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THE OCCASIONAL MARKET Opens 4/25 at 707 Penn Gallery

THE OCCASIONAL MARKET Opens 4/25 at 707 Penn Gallery

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of the interactive art exhibition The Occasional Market by local artist Tom Sarver. On view April 25 through June 22, 2014, at the Trust's 707 Penn Gallery, the exhibition plays with the idea of a traditional art gallery show by blending it with the experience of shopping. The exhibition opens during Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, Friday, April 25, 2014, from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

Throughout the run of the show, Sarver appears in the gallery at posted times to interact with the art on display-drawings, collages, sculptural assemblages, and collections of objects-by making alterations, playing records, performing puppet shows, and pawning his wares. Many of the artworks on display are made available for trade or purchase, and as the works sell, Sarver restocks the shelves and announces new deals. Visitors may also be surprised by unscheduled activities and performances by the artist-and his friends.

Sarver's concept for the exhibition generated from his family's stories about his grandfather's grocery store once located in Pittsburgh's East End. The project looks at the neighborhood store as a gathering place: a site where stories are told and relationships are established.

"I grew up listening to stories about my grandfather and his neighborhood grocery store," says artist Tom Sarver. "He was a butcher, but a visit to his shop probably included a pound of humor, a dozen tall tales and a dash of local wheeling and dealing. The few memories I have of him have become cloudy after many years, but I'm sure there is something of him in my work."

Sarver's work combines humor, social commentary, and a low-tech aesthetic to explore relationships between the art world and the everyday. His projects span a variety of disciplines including performance, installation, puppetry, and events, as well as traditional art-making methods including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Sarver's concepts are often realized in storefronts, houses, and public spaces, such as past projects that have included building an evolving museum in a city row house (The Tom Museum at The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh), opening a "bait & tackle" shop installation in Downtown Pittsburgh, and coordinating a series of Olympic-inspired performance events.

Tom Sarver earned a BFA in painting from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from SUNY Purchase College, Purchase, NY. From 1999 through 2008, Sarver was a core organizer of The Black Sheep Puppet Festival, a national festival of activist and experimental puppetry. He is currently working on a new puppetry initiative in Pittsburgh called Puppet Happening. His work in puppetry (28 puppets from shows developed from 1997 through 2013) was featured in an installation at the 2013 Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

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