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Concept Gallery's '30 Curators' exhibit displays artists chosen by local art professionals

Thursday, February 10, 2000

By Mary Thomas, Post-Gazette Art Critic

An energetic exhibition that is the result of a leap of faith opens tonight at Concept Art Gallery in Regent Square. Director Sam Berkovitz invited 30 art professionals from the region to each choose an artist -- a new or mature talent -- to exhibit at the gallery. And then he stepped back and waited.

  Here's how the curators decided on their artists


While there was never any doubt that the "30 Curators" would be anything but exacting in their selections, the suspense came from wondering how compatible the aesthetics of the Carnegie and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Warhol, and countless other mixes and matches, would be if they shared one space.

Not to worry -- they look great, in all their splendiferous eclecticism. From edgy to fanciful, historic to contemporary, somber to sparkling, they lead the visitor along a path of discovery -- which is what Berkovitz was hoping for.

"What gave rise to this was the exhibition we held in 1998, 'Artist as Curator,' where artists selected an emerging talent who they wanted to share," Berkovitz explained. "That show was so much fun."

That was true for the staff as well as for the public. "I think [this kind of exhibition] extends our gallery; it extends what we do. If you do predictable exhibitions, people don't have reason to come, and the staff gets tired. ... We wanted to do something with that kind of energy and that kind of serendipity, but we thought we'd do it a little differently. I get a lot of calls to look at work, but I pay particular attention to those from artists or curators because I respect their taste." That notion blossomed, and "once you get a good idea, it builds momentum."

Since there were no limitations on selection, there is variety, from the young and lesser-known to famed octogenarian Louise Bourgeois. Many are women. Two are deceased (Esther Phillips and Aaron Harry Gorson).

As to curatorial selections, the fruit doesn't seem to have fallen far from the tree. "I think that's absolutely true," Berkovitz agrees. "There is a consistency [between the selected artists] and what people seem to exhibit in their spaces. But I think there's a little more of a personal quality. Exhibitions usually have a framework or a supposition or delve into a particular artist in depth. These choices have a whim associated with them. They're a very interesting reflection on a person's taste."

The opening reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight. The gallery is at 1031 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays; until 8 p.m. Thursdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 412-242-9200.

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