Monday, June 28, 2010

Everything will be on the walls.

c. David Grim (taken 6/19/10)

All the images for the Crown of Appalachia show (running concurrent with David Grim's "Book of Life" installation) are printed, framed and ready for hanging. When I was asked to fill up half a gallery with photographs, I knew that it was going to be fun sorting through all of my posts and picking my favorites. At the same time, I knew that the show would have to stand on its own alongside the rest of the work. I think we'll achieve a balance that will be interesting once everything is presented together. It's slowly making more and more sense to me.

This weekend was largely dominated by plans to move my GF's mom from Moon to Lawrenceville. In conjunction with my preparation at the Panza Gallery, the plans and actual execution for the trek have been wholly occupying. Now I can focus once again. Everything WILL be on the walls by Saturday evening, and it is my personal commitment to make sure that everyone that attends the show during the month of July feels like it was worth seeing.

The process of building this exhibition has been at times fulfilling, engrossing, daunting, and exhausting. It's going to be a relief to get back to thinking about making the work itself. The vulnerability of putting stuff in front of the public can be raw, and even maddening. As long as I keep in mind that the presentation is an extension of the making of art, I can keep a grip on things. If I haven't seen you recently, I hope to see you soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 6/25-26/10

c. David Grim (taken 6/19/10)


Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is opening "Interplay", an Associated Artists of Pittsburgh show curated by Eric Shiner, the curator of art at the Andy Warhol Museum. I couldn't find any specific information about the connective thread of the work (other than the rather ambiguous title)*, but I trust Shiner's aesthetic, and there are some artists included that I enjoy. On a weekend when very little is happening on the arts scene, this should be a no-brainer. There is a $5 requested donation, and the reception runs from 5:30-8PM.

(Editor's Note- This is the best AAP show that I have seen. Go look at it - Merge)

And there's a performance ("I Look at You and See Myself") at SPACE Gallery downtown featuring a collaboration between choreographer Mary Miller, fiber artist Tina Williams Brewer, musician Charles Hall, and costume designer Venise St. Pierre. Apparently the work revolves around stories inspiring quilts created by Brewer. But like many events here in the 'Burgh, I'm having difficulty finding details, such as what time the event occurs and how much it costs. If you are interested, perhaps this is a good place to iron out the details. I only mention it because this sounds like it could be kind of cool.


I may not be naturally attracted to a show called "Spotlight on Pastels", but given the general tone of this post, I wanted to give a shout-out to the consistent professionalism demonstrated by the Boxheart Gallery (4523 Liberty Ave, Bloomfield). While the proprietors sometimes seem a bit distanced from local art trends, they remain committed to their own vision and have carved out a solid position in town. They do this by paying attention to documentation and concept, and thus deserve our respect. Stop by and see what I mean at their reception, running from 5-8PM.

You could also stop in Fast>>fwd Gallery (3700 Penn Ave) for the last time (6-10PM). The group painting show that marks their very last exhibition was a standout earlier this month at Unblurred. Put it this way- when my Dad and I actually agree that an original painting is worth buying, then something special has truly happened. Stop in to say goodbye, have a drink, and contemplate the energy that goes in to running an independent venue dedicated to showcasing edgy and emerging local artists (thanks Craig and Joe!).

* And believe me, I did try. I went several layers deep on the web pages of the organizations involved, and could find nothing describing the show other than a quote from the show's "Chair" (Connie Cantor).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Way Above the Princess Suite.

c. David Grim (taken 6/19/10)

What I really wanted to do was a detailed post on the room I stayed in outside of Cook Forest, but I wanted some pictures to go with it. Unfortunately events conspired so that I didn't get shots that would adequately convey what it would be like if YOU stayed there. So I thought I could just do a short description that would suffice without pictures.

GF and I stayed in the Princess Suite because the only other suitable accommodation available at midnight the night before the trip was the "Honeymoon Suite". Obviously that's a heavily-laden label to throw up on a door even with a heart-shaped tub behind it. And there were photos on the website. But what we came to find out was that whoever built that web presence wasn't entirely clear what was what.

When we walked in the room we were initially struck by the overwhelming pinkness of the room. It turns out that the shots attributed to the Princess Suite were actually snaps of the "Angle (sic) Suite". I guess the color scheme for angels runs more toward the orange hues. If my expectations wouldn't have been colored by the net documentation, I likely would have not been surprised that Princesses only feel royal when surrounded by pink. Of course I figured everything out as I got adjusted.

I did make a point of moving the stuffed bear that was sitting against the headboard of the king-sized bed out of his pride-of-place and on to a straight-backed chair in the corner. I'd personally prefer something created with artful taxidermy, but I understand how that could be incongruous, and maybe even turn off potential patrons.

Anyway, I'm losing the thread. Writing daily in a public space is an interesting endeavor. The image above is from the trip, but not the Shiloh Resort. Let's just chalk it up to technical difficulties.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yay, it's Daddy time!

c. David Grim (taken 6/20/10)

We concluded our trip yesterday morning, and made the drive back to the 'Burgh in shimmery blue midday sky. Sometimes it takes a ride on Rte. 28 to remember that hurtling down the road can be therapeutic. I do realize how odd that sounds, and yes, I have made many passes down the stretch of 28 that is infamous for its hellish anxiety. Once you get to the Waterworks, you can expect one of two things. Either you will be sitting in a constipated bowel, with nothing but construction crews to distract you, or you will be trying to dodge the idiots who think that two-lane urban highway driving is great training for the NASCAR circuit. Oh yeah... I got stories.

But once you get out past the point where 28 reverts back from three lanes, down to two, and finally one... then it gets fun. It's easy to slip into a dreamy reverie when you are going up and down the hills of Western PA, surrounded by trees and rural activity. The economy can lend the terrain a gritty, rundown beauty that evokes my sense of the term "American Gothic". And then it's just a matter of picking my favorite continuous play CD (right now it's something by Jurassic 5 that I picked up at a yard sale) and not hitting any animals making their perilous trek across the hard-top.

I made the trip with anticipation for my third Father's Day as a progenitor, and I had a slowly coalescing plan of entertainment in store for my son E. A month or two ago, I took him out to his cousin's B-day party at some crazy indoor over-stimulating "Fun Zone" out by North Park. He went crazy jumping in a pit of plastic multicolored balls, and crawling through elevated tunnels that I felt somehow obligated to follow him through. So I guess I knew what I was getting myself into yesterday even before he ate bacon dipped in maple syrup at the Eat n' Park.

So here is an image from a day that I found, on the whole, pretty damned relaxing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fusty Professors, coffee, and armchairs.

c. David Grim (taken 6/18/10)

Greetings from the road. As I type, I'm sitting in a coffeehouse in Clarion called Michelle's Cafe. As far as college town joints go, this is a nice place to grab an espresso. It's a very large space with high ceilings (tin), old fashioned wood paneling running two thirds up the wall, natural wood floor, amazing antique book cabinets, great-looking wall lamp treatments made from tea pots (see accompanying image), and comfy old armchairs. It's like chilling in a fusty professor's marvelous study... but with a selection of fairly intriguing children's art on the wall. In other words, the type of comfy ambiance that keeps me nursing my Americano til closing.

The recommendation of the bookstore proprietor across the street (Book Nook) was enough for me. When you come across a guy who is willing to sit in his shop at the end of the day and discuss local oddities to photograph, then you know you have found a quality source for local information, and your decision to check out the local university is reinforced once again. As the man says, we make our own fun here in Clarion. And so we did. GF has found a comfy armchair to read her newly-bought comics, and I get access to wifi.

We drove into the area around Cook Forest earlier today, and after a few inadvertent diversions, found our lodging for the weekend. I believe I'll blog about those particular accommodations once I form some definite impressions and get some appropriate images. Aside from that, it's been a mellow day. I suggested that we take a drive to Tionesta, insisting we had never been there, and speculating that it would be a charming little town with a place to sit and grab coffee. I was right about that "little town" part, and that's all. We realized pretty quickly why we had forgotten driving through that hamlet last summer.

Anyway, I hope y'all did something fine on this sunny-assed day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, the places you can go!

c. David Grim (taken 6/20/09)

One thing I really didn't do as my work year was winding up was give substantial thought to where I might want to travel this summer. Last year my major wishlist destination was Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade. That just happens to be this weekend, but I didn't make any specific plans. It looks like it's going to simply pass me by this go 'round. I don't really know how I could have topped that experience anyway, short of painting myself, donning a costume and marching away. Hell, I even got to shake hands with Joe Coleman. You can't beat that.

Aside from that wild trip to the Big City, I also got on a Bed and Breakfast quest. I never gave much thought to staying at independently-owned lodging (other than a friend's couch in my dirtball days), so I didn't know the wide range of options. For $100 a night you can find a decent place to stay with a little character. And then, if you're willing to spend $150-200, you can relax in luxury. The best place I stayed at last year (and perhaps ever) was this one. It wasn't just the king-sized bed and two-person hot tub that made it special either. It was the lodge-style grandiosity of the common areas- the "great room" with wraparound balcony, the old fashioned elegance of the billiards room, and the rustic coziness of the bar. Plus the man in the full-sized bunny costume in an inn that looks like it belongs in Twin Peaks. Ok, it was Easter, but still...

I also made my first trip to the Hocking Hills, which is kind of like the Poconos of Ohio except that it lies in the Southern region. It really is a nice little weekend stint for 'Burghers and I'm surprised I haven't heard of more folks traveling there from Western PA. I found a castle-themed B & B that I can (without reservations) recommend. My GF and I stayed in the Woodcutter's Cabin (a name that I find humorous for no readily apparent reason) and the proprietors were thoughtful enough to include a couple of goofy medieval style costumes in the closet.

A lot of these travel experiences are not the type that you just stumble on randomly, so who knows what this summer will bring me. You can count on one thing for sure- if I run into anything especially remarkable, you'll read about it here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lili and friends in Polish Hill.

c. David Grim (taken 6/16/10)

With the official beginning of the season, I have the chance to reevaluate my daily itinerary. My days are remarkably obligation-free and it would be easy to slip into a steamy lassitude. I need a place where I can feel at home, but get myself out of the house. Frittering away the hours indoors causes mild grief and shame. So I'm pleased to find a new destination within the heart of the city that can serve as a jumping-off point to my adventures.

When my friend Loveclutch (Rob Levkulich, to the official arbiters of identity) told me that he was going to walk away from a draftsman's career and follow his dreams, I perked up, expecting something outlandish. But he explained that he was going to open up a coffeehouse right around the corner from the small residential property he has been renovating for several years. Knowing my friend's aesthetics,the news immediately sent me into a state of anticipation that I've harbored during the two years of construction it's taken to turn a former butcher's shop into a place I'd want to sip espresso or chug a milkshake.

Lili coffee*shop (3138 Dobson Street, ground level, Polish Hill) is open on weekdays 7AM-7PM, Friday and Saturday until 9PM. Sunday's hours are 10AM-5PM. And Rob is considering expanding the hours as he settles in. The shop provides free wifi, which is an essential offering for an itinerant and wayward urban explorer like I tend to be when the weather breaks. There are plenty of the requisite pastries, and even a menu including quiches, spinach salad, and hummus for those that don't use caffeine solely as an appetite suppressant. And the prices are amenable to routine re-visitations.

Not only does it have the independent and quirky interior design that one might expect in a hip 'Burgh neighborhood, but it also has the bonus of being located under the BEST comic-book store in Western PA (Copacetic Comics) AND a great record store (Mind Cure Records) owned and operated by a Paul's CD alumni. It's like it was created just for me. Perhaps the best feature of lili coffee*shop though is the approachability of Rob and the people he surrounds himself with. If you have an idea or suggestion, I guarantee he will listen attentively and consider it. And if it's a terrible one, he won't laugh at you to your face.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An Invitation.

c. David Grim (taken 8/20/08)

Whew. I get a break... weeks to direct my energy to setting all the big picture stuff in order. My day-to-day schedule is entirely filled, and if I want to sandwich some spontaneity into my life, I have to plan it well ahead. I wish it was a situation that allowed me to step back and see the objective irony in that, but I'm booked.

So anyway, I'm well ahead in my reading schedule. I've doggedly continued to write about whatever I've felt like at the time despite my better intentions. I'm managing to slowly become a better father, working out a divorce, and trying to nourish a relationship... all at the same time. I'm also trying hard to do better at my full time job. And getting ready to move back into the house I once owned and soon will again. I even make it a point to draw and take photographs when I can work it in.

But the biggest challenge now occupying my mind is putting together a show of work (drawings and photographs) that I've been preparing for YEARS. I've never invested this much time in presentation, but I guess I've been past due. The stuff I'll be showing represents a body of work that contains layers of meaning I'm still discovering. And it already represented a lot when I started it in 2006.

I'm not trying to bludgeon the reader with accounts of the trials and tribulations of the artist, but I can predict with some level of certainty that this post will not be the last commentary on the subject. Still, if you never visit the blog again, I want to invite you to the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick Street, Millvale) on July 10th, from 6-9PM. Consider yourself sufficiently welcomed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 6/11-12/10.

c. David Grim (taken 12/21/08)

Anybody who took advantage of the multiple offerings in the local art scene last weekend really shouldn't expect much along the same lines this weekend. I considered not doing a post of events this week, but there are a few things worth mentioning...


Justseeds art cooperative has moved from Portland to Pittsburgh, and they are opening up their new headquarters in Lawrenceville (3410 Penn Ave 2nd Floor) above Bike Pittsburgh. The group is a collection of like-minded artists interested in posters, design, and resistance politics. Come check out the event that they are hosting to mark the occasion from 6-10PM. There will be a book release or two, and new prints available.

While you are in Larryville, stop by the Wild Card gift shop (4209 Butler Street). It's a funky independently-owned joint with an aesthetic marked by an appreciation for kitch and nostalgia. It also notably carries a variety of locally-made goods. They've been having opening receptions for the art that they hang at the back of the store for a few months now, and I think it's time to give them their due. I really enjoyed Chicago-based artist Laura Berger's paintings during the last cycle, so I'm a bit excited to see what Kathryn Carr's "Root" has to offer. Show up between 6-9PM.

Meanwhile Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley (200 Broad Street) is opening (7-9PM) "Standing Out from the Crowd", a show of photography curated by Sylvia Ehler, Education Coordinator at Silver Eye Center for Photography. They are a notable organization serving to advance the medium in Pittsburgh, and so I'm sure it's worth a visit. I seriously considered submitting something for this, but got caught up with other things. But that doesn't mean I might not drop in anyway.


Artists Image Resource (518 Foreland Street on the North Side) is having their annual all-day Summer party (4-11PM, $5 Admission). There will be performances, DJs, print exhibitions, food cooked out in the open air, print demonstrations, and refreshments. Can you beat that for the price?

Finally, Fe Gallery (4102 Butler St.) is opening up their doors (and collective wallet) for an exhibition of recently-deceased artist John Metzler. Randie Snow is directing the presentation, and proceeds from the show will benefit the late atirst's Urban Tree Forge and his daughter Chelsie. As noted previously on this blog, John was an outstanding artist and a great guy. Show up and help keep his legacy alive (as well as the organization he founded) by purchasing one of his amazing sculptures.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who loves a happy ending?

c. David Grim (taken 5/11/08)

For the most part, I often find "happy endings" forced and rather contrived when it comes to my culture consumption. There's nothing particularly fulfilling in seeing an intriguing conflict developing over the space of an hour-and-a-half (or 200 pages), only to see it resolved by a deus ex machina, or by the sudden conversion of previously implacable characters. If we're going to get a bit of redemption tinged with loss, I can usually get behind that. But if I undergo an experience with the expectation of a "happy ending", I'm probably engaged in something that could get me into trouble.

Nonetheless there are exceptions. Some works are created with moral ambiguity, and present characters that are flawed but manage to convey a complex and deep sense of their humanity. When an author, screenwriter, or director is able to pull off this feat, I am occasionally prone to caring about the characters. It doesn't matter that I know these aren't real people. At that point I have effectively suspended my belief. I'm not looking for "and everyone lived happily ever after from then on". That would simply seem insulting. I'm not going to get anything out of a piece of art if it is so beyond realism that I can't identify with the situations.

While reading George Pelacanos' 2008 novel "The Turnaround", I found myself in that all too rare position of hoping for positive outcomes for several of the principals. Not only did I wish good things for the main protagonist and his family, but I actually found myself actively looking for the gruesome death of one antagonist. Most of the time I am quite content with following the author down whatever path he has chosen for his own creations. But while I anticipated horrors to come throughout my reading of "The Turnaround", I hardy felt empowered to expect to avoid them in a gritty crime novel.

I'm not going to tell you what the end result of all of this was. Suffice it to say that Pelecanos is talented enough as a writer to actually engage me to the point that I would care about the folks in his story. I'd imagine that most people picking up such a book would be searching to be titillated by the violent details of urban criminals and the underworld. I'm not going to claim that I chose "The Turnaround" with any other goal in mind. Had that been all that Pelecanos achieved, I likely would have been sufficiently satisfied. Fortunately he transcended the conventions of his genre.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And yet more bread and circuses...

c. David Grim (taken 7/16/08)

I generally try to avoid simply cribbing other people's thoughts for my blog posts. I'd like to provide some original content for the Web. And at the same time I can be a bit of a narcissist when it comes to my writing. It does make me feel like I'm achieving something when I accurately convey my own thoughts, no matter how far from original they may be.

Still I do get around to a variety of sites and often come across stuff that's worthy of wider dissemination. On the Comics Journal message board I found the following quote from Noam Chomsky that has particularly timely relevance for me. I'm making a point of not paying too much attention to the success of the single sports team I follow. I've written about how I feel about spectator sports on my old blog, and I don't necessarily feel like restating how much of a hypocrite I can be on the issue. So without further ado here's Noam on sports:

"Well, in our society, we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can't get involved in them in a very serious way - so what they do is they put their minds into other things, such as sports. You're trained to be obedient; you don't have an interesting job; there's no work around for you that's creative; in the cultural environment you're a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff; political and social life are out of your range, they're in the hands of the rich folk. So what's left? Well, one thing that's left is sports-so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that's also one of the basic functions it serves in the society in general it occupies the population, and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that's part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions. And spectator sports also have other useful functions too. For one thing, they're a great way to build up chauvinism-you start by developing these totally irrational loyalties early in life, and they translate very nicely to other areas. I mean, I remember very well in high school having a sudden kind of Erlebnis, you know, a sudden insight, and asking myself, why do I care if my high school football team wins? I don't know anybody on the team. They don't know me. I wouldn't know what to say to them if I met them. Why do I care? Why do I get all excited if the football team wins and all downcast if it loses? Anti it's true, you do: you're taught from childhood that you've got to worry about the Philadelphia Phillies (**), where I was. In fact, there's apparently a psychological phenomenon of lack of self-confidence or something which affected boys of approximately my age who grew up in Philadelphia, because every sports team was always in last place, and it's kind of a blow to your ego when that happens, people are always lording it over you. But the point is, this sense of irrational loyalty to some sort of meaningless community is training for subordination to power, and for chauvinism. And of course, you're looking at gladiators, you're looking at guys who can do things you couldn't possibly do - like, you couldn't pole-vault seventeen feet, or do all these crazy things these people do. But it's a model that you're supposed to try to emulate. And they're gladiators fighting for your cause, so you've got to cheer them on, and you've got to be happy when the opposing quarterback gets carted off the field a total wreck and so on. All of this stuff builds up extremely anti-social aspects of human psychology. I mean, they're there; there's no doubt that they're there. But they're emphasized, and exaggerated, and brought out by spectator sports: irrational competition, irrational loyalty to power systems, passive acquiescence to quite awful values, really. In fact, it's hard to imagine anything that contributes more fundamentally to authoritarian attitudes than this does, in addition to the fact that it just engages a lot of intelligence and keeps people away from other things."

Obviously I couldn't have said it better myself, or I wouldn't have posted it. If you aren't burned out on the subject, you can find the entire article here.

** How ironic is that?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Place to Rest and Reflect.

c. David Grim (taken 7/14/08)

In the latter half on the 19th Century, a man of mixed ancestry (half-Irish/half-Chinese) found himself in a cell very much like the one pictured here at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. He was a pickpocket and grifter who would have likely been lost to obscurity if he had not written a 99-page, 13-paragraph, run-on memoir. His name was George Appo. I just completed "A Pickpocket's Tale" (written by Timothy J. Gilfoyle), which related the story of Appo and his times.

During that period the American penal system was split between two different models. Eastern Penitentiary was designed by men who believed that convicted criminals should be kept in complete seclusion. Each cell had its own exercise yard, and whenever a convict was outside of his cell he was forced to wear a monk's robe with a cowl obscuring his vision. The idea was that this would lead the criminal to reflect deeply on his own personal feelings.

The competing model was one of complete silence. Sing Sing (New York) held to the belief that if inmates were kept from communicating with each other, then they would be easier to manage. George Appo spent a couple of terms in Sing Sing as well. There he learned to march in lock-step with his fellow prisoners, bound together by chains and constant contact.

In the 150 years since, both of these approached to correction have fallen by the wayside. Overcrowding has made these strategies logistically impossible. Now we have the prison industry, one of the fastest growing economic sectors (especially in rural areas) of the entire country. Gilfoyle's book can be dry and repetitive at times, but its rich detail can make the demimonde of the late 1800's come alive for the reader. If you really want to correct the common perception that the "good old days" are behind us, you might want to give "A Pickpocket's Tale" the once-over.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 6/4-5/10.

c. David Grim (taken


The Three Rivers Arts Festival begins today with a "massive party beginning at Katz Plaza and spreading across the Pittsburgh Cultural District." I haven't made it a point to attend this event in a couple of years, so I have no idea what type of amusements or refreshments will be offered, or even if it will be worth your time to deal with the inevitably large crowds. Only you know how to figure out your risk/reward equation for this situation. I do know that DJ Zombo will be spinning tunes down at Point State Park at 5PM, which suggests to me that the egregious rape of our historical treasure has finally concluded (and naturally I mean no offense to Mike, who is a lot of fun behind the turntables). There's also reportedly a traveling fresh water aquarium and an "eco-arcade" down there.

Fifth Avenue Place hosts a show of work by those affiliated with Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Meanwhile the Three Rivers Arts Festival Juried Visual Art Exhibition will be located at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center (805 Liberty Avenue). If I do go downtown, I'll be sure to stop at these destinations. And the sculptural work of the recently-deceased John Metzler of the Urban Tree Forge will be prominently featured at the 929 Liberty Avenue Building. John was an immensely talented artist (as well as a truly outstanding individual), and attending this show will be a great way to commemorate his life.

Of course if you save the festival for another day, you can attend Unblurred on Penn Avenue (Garfield/Friendship) instead. At Modern Formations (4919 Penn) you can see "Quel Dommage!"- the Artwork of Siblings Beth and Charles Steidle, which the artists explain is inspired by "all the little sadnesses and minor disasters accumulated over time". And it's now (officially) the LAST show at Fast>>fwd (and I won't miss typing that awkward formulation in these posts), so I suggest you take the opportunity to wish the gallery a fond farewell during their reception for "Wallspace", a group show of paintings.

The annual Summer Social goes off between 5:30-9:30 at the Sprout Fund headquarters (5423 Penn). This is your chance to meet the board members of a community organization providing funding for some great murals around town, as well as a multitude of projects that would never get done if not for their generosity and hard work. Celebrate with live entertainment, drinks, and other quality refreshments, and stop by to see what's in the works.

Richard Schnap's collage is on the walls at Garfield Artworks, and there's a poster show at the space collective (4823 Penn). Really, there's always tons of stuff to do up and down the street. If you get hungry, stop by the Envy Lounge (4923 Penn) for their $7.99 buffet special, highlighting African/Caribbean and vegetarian cuisine. I've eaten there before, and it is delicious. Anyway- for a full schedule of events, you should visit the official page.

If you venture beyond the concentrations, you can still see some art. The aforementioned Zombo will probably be back at his gallery in Lawrenceville at some point to host Eric Luden's "In Stereo". Luden is a regular at the Zombo Gallery, and if you enjoy illustration you could do a lot worse than attending this "retro pin-up show". Apparently Luden will share the space with illustrator Kris Boban. It starts at 6PM. And the provocatively-titled "Secrets: Nudes from the Muslim World" by Greg Williams will have its opening reception at the Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue) from 6-8PM.

Finally (as if all of this weren't enough) there is an arts auction to benefit Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Spinning Plates Artists Lofts (5720 Friendship Ave). DJ Malls is providing music, and you get food and drinks for the $5 door donation.


The place to be on this evening is the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick Street, Millvale) for an opening of Olga Brindar's charcoal drawings dealing with sleep and death. I've had an opportunity to sample a couple of these pieces, and they are simply breathtaking. The reception runs from 6-9PM.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Infuriates You?

c. David Grim (taken 4/5/08)

Yikes, my head is about to explode. Yet I know that no one really needs to read about my personal tribulations on the internet. So, since I can't really blog about the hellish nature of moving my life forward at this juncture in time... and I know that everything is ultimately transient and shifting- I've decided to sublimate my feelings instead.

I'm a regular reader of the AV Club section of The Onion website. Believe me, reading the highly opinionated comments of wannabe cultural critics is highly distracting entertainment. Often the most interesting articles are the Q and A segments that ask each official writer a question about their likes and dislikes. And of course this is followed by hundreds of readers chiming in on the topic. These are often contentious interchanges, filled with "pretension" (however you define that nebulous concept).

Last week the question dealt with infuriating cultural phenomena. Such a highly subjective query elicited a wide variety of responses. Everything from someone named Ke$ha to Alfonso Cuaron seemed to draw people's ire. No doubt I could make a long list of things in the mainstream that "infuriate" me. The predominance of "reality television" would surely be at the top of my list. The dumbing down of commercial radio would figure in there as well. The stranglehold that professional sports holds over the American public is another obsession of mine.

Really, I tend to divert a lot of my frustration and anxiety about life by hating mass culture. Perhaps if I didn't have this target I would have to take out my negativity on individuals. Who knows? I guess it's just as likely that I would come to embrace humanity more if tastes we more aligned with my own. If that's the case, certainly I am in wide company.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

R.I.P. Coleman and Hopper.

c. David Grim (7/15/08)

With the departure of two famous celebrities from our midst, and the passing of Memorial Day as well, it seems like a good time to take a moment and reflect upon mortality. Given the season though, I'd really rather not sink into a mire of morbidity. I'd really prefer mulling over the more abstract and distant meanings of people who I never knew personally, so allow me to take a few moments to share my feelings and thoughts about Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper.

It seemed (in some slight way) like I grew up with Coleman. After all he was only a couple of years older than I am, and he played a role that portrayed him as even younger than he really was. Like most people my age, I watched a lot of Different Strokes. In retrospect it was a weird and patronizing concept- two orphaned inner city black kids go to live with a rich, lily-white, old man (and his rather whorish daughter), and they slowly come together as a family. I vividly remember my brother and I (and every one of my male friends) repeating the show's catch-phrase, "Whatcha talkin' bout, Willis?". Despite the fact that none of us could really relate to the situations on the show, there was something extremely endearing about it. I remember feeling pretty good after watching it, and for that alone Coleman can be fondly memorialized.

On the other end of the entertainment scale, you could find Dennis Hopper. Despite intimations that the younger version could be a younger heartthrob at the end of the studio era, he leaves us with wildly different associations. I was well out of my childhood before I could really appreciate his work in films like Blue Velvet, River's Edge, Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider and True Romance. He carved out a part in American film history as the off-kilter, potentially explosive, madman. His reputation for manic intensity and chemical dependency seemed somehow to accentuate the curiosity that many film goers had whenever he popped up in a role, no matter how small it might have been. For me, I believe the representation that seems truest to his essential being was documented in his trip to Bangkok with John Lurie, in the short-lived Fishing with John series. He seemed like a guy that would require endurance to spend any significant amount of time with, but one worth the effort for the stories you might hear if you were content to just shut up and listen. And he was a hell of a booster of modern art as well, which particularly endeared him to me. No doubt we're all a bit impoverished now that he's gone.