Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rust Belt bloggers Public Art Post: Waffle Shop: A Reality Show

Josh Rubin's contextual art class at CMU struggles to find new and interesting ways to combine "art" and ordinary life. Each Semester, the class has been renting a different storefront in town as a base for an art project. See the projects on the Tent Show site.

The current one seems like a home run combination of yummy food and Reality TV and actually seems like a decent business model(it's CMU!). Of course one can sit there and ask if it's art, but that is hardly the point.

"Waffle Shop: A Reality Show," is truly a working waffle shop, offering plain and chocolate waffles garlanded in whipped cream for $3. But the interior also features a brightly lit photo booth and, at any given time, there might be a discussion being filmed on the week's chosen theme.
I haven't yet experienced this. Waffle Shop is well located next to The Shadow Lounge in East Liberty. Videos of the discussions will eventually be posted on line and are shown in the window.

"As for where this particular idea came from, Rubin says that as with a good waffle, when it comes to art, "We start from scratch. There's no syllabus. We research the area, pay attention to the surrounding culture and what else is going on around us. Students go with ideas -- it's a classroom in the world."
The waffle shop is just the latest version of what Rubin calls the "Tent Show." According to its Web site,, it's "a forum for experimental public projects that respond to the social, physical, and cultural dynamics of specific contexts and audiences." Previously, the class has operated a coffee shop, hodgepodge storefront and taco stand.
East Liberty was an appealing place to explore, Rubin says. The Penn Circle area crumbled decades ago due to a combination of bad luck and bad planning. But today it's re-emerging as a tony shopping district. As a result, Rubin says, the waffle shop is located on the site of "two different ecosystems."
And it draws energy from both. Steve Pham and Jennifer Lin of Shadyside still wore the telltale wristbands from just having danced their faces off at the packed Girl Talk show, the evening's earlier and sweatier entertainment at Club Gravity in Cheswick. What brought them in?"

Posting this a day early and I may post another tomorrow.

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