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Saturday Art Classes Celebrate

Because of the stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression, the year 1929 didn’t bode well for most Americans. But for a small group of budding artists, it was a wonderful time to join the new Saturday art classes at Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh. The popular classes, then called Tam O’Shanters and Palettes (and later the Saturday Creative Art Classes and The Art Connection), would prove to have a profound influence on thousands of students during 75 years of continuous operation.

During the early years, under the direction of legendary art instructor Joseph Fitzpatrick, hundreds of students would pack Carnegie Music Hall each Saturday for a lecture and demonstration, hearing their mentor repeat this mantra at the end of each lesson: “Look…to see…to remember…to enjoy.”

Tam O’Shanters and Palettes in the 1950s.

Since then, the classes have shifted to a hands-on learning approach within a studio setting. Marilyn Russell, curator of art education, says, “Education has changed throughout the years. We now know that young people learn best through experiential learning, and our Saturday classes reflect this change in approach.” The 180 current students in grades 5 through 9 attend The Art Connection each Saturday for 18 weeks, focusing on such themes as the natural world, ancient civilization, art in everyday life, art and identity, and art as it reflects time and place. Approximately half of the students come from the Pittsburgh Public Schools, which provides full scholarships for its students. The remaining students pay to attend and come from throughout the region—with recommendations from art teachers, or at the urging of parents, many of whom attended the Saturday classes as children.

The Art Connection now.

Visitors to the Museum of Art on Saturdays are accustomed to seeing Art Connection students sketching or discussing works of art—a key part of the process of developing their creative skills—in the studios that overlook the Hall of Architecture.

“This 75-year anniversary allows us to celebrate the importance of participation in arts for all kids,” says Russell. “Many of our graduates go on to careers in the arts, but our program is not about creating famous artists. It’s about sparking the imagination, encouraging kids to be curious about the world, and finding ways to express their own ideas.”


A Showcase of Contemporary Art
that Will Not Disappoint

The Carnegie International traces its roots to an exhibition series begun in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie, whose goals were to feature contemporary artwork, attract the public to Pittsburgh, and establish a museum of modern art. Today, the now triennial Carnegie International is America’s preeminent showcase of contemporary art from around the world.

The Carnegie International 2004, scheduled to open October 9, 2004, “will not disappoint its viewers,” says Curator Laura Hoptman, who has traveled repeatedly to 20 countries to assess art and artists, and to identify themes. “This exhibition is three years in the making,” says Hoptman. “When we develop an exhibition, we are making an argument, and that takes a great deal of planning.”

An unusually high percentage of art is being made specifically for the exhibition. “We encouraged many artists to create new works for the International,” says Hoptman. “We want this to be the place better-known artists premiere their new works.”

Hoptman also says the last International saw a return of painting. “That trend is continuing,” she says. “We will see more traditional objects—paintings, sculpture, drawings—while also incorporating installations, film, video, ceramics, popular illustration, and animation.” The 2004 International will feature a wider variety of artists than the previous exhibition, however.

“The last time, we featured the best-known artists of our time,” explains Hoptman. “This time, our artists range in age from 27 to 80, and include relatively unknown young artists, older artists with notable work, and artists who are enormously well known internationally.”


Terrain Vague: Photography, Architecture, and the Post-Industrial Landscape
Heinz Architectural Center March 20 - June 20, 2004

Catherine Opie, Untitled #1, From the Mini-mall series, 1997, courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

The urban and suburban environments are full of ambiguous spaces—where architecture and the environment don’t mesh, where the space is in some way strange, unresolved, or unsettling. Perhaps it’s a crumbling steel mill, a vast pile of discarded tires, or a suburban development backed by mammoth transmission towers. “Terrain vague” is the term coined by architect and critic Ignasi de Solà-Morales to describe these sites. Solà-Morales focuses on the divergent ways in which architects and photographers view these spaces. Architects, he says, attempt to impose order and form on such spaces, while photographers and other artists prefer to capture “these alternative, strange spaces…and their uncontaminated magic.” Solà-Morales’ concept comes to life in an exhibition, also called Terrain Vague.

Todd Hido, #2077, from the series House Hunting, 1997, courtesy the artist.

The exhibition includes works by 10 internationally known artists, including photographers Martha Rosler, Edward Burtynsky, Todd Hido, and Philip-Lorca di Corcia, and video artist Andy Anderson. Organized by a photographer and an architect at Georgia Institute of Technology, the show was brought to Carnegie Museum of Art by Tracy Myers, curator of architecture. “Some visitors might wonder why photography is being presented in the Heinz Architectural Center,” says Myers. “I feel it’s important for the department to present exhibitions about what building and the built environment mean…how places are endowed with meaning through their use.” Myers adds, “I’d like people to come away with questions about the ambiguous spaces in their own environment.”


Recent Aquisition:

Rolling Armchair, 1968
New Chair Rolls into Decorative Arts Collection

Paul Rudolph, American, 1918-1997, Rolling Armchair, 1968, lucite and chromium-plated tubular steel. Decorative Arts Purchase Fund.

Paul Rudolph, a noted modernist architect, was known as an educator (he was chair of Yale’s Department of Architecture from 1958-1965) and for his building designs worldwide. Like many architects, he was interested in furniture design as well, creating several significant pieces during his career. Among them is the Rolling Armchair, designed in 1968. This chair design, of chromium-plated tubular steel and Lucite, was never mass-produced, but was used in his private commissions as well as in his New York City apartment as a desk chair.

“ The Rolling Armchair pays homage to Marcel Breuer’s iconic 1927 Wassily Chair, one of the earliest tubular steel chairs produced,” says Sarah Nichols, curator of decorative arts. “What’s interesting about the Rudolph chair is that where Breuer uses leather as upholstery, Rudolph uses Lucite, which was a popular ’60s design element.” Rudolph was interested in natural light, and made frequent use of Plexiglas and other transparent materials in his architecture to allow light to flow through various levels of his buildings. In another salute to the times, Nichols describes the chair’s six legs and casters as reminiscent of a shopping cart, a common object in post-WWII popular culture.

The Rolling Armchair is on display in Gallery 15 of the Scaife Galleries, in the company of chairs by Warren Plattner and Charles and Ray Eames, both of whom use steel rods in their designs. Nichols believes the Rolling Armchair is a particularly good addition because it supports other works by Rudolph within the Museum—namely architectural drawings that are part of the Heinz Architectural Center collection.


Twelfth Annual Antiques Show Blends
History, Royalty
April 16-18, 2004

Last year, the Carnegie Museum of Art Antiques Show featured 44 of the nation’s leading antique dealers, along with guest speaker Mario Buatta, known as the “Prince of Chintz” for his English county style of decorating. This year, the Twelfth Annual Antiques Show, April 16-18, 2004, will bring more exquisite antiques to the Museum of Art, along with royalty of a different kind. Great Britain’s Princess Michael of Kent, whose reputation as an engaging lecturer on art and history takes her around the world, will be on hand for an April 16 lecture on Madame de Pompadour, lover of France’s King Louis XV.

As in the past, Carnegie Museum of Art’s Women’s Committee is hosting the Antiques Show as well as a preview party on April 15 to benefit the Museum of Art. Susie Katz, the event’s co-chair, says, “The party, show, and lecture are a wonderful way for the community to view and buy outstanding antiques while supporting the Museum of Art.” More than 1,600 antiques lovers ogled—and purchased—exceptional furniture, rugs, fine art, silver, and more at the 2003 show, including 700 who attended both the preview party and show, and 900 who visited the three-day event. The 2003 show grossed $270,000 for the Museum of Art. Most of the dealers are returning this year, along with several new ones: Birchknoll, Leatherwood Antiques, Mongenas Antiques, Philip Ludwig Antiques, and Running Battle Antiques.

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Copyright (c) 2003 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.