Thank you for taking the time to view my artist portfolio. I am primarily a photographer. To see my commercial photography work please visit WDOphoto.com. View my fine art photography portfolio here. What you'll find in this artist portfolio are examples of my non-photographic work as an artist. Those works include my artistic practices as a performance artist and puppeteer as well as links to music that I've created.
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 did almost 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 current residents of the neighborhood which was poised for rapid change as gentrification was coming. 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 was a large-scale musical puppet performance held as part of a larger puppetry event during Weather Permitting 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 they were real, was lost to history but the story was that he was carried in his basket nearly to Pittsburgh in the flood waters. He was then rescued and 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 on 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 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 the Deputy Director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.
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.
Most years I help others build art cars but in 2013 I wanted to honor Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary 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.
(2011) Schmutz Company & The United States of Mind | DOR - In the summer of 2011 we met 4 Romanian theater production students who had traveled to Pittsburgh on J-Visas (work and travel visas). They had been 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 funding.
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. Dave and I were apprehensive and asked if the hosts were sure several times before agreeing. While it was a shocking to the adults in the audience the kids genuinely seemed to enjoy it.