Thursday, April 10, 2014

'Locusts' opens at Sweetwater Center for the Art's 'Wild Things' show

Last Friday, Sweetwater Center for the Arts held a reception for their 'Wild Things' exhibition. My piece Locusts was in the show. Here it is next to Cynthia Shaffer's Twister & Yahtzee, made from the feathers of her pet pigeons.

Cynthia curated the exhibition and chose the location for my work - she wanted it crawling behind and up things like real insects!

 The exhibition features work by a wonderful and varied crew of artists in many media, including my friends Randie Snow and Kyle Ethan Fischer. Some unexpected stars of the show were real-life wild things brought in by the National Aviary, much to my surprise and delight! Here is an African Penguin:

And here's one of their Eurasian Eagle Owls, Gandalf. He was a little cranky so he got a nice chicken foot to munch on.

'Wild Things' will be up until June 21st, so check it out if you're in the area!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Battle for Bats" at the USFWS Environmental Film Festival

A friend alerted me to this short documentary about White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that is killing off a large part of the US bat population. It's currently screening at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC:

The Battle for Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome

From the film's vimeo page:
"Battle For Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome was produced for the USDA Forest Service by Ravenswood Media. It shows how government and private agencies have come together to search for solutions to help our bat populations overcome WNS. The public can also play a role in the future of bats by providing habitat and surveying their populations. Bats are a critical component in a healthy forest ecosystem, plus they provide significant agricultural pest control and pollination. Their survival is essential for a sustainable natural environment."

A few years ago I created an installation about WNS, entitled hibernaculum. I've been following the progress of the disease since hearing about it in 2008 at the Chautauqua Institute. Glad to see people are still working to raise awareness of this environmental crisis!

hibernaculum at Fe Gallery, 2011

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Address Book Bestiary's public debut

A few friends have asked me if I have plans to show my Address Book Bestiary, which I completed a few months ago:

I'm happy to report that it was accepted into the Juried Visual Art Exhibition at Pittsburgh's annual Three Rivers Arts Festival, so if you are in Pittsburgh, you have the chance to see it in person and play with the cool mechanical contraption on its side. The public opening is Friday June 7th from 5pm to 7pm at the Trust Education Arts Center, 505/508 Liberty Ave. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 17, 2014 is live

I'm happy to announce that I have a new website:

Maria Mangano

It will serve as my online portfolio, so if you want to look at a gallery of my finished work, read my resume, or show someone pictures of my pieces, it's perfect for that. I'll still be writing here about my thoughts and process, so keep checking back here for a "behind-the-scenes" look at what goes into my art.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New work for 2014 and upcoming exhibitions

I am very happy to share that I will be showing my Locusts installation next month for the opening of Wild Things at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley, PA. There will be an opening reception on Friday, April 4 at 6pm.

I'm also in an upcoming show this summer at S P A C E Gallery about the concept of pattern, curated by Kristen Kovak. I have been working with the theme of window-collision fatalities in birds that live in and migrate through cities and will be expanding on these concepts in this show. Below is a shot of some kinglets:

The idea of exploring window collisions actually started years ago, when I began finding birds that had died or been injured by flying into the glass entryway at my job. Like all dead birds, they seemed tragic and beautiful, and the deaths mysterious and senseless until I read more about why birds don't see glass and windows the same way people do. (If you are interested, FLAP, or the Fatal Light Awareness Project, has a lot of good information.) I had amassed a "collection" of photos of these casualties and produced a large-scale drawing this year as a way of cataloguing their passings and exploring the analogies to misperceptions and tragedies in our own human lives.

The birds are painted with a combination of gouache, watercolor, ink, and graphite, and the finished drawing is roughly 30 by 40 inches.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ripples of Martha in the art world

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, a bird native to the U.S. whose enormous, sky-covering flocks were completely wiped out through a combination of overhunting and habitat loss. The last pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

It seems that many conservationists, artists, and writers have been collaborating and working to mark this centennial with books, projects, and other initiatives to raise awareness of the enormity of this loss and the still-present danger of human-caused extinction. A few links to check out for those interested:

Project Passenger Pigeon - a resource for information, books, and artwork about the Passenger Pigeon

The Lost Bird Project - a film and book project about several species of extinct North American birds

Fold The Flock - an origami-centered initiative to raise awareness about the Passenger Pigeon, tied into the Lost Bird Project

I've worked with Passenger Pigeons as a subject for a few of my pieces, and will actually be involved in a book being published later this year by artist, writer, and collector Errol Fuller. More on that later this year!

Here's a detail of my 2010 project, kapliczek, that features a shrine of Passenger Pigeons installed at the WWII War Memorial near my house.

zaginąć (to disappear without a trace) 

detail of zaginąć (to disappear without a trace) 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Art Car Liftoff on New Year's Eve

My Art Car project debuted on New Year's Eve at Pittsburgh's First Night Parade, and has come to a close! Here are some photos of the cars. (See my previous entries - Part 1 and Part 2 - for more information about how these are made and why I chose to make a car about cranes.)

Each year has a different theme for the parade. This year's was Special Delivery, and each car was introduced with its own banner to emphasize the theme.

First, I had to assemble my cranes, which were stashed in my trunk, and choose their positions on the top of the car. The secret to keeping the cranes upright in their "flight" position was impaling them on short rods of bamboo, which were stuck into braces that we taped to the roof of the car. The braces are in this photo sitting next to the rear tire - basically they're a T-shaped assembly of 2x4s with two holes for the rods to fit into. Two holes, rather than just one, kept the cranes from rotating on their stands (something I didn't think of - this is why it's helpful to have an engineer troubleshoot your designs!).

After the 2x4s had been attached, we put on the slipcover and poked holes in it so that the cranes could sit in their hidden weights.

My friend Kelly Blevins (also an artist - check out her work here) lent me a hand with assembling the cranes and also marched in the parade alongside my car.

Here we are ready to go in front of my car! (I didn't get to march in the parade. I drove the car - very carefully - with the assistance of Kelly and my husband Dave, who spotted me and held those crane puppets.)

There were four other cars as well. Here's Jenn Bechack's deer on a vision quest:

Holy toast:

Don Orkoskey's Dr. Who car, complete with TARDIS:

And an alien spacecraft landing on Earth:

Lastly, here's a picture of the car in the parade, with me inside. 

This was a very fun and unusual opportunity, and I have many people to thank for helping me get this idea off the ground (har) and into reality - Cheryl, the brains behind this operation; everyone who helped out on Art Car weekend, especially Jenn, Sarah, Rose, Karen, and the Pietrusza family; Tirzah, for the intense amount of planning and food-gathering that helped make this a really enjoyable and smooth experience; Kelly and Elena, for marching with me in the parade; and Dave, for his work constructing and assembling the cranes and their support system. Thank you all, and Happy New Year!