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Picking favorites from local art galleries

“Identity Play,” Pittsburgh Society of Artists offer worthy-of-attention works

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Bibiana Suárez’s Memoria at SPACE Gallery - CP PHOTO BY LISA CUNNINGHAM
  • CP photo by Lisa Cunningham
  • Bibiana Suárez’s Memoria at SPACE Gallery

It’s difficult trying to pick just one favorite piece from an art show. Art is subjective. It’s personal. Hell, if we love something, we often have no way of knowing if we’re enjoying it the way the artist intended.

But I don’t think it matters, if it makes us happy. So, I checked out two local gallery shows and chose favorite pieces.

The first comes from Identity Play, a show that largely uses images from childhood to address more complicated themes and uncertainties. The second is a group gallery show from the Pittsburgh Society of Artists. This annual, non-juried “Artist’s Choice Exhibition” invited every member to submit one piece. The only theme tying everything together is these people love what they do.

I wish I could have picked more than one.

IDENTITY PLAY

At first, the feeling is joy. Memory! An extra-large version of the game you loved as a kid: 54 pairs of cards fill two walls in Memoria, matches turned right-side up on a table. You start to play. There’s an El Gallo. Where’s the second Speedy Gonzales? Then you look closer and realize the cards each represent something from Latino culture. On the unturned cards, a pattern that artist Bibiana Suárez created using names and slurs for Latinos, including the racist “wetback” and others. The fun ends. How hard is it to remember how much the Latino community has contributed to this country? The game turns into a lesson — an incredibly artistic and beautiful lesson, but a lesson, nonetheless — that’s hard to forget.

Through Aug. 19. SPACE Gallery, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. spacepittsburgh.org

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Bernie Pintar’s Ann Marie at Brew House Association Gallery - CP PHOTO BY LISA CUNNINGHAM
  • CP photo by Lisa Cunningham
  • Bernie Pintar’s Ann Marie at Brew House Association Gallery

PITTSBURGH SOCIETY OF ARTISTS ARTIST’S CHOICE EXHIBITION

There’s a lot of nudity in this exhibit, so the pink brushstrokes of Ann Marie’s nipples stood out, but they weren’t shocking. It was the greens and blues in the background that kept turning my head. The strokes dancing behind her as Bernie Pintar’s oil-painted lady confidently stands still. Does she not care if anyone’s looking at her? Or maybe it’s boredom? Her blue eye shadow hints that while completely nude and exposed, she has secrets still to be discovered. Added plus: The $1,000,000 price tag made me laugh.

11 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, or by appointment, through Aug. 3. Brew House Association Gallery, 711 S. 21st St., South Side. brewhousearts.org

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