We look to Pittsburgh artists past and present whose multi-faceted stories invite us to reflect on our histories and prompt us to grow. On this Tour Tuesday, peruse objects from our exhibition A Pittsburgh Anthology that celebrate creativity in Pittsburgh as told by an array of voices inside and outside the museum.
“Walking away from a conversation with artist Thad Mosley, I always kick myself for not bringing a tape recorder. He is full of stories about Pittsburgh and its artists, including his long history with Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP), the oldest continuously exhibiting visual arts organization in the country. Thad oversaw the installation of many AAP shows, including Annual Exhibitions at Carnegie Museum of Art.
“Thad can recount the big 1969 exhibition when he went straight to the museum after work, or name drop jurors he personally worked with, such as Sam Gilliam, Josef Albers, and Ivan Karp. And, he can tell you about how hard Kathleen, Aaronel, Delbert, Syl, Joe, and so many other members worked to make sure local artists had a place in the museum.”—Madeline Gent, Executive Director, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh
“Johanna K. W. Hailman began painting early in life, influenced by her father, the landscape painter Joseph R. Woodwell with whom she trained and shared a Pittsburgh studio. Hailman found inspiration in a variety of subjects, from her garden to the smoky industrial landscapes that defined Pittsburgh.
“She submitted paintings to the Carnegie International almost every year, from the inaugural 1896 exhibition until 1955, showing in an astonishing 38 separate exhibitions. The River was one of more than 40 canvases she exhibited over 59 years.
“Hailman’s career was well documented in local papers, and The Pittsburgh Press dubbed her ‘Pittsburgh’s First Lady of Art,’ reflecting her philanthropy as well as her artistic practice.”—Emily Mirales, Curatorial Assistant, Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art
“Standing face to face with a magnificent, manufactured object like this sink, I am struck by the feeling that such functional things are pretty great. Their materials, forms, textures, and colors remind me that human ingenuity conceived them, and human bodies made them with unsung creative minds and talented hands. Throughout our history, most of the creative work in the manufacturing sector has been subsumed under corporate identities. The next time you encounter a beautiful functional object, remember someone designed this, someone made this.”—Rachel Delphia, Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, Carnegie Museum of Art
Photographer Edward Massery documented Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena on the eve of its demolition. Charlene Foggie-Barnett, CMOA’s Teenie Harris Archive Specialist, reflects on her experiences with the structure:
“I have mixed feelings about the Civic Arena.” She recalls going to see the circus, Ice Capades, and various concerts that came to town. “Those were great memories. My dad, a pastor and Civil Rights leader in the Hill, was often out of town or quite busy, so going to the arena was an opportunity for us to do something together as a family that didn’t involve church and civic engagements.”
As a teenager, Charlene began to learn how residents truly felt about the arena. “It displaced so many residents of the Lower Hill District, particularly those in the African American and Jewish communities. […] People were evicted from their homes and businesses to make room for this building.”
“My childhood memories of family time spent in the arena are quite fond. But as an adult, it’s hard to look back without feeling morally affronted.”
“Lenka Clayton was born in Cornwall, England, but Pittsburgh was her destiny. She claims the word came to her in a dream… PITTSBURGH.
“The city has animated notions of place and memory in her work. Clayton captures her fleeting impressions of the world by hammering out her drawings on an old-fashioned typewriter, a 1957 Smith-Corona Skyriter.
“When I visited her studio we hatched a mini residency of sorts. We would open the museum’s doors and she would create a new series of drawings based on her discoveries. Blurring observation and imagination, Clayton’s drawings reveal her fascination for overlooked details. Through the eyes of an artist, I came to see the museum as a repository of secrets to be unlocked.
“‘Where do they keep all the keys?’ she asked. ‘I imagine there’s a lockbox somewhere with a key for every door in the museum.’
“‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘but let’s go find out.’”—Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director