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FYIThe famous

Prominent Pittsburgh artists, authors, composers, musicians

The Arts in Pittsburgh

FYI

What is art for?
The famous<
The folk
Where art lives

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Prominent Pittsburgh artists

Cultural districts in downtown Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities offer a variety of venues for artists. The Benedum Center and Heinz Hall host many live performances, and galleries exist from the South Side to Oakland displaying important works of painting and photography. Museums honor artwork and artifacts, local theatres present a diverse selection of plays, and the local universities organize festivals of music, dance, fiction, and poetry each year. Each event welcomes significant artists and talented newcomers to the region.

But Western Pennsylvania claims many "hometown" artists, too, who gained national and international reputations. Andy Warhol was hailed as one of the most important artists of the 1960's and 1970's, and his works of popular art and satire are on display in the Andy Warhol Museum on Pittsburgh's North Side.

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Philip Pearlstein was an internationally celebrated painter; Mary Cassatt studied with the French Impressionists during the late 1800s. Teeny Harris was an important photographer chronicling life in the Black community; and the roster of celebrated writers includes Willa Cather, Nellie Bly, Annie Dillard, Mary Roberts Rhinehart and playwright August Wilson.

 

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Stephen Foster was one of the most popular songwriters of the 1800s and, many scholars claim, one of the most gifted composers of melodies of all time. He is memorialized several places in the city, on schools, street names, but most of all at he University of Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Hall. Across Forbes Avenue, the garden in front of the Carnegie Music Hall houses a statue of Foster.


Tom Altany

Stephen Foster statue in front of the Carnegie Music Hall.

The Hill District was home to severl jazz greats like Lena Horne, Billy Eckstein, and Walt Harper, and host to many more when the big band and singers were on tour.

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As Andy Warhol himself would say, "Everyone has his fifteen minutes of fame." These artists certainly had more than that -- but "fame" is not a requirement, or even necessarily a goal, of art. Sometimes the goal is to make a political statement. Sometimes it is simply to express a private desire. And sometimes it is not an individual expression at all. As opposed to individual acts of artistic expression, forms of "folk art" identify an artist as a member of a particular community, and resonate with the experiences and goals of that group.

Pittsburgh's Strip District is home to a collection of restaurants, warehouses, and unusual stores representing various cultures. Decorations or items for sale in ethnic grocery stores (such as red streamers and dragons in Chinese markets, or decorative glass bottles in Italian grocerias) may turn up in similar stores around the country. These items are representative of particular cultures and folk customs. A tour of the Strip's African Gallery reveals more elaborate and creative examples of folk art and crafts incorporating elements of the artists' heritage.

Also in the Strip is the Society for Contemporary Craft, which showcases the work of contemporary artists working in materials usually associated with traditional crafts. But these artists are anything but traditional in how they push the limits of the materials they aer working in and the ideas they are trying to express!

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