art is popping up

A spot of vacant Uptown space now provides an encounter with art. The temporary Pop Up Gallery is at 659 Washington Road, next to La Pomponnee on the first floor of the Mt. Lebanon North Parking Garage, through Saturday June 17. Admission is free.

Mt. Lebanon alumna Kelly Brown, who recently moved back to Mt. Lebanon after living in France for 15 years, conceived the idea. She added Mt. Lebanon alumnus Andy Mays and Mt. Lebanon resident Deborah Holtschlag to the planning. “The missing link was the high school,” says Brown.

Gallery organizer Kelly Brown

Brown had heard great things about high school art teacher Jennifer Rodriguez, who has a reputation of going above and beyond for students. Rodriguez invited Brown to come to the high school art show in the spring and select students for the pop up gallery. That’s when she selected three juniors from the AP art class: Hannah Wu, Duncan Chamberlin and Paulina Braverman. “I wanted to take high school students and mentor them by having them work with professional artists in a professional setting. I wanted them to have the ability to evolve and experience the inner workings of what it is like to put a professional show together so that people other than their family and friends can see their work,” says Brown.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Brown, who lives on Forest Glen Drive, graduated with Mays in 1986. She wasn’t an art major and never even took an art class. She has been a dancer since she was three years old but started painting in 2000.

High school students Paulina Braverman (left) and Hannah Wu (right) flank high school teacher Jennifer Rodriguez.

“I’m an intuitive artist and I consider myself an experiment. I use my body, sense of depth, form and shape to be able to paint,” Brown says. Brown finds her blinded art the most rewarding. After being separated from her husband for eight months, she would paint blind instead of journaling. “There’s something about the subconscious when it comes to painting blind,” says Brown. Brown shared the technique at an open house for the gallery at the exhibit’s opening at the June First Friday. Hoping they gain some inspiration by the rest of the art in the gallery. Brown’s favorite piece is ‘Blue and Gold Unveiling’. She hopes people read the descriptions of each painting because she researched each piece and each painting has a story. “I hope to open people’s eyes and to show the talent in our own backyard while supporting local artists.

Mays, who has been painting since third grade at Washington School, was excited to help Brown and to do something for the high school students. He has been painting professionally for 27 years and likes painting portraits and oil paintings. “Beauty and soul is the inspiration behind my art,” says Mays. One of his favorite pieces is ‘Nana’ done in the style of South Carolina Gullah. “The process of thinking before beginning a painting and the imagination behind the whole thing is my favorite part,” says Mays. Mays doesn’t contemplate what other people think when it comes to his work. “I am doing this work for myself not necessarily anyone else. If you take into consideration what everyone else thinks, you take away its purity,” says Mays. Mays plans to buy one of Wu’s pieces called ‘Enshrined Cage of Masks’.

Holtschlag is an Associated Artist of Pittsburgh member who has been painting five days a week for the last five or so years. Holtschlag returned to college at age 44 to get a fine arts degree at Chatham University. “When I’m painting I am calm, happy and in a good place. When I’m making art I lose track of time and it is almost like meditation,” says Holtschlag. Her favorite things to paint are 2-D oil portraits and big groups of people and teenagers. Her favorite piece, called ‘Peer Pressure,’ is a group portrait. Holtschlag believes there are two views to every painting, what the author or creator views about a piece and what the reader or viewer sees as the meaning behind a painting. “I don’t have a specific agenda or message I just want people to draw their own conclusions,” says Holtschlag. When working on group portraits, she focuses on rhythm, composition and color rather than a specific message. “There is something about the first day of working on a painting when it is all new and the possibilities are endless,” says Holtschlag.

Wu’s work

Wu, Chamberlin and Braverman just completed junior year in the AP art class at the High School. Wu has been painting for more than a decade. “I am inspired by everything and I’m trying to master every medium and every concept,” Wu says. Her art is based on world history, music and people. Wu doesn’t make art to focus on a specific thing but likes to research before creating a piece. Her favorite pieces are her miniatures when you first walk in the gallery. “I hope people learn to appreciate art because it’s such an important part of history and everyday life. I hope they appreciate art and not just see it as something hanging on the wall,” says Wu.

Chamberlin who has been drawing and painting since he was a kid, only started making detailed sculptures and 3-D art this year. Making detailed sculptures and using polymer clay is his preferred method. Chamberlin hopes to get his name out there and get a good start up for not only the rest of his school, but life. “This experience is a good tool to take me wherever I’m going and hopefully opens doors, including those that lead to college,” says Chamberlin. His favorite piece, ‘Man and Horse,’ is the first piece he made this year. “Finding out what I was capable of is what makes this piece special,” says Chamberlin. The other kids in Chamberlin’s AP Art class give him inspiration. “It’s definitely a competitive environment,” says Chamberlin. The idea behind his art is truly self-expression. “I hope they take a little piece of me with them after seeing my art,” says Chamberlin.

Braverman has been making art since she was a kid and her favorite part of the process is the very first day of starting a piece. This is when the idea is the fresh in her head and has her excited. “My art is personal and an outlet. It’s things I feel I can’t say in front of other people and things that make me feel vulnerable,” says Braverman. Before this year she never planned to pursue art. “People are now looking at my art and I feel like people are looking at parts of me I don’t necessarily like to share. Being recognized is great honor and has me thinking about pursuing art now,” she says. The more personal the subject matter the more she is into making that piece. Braverman hopes people get some kind of feeling from her art, whether it’s aesthetically or conceptually pleasing.

Images by George Mendel