Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Brew House troubled waters

Before I moved to my current spacious, if somewhat marginal, studio, I was creating my work at the Brew House on Pittsburgh's Southside. I was a member for five years. Hmm. Maybe six years. It was a small studio, but it was the first time that I had ever had a studio outside of a spare bedroom. I met some wonderful people there and I still keep in touch with my Barely Brunch partners.

Over the past two weeks, there have been a lot of rumors about the imminent demise of the organization and the disbandment of the artists that reside and work there.

The Brew House organization has been quiet, at least until just now --
On September 4, 2009, The Brew House Association, Inc. (BHA) received a letter from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) citing various code violations that force BHA to vacate its building effective September 19, 2009.

The BHA hopes that this is a temporary setback in what has been a long-term rehabilitation project of a home for artists and arts organizations. “The Board of Directors of the Brew House fully intends to comply with the City and current building codes to create a safe and livable building that can continue serving the City of Pittsburgh for years to come,” states Tim Kaulen, President of the BHA's Board of Directors. From the Brew House site.

To be frank, the building is in horrendous shape. The organization's statement declares that $50k is needed to address the remaining code violations. Maybe. It needs a lot more to make it habitable instead of just a squat. But listen, the artists currently in residence will be completely unhomed without some intervention. I think it's going to take a concerted effort to save this behemoth. Not just what can be raised through individual donations, although that would definitely help. I don't know what the solution will be for this organization or for the property that they are trying to maintain. But if somebody out there has some ideas, maybe you can pass them on to the Executive Director, Andie Sharp. You can reach her at


BSH said...

Wow, what a bummer! I hope this can be overcome.

sus said...

Well, I'm sure that they would welcome any ideas.

bhx said...

Not sure how long you've been out of the Brew House, but the current crop of residents are a very energetic and dedicated group that wants nothing more than to turn the "old" stigma of the Brew House into what its true potential is. Most of us cringe when we hear the word "squat" because the BH is in no way what that word implies. The Brew house is full of professional artist studios and workshops. It is a work space, a live space and a community space. The high quality of work coming out of there also shows the demeanor and professionalism of the artists as well as the importance of the BH as a local arts institution.

sus said...

Everybody that's ever been involved in the Brew House has wanted to "turn the "old" stigma of the Brew House into what its true potential is." Do you think the group that is currently in residence are more talented or energetic than previous tenants?

Frankly, any building that is as distressed as the Brew House is a squat. Smelled any pigeon droppings lately? Until 3 months ago, I was still doing programming there, I really doubt it has improved that much in such a short amount of time.

LVLARTS said...

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Brewhouse for their annual open house. I was very impressed with the studios and people occupying the building. The group of young people there were very positive and talented - I can't wait for them to overcome this little setback as I saw a very large potential in the spaces and people there. I think the key factor here, is that this institution is trying to contribute to the vastly growing arts scene in Pittsburgh - which we desperately need. Most importantly, I hope we can come together as a community to save such an institution from such a demise. I believe they are accepting volunteer help as I know they are working tirelessly to bring the building into good standing. I have many friends there whom have mentioned that volunteer help will be very graciously accepted. Thanks for helping to make others aware.

bhx said...

Instead of artists in PGH debating about why the BH is in the trouble it's in, we should all be coming together to help out fellow artists in need. PGH's art scene is exploding onto a national level, and we should all be nurturing that idea. What's good for one organization is good for us all. Whether it is an organization on the South Side or in Oakland or the West End, we are a small city and need to help each other out to benefit the greater good. Thanks for your support!