Though it's been a champion of musicians, MySpace.com doesn't provide for the visual arts. That's where Articulate: Pittsburgh Creative Network hopes to pick up the slack. The new nonprofit organization, operated by a group of local gallery owners, provides Pittsburgh artists, galleries and art lovers with a virtual space to network, as well as to show and sell their art. Articulate will also sponsor exhibitions and public-art projects.
"Our primary goal is to market artists and galleries in the Pittsburgh area," says Articulate founder Allison Hoge. Hoge, who also founded Lawrenceville's ASH galleries, seems suited for the job: She earned her bachelor's degree in painting and drawing, while minoring in multimedia technology.
Aside from MySpace, inspirations for Articulate included Philadelphia's Inliquid.com and Texas' Glasstire.com. In Pittsburgh, Grainbag.com, created by artist Michael Leahy, exhibited and sold international art until 2006. Articulate differs from Grainbag in its focus on community-building. The site launches on Sat., April 21, with "Define: Ice (a funky formal)," an exhibition and party at Lawrenceville's Ice House Studios. In addition to art, the launch offers a virtual tour of art-iculate.org, DJs and dancing.
The exhibition, curated by Articulate board member Kyle Ethan Fisher, features installations by 10 art-iculate.org members, all relating to ice. Ashley Brinkman's piece, for example, links ice with childhood. She has created an air-conditioned fort (a tent on a bed, which visitors can crawl into) filled with plush icicles, a TV monitor playing children's videos, and an audio recording of glaciers. Fiona Wilson's project is also interactive: Every visitor to the exhibition will have his or her photo snapped and collaged onto an image of ice-covered Downtown Pittsburgh. In another work, Janine Biunno will show slides of ice sculpture throughout history -- from the kitschy to the simply colossal.
Fisher says the exhibition's interactive nature reflects the goal of Articulate: to promote community-artist interaction. Fisher's tentative theme for Articulate's next exhibition is "robots": "It's appropriate because we are involved with the virtual and mechanical aspects of art."
Meanwhile, Articulate's program "Go Public" promotes art in public spaces. "We're hoping to purchase work directly from artists," Hoge says. "We'll talk to an organization about what kind of thing they're looking for, and find an artist whose work fits that description." Projects at St. Clair Hospital and the Pittsburgh airport are in the works.
So far, the Articulate Web site has about 20 members. It is open to all, though artists must be screened for offensive content or spam. Members can post their work, and receive free access to forums, blogs and reviews. Membership is free. For non-members, the site provides reviews, previews and calendars for local art happenings, as well as local art to view and purchase.
Articulate also offers free digital photography of artists' work at the ArtHouse Resource Center, in Lawrenceville. Artists can make a drop-off appointment, and Articulate staffers will produce images for online and print use. "We're hoping to create a virtual community to help artists succeed," Hoge says, "as well as make Pittsburgh more of a cultural center."
Define: Ice (a funky formal) 8 p.m. Sat., April 21. Ice House Studios, 100 43rd St. No. 110, Lawrenceville. Free. www.art-iculate.org