“It is about the end of the world, the end of a relationship, all the different ways we come to terms with things closing every day.”
October 4 marked the beginning of “The End,” a new art exhibit at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery. The show was organized by Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) and features 15 Pittsburgh-based artists.
AAP is the oldest continually exhibiting visual arts organization in the country. Founded in 1910, with the goal of providing a platform for artists to exhibit new work, AAP continues to organize art exhibitions throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, open to any of AAP’s 550 members. Former members include renowned artists Mary Cassatt and Andy Warhol.
Fred Blauth, the curator of “The End,” also created the show’s concept, which he submitted to AAP when they put out a call for proposals in January.
“At the time, I was really noticing a lot of things that were ending around me. My grandmother and grandfather died that year,” Blauth says. “But little things too, I was moving, I’m constantly trying to quit smoking, and it all made me think of this show.”
The exhibit focuses on the concept of “the end,” and the way the artists featured interpret that concept differently.
“It is about the end of the world, the end of a relationship, all the different ways we come to terms with things closing every day,” Blauth says.
“The End” will run until October 27 at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery, 100 43rd St. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Blauth had the work of more than 100 artists to select from when curating the exhibit. He wanted to ensure a diversity of viewpoints, since many artists took a darker approach to the exhibit’s theme.
“There were a lot of works that were specifically talking about death, or using a very dark color palette,” Blauth says. “I really wanted to show a number of perspectives. It’s not all one color or about one thing.”
This isn’t to say death doesn’t have a place in this exhibit. Two featured artists, Tyler Gaston and Zach Brown, both focus on ideas of mortality, but approach it in very different ways.
Gaston, a graduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, examines death through the medium of woodworking.
“I’m doing my thesis research on the idea of mortality, and I’m currently working with logs. I’m exploring that idea through the living material of a tree,” Gaston says.
For “The End,” Gaston created a wall-mounted sculpture of wood and concrete, featuring a log split in two, but held together by a curved rod of concrete. The sculpture is meant to play with the idea of repairing something broken.
“Wood as a material has this living presence, and I’m interested in using that as my main material to examine the idea of mortality,” Gaston says.
In contrast, Zach Brown took a more representational approach to the concept. His large diptych, titled “As Above, So Below,” features a stark representation of life and death that plays with the scale of a burial.
“There’s a female figure resting above, then a nice six feet of space, and a skeleton below. Fairly simple, but playing with some more esoteric concepts,” Brown says.
Brown took inspiration from Hermeticism, a religious tradition from the Middle Ages. The work’s title, “As Above, So Below,” is borrowed from that tradition, referring to their belief that what happens at one level of existence happens at all other levels.
But death does not dominate “The End.” A different interpretation of the concept is offered by Aaron Regal, who focused on the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s East End. His photo essay showcases the area’s 200 year history, particularly its history of gentrification and corporate capitalism. Further, it asks what it means when a neighborhood ceases to be what it once was.
“My objective is to offer an alternative narrative to the story of East Liberty’s recently acclaimed economic and cultural upheaval,” Regal says. He wants his work to draw attention to Pittsburgh’s history of inequality through urban planning, in hope of preventing future examples.
Regal, Brown, and Gaston’s work will share the walls with 12 fellow artists’ visions of “The End,” showcasing just how differently those two simple words can be interpreted.
Nick Eustis is a Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer. Contact him at email@example.com.