Over the last 100 years, the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh has boasted among its members talent such as Andy Warhol, Mary Cassatt and Henry Koerner. It has helped launch careers, while enabling the Pittsburgh community to experience the vision of some of its most creative and gifted citizens.
In celebration of its centennial, the AAP — the largest and oldest continuously exhibiting member artist organization in the country — is hosting a series of more than 70 exhibitions and events in galleries and museums throughout the Pittsburgh region.
As part of this celebration, 12 Jewish members of the AAP will be exhibiting their work at a special show opening at the American Jewish Museum at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill on Aug. 3.
“We’re thrilled to be part of the celebration,” said Melissa Hiller, director of the American Jewish Museum, noting that the JCC provides an accessible and welcoming venue for showcasing the artists.
“It’s a great place for high visibility,” Hiller said. “We have free admission, and we’re open almost 100 hours a week. The show will provide an opportunity for people who use this facility to live with the artwork. And, we have such a diverse population [at the JCC], that the art will really reach the whole community.”
The art showcased at the JCC exhibit, which will consist wholly of two-dimensional pieces, is “really diverse,” Hiller said. “It’s really interesting, and is a good example of the work done by AAP artists. It’s a nice, vibrant selection of work.”
Artists included in the exhibit are Zivi Aviraz, Rochelle Blumenfeld, Rita Green, Jane Haskell, Helen Naimark, Donald Robinson, Louise Silk, Judy Sphar, Jack Weiss, Susan Winicour, Essie Garfinkel and Lila Hirsch Brody. The opening of the show coincides with the beginning session of the popular JCC art class that has been taught by Brody for over 35 years.
“There are people that have been with her [Brody] for 30 years,” said Aviraz, who helped organize the show, and who was taught to paint by Brody over 30 years ago.
“They come and they stay,” Brody said.
“I’m a professional now, but I still go to her class,” Aviraz said. “I have a corner of her class that’s my studio. Being in a group of artists, it’s a great thing. At home, you work alone. It’s pretty boring.”
Brody, at age 75, remains enthused about the Pittsburgh arts community, her own contributions to that community, and the AAP. She is the only artist of the 12 exhibiting at the JCC to be selected to also exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art in honor of the AAP’s centennial. That exhibit, which opened last week, runs through Sept. 19.
“I feel really proud to be part of the Pittsburgh arts community, as well as Associated Artists,” Brody said. Two of her pieces were chosen out of more than 600 submitted for the Carnegie show. Those pieces are Giclee prints, digitally re-mastered reproductions on canvas of her sculpted roses. The pieces are large, measuring 80 inches by 24 inches.
The AAP has a long history with the Carnegie, having held annual shows there almost every year since the group’s inception. It is the only artist organization in the United States that shows its members’ work at a national museum.
Brody says she is proud to have shown her work at the Carnegie five or six times over the last several years.
“This is what we all aspire to — to hang in a museum,” she said.
“I’m thrilled to do what I’m doing,” she continued. “Art is something you discover every day. The journey never ends. I feel blessed. I have a calling coming from inside that just says ‘do it.’”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com)