DarkSoft presents “Thought-Object Fusion”
7:30 PM19:30

DarkSoft presents “Thought-Object Fusion”

"DarkSoft presents “Thought-Object Fusion”, a meditation on impermanence conveyed via compositions for voice and cello. This work features classical musicianship alongside modern improvisation, with a bend toward experimentation and storytelling. In other words, it’s my (Tara’s) voice - in all its variety - ricocheting above many layers of emphatic, responsive sound.

 Eric Weidenhof (formerly of the Pgh-based group “It It”) draws unconventional sound from the cello. I use a variety of vocal techniques to expand the arc of sound and deliver a loose, personal narration. Sometimes I tell our origin story, sometimes I curse ants. 

I am obsessed with palindromes. I am hoping that my this time my entire set will be a palindrome - and that I will find a way to do that that still allows for sporadic and unplanned moments. 

We have an electronics set up that includes several loopers and several delays - but this music does not drone. I would describe it as active and driving, though not overly loud or harsh.” -Tara Toms

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Kosmo Vinyl Brings his “Cisco Kid vs. Donald Trump”
to May 3

Kosmo Vinyl Brings his “Cisco Kid vs. Donald Trump”

Legendary ‘Clash Man’ Kosmo Vinyl Brings his “Cisco Kid vs. Donald Trump” Art Exhibition to the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination from April 5 – May 3, 2019. First Friday Receptions 7 - 10 pm.

The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination will welcome London-born/New York City-based artist Kosmo Vinyl for the opening of the "Cisco Kid vs. Donald Trump" exhibition. The artist’s reception will take place on Friday, April 5 and showing until Friday, May 3, 2019.

The art project began in June 2016 as an Instagram series, with the artist appropriating 1950s Cisco Kid comic strips by Argentine Jose Luis Salinas and replacing the dialogue in the speech bubbles to reflect on Trump’s seemingly endless calamities. “There are many variants on the 19th-century quote “all bad men need to succeed is for good men to do nothing’,” notes Vinyl. "It may not be much, but I am doing something.” Creative Protest is nothing new for the artist, whose former career started in 1970s London working with seminal British punk band The Clash. Kosmo emigrated to New York City over 30 years ago and eventually retired from music to raise a family. His art career began almost by accident when he started making his own postcards and mailing them to friends.

When then-candidate Trump first announced that Mexican immigrants were drug dealers and rapists, Vinyl’s outrage sparked a brainstorm. “Cisco Kid was a caballero, the Robin Hood of the West. Who is better to defend the good name, not only of Mexicans but all immigrants?”, he thought. The Instagram series was started with the expectation of finishing after the election in November, but when the results came in, he realized people needed Cisco to ride on now more than ever.

He was first asked to exhibit Cisco Kid at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show during New York Armory Week in 2017, he had high-quality pigment prints made and framed for the fair. The installation captured the attention of MoMA PS1 Director, Klaus Biesenbach, and received coverage in Art News, The Inside Report and W Magazine. He then took the show to the belly of the beast, making his Washington D.C. debut at Lost Origins Gallery. The Washington Post wrote: "It’s as though the Clash reunited to challenge Trump, not with songs but with record covers." Since then he also presented Cisco shows in Atlanta and Nashville.

Not all Kosmo’s work is protest art, he had a painting in The Royal Academy’s 250th Summer exhibition curated by Grayson Perry in Piccadilly, London. He also has an exhibition of his soccer related art currently on show at The National Football Museum, in Manchester, England.

On Saturday, April 6, the Center will host an artist talk (with tea) at Noon, as a part of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. The exhibition will continue through May 3.

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Featured Resident Artist: Biko
to May 3

Featured Resident Artist: Biko


January 13, 2005VIEWS » LOCAL VOCAL

above a recent work “Slave Ship”/ Meet Biko during gallery hours & receptions. For a closer view click here)

=A Conversation with Biko 

By Bill O'Driscoll

Biko is an artist and collector of black memorabilia for his Museum of the African's Experience in America. The Hill District native boasts a collection numbering more than 13,000 pieces, everything from slave shackles to mass-produced Serena Williams dolls. Items are displayed at locations including the Homewood YWCA and Homewood's Alma Illery Medical Center. At the North Side's Foreland Street Gallery, an exhibition of his artwork and memorabilia runs through Jan 15.

How did you start collecting?

I've always been influenced by black-related subjects. The museum started with a button I had in 1969. This top picture here is my great-great grandmother, a slave. Below that, real slave shackles. Below that, my mother and father, 1945, when he came back from Germany. In the center of that, that's Biko, 12 or 13 years old, downtown Pittsburgh, G.C. Murphy's, you stick a dollar in you get four pictures. And on that hat, I've got that Black Panther button. And I've got my tam on and trying to look like a Black Panther at 12 years old.

What was one unlikely find?

One time I was up in Ohio and this guy, straight out of Beverly Hillbillies, he's got on coveralls, he's missing a couple teeth, whatever. He goes, "Oh, ain't you that black guy?" And I'm like [glancing at his forearm], "Yeah, I collect black stuff." He says, "I got something you need." In 1976, Jim Beam came out with all these commemorative bottles of whiskey. So he had an unopened bottle of Jim Beam whiskey, with Crispus Attucks on it. He wants 10 bucks for it. Just because I been raised in this, I automatically said, "Man, you won't take eight?" This guy opens it, takes a drink of it, hands it to me, says, "Hell, son, it's still got Beam in it!"

Here's a mechanical bank.

It's called an "Uncle Remus bank." When you touch that chicken, the cop comes around the side of the house and the black guy jumps back in. I tell kids, "When you see this, this was produced by white people, in 1897, to make it look like all black people are going to rob your house, we're thieves." I say, "But when you go home today, if you turn on BET, not 'White Entertainment Television,' you gonna see black people portraying black people as drug dealers, as thieves, as disrespecting black women." And it just blows my mind.

 What's the oldest item whose date you can confirm?

See that slave tag right there? 1841. The man I took my name from, Stephen Biko, he was murdered. He was in South Africa, and he was stopped. He did not have his papers on him. He was arrested. If I didn't have that [tag], and I was walking around in downtown Charleston in 1841, that's my ass.

You have a lot of KKK items.

This right here, 1921, is considered a "lynch pin." Stamped on the back of it are the words "I was there." This represents two brothers that were hung in Kentucky in 1921. If you participate in a lynching, you receive one of these pins. 

All these mammy figurines -- they must have been mass-produced.

It's being reproduced right now.

Who buys it?

Everybody buys it. The Klan is still available. You don't know that? And a lot of black people buy it. Like I'll buy something like that, buy it brand-new, make it look old, and they'll buy it just for the memory. 'Cause for me and a lot of black people, this stuff gives you power. Like if you see this and you know this is the way it used to be.

Are you ever surprised at how people interpret your memorabilia?

There are some serious, serious people that don't like it at all. There is a black guy that I have heard of that goes to these flea markets, he'll buy that cookie jar for hundreds of dollars, and at your table, he'll throw it down and destroy it, 'cause he doesn't think those images should be preserved.


Right next to some rapper dolls, here's your own "Pop Quiz."

You see what it's saying? "What saying do Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre and the slave trader have in common? 'I never hesitate to put a nigger on his back.'" Because of these fools, shit's happening all the time.

Why do talks for school kids?

They don't have anybody exposing them to this. If I can wake some people up, that's what I'm trying to do.

What are your hopes for the museum?

It started as just a dream, and it's still a dream. There's no building that you can go to right now that is the African's experience in America. But one day there'll be.

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"The Art & Zen of Chuck Barr" & Other Self-Taught Artists reception
7:00 PM19:00

"The Art & Zen of Chuck Barr" & Other Self-Taught Artists reception

 “The Art & Zen of Chuck Barr” & Other Self-Taught Artists presented by guest curator Pat McArdle. Opening Reception March 1, 7 - 10 pm.

The “Art & Zen” of Chuck Barr & 12 Other Self-Taught Artists.

Chuck is in his ninetieth year. He has been a musician since the 1950’s. Playing both the saxophone and flute. He has been painting and sculpting since the 1960’s. Chuck Barr is a Pittsburgher This is Chuck’s first-ever Gallery exhibition.

In the second gallery, Artists include: Robert Wright, Emory BIko, Mr. Imagination, Jury Albright, Norman Scott, "Butch Quinn", Helen Bryant, J.J. Burns, Randy Gilson (from Randyland), Inez Hess, Rocco Caniglia, Quinin Jones & Amir Rashid,.

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Exhibition Opening: Futuristic Relics & Motherboards Sacred
7:00 PM19:00

Exhibition Opening: Futuristic Relics & Motherboards Sacred

Artist, Christina Springer

Futuristic Relics & Motherboards Sacred are part of an on-going collection of videos, paintings, ritual objects, textiles, and temple icons which contemplate the future utopia people (Black) will experience by the 31st Century. Through manipulations of space and time, Christina Springer has called into being and manifested relics and artifacts from The Monongahela Territories.  On display will be works which exist due to Memory Transfer Sessions from 31st Century Egunographers & SpiriTechs. This work was made possible in part by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments joint program "Advancing The Black Arts In Pittsburgh," as well as, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Artist Opportunity Grant.


Bio -

Christina Springer is an Alt.Black artist who uses text, performance, video and other visual expressions to communicate what the space between molecules in the air wish for you to know. Most recently, her visual art has been shown at the San Jose Martin Luther King Library, Dayton Visual Art Center, and Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.  Her book, The Splooge Factory is forthcoming from Frayed Edge Press in November. Her most recent theatrical offering, “She Diva Died. & Come Again?” incorporated text, movement, music and video to explore the challenges and joys of raising a Black man.  Cave Canem shaped her voice. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her educational outreach work included four site-specific, mixed-media projects with youth at The Tower Of London. Springer resides in Pittsburgh where she home educates her son.

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to Sep 22

Tarot of the Week with Lavender

Every Saturday 9:30am - 10:30am

Explore Tarot as a map to the Human Body. This class is an integrative self care practice centered each week around a different Tarot theme. Learn musculoskeletal anatomy, self massage, trigger point therapy, energy lines in the body, active and passive movement, mindfulness exercises and more. Mat and Thai acupressure stick provided.

Session Dates:

August 4, 11, 18, 25

September 1, 8, 15, 22

$10-$20 sliding scale

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