“100 Pittsburgh Artists” spotlights local art diversity

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IN THE VISUAL ART WORLD, Paris is synonymous with Impressionism, New York with Abstract Expressionism. Germany is home to Bauhaus, Zurich the fabled birthplace of Dada and Futurism.

And Pittsburgh? What’s our unique contribution to the world’s cavalcade of Art History?

Before you invent a clever new Ism, check out the 100 Pittsburgh Artists auction happening online at Everything But the House … then feel free to pronounce your own genre category.

The auction runs December 4-10 and represents the work of 100 past and present Pittsburgh artists expressed via painting, sculpture, fiber, photography, printmaking, video and jewelry — nearly 200 individual items spanning a vast stylistic spectrum, with bids starting at $1 and sales proceeds going directly to the artists.

Which is the purpose of the pandemic-inspired relief effort, confirms curator Pat McArdle, a longtime art collector with a special mission of bringing lesser-known Pittsburgh artists to wider notice.

“Even in the best of times it’s hard to sell art,” he says, adding he expects the auction’s scope and magnitude will garner thousands of viewers and bring new appreciation for area artists.

McArdle first began serious art collecting art in the 1980s when he was inspired to track down esteemed Georgia folk artist Rev. Howard Finster, who had created the album cover for REM’s Reckoning album along with 5,000 or so other paintings and a sprawling rustic sculpture garden that today encompasses nearly 50,000 pieces of art.

This initial foray into the boundary-breaking esthetic of Outsider Art was a “life-changing experience” for McArdle, and the 100 Pittsburgh Artists auction reflects his vibrantly eclectic taste as well as the diverse subject matter and style that has defined the last century of Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania art evolution.

(l) Anika Ignosii (r) Biko

You’ll find formative threads of that history in the work of Louise Scott, Andy Flanigan, Chuck Barr, Butch Quinn, W. Glen Davis, Robert Wright, Jory Albright, William H. West, Bo Hill, legendary photojournalist Teenie Harris, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts founder Louise Pershing and 1920s German emigré Irma Freeman, whose artistic legacy lives on at Irma Freeman Center for Imagination in Garfield.

There are contemporary painters from Homestead to Verona to Millvale and in-between: Sheila Ali, Jesse Best, Biko, Vint Blackburn, Bill Brunken, Paul Feight, Stephen Hankin, Deborah Kiss, Michael Lotenero, Patrick McCafferty, Jennifer Rempel, Kurt Shaw, Phiris Kathryn Sickels, Rosemarie Tolliver, Kathleen Zimbicki.

You can find a hint of Cubism (Terry Shutko) … some bonafide Folk Art (Bob Ziller) … plenty of Abstract to go around (Eva Lou Damianos, John Eastman, Jason LaCroix) … Abstract with a hint of surf-and-sun (Jonathan Winslow) … and genuinely Outsider Art exponent Peter Russo who used the insides of cereal boxes as his canvasses.

Want to see Pittsburgh and environs as you maybe never have? Check out the imaginative cityscapes and scenic country views by Kathleen Ferri, John Graves, Dave Nixon, Vince Ornato and Bill Pfahl.

(l) Jerome D’Angelo, “Boudoir Mules” (r) Kathleen Zimbicki, “untitled”

100 Pittsburgh Artists highlights photographers revealing new visions among our places and people: Jaime Bird, Lori Cardille, David Grim, Lee Kim, Rob Long, Mark Perrott, Anita Buzzy Prentiss, Bill Wade.

And includes artists journeying beyond a mere two dimensions:

(clockwise from l) Jamie Warhola, “Trashman I”; Jamie Bird, “Revolution”; Chuck Householder, “Tattoo Designs”

The auction spotlights two sisters of the glass mosaic persuasion (Daviea Davis, Sharon Serbin) and a trio of Warhola siblings, scions of the exalted House of Andy (illustrator Jamie, silkscreener Madalen, painter Marty) and their late artist father Paul.

Plus creators with multiple simpatico callings — tattoo artist/sculptor Nick Bubash, painter/gallery owner Steve Mendelsohn, storyteller/collagist Amir Rashid, poet/painter Judith Robinson.

And musicians whose visual artwork has been undoubtedly infused by their auditory aura (Karl Mullen, Tom Norulak, Philip Rostek, Jenn Wertz).

(l) Chuck Barr (r) Dave Nixon

Some of the 100 are newcomers bringing an international perspective to our local tableau: mixed media/installation artist Alberto Almarza (Chile), dollmaker/sculptor Lene Gaemelke (Denmark), painter/videomaker Fabrizio Gerbino (Italy), painter Inez Hess (Argentina).

And there is a sampling of visual treasures from VaultArt Studio, a Bloomfield arts program sponsored by disabilities nonprofit Achieva with featured artists Jeff Aurila, Kim Bond, Tafara Bundrige, Wendy Davis, Brian Greiner, Sarah Harris, Darian Johnson, Heikeem Johnson, Maggie Kambic, Lee Kennedy, Sean Regis Traynor, Charlie Wallace, Carolyn Wilder, Charmette Young.

But wait, wait — there are more, many more!

(l) Robert Wright, “Bird with a Yo-Yo” (r) Bowen Schmitt, “Untitled”

In fact, it’s possible the final roster of 100 Pittsburgh Artists may yet surpass the century mark. “It was not easy keeping to a strict hundred,” says Pat McArdle. “I still get revelations every time I look at these works.”

And that suits the auctioneers at Cincinnati-based Everything But The House, which has since its 2008 founding sought to be the world’s largest online marketplace for “uncommon things” and has, over the last few months, sponsored numerous auctions benefitting local arts and nonprofit groups across Ohio.

The multifarious, sui generis listings offered in 100 Pittsburgh Artists fall squarely in the Uncommon Things category, and McArdle is hopeful the auction will draw support not just from fine arts devotees but from viewers interested in making sure local arts in Pittsburgh continue to thrive.

“These artists are telling stories,” he says. “Their own stories, which are often incredible, but also the stories of what’s happening around them in our community. And that’s something art always helps us see.”

*** The 100 Pittsburgh Artists online auction runs Dec. 4-10 at Everything But the House

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* Featured Image:  “Pittsburgh Cubist Cityscape”, mural by Jennifer Rempel in Alcoa Corporate Headquarters

(l) Laura Jean McLaughlin (r) Tom Norulak