Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Hold Their 99th Annual Exhibit

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On view now at Carnegie Museum of Art, the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 99th annual exhibition is one of the group's best in recent history. Making one wonder, what will they do next year for the 100th anniversary? For now, we will have to be happy with this remarkable exhibit.

Founded by a loose-knit group of artists in 1910 to foster a love of the fine arts, the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh is still an artist-run membership organization. In 1911, following its first exhibit in the lobby of the Grand Opera House, the group began to show annually at Carnegie Museum of Art. Each year, the organization invites artists living within 150 miles of the city to submit work for this survey exhibit.

The 2009 show was juried by Doryun Chong, assistant curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. He chose 102 works by 74 artists. More than 270 artist submitted works.

Those selected are in a wide range of media, from traditional oil paintings on canvas to video and installation type works, giving an idea of the kind of work artists in our region are actively engaged in.

Some of the works are autobiographical, like Fumino Hora's piece "My Grandmother's Secret Garden." The work consists of seven small wooden boxes, each of which has a small photo of one of the artist's female ancestors cast in resin. The Japanese characters carved on the lids symbolize the quality of each woman. The photos are from Hora's mother's old family album, all of which were taken in the early 20th century. Though it may be personal, the public can open and close each box and feel the nostalgia of old Japan.

Constance Merriman's video work also is autobiographical, in a way. Titled "Field," it is a project she has been working on for about a year, a documentation of life that is occurring in the field beside her McKeesport home where she installed a motion-activated digital camera at ground level and has taken about 1,000 images of animals, birds and people. The camera has photographed foxes and children and wood thrush during the day and at night. It has recorded ice storms and the progress of plants growing. …