Art Notes: 3 museums offer exhibitions of artist dear to Pittsburgh

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Three major American museums have coordinated exhibitions of the work of James Turrell, an internationally acclaimed artist Pittsburgh has special appreciation for due to his early affiliation with the Mattress Factory where three of his artworks are permanently displayed.

Of most interest is "James Turrell" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, through Sept. 25. Mr. Turrell, whose media are generally identified as light and space, has created a site-specific work, "Aten Reign," for the cavernous rotunda of the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building.

In her New York Times review, Roberta Smith described the work as "ravishing ... an immense, elliptical, nearly hallucinatory play of light and color that makes brilliant use of the museum's famed rotunda and ocular skylight" during an hourlong cycle of subtly changing color. (A June 13 New York Times Magazine cover story, "The Mesmerizer: How James Turrell Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet," by Wil S. Hylton, is the best I've read for insight to what makes this complex and driven artist tick.)

Other works, including prints and projections, are also exhibited. A Sept. 20 symposium, "James Turrell: Sensing Space," will include scholars commenting upon the aesthetic and philosophical components of the artist's work (

"James Turrell: The Light Inside" continues through Sept. 22 at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, comprising seven light environments from the late 1960s to his "Tall Glass" series of 2010-13, three print portfolios and Roden Crater site plans. The works are in the museum's collection, and most were created for this exhibition. The museum additionally houses "The Light Inside," 1999, a permanent installation commissioned for the underground space that connects two museum buildings. Houston also is the home of two Turrell "Skyspaces," at the Live Oaks Friends Meeting House and at Rice University (

The largest of the three shows, "James Turrell: A Retrospective," runs through April 6 at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As the title suggests, exhibited works range from early drawings, prints and light projections to installations that explore applications of colored light to more recent holographic work. Special attention is given to Roden Crater, a massive ongoing project in the Arizona desert begun in 1979 featuring excavated rooms that, according to the few who have visited the site, combine astronomical and sensorial experiences of light (

Two of the works that require special arrangement to visit at LACMA will be particularly familiar to Pittsburghers. "Light Reignfall," a sealed chamber one experiences while in a prone position, appears similar to "Gasworks," which was part of a large 2002 exhibition of Turrell works, "James Turrell: Into the Light," which marked Mattress Factory's silver anniversary. (The exhibition also included a "Skyspace" constructed in the museum parking lot.)

The other LACMA work, "Dark Matter," admits two visitors at a time to a meditative encounter with perception in a darkened chamber, as does "Pleiades," a permanent installation at Mattress Factory from 1983. The other Mattress collection works are "Danae," 1983, and "Catso, Red," installed 1994.

A decade after its major Turrell show, Mattress Factory celebrates year 35 with the Sept. 12 opening night launch of three major exhibitions, "Detroit: Artists in Residence" in the main building, "Janine Antoni" at 1414 Monterey St., and "Chiharu Shiota: Trace of Memory" in a new gallery at 516 Sampsonia Way (

Knit the Bridge

More than 3,000 knitters, friends, family members and fans turned out Sunday to celebrate the largest yarn bombing in the country on the Andy Warhol Bridge. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald dropped by to proclaim Aug. 25 Knit the Bridge Day, and six musical groups, 780 yoga practitioners, hula hoopers and arts and crafts participants enlivened the day. The installation remains through Sept. 6, after which the 580 panels will be removed, laundered and distributed to local shelters.

AAP by Clark

"Once Is Never Enough," an exhibition of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh artists curated by Vicky A. Clark, will open with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 7 at the MINE Factory Gallery, 201 N. Braddock Ave., Homewood (across from the East End Food Co-op). Artists exhibiting are Jerome D'Angelo, Ron Desmett, Adrienne Heinrich, Dana Ingham, Wade Kramm, Mary Mazziotti, Anna Mikolay, ROY and Lenore Thomas. Ms. Clark was inspired by the tenaciousness Josef Albers showed as he created "Homage to a Square" and sees a similar dedication to "a theme, a process, a form, etc." in the work of these artists. An artist talk and closing event, to be scheduled, will provide other opportunities to see the works. The exhibition remains through Sept. 18, but access otherwise is by appointment (412-361-1370).

AAP screening

The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Fall 2013 New Member Screening will be held Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Simmons Hall, 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. Applications for video, installation and other large-scale works must be submitted by 4 p.m., Sept. 26. Membership is open to artists age 18 or older who live within a 150-mile radius of Pittsburgh. Jurors are member artists selected by the board. For details visit


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


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