patron examining light sculpture

Trust Visual Arts: Past, Present, and Future

Mon, Jan 22, 2018

Written by: Fred Blauth

In celebration of our first Gallery Crawl of 2018, we thought it appropriate to take a final look at the impressive dual exhibitions of local artist Kristen Letts Kovak at 707 and 709 Galleries; hear from Ryoichi Kurokawa, one of two internationally-based artists soon to be featured at Wood Street Galleries; and share a sneak peek from Steve Gurysh and Jessica Langley, who will both be exhibiting their work alongside others is a group show opening at SPACE in February.

on looking in 709 gallery


707 and 709 Galleries
On Looking & White Noise by Kristen Letts Kovak
On view: November 17, 2017 - January 28, 2018
Artist talk: January 25, 7pm


When I meet Kristen Letts Kovak to talk about her dual gallery exhibitions at 707 and 709 Galleries, she tells me that she looked over my prepared questions at lunch today. “Oh, I’ve just jotted down a few notes,” she says casually. A quick peek at her notebook reveals impeccably neat handwriting and when she speaks about her work, her thoughtful, sharp responses leave me fumbling as she drives our interview. This precise, laser-focused attention to detail and control Kovak wields is anything but lost on her artistic practice.

With sources ranging from Pittsburgh’s own Carnegie Museum of Art to foreign collections from around the world, Kovak's drawings and paintings construct and obliterate museum displays with her balanced use of representation and abstraction. “I often hear people talk about representation and abstraction as the flip-sides of the same coin and I don't really think that's accurate,” Kovak says.

“I see it much more as a continuum between the two. When I am in the process of making a piece, I feel like the decisions are the same: It comes down to what color and what shape I am putting next to another,” Kovak explains. “Some of those combinations will naturally yield representation while other edges will fight each other and appear as abstraction … Representation and abstraction are not an either/or. In my practice, I move fluidly between them.”

Kovak’s work invites viewers to examine not just the artifacts she vividly depicts but also the way in which they are preserved and exhibited. In On Looking, reflections in glass cases one would typically ignore become focal points in Kovak’s paintings. By reaching beyond the paper’s edge in White Noise, Kovak’s installation forces viewers to observe further as she brings out mundane to bizarre structural elements of the gallery itself.

But to declare Kovak as merely our guide would be missing out on the opportunity to investigate reality for ourselves.

“I think there is a definite triad between artwork, audience and artist,” Kovak says.

“It doesn't seem like it's enough for me to say, ‘I saw this and I want you to see that I saw this.’ That doesn't seem sufficient for the relationship because it puts the artist too high in the hierarchy,” Kovak says. “When an audience can [think] ‘but that’s not what I saw,’ it opens up a conversation about how each of us is perceiving the world. And once we can start to question whether or not what we see is the same as what someone else sees, it opens up a much broader conversation on tolerance and acceptance.”

a patron examines a light sculpture part of the upcoming wood street galleries exhibit


Wood Street Galleries
unfold.alt and constrained surface by Ryoichi Kurokawa
Sirens by Ryoichi Kurokawa and Novi_sad
Opening Reception: January 26th during the Gallery Crawl
On view: January 26 - April 8, 2018


At Wood Street Galleries, Ryoichi Kurokawa (Berlin) and Novi_sad (Greece) have transformed the galleries into ominous, sensory installations through the use of digital and sonic manipulation. By mining data found online, Ryoichi Kurokawa remixes information to create time sculptures from field recordings and digitally-generated objects.

“Technology plays a very important role in my work,” Kurokawa explains over email. “By collaborating with scientists on projects, I always avoid conventional scientific output but keep some of their scientific points. We carefully use data but translate information into dynamically artistic renderings as much as possible.”

Sirens, Kurokawa’s collaboration with sound artist Thanasis Kaproulias, (Novi_sad), is composed of a complex series of visual formations and sound compositions that draw from economic market trends and statistics. These visuals are far from graphs and pie charts however. Weblike structures pulsate violently and suddenly morph into animals. Massive crowds move in unison and futuristic structures collapse in slow motion over gothic ambient noise. Sirens is dark, and at moments even apocalyptic, but with inspiration from stock market data, the work’s sentiment comes as no surprise.

In unfold.alt, Kurokawa again reinterprets information, this time being his own.

unfold.alt is a screening version of a previous installation, unfold, and when I started this project, there was already an idea that it had an installation and screening version,” Kurokawa says. “unfold.alt contains 10 phases presented in reverse chronological order of stellar formation (the process by which stars are formed) that are arranged in chronological order of unfold.”

Between reimagining global market collapses to reversing the birth of a stars, Kurokawa acts as our Architect at Wood Street and calls Pittsburgh viewers to explore beyond our frozen three rivers into even colder, bleaker worlds.

a piece included in the event horizon exhibit soon opening at space gallery


Event Horizon
Leah Beeferman, Jerstin Crosby, Steve Gurysh, Jessica Langley, Elizabeth McTernan
Opening Reception: February 10th, 5:30-10pm
On view: February 9th - March 25th



On March 8, 2014, a Malaysian Airlines flight leaving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia bound for Beijing, China disappeared over the South Indian Ocean, leading to the largest and most expensive aviation search in history. Each day for months, news headlines, images, graphs, charts, tweets, and conspiracies surfaced while those on board never did. Online, a digital landscape was forming.

It is this landscape that Jessica Langley traverses in her work on exhibit alongside Leah Beeferman, Jerstin Crosby, Steve Gurysh, and Elizabeth McTernan in the group show Event Horizon at SPACE, opening in February.

With each artist in Event Horizon coming from different practices and locations, the show takes on a sprawling, map-like quality as those artists create landscapes that depict different ways we interact with space via the screen. For Langley, it was the bizarrely cold and generic visuals that accompanied the coverage of the mysterious plane disappearance that acted as a catalyst for her work.

"Through the news, really personal stories started emerge, but so many representations of place were just diagrams and stock images of the ocean," Langley says.


Steve Gurysh's practice is rooted in digital image making but with an end goal of fabricating sculptures and objects by way of technology. Gurysh is interested in, "how digital interface implicate touch, or a new way of having this haptic relationship with an environment or material."

For his piece, Gaia Plateau, Yoga blocks have been CNC milled from aerial scans of Death Valley. The sweeping landscape calls to mind Ansel Adams photographs but with a dark twist, as printed logos from the blocks merge with synthetic mountains and valleys.

In The Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last, a busy man who only wishes to have time to read suddenly becomes the last living person on Earth after seeking shelter in a bank safe during a deadly bomb strike. After the initial shock, he realizes he finally has time to read to his heart's content. But with a single step, he accidentally destroys his glasses thus breaking the one piece of technology he needed to live out his wish.

Event Horizon also eerily seems to be devoid of humans or any kind of living creature but it's clear that mankind's technology has shaped these artists perspectives and in turn the landscapes they portray.

For a full list of events for this Friday's Gallery Crawl, click here

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