Public Notices (week of March 31 — April 7)

2013-03-31 friendship

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows a conflict downtown. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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Public Notices (week of March 24 — March 31)

2014-03-30 45th

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows a peek in Friendship. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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Public Notices (week of March 17 — March 24)

2014-03-21 Penn

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows a peaceful Sunday in Lawrenceville. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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Looking Out and Looking In (and In and In and In)

3,07-homestead-FPO

“Homestead” (1982), from “Robert Qualters: Autobiographical Mythologies” by Vicky A. Clark (University of Pittsburgh Press).

As they emerged from the Fort Pitt Tunnels, the painter Robert Qualters asked his far more famous colleague Edward Hopper whether the view would be “good to paint.”

The tiny aperture of the tunnel had suddenly expanded to a panorama showing the curving arches of the bridge, the skyscrapers set back from Point State Park and the hills forming a horizon in every direction. It was near sunset. A dying burst of yellow light reflecting off the city produced an orange and red sky scattered with faint blue clouds.

It was the mid-1990s, and Qualters was decades into a career that would make him the most recognizable and admired artist of his generation in Pittsburgh. Certainly, he knew what made for a good composition. It was a leading question. He was proving a point.

It’s the same point Vicky A. Clark proves in Robert Qualters: Autobiographical Mythologies (University of Pittsburgh Press), the first book-length examination of the artist. The independent curator believes Qualters has been unfairly relegated to the status of “regional” artist because he painted scenes of life in western Pennsylvania during a time when the region was struggling hard to shed its reputation as a smoky industrial center. “These two factors — the enduring image of Pittsburgh as Steel City and Robert Qualters as local artist — combined to stereotype the artist and his work, leading many to overlook his bravura brushstroke and masterful handling of color as well as the content of his work, which went way beyond the idea of illustrating or recording the city and its history,” she writes in her introduction. “He is definitely a part of these ideas, but he also moved beyond them, even while painting the transformation of the city.”

To elevate Qualters, Clark often speaks to a national audience, but her goal is much bigger than rescuing Qualters from the irrelevance of “regionalism.” She wants to redeem the label. As in Popular Salon of the People, her earlier book about the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Clark argues that the relationship between an artist and a region is special, because it speaks to how people live their lives: close to home. Qualters tells her, “Whatever uniqueness I have is because I’m in Pittsburgh and not part of a movement.”

Clark also curated an accompanying retrospective of Qualters at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The exhibit documents what might be the deepest relationship between an artist and this region — certainly between a painter and the region. A recurring theme of Pittsburgh art has always been fascination — with the topography, with the cityscape, with the industry, with the people, with the history — but fascination is fickle, and many artists abandon Pittsburgh for other places or other styles when the city becomes too familiar or too evasive. The book and the exhibit illustrate what is gained and what is lost when a representational artist stays put in this region, but moves beyond fascination.

In reality, Hopper died in 1967, but in Edward Hopper was Driving, the print Qualters made in 1997 to document the fantasy, Hopper tells Qualters, “Anything will make for a good composition.” He was remembering all those diners and lobbies and offices he had painted in glamorous and vertical New York City. “The artist’s sympathy with the particular and his understanding of light and space will determine the choice of subjects.” Continue reading

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Public Notices (week of March 10 — March 17)

2014-03-15 sarah

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows a mysterious message downtown. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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Public Notices (week of March 3 — March 10)

2014-03-08 firstandwood

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows a hug in the Southside. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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Public Notices (week of February 24 — March 3)

2014-03-01 murray

The Public Notices cartoon for last week.

The newest installment shows things looking up Downtown. It’s in the issue of City Paper on racks today. To see all the Public Notices, check out the map.

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