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Bottega Art Club is an organization open to all students who have any interest in the realm of visual arts. The club was formed in order to make art more available to all students on campus despite their major or minor. To do so, the events and meetings are based on current gallery events in and around the city of Pittsburgh. Whether it is a gallery opening in the Olin Fine Arts Center or at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh – the Bottega Art Club will be there!
While Washington & Jefferson College only has a whopping 30 art majors, the number of students who are interested in art is exponentially greater. For both art majors and non-art majors, the opportunity to go to various museums is one that is not available through other organizations. Therefore, the openness and activities of Art Club are what make it such an attraction to students. If a student wishes to participate in Art Club, they can contact an existing member or simply show up to one of the monthly meetings. Once one becomes a member of Art Club, they are in for a treat.
The activities sponsored by Art Club include attending a variety of gallery openings, including Performance Art at the Mattress Factory Museum and trips to Washington, D.C. Students’ tickets and transportation are paid for through the school, which makes events more available to all students. Without the worry of expenses, students are free to enjoy art in the company of other art enthusiasts. Students can experience the different points of view not only from other students and professors attending the field trips, but also from the variety of art they come in contact with. The assortment of art one can see with the Art Club ranges from highly political pieces to the classics from the Renaissance era. Through this diverse atmosphere from both peers and art, students are able to get the most out of their career at W&J.
One of the most interesting field trips the Bottega Art Club participates in is the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl. Each October, there is a gallery crawl in the city where all of the galleries are open to the public, free of charge, and new art is displayed for the first time. These galleries consist of all types of art, ranging from sculpture to video to performance pieces; therefore, the crawl is guaranteed to scratch your itch. Most importantly, entering galleries is completely up to the individual. If you peek inside and do not like what you see, you simply don’t enter. It is not mandatory for every student to see every gallery; however, the group must stay together for safety issues.
A recent outing of the Art Club was one to the Mattress Factory Museum in the North Side of Pittsburgh. The current exhibit, called Queloides, is one done by Cuban artists who are oppressed in their homeland and are not allowed to exhibit their art. Quelodies is the Spanish word for Keyloids – or the scar tissue that forms over an injury, yet never quite looks the same. Their coming to the U.S., specifically to Pittsburgh, to exhibit their art is what makes the exhibit so extraordinary. By participating in Art Club, students from W&J can experience this exhibit free of charge. After going to the Mattress Factory to see Queloides, the Art Club returned for a performance piece by Guillermo Gómez-Peña on December 2nd, 2010.
Gómez-Peña is a performance artist as well as educator, activist and writer. He spoke to the audience about the injustices in the world, yet he did so with a unique twist. One of his most influential techniques is to make the audience members uncomfortable, and through their discomfort, expose a number of racial tendencies they may have. By discussing the things that make most people cringe, Gómez-Peña strikes a certain nerve that in turn corrects the wrong doings many people do, without realizing. By experiencing such a radical performance, members of the Art Club left the museum with a new outlook on certain injustices and a better understanding of those who are discriminated against.
First Person Narrative
Based on an interview of Abrianne Rhoad conducted by Joanna Krause
Upon my arrival at Washington & Jefferson College, I knew I had to be involved in the arts, one way or another. I learned about Bottega Art Club through the President, Emily Sciulli, who was ultimately the one who convinced me to join. At first, I was skeptical. I didn’t have the time or resources to be in such a thing as an Art Club, no matter how badly I wanted to. Then, Emily elaborated on the happenings done by Club members. There are no weekly meetings, simply monthly get-togethers to discuss upcoming gallery openings and events. Instead of strict rules and regulations, the conversations were laid back and interesting. I even met some students who would soon become some of my closest friends.
One of my favorite Art Club experiences I have had thus far in my career at W&J was the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl. The whole group went in a school van driven by Professor Patrick Schmidt who is one of the most fun Professors on campus – he even brought his dog, Cooper, downtown with us! Not only was the van ride into the city fun itself, but once we got to the galleries, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to attend such a thing. Instead of the typical stuffy atmosphere one usually runs into when in museums, the crowds were fun and the exhibits were intriguing. One exhibit was made entirely out of candy, including a dress made out of Fruit Roll-ups, with models in the front of the gallery covered in body paint as they struck bizarre poses for the viewers.
I was very surprised at the amount of culture the City of Pittsburgh has to offer, evident in one gallery display that paralleled Pittsburgh’s culture, food, and industries to those of Helsinki, Finland. The similarities were very interesting to see once they were compared side by side, which made the gallery very intriguing.
All in all, I have been pleasantly surprised with Bottega Art Club. It is exactly what I hoped it would be – a group of art lovers like me having a good time. We spent our evening enjoying art without overdoing it, that is to say no critical analysis or pressure to like something.
To become a member of Bottega Art Club, simply email the current President, Joanna Krause, or the Club Advisor, Patrick Schmidt.
Members of Art Club must attend at least one monthly meeting a semester in order to have a spot available for the Club's outings.