Art notes: Artist Jane Haskell fondly remembered

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A "slim, patrician figure" was the very apt way Pittsburgh critic and artist Harry Schwalb described Jane Haskell in a 2010 article for Fanfare magazine. I have heard from many who were saddened by her death May 28 and her genteel but humble manner is frequently mentioned.

Mr. Schwalb was also taken by her spunk, as she multitasked among family, teaching and artmaking throughout her life. He wrote enthusiastically about her move in the late 1990s from Uptown to a spacious Oakland studio, because she would have a luxurious work space for the first time.

"Sufficient for a gal who will tackle Plexiglas, fluorescent and neon tubing, fiber optics, sheet metal, wood, lithography, photography, oils, collage," he wrote. "Currently she's making computer-generated drawings of the cosmos."

Mr. Schwalb's were among the comments I couldn't fit into the limited space of Ms. Haskell's obituary. Others are below:

Carol R. Brown, president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001, spoke of Ms. Haskell's service to Pittsburgh. "Not only was she a beautiful human being but she made terrific contributions in a very quiet way." Serving on the Public Art Commission of Pittsburgh, for example, Ms. Haskell "worked diligently. She had high standards and had the best interest of our city at heart. She played this very significant role as an artist in our community, but her main concern was that people have a better experience of art. She was always well informed about what was going on in the arts locally, nationally and internationally."

Vicky Clark, educator, independent curator and cultural historian, called Ms. Haskell "a very, very good friend to the arts. She gave everything she had to the arts and gave without fanfare." She also praised Ms. Haskell's support of artists and arts organizations. "She showed up everywhere for everybody. She's one of a kind."

Curator and critic Graham Shearing spoke of her contribution to Carnegie Museum of Art. "She was proud to be the only artist on the board. As near as anybody, she supported the position of artists on the board, with the possible exception of [previous director] Richard [Armstrong]. She had a kind spot for artists, and she read the museum very well. I shall miss her enormously. She was a considerable artist, too."

Among Ms. Haskell's honors that didn't make print was Pittsburgh Center for the Arts 2006 Artist of the Year. Pittsburgh filmmaker Ken Love filmed the installation of that exhibition at the center and distilled that footage into a beautiful tribute that shows the artist placing the works in and speaking about the show. As I told him, watching it one feels she is still with us. View the piece at

An exhibition of Ms. Haskell's work is being planned by Borelli-Edwards Galleries in Lawrenceville later this year.

Hollen Bolmgren estate

The estate of Donna Hollen Bolmgren will be auctioned Saturday at Concept Art Gallery, 1031 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. The auction begins at 10 a.m. and the sale of Ms. Hollen Bolmgren's items will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. Included will be furniture; paintings and other works by the Pittsburgh artist, who died in March, and art from her collection including by Jerry Caplan and Rudy Staffel. The objects may now be viewed at the gallery. To bid, go to

An exhibition and sale of Ms. Hollen Bolmgren's work will open Aug. 30 at the Eastside Gallery, Village of Eastside, 6400 Penn Ave. Works will be offered in a range of prices. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pittsburgh Master Visual Artists program, which Ms. Hollen Bolmgren co-founded ( .

Demolition party

It should be a surreal vision: People dressed in suits and party dresses swinging sledgehammers to take out chunks of a museum wall. It's one of the activities that distinguishes the July 13 Wrecking Ball at Westmoreland Museum of American Art from any other gala you're likely to attend. The fundraiser marks the last time visitors will be in the museum until its reopening in 2015. To be clear, the entire museum is not coming down, so bashing space will be limited. Another gallery will be turned over to graffiti artists -- "A room full of graffiti madness," says Bree Larkin, museum manager of events and visitor services. Catering will be by Bob Sendall of All in Good Taste Productions and music by Pittsburgh DJ Mr. Owl.

Tickets are $150 for the 7 to 9 p.m. gala (includes after party) and $40 for the 9 p.m. to midnight After Party. It's an opportunity for partygoers to "let out all of their frustrations," Ms. Larkin says. Tickets or information: 724-837-1500, ext. 36.

Roads of Arabia

First the rubber ducky in the Allegheny for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust International Festival of Firsts and now "Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" coming to Carnegie Museum of Natural History June 22.

Pittsburgh continues to pull off one cultural coup after another -- the Trust contracted Mr. Duck before other U.S. cities caught wind of it, and Natural History's director of the Center for World Cultures Sandra Olsen secured the Arabian feast from the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, where it debuted. The exhibition comprises more than 200 recently excavated objects ranging from prehistoric tools to inscriptions and tablets, funerary objects to figural sculpture, tombstones to textiles. None of them had been seen outside of Saudi Arabia before 2010.


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: or 412-263-1925.


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