Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art for Your Sake by Ms. G. Barbee

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art for Your Sake by Ms. G. Barbee

Article excerpt

There's this Borscht Belt joke about an old Jewish guy reading a newspaper story about Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and then asking his grandson to explain it.

"It's like when you're in a long conversation with a good friend, the time passes quickly," the boy explains. "But you touch a hot stove and a second seems to last forever."

"Yeah, I get that," the old man says. "But this Einstein, from this he makes a living?"

I thought about that when I was talking with Genevieve Barbee the other day. Apart from owning one of the five most lyrical names in Pittsburgh - go ahead, try to name five more fun to say - Ms. Barbee is an illustrator of what Pittsburghers do.

"I draw what they tell me," she said, "and how they describe what it is that they do."

From this and a hodgepodge of other pursuits, she's making a living.

Her website is call the AP Collection, as in Art Practice. The 30-year-old from Upper Lawrenceville sees conversation as an art form, and when she gets someone to open up, she paints what she's heard.

She's been at this since 2012, showing her work on "When I do something," she recently wrote, "I become kind of obsessive and hammer out work left and right."

She recently used ink and watercolors as vibrant as Miami neon to illustrate "Christine Is Good At Modern Dance." She paired the painting with a 75-second podcast of Christine Marty of Bloomfield talking about improvised dance and "movement for movement's sake."

Ms. Barbee's ease with new media is not something I share. When I read that she was selling gicle- a term that's younger than she is, meaning fine art prints from inkjet printers - I had to look that up. She also does commission work as a freelance illustrator, and builds websites for others. But I was most interested in her idealization of conversation as an art form by posting long ones on her website.

I've often wondered how America's social media addiction has been affecting the way we converse. …

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