Date: 26th April -16th June, 2019
Location: The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh Arts and Cultural Center, 1635 McFarland Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15216, USA

A new art exhibition opens later this month, which brings together pinball design and a series of iconic figures from popular culture over the past sixty years.

Pinball Famous is a show created by Dan Burfield who has been involved in pinball for the best part of two decades and had previously used assorted pinball elements in his works.

He told Pinball News how he first started using pinball in his designs. He said, “I’ve been in the hobby for almost 20 years but it was the combination of a gallery group show with a pinball-theme and a local restorer giving me a bunch of roached playfields that started me working with pinball and arcade items as my primary medium to art. Then it snowballed and now I have bulk suppliers that use me as their recycle contact. Garbage is by-the-pound here and burning old cabinets is a lot of work so it’s a win-win for everyone. We’re sparing the landfills and giving this beautiful art a second chance.

In his latest exhibition he has taken imagery of musicians, actors and models, as well as renowned fashion brands, compositing and layering them with pinball playfields and artwork.

Dan Burfield's latest show is called Pinball Famous
Dan Burfield’s latest show is called Pinball Famous

Pinball Famous is being shown at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh gallery in Pennsylvania for three weeks, beginning on 26th April with a drinks reception offering the chance to meet Dan and play a The Lord of the Rings pinball brought in for the occasion.

Dan told us how he created the first two pieces last November, after which the gallery director invited him to put on a show there. “The gallery is over 100 feet of wall space so I decided to expand the series to fourteen pieces“, he said.

The pop-art personalities featuring in Dan’s works are: Twiggy, Diana Ross, The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Ziggy Stardust, Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga, Cher, Lost Boys, Valley of the Dolls, Pam Grier, Isabella Rossellini, BVLGARI and Tiffany & Co.

David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust with Lost World cabinet side art
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust with Lost World cabinet side art
The exhibit pieces are three-dimensional
The exhibit pieces are three-dimensional

Pinball News asked Dan how the idea for this style of work developed. He said, “All of my work is ever-evolving. I’ll always incorporate elements from other works. So the concept of pinball art as silhouette backdrops has been present in my work for couple years now. The usage of celebrity icons is fairly new though. I did an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s last summer for my Pinburgh booth and everyone was crazy about it.

Diana Ross matched with a Williams Travel Time
Diana Ross matched with a Williams Travel Time

If Audrey Hepburn had been such a big hit, how did he select the thirteen other celebrities and brands to appear alongside the actress? Dan picked a number of his personal favourites as well as icons who have stood the test of time.

Knowing I was going to need 14 pieces I spent a lot of time browsing the internet and narrowing down celebrities and movies I love. I’m also searching for an image that works best for the style that I want. For instance, the Diana Ross afro silhouette is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I also try to loosely match some inventory. I already had a Cleopatra playfield and Elizabeth Taylor looks amazing in the image I found.”

Elizabeth Taylor 'wearing' a Cleopatra playfield
Elizabeth Taylor ‘wearing’ a Cleopatra playfield

Opening night for Pinball Famous is Friday 26th April at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh Arts & Cultural Center, with the launch party taking place from 6pm until 8pm. Thereafter, the gallery is open from 11am until 5pm Monday to Saturday, and Midday to 4pm on Sunday. Entrance to the exhibition is free.

Dan has a long-standing working relationship with The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, having exhibited there for the past two years.

At Christmas I expanded my catalog there to include smaller gift-based works and made them a nightlights display out of recycled slot machine marquees and a pinball cabinet.

The works in the Pinball Famous show are also available to purchase, but Dan is happy to allay any worries about usable games being destroyed so they can become part of his art pieces.

My philosophy“, he said, “is that everything deserves a second chance and all of my inventory is posted on my website and for sale. The people I work with for my supply have parted out machines for restoration. Occasionally I get playfields in top notch condition. In those cases I’m only framing and adding lights. They can always go back into a working machine.

If you can’t make it to experience Pinball Famous during its seven-week run, there are other opportunities to see Dan’s work. He has a charity event at Penn State University, New Kensington Campus on July 14th featuring an art auction and some of his lighted playfields. You can also see his work on Instagram, Facebook and on his TiltCycle website.

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