THE TAKEAWAY On View 7/11-8/1 at 937 Gallery
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of The Takeaway: Made With Love, an exhibition of nearly 100 amateur artworks handpicked from thrift store collections across several states. Throughout the run of the exhibition, visitors are able to enter into a free lottery for a chance to take home their favorite piece from the show. The exhibition, organized by Robert Raczka, is on view July 11-August 1, 2014, at 937 Liberty Avenue, second floor. An opening reception takes place Friday, July 11, 2014, from 5:30-9p.m., during the Cultural Trust's quarterly Gallery Crawl throughout the Cultural Distract.
Raczka purchased the exhibition's artworks-paintings, hand-knit afghans, handmade ceramics, and objects crafted in wood-for their aesthetic appeal and all-around interest, though they are artworks not generally presented in a fine art context. Among the works included are painted landscapes, pet portraits, spiritual imagery, and a wood mosaic Mayan calendar.
Raczka uses the exhibition budget, generally reserved for shipping and materials, to buy the art in thrift stores while exercising his curatorial eye. He sees the distribution of the artwork to the audience through a free lottery as a gift from the gallery as well as from himself.
"I have a genuine appreciation for amateur art at its unselfconscious best, and I wanted to share that with the audience," says curator Robert Raczka. "I had noticed that when someone is in an art gallery contemplating a purchase, they really look closely and think about the art. I have found that if the audience feels that they might end up taking the art home, they consider it more deeply."
At the conclusion of the exhibition, Raczka will select the winners at random, who are notified and able to pickup their artwork at the closing party Friday, August 1, 5:30-9 p.m., with an additional pick-up time Saturday, August 2, 1-5 p.m.
This is the forth in a series of exhibitions of thrift store art, the first held at Future Tenant in 2008, and combines Raczka's roles as artist and curator. For these exhibitions, he has been incorporating ideas artists have been working with in relational aesthetics, or the practice of artist-constructed social experiences where the artist becomes the facilitator rather than the focal point, such as Rirkrit Tiravanija's untitled project in which he cooked and served food in the Carnegie International, and Tino Sehgal's "The Progress" at the Guggenheim where visitors were engaged in a series of conversations about progress. Similar to these projects, Raczka's lottery is designed to reconsider and make use of art's social and institutional context and to create a nontraditional social interaction between artist/curator, the gallery, and the audience.
Robert Raczka is a Pittsburgh-based artist, writer, and curator, and he was previously a gallery director of 20 years. He earned an MFA in photography from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. His artwork is in the form of photography, collage, and exhibitions incorporating found objects to engage with popular culture and taste, the public communications of advertising and marketing, and the often-tenuous connection between representation and reality. In 2013, Raczka curated Crowdsourced at SPACE, featuring 12 artists who included public input-either directly or through suggestions-into their artworks. Raczka's art criticism often appears in the Pittsburgh City Paper. He is emeritus professor of art at Allegheny College, Meadville, and he recently taught the graduate studio art seminar at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.