Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2 - Day 4, Pittsburgh

Day 4: Pittsburgh

An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.

It ain't the heat, it's the humility.

Breakfast complimentary at the hotel, at least they understand that fresh fruit means something other than oranges and apples, yet also appear to be banana-deficient. We’re back behind the Berlin wall, circa 1975.

Pictures: Yayoi Kusama (aka, polka-dot lady), shoes must be removed before entering (arghhhhhhhhh), DB in Memento-Mori display (note blurriness is due to operator error), and a great pairing of Duchampian art in the Warhol museum and lastly, in homage to Louise Bourgeois who died this week, one of her sculptures in downtown Pittsburgh.

And, we’ve hit the moment you’ve all been waiting for, a visit to the Andy Warhol museum, cleverly placed between the Priory Hotel and PNC Ballpark. Imagine that! And, as some of you clever folks have figured out, half of the quote-sters dynamic duo.

And, this is the bonus round, the major show at the museum is a pairing of Duchamp and Warhol. Unbelievable, the guy that invented almost every major movement in modern art in the 20th century, paired with the guy that merged it with commercialism, totally leveraging off Duchamp as he went his glum, uncheerful way.

The show is called the Twisted Pair, and it turns out they knew each other and so there is lots of memorabilia with two together (there can’t be a lot of art together, Marcel was rather stingy when it came to actually making art).

Two hours and not enough time to absorb it all; the Warhol “interviews” require way more stamina and attentive wakefulness than any human possesses. Walk across one of the 41 bridges into town to have unique sandwich at Au Bon Pain (how can that be? Somehow they have a very good spicy tuna on the menu). Two sandwiches and excellent ice tea to mix with the lemonade: $18.

Book review (repeat): Calvin Tompkins bio of Duchamp. Skip the first chapter (or slog through it) and read a fascinating tale of the guy. Highly recommended!

In the afternoon, we visit the Mattress Factory museum where we get to see some of our Japanese favorites, James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama (“pumpkin” lady from Naoshima) mixed in with other installations including one where the artist built a tunnel from the fourth floor through to the third and then out the wall into thin air outside the museum. The room to the fourth floor tunnel entrance was locked, or we might have a Being John Malkovich accident or two.

The MFM has a second building open, entrance is down the street and in the front room you have to go around a giant blown up orange mouse head, tied down like a circus tent. As you head upstairs, the banisters are really troughs with hot water (we’re told it gets even hotter later in the day) running along so as you hold on your fingertips get wet.

Dinner at 11 on 11th. Part of a chain that runs a number of restaurants in the area. Very good dinners, we order the veggie tasting menu and the fish/meat tasting menu and share. Lots of asparagus in various forms (grilled, with cheese, in pasta), tuna tartare, grilled salmon, lamb with polenta (AND asparagus), and over-the-top desserts of molten chocolate cake and peanut butter swirl ice cream and cookies. One wine pairing and a levenade (cocktail) and glass of sauvignon blanc; with sin tax (extra on alcohol to keep the city from going broke) and tip, $190.

Best news: last night the restaurant had to close at 7:30 because of electrical power problems that set off the sprinklers in the kitchen. Tonight the thunderstorms are delaying the Pirates game for over 2.5 hours (sounds familiar). Thank goodness we didn’t do dinner and baseball in reverse order.


  1. Well, when it comes to cereal, a banana is still better than an orange! Banana only a road option, never at home