Artists explore new Pittsburgh mythologies in Ley Line
June 1-June 30 at Assemble, 5125 Penn Ave. in Garfield.
Pittsburgh, PA … A team of Pittsburgh artists creates a new way of seeing our city in Ley Line, on show at Assemble gallery, 5125 Penn Ave. in Garfield, throughout the month of June. (The show opens with an event 6pm-10pm Fri., June 1, at Assemble, 5125 Penn Ave., Garfield, as part of Penn Avenue Unblurred.)
In Ley Line the artistic team closely examines a line of locations running through the city’s oft-misunderstood South Oakland neighborhood, creating artwork based equally in the area’s natural and built environment, and in its history, memory, and myth.
Conceived of by Justin Hopper, and curated by Hopper and Emily Walley, the team includes: painter Ashley Andrykovitch; artist, architect, and Assemble director Nina Marie Barbuto; music, dance, and video performers David Bernabo and Host Skull; writer Justin Hopper; collage artist Anne Roecklein; photographer Lisa Toboz; and installation artist Emily Walley. Throughout the months of March and April, the Ley Line team walked an imaginary line through South Oakland individually and together. The Assemble show combines the literal and abstract works inspired by these walks into a show that creates a new mythological view of the neighborhood.
Mapping the City with Myth
Ley Line takes a conceptual look at the concrete slabs and bricks of our city, the events they have witnessed, and the people who live within them. Drawing on ideas from such disparate influences as biodiversity science, travel literature, new age spiritualism, and local history, memory and myth, Ley Line is an artistic method of generating a new experience of Pittsburgh.
A stretch of Pittsburgh is denoted, walked, examined, and discussed by a small team of artists working in a variety of media. From this cartographic “core sample,” Ley Line creates a mythological imagining of our city’s soul .
While the works created may draw as much on the artists’ imaginations as on the reality they examine, their essence is of the city. Ley Line is a precedent for a way of walking, viewing, and experiencing the city with new senses – as a place of intangible but definite mythic beauty, where pedestrianism becomes a form of magick, and where past and present, art and science, conflate into the indefatigable urban ritual of living.
The work in Ley Line appears in a variety of media:
Ashley Andrykovitch’s paintings examine the connection between memory and place; Nina Marie Barbuto’s installations draw on the concept of botanical and entymological sampling; David Bernabo and Host Skull’s stop-motion videos include movement performances on location; Hopper’s embedded texts explore poetry associated with places and objects; Anne Roecklein’s collage looks at the myth of the “river”; Lisa Toboz’s photographs lie between architecture and portraiture; and Emily Walley’s installation disrupts the gallery’s space, much like the divide between Oakland’s permanent and transient residents.
All of the artwork in Ley Line is associated with specific locations along the imagined line. By walking through Assemble, visitors take an abstract walk along a map of new mythologies running through Oakland’s imagination.
A Brief History of Ley Lines
The concept of Ley Line is based on a prehistoric phenomenon well known to new-age and pop-archaeology practitioners alike.
In 1921, the British amateur antiquarian and pedestrian Alfred Watkins first identified the concept of the Ley Line in Britain. To Watkins, Leys were the remnants of the paths laid out by ancient Britons—alignments of significant man-made and natural structures that carved out a straight-line path between two or more locations. He believed that the alignment of hillocks and gravesites, churches and ancient footpaths, were the fingerprints remaining of once-sacred sites built and connected to create a network of ancient highways across the island. Over the centuries, he posited, the memory of these sacred sites’ use as track markers was lost, and they became the sites of first pagan, then Christian worship that mark their location today.
Throughout the 20th-century, the concept alternately burned and fizzled in the minds of archaeologists and the popular culture. A key development came with John Michell’s 1969 book The View Over Atlantis—practically a sacred text of the hippie movement—which popularized the idea that Leys were, in fact, earth-energy lines marked out by ancient peoples for mystical use.
For Ley Line, artist-curator Justin Hopper appropriates both of these concepts of the psychic landscape. The ley line that the artists use as their denoted area of study begins at St. Paul Cathedral on Fifth Ave., and runs in a straight line through the former site of Forbes Field, past Andy Warhol’s childhood home, and to the beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary located at Oakland’s cliffside edge, before the line falls down to the former Jones & Laughlin mill and spills into the Monongahela river.
Assemble is a 501(c)3 founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Nina Marie Barbuto in 2011. Our programming includes engaging interactive gallery shows, M3, Learning Parties, artist/maker/technologist talks, and workshops focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Assemble provides activities that foster learning and creativity for kids of all ages at our space in Garfield’s Penn Avenue arts district and at events throughout Pittsburgh.
Assemble is a non-profit founded in 2010, which envisions a diverse community that creates, connects, and learns through the experience of art and technology.
Assemble is an open physical space in an urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We unite artists, technologists, and makers with our neighbors of all demographics. Assemble provides a platform for experiential learning, opening creative processes and building confidence through making.