Hand-working clay, using hand-mixed glazes and firing his creations
without electricity or gas, he crafted intriguingly primitive works
from tiny pots to evocations of human mummies. He exhibited them partly
through fellow Carnegie Mellon art student Ally Reeves' Mobile Museum
project, bringing art to neighborhoods via bicycle. It's in the spirit
of both projects that Almarza created this weekend's Pittsburgh Visionary Arts Festival.
It's a new open-air showcase for local artists in any medium — whether
self-taught or merely left-of-center — who have an unconventional
approach and a unique aesthetic. It's also for artists whom you
wouldn't just stumble across, unless you were in the habit of haunting
cutting-edge galleries. With help from the Sprout Fund, Almarza
corralled dozens of artists for a three-day stint in Schenley Plaza.
Familiar names like Mike Budai, Lowry Burgess, Vanessa German, Mr.
Imagination and Laura Jean McLaughlin are joined by such folks as Curt
Sell, whose religiously infused work is created with discarded glass
melted by focused sunlight. Other contributors include art collectives
Encyclopedia Destructica and Unicorn Mountain and noted local "outsider
art" curator Pat McArdle. There are also nightly performances by the
large-scale experimental sound collective HiTEC. Plus, you can meet the
artists at their booths, some of which will host demonstrations or
activities like "scribbler" Connie Cantor's "yoga scribbling,"
featuring actual yoga instructors wielding pencils. Even Almarza, for
his part, doesn't know everything that will happen. "I've told the
artists to surprise me with their ideas," he says. "I think a lot of
them have been keeping the information from me!" Bill O'Driscoll Noon-9 p.m. daily, Fri., Aug. 7-Sun., Aug. 9. Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. www.pghvisionaryartsfestival.com
I am enormously impressed with the art, and even more impressed with the fact that one person could accomplish this in Pittsburgh. I doubt there are many "Sprout Funds" in other locales. You can learn more about it here. Be sure to check out Almazara's other blogs–good stuff!
I didn't take any photos of the art, but here are a few photos from the festival.
The youngest vendor
Recycled bird–from found objects
Making art with yoga postures