Pittsburgh’s Penn Avenue Artists Exhibit at Stifel Mansion

#OpenOnPenn features artwork by Pittsburgh's Penn Avenue Artists

#OpenOnPenn Features Street Art, Cultural Activism & Pittsburgh Pierogies

If you are driving on National Road near the Stifel Fine Arts Center on Thursday, September 7, you will see eye-catching, mobile art created on unconventional canvases– automobiles.  Three “art cars,” created by Jason Sauer of Pittsburgh’s Most Wanted Fine Art, will be on display outside the historic Stifel Mansion during the free, public opening reception for the #OpenOnPenn contemporary art exhibition.

What exactly is an “art car,” you ask?

An art car is a road-worthy vehicle that has been transformed as an act of personal and artistic expression.  They range from imaginatively painted vehicles to extravagant sculptured shells.  Pittsburgh son and legendary pop artist Andy Warhol painted what is considered to be the most valuable art car in the world, a BMW MI, in the late 1970s.

Creating art cars is just one of Sauer’s many artistic passions.  He creates art from objects locally sourced from his environment and uses the art to create dialogue within his community. From PPG Paint & Alcoa Metal for paintings, to recycled materials for sculptures or smashing up cars in the demolition derby as performance art, Sauer shows the power of rebirth.

Artwork by Jason Sauer

He and his wife Nina are owners of Most Wanted Fine Art on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh and are committed to bringing diverse people and voices to the arts district.

Sauer is one of five artists featured in the #OpenOnPenn exhibit at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling.

Penn Avenue Arts District:  #OpenOnPenn

The exhibit features work from artists of Pittsburgh’s vibrant Penn Avenue Arts District, which sprang from the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. The initiative revitalized the Penn Avenue Corridor into a creative, eclectic and happening business district rooted in the arts and one of the city’s hottest cultural areas.

Oglebay Institute curator of exhibitions Michael McKowen said the exhibit has a “contemporary, urban, street-art feel” and  includes diversity of style, media, subject matter, influences and voice.

“One of my goals as curator is to bring exhibits to Wheeling that feature non-traditional mediums, expand our definition of what art is and cause us to rethink the boundaries between visual arts and popular culture.”

McKowen said some of the artists are formally trained with degrees in art, while others are self-taught and others have developed their style from the graffiti that adorns public structures.

“Much of the art has a very strong graphic appeal that reflects urban cultural trends and style.”

Michael McKowen

Many artists featured in #OpenOnPenn speak to social justice issues. “Their work often is in response to social, political, gender and race issues facing their community and the country at large,” McKowen explained.

In addition to the artwork, newspapers, video and photographs will be on display that chronicle how the art initiative revitalized Penn Avenue into the cultural exchange it is today.

Exhibit Celebrates the Cultural, Political, Economic & Personal Dimensions of Art

“The exhibit celebrates the power of the arts to revitalize neighborhoods and to be a catalyst for positive change.  It also illustrates the cultural, political, economic and personal dimensions of art.”

Public art centers like the Stifel Fine Arts Center, McKowen says, have a special mission to foster artistic growth.

“Part of the growth process is to have new stimulus. We strive to bring in things we normally don’t get to see in Wheeling and make them accessible for local artists and art lovers to view and engage in conversation.”

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and Most Wanted Fine Art have jointly organized #OpenOnPenn.  In addition to Sauer, other featured artists include Danielle Robinson, D.S Kinsel, J.R Holtz, and Sam Thorp. Also, more than a dozen Penn Avenue galleries will be represented with works in the show.

Other Featured Artists Include:

J.R. Holtz
With a self-described “novelty” style, artist J.R. Holtz paints directly on glass, which gives his work a glossy, finished look–almost like framed animation cels.  His diverse subject matter ranges from cartoon characters, superheroes and pop culture icons to nature images, science fiction and Pittsburgh sports.

J.R. Holtz

D.S. Kinsel
D.S. Kinsel is a self described “black creative entrepreneur and cultural agitator,” whose mediums for creative expression include painting, window display, installation, curating, action-painting, non-traditional performance and social media. His work is a reflection of his race, culture and generation. He strives to encourage audiences to reevaluate their ideas of fine art.

D.S. Kinsel

Danielle Robinson
Painter Danielle Robinson’s work is inspired by black women, fantasy/sci-fi, graffiti, color, nature, art deco, African art and the occult.  When asked about black women as a recurring theme in her work, Robison says, “Black women have always been under-represented in art. I paint what I know and love. Amazing black women have always been the center of my life.”

“Rose Goddess” by Danielle Robinson

Sam Thorp
Sam Thorp is classically trained in anatomy and fine art but experiments in modern technology to supplement traditional image making. Thorp’s subject matter is rooted in western tradition of figure studies with a deep interest in psychology and the personality of the models. The result is not a mere design or hunks of flesh but an expression of the living, breathing uniqueness of each person.

Artwork by Sam Thorp

Opening Reception Features Pierogies, Rock Bottom Brewery & Artists Market

#OpenOnPenn opens Thursday, September 7 at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center, 1330 National Road, Wheeling.  A free, public reception takes place from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 pm.

McKowen said the Stifel Center will take on a “Penn Ave vibe” complete with Pittsburgh pierogies, beer from Pittsburgh’s Rock Bottom Brewery and music from Penn Ave artists.  An artist market, similar to the popular Penn Ave street market, will be set up in the gallery with a variety of artwork available to purchase.

Several Penn Avenue artists will be in attendance and available to discuss their artwork as well as the Penn Ave revitalization through the arts.

“Everyone is invited to join us and soak up Penn Avenue’s creative energy.   Families, singles, students, seniors, regular Stifel patrons and first-time visitors will find this exhibit engaging.”

If you can’t make it to the opening reception September 7, you will have other chances to view #OpenOnPenn.  It will be on display through October 27.  The Stifel Center is open 9 a.m. – 5p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.  Evening hours are dependent on classes and special events. Admission to the gallery is free.

Thank you, Sponsors.

#OpenOnPenn is part of Oglebay Institute’s 2017-18 season of art exhibitions, which is sponsored by United Bank.

Part of the Helen B. Gaither Exhibition Season, this exhibit was also made possible through the generous support of the members of the Institute as well as with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.