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Art's Where You Find It

Tire-d Fans, A Reunion and Old Folks At The Mint


If nothing else, Saturday's Continental Tire Bowl provided the city a great service: it gave us the semblance of a nightlife scene on a blustery winter night. Every second person downtown was wearing the bright orange of the University of Virginia, and they all seemed to enjoy what the alcohol companies like to call "having a good time" (see: drinking copiously). I only saw one group of Pitt fans making the rounds (however, they did seem to be making those rounds over and over again, judging by their grins). I'd probably head home too if I was a Pitt Panther fan. Despite being surrounded by Panther artwork all throughout Ericsson Stadium, the team, led by star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, clammed up when it counted.

However, when it didn't count, say, on a meaningless tackle in the second quarter, Pitt players would celebrate like soldiers on D-Day. Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't that what you're supposed to do if you're on defense? That's like me penning a good sentence and then prancing around in front of my cat doing some moves I cribbed from a hip hop video. OK, so that does happen from time to time. You know what I meant.

Just a few years ago, Jolene was the biggest band in town. They were signed to Sire Records after a nice, steady maturing on our local stages, made a music video that played on MTV, and went out on tour. Everybody in town knew them -- metalheads, roots musicians, and alt.rock acts. People didn't know quite as much about the recording industry as they do today, granted, but this was big news. This was a band of our own, and someone wanted them. No one seemed to remember Fetchin Bones' Capitol Records debacle.Fast-forward a few years and some nicely received independent albums and you have Friday's reunion show at The Room. The audience was a captive one, singing and bouncing around like a Pitt Panther player after a meaningless tackle. It was rock, and it was good -- better than I remembered, in fact. Read the labels? Definitely. Just try not to listen to them.

Sunday, faced with a sudden need to kill three hours (I, um, thought the Panthers game started at 1pm), I decided to finally check out the Mint Museum's big exhibit of the year, From Raphael to Monet. Talk about bang for your buck: for the same price you'd shell out to see some local band or buy a Bud Light uptown, a person can see masterworks from the artists above, as well as Manet, Durer, Delacroix, and many others. If you're like me, you tend to think of the past in terms of black and white, thanks to people like Matthew Brady. From Raphael to Monet helps bring history alive, if you'll pardon the rather cliched phrase. As much of this art is rather representational, you get to see that a beautiful sunset looked exactly the same 350 years ago as it does today. You get to see how past generations dealt with the concept of God through the medium of oil paint. And you get to see that yep, men fixated on naked women almost constantly back then, too.

Make sure to poke around the Mint after Monet -- tucked like gems in the museum's collection are some modern-day standout pieces by folks like David Kapp, Chuck Close, Charlotte's Romare Bearden, Edward Hopper, and even Norman Rockwell. No, it's not as subtle, and yes, it's almost infinitely more abstract in composition. However, lacking even photography, the artists in Raphael to Monet were forced to rely on the only real "permanent" visual medium they had: painting.

Too often we look back at the folks that lived in centuries past with an unspoken sense of pity at the times they lived in -- how hard it must have been to survive! As this exhibit so beautifully shows, however, perhaps we're the ones to feel sorry for.

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