Griffin Sendek | Features Editor
Pittsburgh’s celebration of art returned last Friday with Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District. Featured works ranged from paintings, photography and abstract sculptures, to dance, light shows and glow-in-the-dark creations.
While some of the galleries are open for multiple days, others were only available for the single night. Gallery Crawl and its one-night-only tradition has solidified a spot in Downtown Pittsburgh events that need to be attended by all art lovers. If you happened to miss it last Friday, don’t be too upset, for Gallery Crawl will be returning in April with all new and unique art.
I began my night in the Trust Arts Education Center, following the crowded staircase up three floors and stepping foot in the Glow Gallery. Upon entry, I was greeted with hip-hop beats from the DJ and floral-patterned multi-colored canvases on the walls. From the ceiling hung what looked like a bright green stuffed oval, floating beside a neon orange ball painted with a spiral. All the artwork was illuminated by black lights lining the entire ceiling of the venue.
The large crowd had formed around the leftmost wall, carrying an assortment of multi-colored sharpies. They decorated what was called the “graffiti wall.” Everyone in the room wanted to make their own addition; many signed their names, others wrote inspirational messages and some created their own designs. Two giant black lights aimed at the wall made every little addition pop out among the black background.
The other half of the room was scattered with couches and beanbags to rest on to while watching various neon glowing balloons frantically blowing around by a row of fans.
The Glow Gallery was an excellent first stop, but I did not have time to sit for the rest of the night. I exited the Glow Gallery and went up a floor to the Radiant Hall Studio Artists.
The hall was an open space allowing more than a dozen artists to showcase their work. This was home to a lot of exquisite paintings, and several artists were working on new pieces in real time. The center of the floor was a sculpture of a rather strange amalgamation of items strewn about. The piece was intriguing, but did not capture my interest for long.
My personal favorite of the floor was artist Oreen Cohen’s demonstration of her work. Cohen laid out a giant piece of paper on the floor and worked with a mixture of charcoal and black paint, scribbling a seemingly random series of markings all across. Cohen was rolling all over the paper as she created her piece; her hands, feet and clothing were absolutely covered in charcoal. Watching the process made me appreciate the product so much more.
I left the hall and made my way across the cold street to the Wood Street Galleries, which had a line almost out the door. The first of Refik Anadol’s exhibits was, from my short glimpse inside, a small room that seemed to be covered with bright moving stars from every angle. It had nearly an hour wait, however, so I elected to skip it and move upstairs instead.
Anadol’s second exhibit was a room filled to the brim with fog. In the room was a single bright light on one wall creating sharp lines through the mist. On the ceiling were three more lights shining down, creating different series of squares on the floor. The lights, paired with robotic and electronic sound effects created an engulfing futuristic atmosphere. Anadol’s light show was captivating and one of my favorite part of the Gallery Crawl.
I stopped by the Emmanuel Fine Art Photography Gallery and saw some beautiful nature and cityscape photos printed onto large panes of glass. Additionally, a local artist had set up a canvas within the gallery for every guest to make some small addition.
DanceFilm, an exploration, combined the art of dancing with the art of film to make some of the most unconventional and surreal films that I have ever watched.
One of the biggest highlights of Gallery Crawl was the exhibit 10 Futures. Showcasing 10 different artists all with unique styles and mediums, 10 Futures held the greatest variety of the entire night’s events. Home to some extraordinarily strange art, this exhibit had cinderblocks made out of hair, plastic birds trapped inside hexagonal cages and a multi-colored brain with a plant sprouting out the top.
My favorite of the exhibit was none other than “Portmanteau” by Maybe Jairan Sadeghi. “Portmanteau” consisted of several pedestals with what looked like science experiments of strange alien life.
Along with the pedestals was an unceasing video of two doctors conducting surgery on what appears to be a patch of the moss. As they cut into the moss with a scalpel, out came this strange gooey substance. Multiple people saw roughly two seconds of the video and abruptly turned away, but some, like myself, could not help but stay to watch the whole thing.
I cannot adequately describe what it was that I enjoyed so much about this piece; I think it was just that it was so new and different from anything I ever have seen before.
Attending Gallery Crawl was a fantastic experience that was well worth facing the cold January weather. I, without a doubt, will be returning to the Cultural District in April for the next Gallery Crawl.