Glass from the Maxine and William Block Collection
April 6 – July 7
William Block, of the Block family that owns Block Communications, the
parent company of the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette and The Blade newspaper
in Toledo, purchased their first work of contemporary glass in 1988 to
decorate their home in Toledo, and that modest beginning quickly into a
passion. Throughout the 1990s, the
Blocks bought enthusiastically. They
amassed a collection that now provides a perspective on the emergence of
this art form and, while reflecting their own taste, includes many
important glass artists.
The studio glass movement in the United States was born
at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962.
A series of workshops and classes there brought glass out of the
factory into the studio, promoting the material as a medium for
Throughout the last decade, the boundaries between art
and craft have blurred, and the cause of studio glass has been advanced by
this less dogmatic, more inclusive approach. Similarly, studio glass has benefited by
technological achievements during the last forty years, and by the
contributions of numerous artists from diverse backgrounds who have
explored the medium.
“Initially, we were interested in the collection as a
specific product of the 1990s,” explains Sarah Nichols, curator of
decorative art at Carnegie Museum of Art.
“Ends and beginnings of centuries provide obvious points for
reflection and assessment.
“Within the last decade, contemporary art has returned
to formal issues, such as a concern with the relationships of shape, color,
and proportion,” Nichols adds.
“These issues have motivated certain American artists working in
glass over the years, such as Sonja Blomdahl, whose fascination with the
bulbous vase form with juxtaposed bands of color is fully realized in Fuschia/Violet. Within the international studio glass
movement, formal concerns have always dominated the contemporary Eastern
European glass aesthetic, as Pavel Hlava’s sculpture Erise II demonstrates.”
This exhibition contains 62 works by 49 artists from a
collection of more than 180 pieces by 110 artists. The installation, by Paul Rosenblatt of
Springboard draws, appropriately, on the elements of light and sand to
celebrate the natural qualities of glass.
The exhibition is being
organized in conjunction with the Toledo Museum of Art, where it will be
shown in 2003.
June 22 - September 22
Oakland, a city within a city, is one of the most
diverse areas in Pittsburgh. Not
only is the neighborhood demographically diverse, it contains residential,
commercial, cultural, educational, and medical areas. In addition, recent studies have
concluded that Oakland may even become a magnet for young technology
workers, who would provide economic stability and vitality to the entire
"It is in the city’s interest to provide an
environment that attracts these so-called ‘knowledge workers,’” explains
Tracy Myers, associate curator of architecture at Carnegie Museum of Art’s
Heinz Architectural Center. "In
the last two or three years, there have been a host of plans ranging from
single buildings to institutional master plans." There is a lot of
activity and a lot of potential right now." This exhibition surveys the area’s
history and then considers some of those plans, both recent and not so
Oakland was born out of a desire to establish a civic
center away from the stifling smoke of downtown Pittsburgh. A national movement in the early 20th
century, the "City Beautiful," focused on consciously designing
cities to bring order to what was perceived as urban chaos, and included
monumental architectural elements such as the Pittsburgh Athletic
Association, the Masonic Temple, and the Syria Mosque.
"Andrew Carnegie was prescient in siting this
institute in Oakland," says Myers, as the building of Carnegie Museums
of Art and Natural History predated the movement by several years. The real driver of Pittsburgh’s own
"City Beautiful" movement was Franklin Nicola, says Myers. It was his Schenley Land Company that
bought what was left of the Schenley estate in 1905 and established the
residential area Schenley Farms, as well as space for the University of
Pittsburgh and monuments, such as Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Hall.
density was established, the growth and development of the neighborhood and
the associated economic benefits had some unintended consequences. The infrastructure deteriorated, and
traffic congestion proliferated. The
University of Pittsburgh became less of a commuter school and housing,
never plentiful, fell into disrepair.
Current planners focusing on the future of Oakland see
this as an opportunity to address these problems and create an attractive
urban center that will function well in the future. By considering the history of the
neighborhood as well as the potential, and looking at plans proposed by a
range of entities from local community groups to large institutions, it is
possible to understand the area as a whole.
master plan is a guide for future development," says Myers. "It’s not written in stone. Participatory design, in which the people
most affected have a say in what happens, is becoming the norm now; but it
wasn’t always that way. There are
consequences to lack of participation, to top-down planning. This
exhibition suggests how planning can work, why the public should care about
it, and what promises it might offer."
It is the second
in the "Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Project" series of exhibitions
initiated by the Heinz Architectural Center.
New to the Collection: Christopher Dresser cabinet, 1870
“All decorated objects should appear to be what they
are,” said Christopher Dresser, a British pioneer of the modern movement in
decorative arts. “They should not
pretend to be what they are not.”
This cabinet by Dresser relates stylistically to his 1870
refurbishmet of Allangate House in Halifax, which is the best documented of
his interior design schemes.
“Dresser was an admirer of Japanese art and design,”
says Sarah Nichols, curator of decorative arts at Carnegie Museum of Art,
“and this cabinet is a great and early example of Anglo-Japanese
taste.” In 1877, Dresser became the
first European designer to visit Japan after it was opened to foreigners in
the mid-19th century. His
experience there became a vital source for all his designs, which included
ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture, carpets, wallpapers, and