Witness ‘The Word of God’ Then Catch ‘Frostbite’ at The Warhol

Spice up your boring holiday routine with the peculiar exhibit of an indescribable artist and a genre-defying cabaret.


Photo from The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance
 

Ah, the cozy embrace of the holiday season. Gathering around the fire with kith and kin, or spending a long evening in an easy chair with a good book. Tranquil family traditions like putting the ornaments on the tree and baking cookies. Solemn, candlelit religious services offering a chance for reflection and peace.

Yup, we need to spice this season up a bit.

The go-to Pittsburgh location for injecting a bit of irreverence and impropriety into anything at all is, obviously, the Warhol Museum. And given the great number of faiths that place importance on this time of year, it’s thoroughly appropriate that the final exhibition in the year-long “The Word of God” series has just opened.

That series has featured the work of five artists, each exploring a different religion through its traditions and texts. With efforts ranging from comic-book representations of Hindu folklore to verses of the Quran scrawled graffiti-style on the side of a truck, to say that these artists have presented new visions of faith is an understatement.

The fifth and ultimate exhibit is by the California native Jeffrey Vallance. You’ll find that most attempts to define Vallance begin with a line or two talking about how difficult it is to complete that task, and apparently this blog will follow in that tradition. In many ways, it seems that Vallance’s life is his work. And while that sounds like a cop-out, his most famous work is probably Blinky the Friendly Hen; the short story of that project is that he bought a dead hen from a supermarket, held an elaborate funeral for it at a nearby pet cemetery, exhumed it a decade later to determine its cause of death, and displayed some of Blinky’s remains in ornate reliquaries.

So that’s why it’s hard to describe what Vallance does.

His contributions to “The Word of God” are slightly more easy to define. As Blinky’s fate would indicate, Vallance has a particular interest in relics; the objects, from the sacred to the mundane, that we hold on to, keep and venerate. The exhibition houses a variety of items in ornate and/or bizarre reliquaries of Vallance’s design; one box will hold religious trinkets that have been anointed with holy oil, the next will store a Dead Kennedys button he bought in Italy. A nearly microscopic strand of Elvis’ hair rests in a gigantic shrine. Patches of sheets slept in by the Beatles, signed and notarized, are on display, not far from four patches of fabric bearing the caption “Souvenir Artist’s Paint Pants.” (They’re his own.)

Also on display are a collection of Bibles and connected works that Vallance has amassed, including his own, “The Gospel According to Jeffrey”; you can pick that one up in the gift shop, if you’re interested. The deluxe version even comes with one of those patches of paint-pant fabric, so you can begin working on your own relics.

It’s tough to describe, but fascinating to look at; nearly every item on display has a long placard explaining its relevance (or lack thereof) to Vallance’s life and work. After a few minutes, you’ll be convinced of the great import and meaning behind a bottle of mousse.

Speaking of things that are tough to describe, make it a full day at the Warhol this Friday and catch “FROSTBITE”, a bizarre and festive performance from Pop Cabaret, the collaboration between the Warhol Museum and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art. Grown out of a performance art class led by Suzie Silver and populated by drama and art majors, the ensemble is presenting their second genre-defying cabaret performance.

No one I spoke with at the museum had any idea exactly what would be contained in the performance, so I’ll leave it to the description offered by the ensemble themselves: “Our jolly exploits include: Wassailing, Furry Animals, Apocalyptic Carols, Sugar Plum Faeries, Evergreen Tragedies, Fruitcake Fantasias, Big Bellies, and much more!”

The one-time only performance is this Friday night, and it’s free with museum admission.

Incidentally, those looking for extra credit are well served at the Warhol. If Vallance’s exhibition has piqued your curiosity about some of Pittsburgh’s holy and not-so-holy sites, you can click here for a “Pittsburgh Pilgrimage” that will take you from home plate at Forbes Field to Andy’s grave and beyond.

Info:
The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance, on display through February 5. 117 Sandusky St, North Side. Tue-Thu and Sat-Sun, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $15, adults; $9, seniors; $8, students and children. Half-price Fridays after 5 p.m. Info: 412/237-8300 or warhol.org.

FROSTBITE, Andy Warhol Museum Theater. Friday, 7 p.m. Free with museum admission. Info: 412/237-8300 or warhol.org/webcalendar/event.aspx?id=5201

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

In its 225th year, the reference book on weather suggests we tune up our snow-removal equipment.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
See How Pittsburgh Chefs Are Giving Back

See How Pittsburgh Chefs Are Giving Back

Some of the city's top chefs and bartenders are organizing events to raise awareness about food waste and hate crimes in our community.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

These comic book shops offer more than just your casual Batman or Spider-Man choices.

Comments


North Shore Hangout Power Rankings

North Shore Hangout Power Rankings

Six picks for your pre-game, post-concert or anytime relaxation on the North Shore, ranked from good to awesome.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Hipsters in Iraq, Cops and Robbers in the Old West

Hipsters in Iraq, Cops and Robbers in the Old West

Reviews of "War Dogs" and "Hell or High Water," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

The store famous for carrying storage and organizational products is set to open at the revamped Block Northway in Ross Township.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

A fall visitation day and a Saturday information session aim to allow interested students a look into life at the university.

Comments