Monday, August 28, 2006

Artist Diaspora

An upcoming show at Digging Pitt gallery provides proof of concept about the potential power of the Burgh Diaspora network. Pittsburgh Alumni: Twenty Artists from Beyond the Rivers runs from September 14 - November 4, 2006. Digging Pitt curator John Morris started looking in the Fall of 2005 for notable artists who left Pittsburgh. The result of his efforts is the Pittsburgh Alumni show, which displays the talent that once resided in the Burgh.

I won't speak for Mr. Morris, but I can envision artists spreading the good news about Pittsburgh as an ideal spot for relocation. At the very least, these artists demonstrate that living in Pittsburgh is not a sentence of creative isolation, other scenes just a click away.


smallstreams said...

Cool graphic.

Jim Russell said...

I like the graphic as well. I think it has the makings of the perfect icon for the Burgh Diaspora.

John Morris said...

Last year, CMU had it's centenial which, in my opinion was a huge lost opportunity for the city. The art world is filled with artists with a Pittsburgh connection. I had a small circle of friends in NY of not much above 15 artists of whom 4 were from the region.

In the visual arts, off the top of my head one can name about a dozen major artists with a Pittsburgh connection. Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, John Currin, Mel Bochner, Joyce Kozloff,Lisa Yuskavage, Keith Haring, Paper Rad, ( still here sot of )Burton Morris, Jonathan Borofsky, etc...

When one get's into the regular showing Mid carreer artist, the number goes into the hundreds including names like Linn Meyers, Juliette Borda, Charles Ritchie, Emil Lucas, Jamie Adams, Richard Purdy, George Nama, Bill Miller, Kate Temple, Jason Szalla, Mario Marzan, etc...

This doesn't touch on the Performing arts or film where the lists become endless. As someone not from Pittsburgh, i would say that the "pittsburgh brand" includes the legendary status of the Hill.

The fact that so little seems to be done to keep any kind of network togther is a huge crime.

John Morris said...

There is a particular reason why artist's, writers and other creative types would be an ideal target group for Pittsburgh.

1) you have agroup that historically loves cities ( so much so that that they often break zoning laws to live in them )

2) You have group that is very price sensitive.

3) A lot of artist's are handy and have the contracting skills to fix up beaten up places.

4) A lot of artist's have day jobs as designers and have portable skills that allow them to work online.

5) Pittsburgh has an overload of cultural institutions relative to it's size and it has some important art schools.

Jim Russell said...

John, I posted an article about Paducah's (Kentucky) attempts to attract artists to help gentrify a depressed area of the city:


John Morris said...

Yes, I am very aware of that program. Believe me, If they can do it Pittsburgh can. Paducah is a beautiful but small town and it sure doesn't have anything close to the kind of stuff Pittsburgh has in the way of major institutions.

I don't want to cry here, but artist's as awhole are a pretty ignored group and one that has a lot of latent anger. The death of Williamsburg as a realistic arts comunity has created a lot of pissed off artists. NY as a city is very short perhaps a million housing units. That represents a huge oportunity for anyone willing to stick the knife in and pull people out.NY is a city built on artist's in which artists can't live anymore and no body seems to care.