Switches?, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from feesta’s photostream

UnSmoke Systems Artspace hosts The Lost Pittsburgh School exhibit, lecture and performance series from August 6 – 27. Councilor Bill Peduto will be one of the featured speakers (details below). While the artwork is real, the artists listed on the project’s website are archetypal and reflect our region’s industrial roots and changing economy. The work itself includes environmental and conceptual outdoor art and the website includes geotagging via Google Maps for some of the works featured in the show. Here’s a description of The Lost Pittsburgh School by novelist Stewart O’Nan:

For over 30 years, the city that made the weapons which defeated the Confederacy, the Kaiser and then the Nazis, that provided the steel for all the cars from Detroit and the beams for the Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings, that gave the world Gertrude Stein, Billy Strayhorn and Andy Warhol — the city that endlessly inspired W. Eugene Smith — was known exclusively as the home of a football team. Except to those who lived here, and even to many of them, the city itself was invisible.

In those underground years, the artists of what has been dubbed The Lost Pittsburgh School took on the project of self-definition, glorying in the radical changes to the city’s landscape. The work is a nearly unfiltered reflection of the moment. Decay and chaos rule.

Actor and writer David Conrad, who is one of the organizers of the project, describes members of this heretofore lost school of art as “imagined exemplars of an era, vehicles to help us reconceive what is art, and what is Pittsburgh.”

Thus, we get artists like “Gil Dugita” who’s “never held a job outside of a bar or a non-union construction site” and who has five children by four different women. “Gil” is obsessed with light and the color white and he “regularly buys out the supply of Bell and Mason White from TT hardware on Carson St. on Pgh’s South Side.” Then there’s “Danilova Navratilova Malloy” who received a degree in fine and industrial design from Carnegie Mellon and worked as a civil engineer until the economy and the legacy of her grandfather — a master of ceramic and glass design from Bratislava — caught up with her. She became one of Pittsburgh’s finest mosaic and stained glass artists.

The Lost Pittsburgh School exhibit, lectures and performances can be seen for free each Saturday at 7:00 PM (the exhibit can also be seen by appointment during the week: info@unsmokeartspace.com). This Saturday, August 13th, will feature lectures by Charlie Humphrey, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh City Council Member; and Doug Shields, Pittsburgh City Council Member. The UnSmoke Artspace is located at 1137 Braddock Ave., Braddock, Pa. 15104.

“Gil Dugita”

Work by “Danilova Navratilova Malloy”