My artist portfolio outlines the non-photographic artistic projects that I've been a part of. I am primarily a photographer and you can see my commercial photography work at WDOphoto.com. You can also view my fine art photography portfolio here.
This artist portfolio holds a samples of a large body of work I've done as an artist. Those works include my artistic practices as a performance artist and puppeteer as well as links to media which I've created.
As with all of my endeavors my artist portfolio reflects my drive to understand the systems surrounding us, to dismantle or at least call attention to those which bring harm, and to build or support those which bring benefit to people and the planet.
If you have any questions about my art in this portfolio or any of my other work please contact me.
From 2007 until 2015 I was one-half of artist partnership along with Dave English. Together we created, built, and presented far too many projects to count but the most impactful are listed separately below. Dave and I owned and managed an artist residency program in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh called the Garfield Bridge which sought to bring meaningful art to the existing residents of the neighborhood which was poised for rapid change as gentrification was and did come. The residential home where our residency was located was sold to another artist, community activist, and all-around amazing person, Nina Marie Barbuto, who has done far more for the community than we managed to accomplish and was already very active in arts and tech education in the neighborhood through the nonprofit she founded and still directs called Assemble.
In 2015 Dave moved to Charleston SC and though he returned a few years later we had already shut down Schmutz and both moved on with personal projects. Dave is still doing incredible stuff that you can read all about on his website here.
Moses of the Allegheny
(2014) Schmutz Company | Moses of the Allegheny - was the last major production of the Schmutz Company before dissolving the organization. This was a large-scale musical puppet performance held as part of a larger puppetry event at Weather Permitting hosted at Shadyside Nursery.
Moses of the Allegheny told the possibly true story of an infant that survived the horrific and deadly Johnstown Flood of 1889 which was the result of a man-made dam breaking at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, an exclusive retreat for industrialists including the likes of Andrew Carnegie. The members of this wealthy retreat were warned for years that the South Fork Dam needed serious work but they ignored these warnings until it far too late.
The actual name of the child, if he were real, was lost to history but the story was that he was carried through the flood waters in his boat shaped bassinet to Pittsburgh. He was rescued then sold to a man who owned an Oddities shop in downtown Pittsburgh. We do know the Oddities shop existed but could find no information about baby Moses.
You can watch Dave English explain a bit about the performance on Youtube here.
(2012-2014) Schmutz Company & Children's Museum of Pittsburgh | The Makeshop Show - Following a FINE Artist Residency and TEDx performance at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh the Schmutz Company partnered with the museum the create the Makeshop Show. The Makeshop Show partnership saw the production of a website and Youtube channel built around "maker culture" and the museum's own Make Shop. There was an attempt to turn the venture into a PBS show but working with WBGH in Boston failed to produce a needed federal grant that could cover production costs so the project died after the initial funding ran out. That funding was through the Super Spark Grant program, funded by the Grable Foundation through the Sprout Fund (now closed).
I served as a co-creator, producer, director, and editor on the show as well as creating the shows website (no longer available). Many of the shows online episodes are still available here on Youtube. Pictured alongside myself and Dave is Angela Seals who was our co-creator at the museum and all around amazing person. She is now a consultant making seriously amazing things possible in the great state of Colorado.
Doctor Who Art Car
(2013) First Night Parade - For the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who I built a Doctor Who art car for the 2014 First Night Parade. Every New Years Eve the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts a variety of family friendly activities to ring in the New Year. The festivities including a parade that features art cars and puppets organized by artist and puppeteer Cheryl Capezzuti.
For more than 10 years I've help other artists build art cars but in 2013 I wanted to honor the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who's with a Doctor Who themed art car. I built the TARDIS from scratch and painted the drop-cloth that covered the car with a time vortex on both sides and a lot of other Whovian decorations. I found several friends who dressed as Doctors and Doctor Who characters. We had a 4th Doctor, a 5th Doctor, and a 10th Doctor as well as a Casandra and a River Song cosplayer.
The TARDIS featured lights inside of it and I played all sorts of Doctor Who soundbites from the car through an amplifier. This was a very fun build and an even more fun night. I ended up donating the TARDIS to a local candy shop.
I'm a fan of science fiction generally but of Doctor Who specifically because the lead character, the Doctor, is always challenging systems of oppression and asking people to think about things they assume are somehow natural even when they're far from it. The Doctor travels space and time and attempts to heal the universe and I think that's very inspirational.
(2011) Schmutz Company & The United States of Mind | DOR - In the summer of 2011 Dave and I met four Romanian theater production students who had traveled to Pittsburgh on J-Visas (work/travel visas). They were being used and abused by the system that brought them here. The J-Visa program was created during the Cold War to encourage those living close to the Eastern Bloc and communist countries in Asia to travel to the US in order to see how amazing capitalism is. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the program has been turned into a way to exploit inexpensive foreign laborers during the summer.
These four incredible students wrote and we co-produced a performance that was one of the greatest things I've ever been a part of. DOR was hilariously funny, deeply touching, and such an honest and interesting portrayal of their experiences in the US. I managed sound, lighting, and the live-stream of the performance as well as helping with set design, marketing, logistics, and our successful attempts to receive a small bit of funding for the production.
Circus In My Drawers
(2009) Schmutz Company | Circus In My Drawers - written, built, and directed by Dave English. Circus In My Drawers was built around the concept of small circus style vignettes set inside of repurposed dresser drawers. The performance called on and increased my puppetry and performance art skills especially for the role of The Vegan Geek. As the Vegan Geek my character "bit the heads off of" raw vegetables.
This performance was well received by audiences and was my role as the Vegan Geek was specifically invited to perform at the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater Festival.
The entire production was a critique on systems of justice in the US, the racial-social structure, the foster-care system, and the cruelty of circuses towards people and animals.
The history of the freak-show and of geeks in particular was both fun and demanding and the messaging was both thought-provoking and absurd which is a great combination if you want people to listen.