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Boxheart Gallery Finds New Artists in its 9th Anniversary Exhibit

Kyle Ethan Fischer

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June 22nd, 2009 - 02:30 AM

Boxheart Gallery Finds New Artists in its 9th Anniversary Exhibit

Located in Bloomfield and an artist centered gallery, Boxheart is a community hub for many artists and a place where mentor-ships develop between director, Nicole Capozzi, & consultant, Joshua Hogan. For the past nine years Capozzi & Hogan have shown artists the ropes; whether this is through lending time, advice, & materials at the Three Rivers Artist Market, through portfolio reviews, the development of various public work projects, or if you just need to talk. They are the quiet sounding board of the Pittsburgh art community.

Perhaps I am partial to this exhibit because:

A. I (Kyle Ethan Fischer) am in the show and just had a successful exhibit there, including a review in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

B. The show embodies a wide array of work from various artists- trained and untrained, simple and complicated, mixed and raw, conceptual and fantasy.

C. Nicole Capozzi & Joshua Hogan have an eye for the original.

I believe that both B & C are reasons you should attend the exhibit or stop by to see several of the selected artists after the show has ended (the show ends this Sunday June 20th).

The front windows at Boxheart Gallery are filled with the work of an artist who has returned to Pittsburgh via TX via NY, Ryder Henry. Based on a virtual world he has created for himself out of nothing more than cardboard, Elmer’s glue and paint Nicole Capozzi & Joshua Hogan have selected several spaceships that conjure Star Wars, Star Trek, & just about any geek's dream vehicle. The vehicles, reminiscent of something out of a diorama for Battle Star Galactica hover gracefully, illuminated as if they are exploring space. There is an enchanted quality of the works much like Henry Darger’s work albeit a trekkie’s version. The inner glow is attributed to LED lights that Ryder Henry has used to give the spaceships an added imagined realism that the ship really can fly. Lighthugger no 1 is a personal favorite. As an added treat there are several paintings that create a nice back drop for the sculptures.

310 Geneva St is Henry’s depiction of his home in Ithaca, NY and where it all begins. The painting itself is well rendered and has the same illuminations that the vehicles made out of cardboard do. 310 Geneva St was the first cardboard creation that Henry created. A fanciful city then developed around the realistically rendered house encapsulating the latent depictions of the modernity of the fifties. The other paintings in the window are of the Jetson-like city. The space vehicles are outgrowths of the city. I had actually heard of the diorama while at a coffee shop in Bloomfield and was happily surprised to fine that Boxheart had selected him for their anniversary show. Ryder Henry is a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh art scene and a fresh one.

Another fresh artist that has been diligently working to develop from the functional to fine art is Alex Lobus. From his Intarsa series Alex Lobus's Commitment is an excellent example of what it means to make art in a green way. He finds discarded wood materials and reuses them to make works which are reminiscent of mosaics. What I find most alluring about the pieces on a physical level is their texture. They are not contrived or manipulated with paint or faux finishes. He works with what he finds. The subtle hues and variety of surface can only be attributed to his persnickety attention to detail and categorization of the woods he finds.

The work itself is often based on trying to make still a moment: whether that is a cascading cliff, Mardi Gras, or a poem. Lobus was selected as an emerging artist at the Three River's Artist festival this year and is also in the Now I am the Master show with me. At the festival he showed me one of his latest works, a higher relief mosaic which depicts the point done in gradients of green. Lobus seems to be making leaps artistically as the concept and craft are beginning to meld (he sold the piece too). Lobus is a very promising salvage artist; one I hope to see more of!

In addition to the exciting three dimensional works Boxheart’s anniversary show exemplifies its love of painting. Rob Katkowski has a large piece that anchors the show as do several of Brenda Stumpf’s more monochromatic works. Joren Dykstra's SC 484807-1 is an example of a style he calls synthetic collage which calls for attention. Joren has been a Pittsburgh staple at Utrecht on the Southside and has been developing his multi-layered approach for a number of years. The method is deductive and additive using layers of direct painting, airbrush, washes, & zips a la Barnett Newman. They have very modern feel yet are something new. If you take the time to sit in front of the piece the jazz muses will visit you. The elaborate mark making and density of imagery are made to look simple. One is satisfied with both the complexity of the composition and the simplicity of the palette.

By including these artists Capozzi & Hogan have enhanced the scope of what can be seen by Pittsburgh viewers and continue to mold the artist community. The couple stays true to their mission statement (a quote by Ansel Adams in a letter to Cedric Wright 1937):

“Art is both love and friendship and understanding, the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of things; it is more than kindness, which is the giving of the self…”

This is a difficult task in times like these. Through these nine years of encouragement and development many talented artists have been discovered in the Pittsburgh area and many artists have been brought to Pittsburgh from abroad with their International exhibit held each year. Boxheart’s anniversary show highlights some of the best new rising talent in Pittsburgh.


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