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Best Art Curators In Pittsburgh

August 27, 2012 5:55 AM

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Andy Warhol once said, “art is what you can get away with.” Pittsburgh’s art curators are custodians of some of the most diverse collections in the world. They are the keepers and the caretakers of all sorts of collections that local artists produce every day. Are you interested in glass, sports, cartoons, crafts, experimental art, industrial art or social media art? We have a little bit of everything right here in the ‘Burgh.
helmet wall1 Best Art Curators In Pittsburgh

Photo Credit: Senator John Heinz History Center


Anne Madarasz
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 454-6000
heinzhistorycenter.org

In Pittsburgh, sports imitate art. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center is lucky to have world-renowned curator Anne Madarasz who has the ability to create sports out of art and art out of sports. With an undergraduate degree from Trinity College in Hartford and a Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania, Madarasz writes frequently on the subject of Pittsburgh glass, regional industry and the history of Pittsburgh sports. She was awarded a Richards Fellowship for research from the Corning Museum of Glass.

She has accomplished much at the Senator John Heinz History Center, where she has worked since 1992. Check out her long-term exhibit on the 4th floor entitled “Glass: Shattering Notions.” She also oversaw the research and design of the exhibit “Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation,” which opened at the History Center in November 2008.

Related: Best Places For Glass Art In Pittsburgh

Brigitte Martin
Crafthaus
461 Cochran Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
crafthaus.ning.com

Pittsburgh-based curator Brigitte Martin sees many images of amazing artwork come across her desk every day. She is the creator and chief editor of crafthaus, a Facebook-like online network for international craft artists. As a national juror and curator, staying informed about current trends and what goes on in the international craft-making community is as important to her as making the work known outside of the usual art and craft circles.

She states, “I very much enjoy the interaction with creatives from every medium. The enthusiasm and dedication they show toward their work is a daily inspiration. Through my curatorial work, I hope to make craft artwork accessible to a wide audience and convey the enthusiasm and joy of creating.” Martin’s first book, “Humor in Craft,” is a coffee-table book published by Schiffer Publishing, available in bookstores nationwide. A great read, it features humorous, sarcastic, ironic and just plain fun artwork in all craft media. The book is the official accompaniment to a hot new exhibition Brigitte curated for the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The exhibit, “Humor in Craft,” will be on display at the SCC through October 27, 2012.

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Photo Credit: Dev Meyers


Joe Wos
The ToonSeum
945 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 232-0199
toonseum.org

Joe Wos is the executive director and curator of ToonSeum. He grew up in Braddock where his dad was a steelworker for 30 years at the Edgar Thompson Steel Works. He said, “Growing up with the hopes of becoming an artist in Braddock was pretty unusual. You never would have thought that the city of Braddock and I would both grow up to become artists.”

Braddock, at that time, was completely bereft of art. “Art was my only escape. Buildings were being torn down and businesses were leaving or gone. Our school and church were shut down. The Carnegie Library was an empty building that was falling apart. The only way I had of getting out of Braddock was through my comics and my art. When I was in kindergarten at Ben Fairless Elementary School, my art teacher asked us to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up.” Little Joey’s masterpiece was a steel mill from the viewpoint of a five year old. “I covered the page in squiggly smoke. My teacher yelled at me and made my parents come in for a meeting saying my picture wasn’t art. But dad came in and set her straight, ‘That is the steel mill!‘”

“Kids today have a different responsibility. When I was a kid, art saved me from Braddock. Today, kids have an opportunity to use art to save Braddock.” If you would like to find a way to turn inner-city kids on to the art scene, you are encouraged to visit the ToonSeum.

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Photo Credit: Archie Carpenter/Getty Images


Nicholas Chambers
The Andy Warhol Museum – North Side
117 Sandusky St
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 237-8300
warhol.org

In 2007, the Queensland Art Galley in Brisbane, Australia collaborated with Pittsburgh’s world-class Andy Warhol Museum. Chambers was the lead curator on that exhibition and through this body of work, he was introduced to Pittsburgh. This past spring, Chambers accepted an appointment as The Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum. He holds Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Sydney. In 2005, he served as a visiting guest fellow at the Yale Center for British Art.

“When I first visited Pittsburgh back in 2005, while working on a Warhol exhibition for the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, I was completely charmed by the city. It’s blessed with fantastic cultural institutions, a diverse and compelling group of inner-city neighborhoods and, well, superb record shopping!” Chambers is an avid collector of vinyl records.

Astria Suparak
Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Purnell Center for the Arts
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 268-3618
millergallery.cfa.cmu.edu

Suparak was attracted to the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon because the university culture “supports experimentation that expands the notions of art and culture, providing a forum for engaged conversations about creativity and innovation.” This has taken the form of exhibitions, events, workshops, publications and projects that tackle a variety of areas and current issues. Recent exhibits have focused on everything from labor and economics, the re-use of abandoned big-box stores, social movements, experimental geography, science and technology and Steelers fan culture.

“I grew up making art in a non-art family. As a teen in Los Angeles, I became interested in punk rock and riot grrrl, and in finding, creating and supporting alternatives to the mainstream. I fell into curating as an art student at Pratt in Brooklyn, where I ran a weekly media series in my spare time. Then I became an itinerant, independent curator for microcinemas, art institutions, festivals, bands and unconventional spaces around the world, from sports bars to skating rinks to ferry boats. And these last few years, I have been curating for university art galleries.”

Don’t miss “Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture” which examines the complexity of today’s interrelated and emerging health problems juxtaposed with a variety of proposed architectural and urban solutions. The U.S. premiere of this exhibition opens at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University on Friday, September 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 A 4:30 p.m. exhibition tour led by the curators precedes the opening reception.

Related: Best Iconic Works Of Art In Pittsburgh

A freelance writer and marketing guru, Dev loves all things Pittsburgh. She is also an avid collector of mid century modern copper jewelry and a Pittsburgh history buff. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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