This is an artist’s essay that explores some of the ideas put forward in Powers’ three-part essay, “Art, Not Suicide,” published earlier this week. -Ed. Note
At its best, modern art begs the question, “Is this art?” There is a death wish that threads modernity – death of God, death of the author, death of history, even the death of the modernity itself (the post-modern) but perhaps most insistently of all, is the existential interrogation that is modern art.
On April 29, 1974, the prog rock masters King Crimson played a famously furious gig at the Stanley Warner theatre in Pittsburgh, later immortalized as part of the band’s towering 4-disc live set, The Great Deceiver. In 1974, the steel industry was wheezing its way out of town, and the city was careening toward a difficult decade filled with a shifting economy and populace. The malleability of the Crimson dinosaur was exactly what the city was going to need to recover. And they have, thanks to the medical and tech industries (And ROBOTS!).
In the 70’s, out of the ashes and soot of the crumble came something extraordinary for the art world. In 1977, Barbara Luderowski founded The Mattress Factory, an installation space that is the highlight and anchor of every visit I make to the city. Yet, too many people I know still think of Pittsburgh as it was in the famous painting by Aaron Henry Gorson pictured here. Let’s work on that. Starting with the fact that a visit to the ‘Burgh is almost always a galvanizing one.