a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, June 7, 2008

So this is art .............

Art "heisted" from Three Rivers Arts Festival

The schedule of events tab for this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh opens with a welcome message from Elizabeth Reiss, its executive director.

In it, she reminds readers that they might not like what they see, but that it’s important to take time to reflect on the experience and attempt to understand the art. Reiss also urges folks to “fundamentally respect the humanity of the effort.”

Art is supposed to be an invitation for viewers to feel free to say whether they love or hate a painting or pot or an artist’s pretense. So that said, it’s perfectly fine for me to say that I pretty much hate this year’s party that opened Friday and runs through June 22.

The showcase exhibit is called "Contained." It’s a series of installations by local artists that can be found inside rectangular steel shipping containers otherwise used to move goods on railroads.

One artist spread around some sand and square concrete pavers and called in feng shui. Another set about animal bones on the floor, and it’s labeled a fantastic archaeological dream world. Meanwhile, it’s so intensely hot, confined and stuffy inside the ugly boxes that few people seemed to be venturing inside them, and those who did, didn’t linger long.

Attack Theater did pull through Friday with an interesting dance number, "The Heist," staged atop one of the boxes. The troupe’s cutting edge contemporary dancers acted out a story about the theft of a priceless work of art.

Criticism of this festival is nothing new, as it has taken heat from the visual arts community for drawing too much attention to the musical performances. That shift didn't do well, either. A few years ago, organizers parked the main stage up against a freeway overpass, allowing noise from tractor-trailers to drown out Joni Mitchell and everyone else on the lineup.

Reiss does mention herself 30 times in her eight-paragraph message so it seems to be obvious where she is focusing her attention. It’s long overdue for her to urge the festival board to devote its energies to involving more painters and sculptors in this event.

Attack Theater has one thing right; someone did steal the art from the festival.

1 comment:

Brant said...

I recently went to Philadelphia to see a major Frida Kahlo exhibition (which was great), and I checked out the rest of the offerings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They had a nice collection of Ansel Adams photography and a great area of French Impressionist art, but then there were the less traditional "artworks." One "installation" consisted entirely of a pile of carpet scraps. Another was a group of rocks placed in a circle. As I said in a posting on my blog a while back, if that's art, then my old Cub Scout leader was frickin' Michelangelo. There are a lot of people who appreciate this bullcrap if they think it makes them seem avant garde and part of the "cool" crowd. I think they're idiots. Give me Monet and Van Gogh any day.