center for the Arts, Anderson House, 137 E. Pitt St., Bedford. The 53 works include the southwestern Pennsylvania landscapes for which he is most known, portraits and baseball-themed paintings. The show continues through Dec. 30. Admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Information: 814-623-1538.
Congratulations to the Mattress Factory and Carnegie Mellon University's Studio for Creative Inquiry, who have been awarded Art Works grants by the National Endowment for the Arts. Mattress will receive $20,000 to provide travel, residency and materials for Detroit artists who will create site-specific installations for the museum's 35th anniversary. The CMU grant of $30,000 will support artists working in new media arts and emerging artforms. Through Art Works, the NEA will award 832 grants totaling $23.3 million to nonprofits in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (See story on other local grants, Page C-7.)
The application deadline is March 15, 2013, for two opportunities to gain professional experience at the Society for Contemporary Craft, Strip District. A yearlong Studio Apprenticeship will be given to an emerging artist seeking to develop studio management skills (monthly stipend of $1,000 and an additional $300 housing allowance). The Judy Cheteyan Scholarship, an annual three-month summer internship, will be awarded to a student pursuing arts management/art education studies ($3,000 stipend). For application forms or information, visit www.contemporarycraft.org or call 412-261-7003
Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: email@example.com or 412-263-1925.