Monday, May 30, 2011

Big Box Retail In an Urban NY: Can A City Have Both?

This post may irritate many old school New Yorkers and traditional urbanists who decry the growing chain store and large scale retail trends in NYC. These images may dispel the myth that a city can't really have a normal, urban, walkable street grid and attract large scale retail chains.

Not every major chain operates in Manhattan--Costco, Ikea, Target and Walmart are at this time only in the outer boroughs or New Jersey. However, there is at least one major K Mart at Astor place, and chains like Staples, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Marshalls, TJ Max, H&M and Whole Foods are very common in the city. There is even a large Home Depot in a beautiful historic building in the heart of Chelsea. Add to this many locally famous stores with large scale formats like B&H Photo, Pearl Paint, Zabars, Fairway, Utrecht, The Strand Bookstore and ABC Carpet and Home.

A great strength of New York has been to make people and retailers adopt to it's urban nature-love it or leave it. Pittsburgh, currently seems a bit too ecstatic to see any major retail at all in the heart of some it's most critical areas--like East Liberty and downtown. The issue as we see it --is retail or housing or offices. Why not create the kind of dense mixed use buildings which combine many uses like we see in these pictures? Perhaps, then we would need fewer cars to get from one place to another.

P.S. There are no parking garages in the back, under or across the street from these buildings.

When Did New York Become New York? The Street Grid

Many, if not most think New York's huge, deep, wide harbor and early founding ensured it's spot as a great city; but clearly things could have gone quite differently. The cosmopolitan and highly convenient character of at least, Manhattan is the product of a far sighted design-conceived just a little over 200 years ago.

From The New York Times,

"The grid certified by the city’s street commissioners on March 22, 1811, spurred development by establishing seven miles of regular, predictable street access. It also laid the groundwork for nearly 2,000 acres of landfill that would be added to the island over the next two centuries. The commissioners concluded that New York “is to be composed principally of the habitations of men, and that straight-sided and right-angled houses are the most cheap to build and the most convenient to live in.”

The grid, which incorporated some existing roads, would also prove surprisingly resilient. It accommodated motor vehicles (after sidewalks and stoops were pruned). It allowed planners to superimpose Central Park in the 19th century and superblocks like those of Stuyvesant Town and Lincoln Center in the 20th. In the 21st, the grid was extended west to include apartment houses on Riverside Boulevard."

Again--you might consider this a "duh moment"--the grid concept was very ancient, perhaps dating to the very first cities. "The urban grid goes back beyond Hippodamus of Miletus, the Greek urban planner, who, like the street commissioners, viewed the matrix as a manifestation of “the rationality of civilized life.” New York’s grid inspired planners elsewhere. But nowhere, wrote Edward K. Spann, an urban historian, “was the triumph of the grid as decisive as in America’s greatest city.”" Manhattan's long shape and reasonably flat landscape also suggested this layout.

One is struck, walking around Manhattan at just how few times the simple structure of the grid is violated--usually for a very good reason- a large public building like The Central Library; Grand Central Station; the old Penn Station or parks. Even in these cases, almost all these buildings or parks are easily traversed by footpaths.

The grid places the resident's ability to navigate and interact above the needs of the occasional visitor--who can always use public transit. This has limited Manhattan as a location for certain very large research facilities and has restrained the fantasies of architects, but it has provided widest degree of social interaction and the highest degree of convenience to New Yorkers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weapons Of Mass Creation Festival In Cleveland Brings Together Designers, Bands In Free Form Festival

From Freshwater

Equal parts conference, art exhibit and music festival, Weapons of Mass Creation is the brainchild of Jeff Finley, a partner in the Cleveland-based agency Go Media. He launched the gathering last year as a way of uniting the local creative community.

"We want people to come to Weapons of Mass Creation to share their ideas," Finley explains. "Most are designers or work in the industry in some way."

This year's Fest features a line-up of 20 speakers, 20 designers and 20 bands, who will fill the two days and nights with compelling thoughts, images and sounds. Talks will be held at Gordon Square's Reinberger Auditorium, exhibits at Wall Eye Gallery, and bands at Happy Dog.

The WMC Fest website

Where: Cleveland, OH in the Gordon Square Arts District on Detroit Ave.

Admission: $5-$15/day

Reinberger Auditorium
5209 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
NOON-8pm, $10/day

Art/Design Show:
Wall Eye Gallery
5304 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
NOON-8pm, FREE Admission

Happy Dog
5801 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
NOON-11pm, $5/day

Anybody going to or checking this thing out? Really looks amazing.

Stettheimer Doll House, A Great Look At New York's Cosmpolitan Upper Class

The Museum Of the City Of New York is an under visited gem on upper Fifth Ave, which in spite of undergoing renovations offered lots of surprises--and seemingly no opposition to picture taking. I didn't go expecting to run into an artifact attached to one of my new favorite artists-Florine Stettheimer.

"When it became clear that World War I was approaching, the Stettheimers returned to the United States and moved to a house on New York’s Upper West Side. Shortly, their home became the premier New York salon, a center of the city’s artistic and intellectual life. Regular guests of the Stettheimer sisters included artists such as Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and writers and critics, including Henry McBride and Carl Van Vechten. The sisters also regularly threw parties at rented mansions on the New Jersey shore or in the country, taking their friends away from the city for long weekends."

The sisters were wealthy but put their time to good use--the doll house itself being mostly built and furnished by Florine's siter Carrie over 19 years. The second sister, Ettie was the grand conversationalist and a committed writer. Florine herself created paintings filled with imaginative, light, colorful fantasies loosely based on her life. She considered the works to be personal and had wished them destroyed. Not fitting into any obvious style, from the period, they have only in recent years been taken more seriously. A great post about Florine's work.

"In addition to the considerable artistry with which Carrie Stettheimer managed the Stettheimer household, planning imaginative meals including such unlikely dishes as feather soup, she created a replica of the sisters’ home in miniature—a remarkable two story, sixteen-room dollhouse that recreated the Stettheimer’s own imaginatively decorated rooms. Carrie Stettheimer worked on this project for more than twenty-five years, filling the dollhouse with detailed miniature reproductions of period furniture and replica light fixtures and lampshades. She recreated her sisters’ rooms—Ettie’s was painted in bright red and blue and outfitted with Chinese furniture; Florine’s was draped in cellophane and lace. Artist friends made small copies of their paintings and sculptures for the dollhouse including the miniature copy Marcel Duchamp made of his Nude Descending a Staircase. Carrie Stettheimer’s dollhouse is on permanent display at the Museum of the City of New York."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sol LeWitt Mini Outdoor Sculpture Retrospective In City Hall Park

In recent years the city and the various private conservancy groups have put together temporary sculpture and other public art installations in many of New York's private parks--creating often fascinating interactions among a larger group of people who might never go into a museum.

This mini retrospective of Sol Lewitt sculpture is in City Hall Park. The final shots are of the more typical "art world", crowd that was there for the opening where mayor Bloomberg spoke, which I didn't stick around for.

While open space in Manhattan is at an extreme premium, one of the great things is that a good deal of it is available for parks. In Pittsburgh, this would almost certainly be a parking lot.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things to do in the Burgh this Weekend

My own long weekend is going to be close to home, as I have Stella the adorable pitbull staying with me. She is recuperating from ACL sugery. But I will get out some...there's lots to do. In additional to more traditional Memorial Day activities, consider:
Fleeting Pages (Popup Bookstore at old Border's Books site). This is the last weekend...I am not sure when they close, but it is sometime next week.They have tons of books and zines, and lots of talks and activities.This venture has gotten a lot of press, including national press, and deservedly so. For events, look at left side of page here
Movie: Bill Cunningham New York. Will make me sad as I just left NYC after a 5 day visit. But I have been looking forward to this movie for a while. It is about the long time style and event photographer for the NYT.....whose transportation is a bike,and who is still working hard every his early 80s! Because he loves what he does. It appears to be his whole life, and he seems very happy indeed. A review from CP can be found here AND BETTER YET SEE TRAILER HERE
Movie:The Princess of Montpensier. A drama set in 16th century France. Got a nice write up in the NYT,here
The Shadyside Nursery. A new plant and flower nursey has sprouted across from the 5801 Bar/Restaurant. It is near the corner of Elmer and Maryland,as if towards the busway. Nice to see a new small business in the area, and the prices seemed quite reasonable.They don't seem to have a web presence yet.
TONIGHT and Saturday Hip Hop at the Shadow Longue. Artists from DC, Philly and Pittsburgh. Cornell WEst, Crstal Seth, etc. Comes highly recommended so I am going.....tonight,9pm and 12 midnight. More info here

When Did New York Become New York? The Apartment Building

I'm gonna try to do a series of posts about NY-in no particular order many of which will be illustrated with images I took. They are sort of meditations and not fully supported with links--however the general facts are mostly right.

Many, or most would say that New York was destined by history and geography to be a great city--but at various points decisions were made about how land was used; space was organised that affected every aspect of it's history.

Early New York was very much a port and manufacturing city--insanely dense, dirty, overcrowded yet filled with opportunity. In 1857, Central Park was laid out--in what was at the time a fairly remote northern stretch of land. Soon, the elaborate mansions and townhouses of America's richest families, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Whitney, Frick, Duke, lined Fifth and Park Avenues.

Just judging from the ones left, the area must have been very beautiful. Then in a period of often not much more than 20 years, the very wealthy folks who had spent so much cash and care on these homes decided--to tear them down, or in some cases donate them to create museums or schools. The motivation of course, was largely about making more money-not that they needed it. Most could have stayed and resisted the northern progress of the city upward as the subway lines were built-instead they saw the market for a new type of building--the elaborate, elegant building types that line Park and Fifth Ave today, offering a luxuriant but practical lifestyle to a larger group of the aspiring rich and upper class. Similar neighborhoods developed along the upper west side--creating the density to support great shopping streets--and the cosmopolitan, businesslike character we now associate with NY.

In the years afterward, when NY was physically assaulted and undermined by bad planners--this large group of New Yorkers-largely stayed in the city.

Mobile App Unveiled Highlighting Cleveland History

The story on Cleveland.Com

"It also includes "tours" of the city's neighborhoods, industrial areas and historical sites.

"We're trying to curate the city as a living museum," said CSU history professor Mark Tebeau. "Cleveland has such a rich past and we're trying to expose that past layer by layer."

Available videos range from old newsreel footage of the National Air Races at Cleveland Hopkins Airport to a 1930s film clip of Herman Pirchner, owner of the Alpine Village restaurant downtown, setting a world record by carrying 50 steins of beer at one time."

Even more interesting is that this App which connects to videos and oral histories from more than 700 Clevelanders is not just the product of one college, library, museum or institution-though it looks like Cleveland State spearheaded it.

Building content for the new app has been a community-wide project, said Tebeau, noting that teachers across the region, along with students, nonprofits and historical societies have all contributed.

And that mass contribution, said Nancy Proctor, head of mobile strategy and initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is what makes the Cleveland Historical app unique.

Check out the free app on

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Several Posts About New York, History, Transit and Urbanism On The Way

Hope it isn't too annoying to Pittsburgh and Cleveland readers if a bunch of reflections about my trip in NY show up here. My stated goal here was always to not just talk about any one place but create a forum to contrast, compare and learn about all cities both inside and outside the region. Also, this was supposed to be a group blog in which many people are posting about events, opinions and experiences.

New York is sort of the Rosetta Stone of American urbanism, in that at least in part it learned many of the basic rules of being a city and applied them very well.

For starters--one must admit that some part of the city's success as a financial center in recent years has had a lot to do with corrupt, insider political connections and that a large number of it's largest banks should have failed.

Even so the city's dominance in so many fields; finance, insurance, real estate, law, accounting, publishing, film, music, theater, food, fashion, design, journalism architecture, Art, medicine, education, consulting, tourism and it's ability to both evolve and attract new people and regenerate itself over a long period is something few U.S. cities can claim.

BTW, NYC was until fairly recently also a very, very large manufacturing city and is now an important location for technology companies.

Some would say, New York's deep large harbor; solid rock for large scale skyscrapers and early settlement gave it a huge leg up, but clearly something about the way the city formed--the early adoption of a clear simple street grid, investments in transit played a huge role.

I will post some of my thoughts-as someone who knows the city pretty well. Obviously, I see some lessons to be learned in both it's life, and near death experience in the late 20th century.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Answers and Questions About Keith Haring In Pittsburgh: Did He Paint a Bathroom at The Center For the Arts?

From the Keith Haring Archives website.

"...I went to a huge retrospective by Pierre Alechinsky at the Carnegie Museum of Art. It was the first time that I had seen someone who was older and established doing something that was vaguely similar to my little abstract drawings. It gave me this whole new boost of confidence."3

"...I used the library at Carnegie all the time. I was reading a lot. I was really into Dubuffet at the time... the last works that he did were very similar to the little shaped things I was doing...."

The drawings from this time do relate strongly to Dubuffet's late graphic style--which in his case were painted on large sculptures and shaped environments.

Later Haring heard a talk Christo gave in Pittsburgh about his projects that was even more eye opening.

"...The thing I responded to most was [Christo's] belief that art could reach all kinds of people, as opposed to the traditional view, which has art as this elitist thing..."

In the end, Haring's time in Pittsburgh was capped by a solo show at the Pittsburgh Art's and Craft Center-as The Center For The Arts was then known.

Still, I have so many questions. Someone responded on twitter, saying he worked as a janitor at The Center and was actually given permission to paint a bathroom there, which was later painted over. Is this true? Has anyone read Haring's journals? Looks like I should.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jaume Plensa, Echo in New York's Madison Square Park

Well, I'm in NY visiting my mom, trying to reconnect with the art world and generally enjoying the city--which is easy to do without a car here.

One thing NYC really lacks is a formal public sculpture garden of any size. (sorry Socrates Sculpture Park doesn't really qualify)

In recent years the city has really made up for this through a range of permanent and temporary site specific public art projects spread throughout the city.

This is the giant ethereal head, Jaume Plensa placed in Madison Square Park, creating an unreal dreamlike peaceful experience in the heart of the city.

"Clearly, though, more than poetry has gone into “Echo,” his 44-foot-high sculpture of a girl’s head, which was raised in Madison Square Park last week. (With a budget of $620,000, it is the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s costliest project to date.) The work is made from an amalgam of polyester resin, white pigment and marble dust, and its glittering neck rises straight from the grass, creating an otherworldly beacon amid the furor of the Flatiron district."

NY Times article

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keith Haring Show @ NY's Barbara Gladstone Gallery Sheds Light On The Artist's Stay In Pittsburgh

Gladstone's 21st space had a very pleasant surprise. The show was centered around two large Haring drawings from of his mature style (1982)--but the real interesting part was the long tables of notebook drawings dated from 1978 in the period he was an unknown 19 year old "drop out" from the Ivy School of Commercial Art in Pittsburgh and the time he first arrived in New York City.

notes on the margins--

"At the Nexus Cafe/ Pittsburgh 1977"

"The First Drawing At The Mattress Factory"

"January 1978 in Steel City Snowstorm"

"At the laundromat on Atwood again."

"At The Carnegie Museum of Art"

"Study Two-Forbes Field Revisited"

"Bieber Bus Drawing to NY City"

Haring's stay in Pittsburgh was short, but given that his overall growth was so rapid, it looks like a period worthy of a fuller exploration. Don't get me wrong, these works have a value and interest that goes beyond their historical value.

Upon graduation from high school in 1976, Haring enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, a commercial arts school. He soon realized that he had little interest in becoming a commercial graphic artist and, after two semesters, dropped out. While in Pittsburgh, Haring continued to study and work on his own and in 1978 had a solo exhibition of his work at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center.

Keith Haring

Gladstone Gallery

530 West 21st New York

May 4 - July 1, 2011

Update--someone responded with a tweet saying that Haring did a work in a Pittsburgh bathroom that was painted over. Anyone know anything about this?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Milton Glaser Talks About Fear Of Failure

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

This video has been rolling around twitter a lot over the last few days.

By way of background, Milton Glaser is a legendary graphic design innovator but his thoughts about the sources of creative stagnation and why artists must constantly deal with and confront them is likely of value to all.

As this blogger wrote--watch the whole video.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should We Have A Panther Hollow Design Competition?

New York's High Line project took a space that was already there but that was rarely noticed or thought about and used it to transform and add to the way people thought about a whole part of Manhattan.

So, does Pittsburgh have a single space which with potentially small amount of effort and rethinking could be transformed in a huge way? An obvious concept is extending the waterfront parks--but this is already being thought about. Fixing and Allegheny Center is also a transformative project but no easy task.

However, the deep ravine in the center of Oakland is a place where the creation of a few amazing buildings which creatively use the rim, or a series of interesting paths or well who knows--could change the entire way we think about Oakland and all the neighborhoods that border the Hollow. Should Pittsburgh really try to ignore and evade some of the most interesting parts of it's geography in the way it's design does now?

As you can see from these images, soil erosion along large chunks of the rim is creating issues that must be dealt with anyway and soon.

What I have in mind is to hold some kind of design competition allowing an open ended contemplation of any and all ideas people might have for buildings, paths, ecological designs for any and all parts of The Hollow.

My personal guess is that many students at CMU, Pitt or the other schools in Oakland have drawn up an idea or two. Needless to say, this could easily then be tied to an exhibition at The Carnegie Museum Of Art and or The Miller Gallery. The Carnegie and area museums also have many paintings and historic objects that relate to this iconic yet mostly ignored urban space which could provide context.

No guarantee of executing or using any of the designs would be implied but most likely some type of cash prizes would be granted. Public voting on designs might also be considered. Using any of these ideas--would be a separate issue. The goal would be to invite all Pittsburghers and designers from around the world to publicly meditate on this unique space we should think about more.

Editorial in The NY Times About The High Line and What Makes A Great Public Park

The buzz about New York's new High Line Park is promting a large number of cities to think about new copycat projects. Mostly, this is awesome--but most seem to lack an understanding of what makes this space so amazing.

A great public space doesn't create a city- by definition-an urban park is not about just a well designed park--or about a well designed city, but about the sensitive interaction between the two.

"And herein lies the problem. The High Line may be a landscaping project, but a good part of its success is due to its architectural setting, which, like the 12th Arrondissement, is crowded with interesting old and new buildings. The park courses through the meatpacking district and Chelsea, heavily populated, high-energy residential neighborhoods. Very few American cities — and Manhattan is the densest urban area in the country — can offer the same combination of history and density.

In other words, while the High Line’s success may seem to be an instance of “build it and they will come,” in New York, as in Paris, “they” are already there — living in the surrounding neighborhoods, working in the close-packed office buildings, touristing.

Moreover, while the High Line may have become a fashionable distraction for out-of-town visitors, it succeeds because it offers a green outlet to its many neighbors, who, like Parisians, live in small apartments. In no other American city do residents rely so much on communal green space, rather than backyards, for relaxation."

What's so great about the High Line is that it doesn't require new construction--or parking or the tear down of any existing buildings or block a working street grid, yet allows New Yorkers to experience the area in a new way. It adds but doesn't subtract. But this synergistic relationship can't just be brought into existence anywhere.

For example, the promenade isn't just a great park, actively used when a game or major event is happening. It's also not just active when area offices are open or just in the evenings and weekends--when residents and tourists use it. It lives and changes through the day because it's located in a place with many different land uses--in a city well served by public transit.

I will be back with more thoughts about this.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Yorkers Turn Union Square Warhol Statue Into an Evolving Shrine

Just south of Pittsburgh, lies Andy Warhol's actual grave which attracts a steady stream of fairly dedicated fans paying personal tribute--still, something quite different and open ended happened when the new-glam Andy Statue was placed in a central downtown, New York Square for all to respond and add to.

"The statue, which looks a bit like the young Mr. Warhol dipped in silver paint, is fast becoming a favorite downtown attraction. One visitor said she thought it was one of those painted humans who startle tourists in Times Square. She kept waiting for The Andy to move.

For Warholians, a more loyal army of fans, the statue is a shrine. And within days after it appeared, they began adapting the monument in that organic way that is so much a part of the city ethos. One day there was a box of Brillo pads at The Andy’s feet. Last weekend there were cans of Campbell’s tomato soup, including one that had “Andy for President” added to the label."

My earlier post about the statue.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Karen, The Small Press Librarian and Her Boyfriend, Tom Talk About Small Press and Bookstores

Thursday night, Fleeting Pages held a public reading of writers experiences working in bookstores--real writers--who use words beyond great and "awesome" to describe everything. The readings were awesome and hopefully they will be up soon.

A supporter came by to tape the event and do some interviews related to the creation and importance of Fleeting Pages--and bookstores in general.

Here Karen Lillis and her longtime boyfriend Tom who have long experience in all sides of the literary world talk about it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fleeting Pages Founder, Jodi Morrison Talks About Fleeting Pages

Here's a great video taped last night in which Jodi Morrison, the main force behind the East Liberty Pop Up bookstore, Fleeting Pages talks about the store, what it's doing and the motivation behind it.

If you haven't gotten over there yet, you are missing something--actually you should visit as often as you can since the inventory and long list of events continues to grow. Quite literally, almost anything could happen here for as long as it lasts.

No Joke--this is just what's going on tomorrow

12 – 2 pm: Workshop: Making Your Own Zines and Minicomics – by Bill Volk; A crash course on cartoon storytelling, presentation, and basic bookbinding. How to put your words and pictures in print, make them read clearly, and get in touch with others who do the same. Free.

3pm- Workshop- Want to learn how seIf-publishing happens? ‘Publish, Perish or Languish? NOT!’ Three of my self-published titles are in stock at Fleeting Pages: The Alchymical Zoodiac, Stitchburgh, and The Little Sheep Who Couldn’t Sleep. Come and get your signed copy! Everyone welcome!

8pm- Film: the WORLD PREMIER of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE’s 348th movie: “Selectric Piano; Po, Li, Ou; & Anagrammatic Variations” tENT’s friend in Greensboro, NC, Mark Dixon, took an IBM Selectric Typewriter & repurposed it so that typing each key has a one-to-one correspondence to an 88-key keyboard which is played as a result of the typing. This device is called the “Selectric Piano”.

tENT wrote 4 highly abstruse & formally exacting texts that 2 typists
then typed using the Selectric. The combination of these texts + the (M)Usic
their typing produces + the overall claustrophobia of the situation
is quasi-documented in this experimental feature.

A teaser for it can be witnessed here:”Mark Dixon’s Selectric Piano”:

Idora Park Carousel Update

Photo by Brent Burket

Well, the bittersweet moment has come for lovers of one of the last remaining pieces of Youngstown's lost Idora Park.

The wealthy woman who bought the wonderful, historic carousel and painstakingly restored it has finally gotten her wish and is placing it in a concrete and glass pavilion almost under The Brooklyn Bridge.

This should be a happy tale, but partly because the park is so small and needs no further attraction beyond the views of New York and the Brooklyn Bridge itself, many resent this addition--underlying this is a lot of subtext about gentrification. It's all worthy of a book or a documentary.

Here are my two earlier posts about the carousel and Idora Park.

See The Idora Park Carousel in New York

Letter From Youngstown : Can The Idora Park Carousel Return?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Only God Could Hear Me: A Film About Opening Up New Worlds For The Disabled Through Technology

Sorry, I'm not articulate, but this sure looks like a great film which follows four people as their world's are opened up through the use of new technologies and they can finally communicate.

As you can see--It's very much set in Pittsburgh and should also give a peak at many of the great scientists and technologists working on problems like this here.

Starring and narrated by Chris Klein and Jennifer Lowe, 'Only God Could Hear Me' offers a portrait of the lives and souls of "non-speakers," looking beyond just how they communicate, into why they are driven to do so. Follow several AAC users as they navigate the daily challenges of their disabilities. Brought to you by Bruce Baker and Semantic Compaction Systems, the creation story of the "Minspeak" method is told in parallel. Directed by Colin Sanders.

5 Special Screenings:

Sunday, May 15th - 2pm & 7:15pm

Tuesday, May 17th - Thursday, May 19th - 7:15pm

SouthSide Works Cinema

"All proceeds will benefit the Pittsburgh Employment Conference for Augmented Communicators through SHOUT, a western Pennsylvania 501(c)3 organization. The mission of SHOUT is to advocate for full and meaningful employment for people with disabilities who rely on augmentative communication."

Great Calendar Of Events @ Fleeting Pages: Tonight at 7, Bookstore Clerks Who Write About It

Thursday May, 7 – 9pm: Reading – “Bookstore Clerks Who Write About It”

Bookstore clerks, bookstore owners, and former bookstore workers read from their own writings on the bookstore biz, as well as the writings of others. Great indie bookstores represented include: Powell’s Portland and Powell’s Chicago, St Mark’s Bookshop, East Side Books, Jay’s Bookstall, Caliban Books, Awesome Books, Maelstrom Books, Burke’s Book Store, and more.- Free

See the large calendar and growing calendar of events planned at Fleeting Pages this month. Here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The M.C. Escher Show @ Akron Art Museum Breaks Museum Attendance Records & Expectations--Extended Through June 5

From Artdaily
"Surpassing attendance expectations, M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities has drawn record crowds to the Akron Art Museum. As the last of only two venues in the United States to show this once-in-a-lifetime loan from Athens, Greece, Impossible Realities drew visitors from across the country. Escher fans came from as far away as Alaska, California and Washington, with most of the out-of-state visitors hailing from Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Illinois.

Because of its overwhelming popularity, the museum, in an unprecedented move, is extending the exhibition’s closing date. Visitors now have until Sunday, June 5, 2011to examine first-hand the masterworks of Maurits Cornelis Escher before the collection returns to Greece."

We saw this fantastic show on our trip to Cleveland. Due to bad weather and some kind of camera screw up I don't have any exterior shots of the great new museum building--which to a large extent is the main reason we dropped in.

I also thought the Escher show would be great and had some idea the museum's overall collection was worth a look. In total everything was way better than expected.

Escher, is an artist I love but since his primary work is geared towards graphic reproduction, I felt that seeing things in person might be redundant. One can see all this in a book. To some extent this is true. Even so, the show includes some more obscure works you may not know, examples of his process like some 3 D models, cancelled Lithography stones and many working drawings. They also made several large scale models of his impossible architectural constructions that were even more trippy when brought to life. The feeling of stepping into someones head and being surrounded and immersed in their world makes it worth seeing the prints in person.

An even bigger treat was the permanent collection which is heavily tilted towards contemporary art and worthy of a whole other post.

I do wonder exactly why the museum didn't think the show would be that popular. Escher is a huge cult figure, one of the few who's work attracts and influences people who normally pay no attention to art.

Pittsburgh Is Art Day Of Giving Today! Consider The Artist Opportunity Fund Of The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

As You know, Today if you give to a large list of local organizations--using your credit card through The Pittsburgh Gives Site, your donation will be matched with funds from The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Grants to Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council through the site will help support individual artists.

"Funds raised during the Pittsburgh is Art Day of Giving will be directed entirely to GPAC's Artist Opportunity Fund which helps advance the careers of individual artists by providing funds to support specific extraordinary opportunities that have the potential to significantly impact an artist's
work and professional development."

Follow the link to the full list of arts organizations available for matching funds.

Remember, all donations must be through that site and be made Today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pittsburgh is Art Day of Giving - 5.11.11 Make Your Donations To Local Arts Oragnizations Go Further By Donating Tomorrow

The Pittsburgh is Art Day of Giving is a 24-hour donation match campaign and opportunity to increase giving to our thriving arts and culture sector. Initiated by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the Heinz Endowments, it is sponsored by The Pittsburgh Foundation and modeled after their October 2010 Pittsburgh Gives Day of Giving. Other contributing foundations include: Hillman Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, and The Grable Foundation.

The match pool will contain between $475,000-500,000 from The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Hillman Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, The Benedum Foundation and The Grable Foundation. Every organization that receives donations during the match period will receive a portion of the match. The matching dollars will be pro-rated.

Donors will have 24 hours to give. Only credit card gifts through will be eligible for matching funds. No gifts from checks, cash, gift card redemptions, or donor-advised fund grants will be eligible for matching funds.Minimum gift eligible for match: $15

Maximum gift to a single organization: $10,000

Each participating organization is eligible to receive funds with no maximum limit for the organization. Organizations are prohibited from donating to themselves.

Participating organizations will receive pre- and post-event surveys which they must complete and return. Organizations are also required to report gift results including size of donor pool, average gift size, number of new donors, total amount of gifts received from returning donors.

Should have posted and hyped this much earlier--partly I didn't because I wanted to hype the great Kickstarter project by Fleeting Pages (only donations to registered Non Profit Arts Orgs in the region are eligable)

Please remember many of the less known and smaller arts organizations in The region--as well as the larger ones. A few suggestions of some you might not think of.

Future Tenant (not sure why website is down)

Artists Image Resource

The Waffle Shop

The Braddock Carnegie Library Arts Program

City Of Asylum, Pittsburgh

The Manchester Craftman's Guild, Youth and Arts Programs

The Silver Eye Center For Photography

Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival

The Union Project

Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka

The Sprout Fund

The Westmoreland Museum Of Art

Some Images Of Pittsburgh's Panther Hollow

So many things going on and a dozen posts I need to do.

Here are some images of Panther Hollow which I am partly posting because they relate to an idea I have in my head. Without a little context,I could have tried to tell you this was West Virginia. Such a weirdly magical and strangely isolated place in the heart of the city. Pittsburgh often doesn't play this up and make the best us of it's strange geography.

Monday, May 09, 2011

WDUQ's Artists On-Air Series Profiles The Great Pittsburgh Wood Artist, John Metzler

It's right around this time last year when a tragic accident took away one of the most promising and ultimately influential artists in the city.

"Pittsburgh loses lots of trees to development, disease and pests every year and the Urban Tree Forge gives some of the timber a second life as building material, furniture and art. The woodworker John Metzler founded the organization. He was killed in May 2010 by a runaway U-haul trailer as he cut wood outside the Forge. Larkin Page-Jacobs has his artist profile."

See the full story and listen here.

Some Images From Pittsburgh's Shadyside Neighborhood

Depending on where you live in the wider region, these pictures may either interest or bore you. Hopefully, at this point some Clevelander's or other regional residents now read the blog who may not know this beautiful part of Pittsburgh.

My goal is to sort of think of the region as a menu-which many people leave the region or live in without fully looking at. If you live in Pittsburgh and don't know or explore places like Johnstown, Erie, Youngstown, Akron, Canton, Wheeling, Morgantown and Cleveland you don't know all the options available. If seeing how great the South Side or Tremont is causes some people or businesses to move around the region--great. No place is perfect for everyone or everything. The key thing is that people have seen the menu and all the potential the area holds. For the most part, it's likely better you move to Columbus than move to Los Angeles. Of course better awareness of regional assets may also attract new people from outside the area.

Likewise, greater knowledge of what has worked and not worked in various places is of great value.

These shots were taken yesterday in one of the more gorgeous parts of Shadyside and give some idea of the amazing quality of much of the city's housing stock.

I will try to get back with more images of the area as well as other parts of Pittsburgh.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

More Images From Fleeting Pages Pop Up Bookstore In East Liberty

Swung by Fleetingpages again to help Jean install her art. Lots of good news and expanding inventory. The Big Idea, alternative bookstore in Bloomfield now has a section in the store with perhaps 100 titles--most strongly political.

By tomorrow, Bob Ziller will have a selection of titles from Awesome Books in Garfield, which has a very broad selection of fiction, history and art titles. The Fleetingpages inventory has also expanded. My guess is there might now be 1000 titles in the store, which might not sound like much relative to a large bookstore. This however is a significant amount great stuff you are highly unlikely to find elsewhere.

Swing by often as the space evolves and changes. As you can see from the in store calendar, many events are planned--with many more on the way.

FYI Fleeting Pages is still open to new stuff but it must be brought in by May 13.

Images From East Liberty Pop Up Bookstore, Fleeting Pages

Checked out Fleeting Pages yesterday and got some shots of their unique inventory of Books, comics, zines and all kinds of things book and print related.

Right now the selection of several hundred books and magazines trends towards poetry, short stories, off beat fiction,Horror, political non fiction, travel and wonderfully strange and beautiful comics and zines. Also, there's a growing selection of books written by local authors exploring many aspects of local lore, you may not know about.

The inventory is still growing and being put out--You can still bring your stuff over--till May 13! Also, Fleetingpages is still open to ideas for lectures, readings, workshops, film screenings and performance events. Where's Tom Sarver?

Got a screed, a rant, a new set of lovely recipes or tips on growing arugula-bring it over. Also, they are open to a bigger selection of art.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Some Shots of Case Western's Frank Gehry Designed, Peter B Lewis Building

Sort of by the grace of god, Pittsburgh's major college and art museum complex ended up within the city, while Cleveland's ended up right on the city's edge and just across the city line. For the most part, I think the motivation to build a clean, new place away from the dirty industrial core was similar to Pittsburgh's except, in our case, the bulk of really heavy industry was never in the city itself--but outside in the huge complexes along the Mon and Ohio Valleys.

A high percent of visitors to Cleveland spend some time in the area called University Circle, home to or bordering on such major institutions as The Cleveland Clinic, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Botanical Garden, The Children's Museum Of Cleveland, The Cleveland Institute Of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Severance Hall, The Cleveland Institute Of Music and Case Western Reserve University--many of them housed in beautiful and often uniquely designed buildings, some of which are icons of modernist design.

The good aspect of lots of good modernism is it's sensitivity to the landscape--the bad part is often it's total ignorance and insensitivity to human needs and human scale. Architecture must be judged on both the aesthetic value of how it looks, but on the social level of how it works, as a place for people to live and interact.

I can't fully judge, University Circle having spent too little time in and around it in the surrounding neighborhoods. We did walk around Little Italy which is close by.

The area around the museums is windy which obviously works well for cars. However, at least in nice weather, there are wonderfully landscaped wide walkways and lots of maps making it a great place to walk from place to place.

Here are images of the new Peter B Lewis Building, home to Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management. From the exterior, I have a very good impression of this building, although the huge Peter B Lewis name sloping over the front entrance is pretty overwhelming. Would love to have been a fly in some of those design meetings with Gehry.

Images From 2011 Art All Night

Here are some shots I took at this Years Art All Night. Each year, I plan to do a major post, identifying the work and doing a review. This year, I decided just getting the stuff off my camera would be a good goal.

Depending on the space--timing and level of volunteers that come forward, it can sometimes look like this 14 year long Pittsburgh tradition is dying or not worth the effort. This year was a near knockout blow to the pessimists.

I spent about an hour and a half there but should have gone back--there's even a chance I missed an entire area. From what I could tell, a decision was made to put the performers outside the space this year, allowing even more space for art work. It's always a judgement call--clearly this limited bands who need to plug in and kept things more low key and acoustic. IMHO, the amount of new space for artists more than made up for this. Lucky the weather was nice.

One great thing about Art All Night, is seeing the vast amount of great work by artists who don't normally try to show their work. Pittsburgh as a city pumps out many well trained artists, who often don't have time or the mentality to pursue traditional exhibition opportunities. One theme this year seemed to be self portraits. Also many artists grab this chance to make an uncensored political statement or push the limits of humor. The extra space allowed for several good installation type statements like the one from Just Seeds about America's Prison Industrial complex.

Art All Night Website

Deep apologies for not crediting the artists, it was simply way too difficult. You know who you are.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 5//6-7/11.


Unblurred again, already?! Yes. Time is slipping by quickly, and another installment of the monthly art event has come. This month we have a big opening at the Glass Center (5472 Penn), where artists from all over the world are particpating in "10 x 10 x 10". And it will all be hanging "salon style". That means plenty to look at.

Over at Modern Formations (4919 Penn Ave) you can see "Smitten", featuring the work of Shar Yarnal, and "Viral" by Chad Knapik. You can see "digital illustrations" by Jordan Wong at Imagebox (4933 Penn), and a "happening" at the newest Unblurred venue- assemble (5125 Penn). Meanwhile, the Eastside Gallery (6401 Penn Ave) and Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn) both host group shows.


Fleeting Pages, Day 1 starts at 10AM and runs until 9PM. Check out this "pop-up" book store, with all the trimmings, at the former Border's Location in East Liberty. There should be events throughout the day, even if I couldn't find much online information about it.

If you feel like a bit of a drive, head out to Artform Gallery & Tattoo in Lower Burrell (2603 Leechburg Road) for "Through the Looking Glass", a "Global infusion of art & technology". Proprietor Seth Leibowitz promises that this will be a very special show, and has expanded his hours (2PM-11PM) to demonstrate that fact.

I've never been to the Jeffrey Smith Studio (3801 Butler St, Lawrenceville), but apparently the venue is hosting a show of digital landscapes by Noël Kennard from 7-10PM.

Patrick Lee's classically-styled paintings will be on display at the Panza Gallery in Millvale (115 Sedgwick Street). The reception for "Into the Light" runs from 6-9PM.

Great Time To See Work By Pittsburgh Artists, Diane Samuels, Kim Beck and Mary Mazziotti in New York

Mary Mazziotti @ OK Harris

Mazziotti Rooster - 2011
embroidery and applique on textile
50 x 46 in. (127 x 117 cm)

"This series of embroidered and appliquéd textiles is presented as a memento mori for our nation. Each figure is worked in black felt and mounted on a vintage tablecloth that bears the wear and tear of use. They suggest the notion of a great empire, slipping from the strength of her glory years into an inevitable decline."

So sorry I will miss this show which revives the language of naive optimism often associated with early American and Mexican folk art-at the very time so many are questioning our nation's future.

Diane Samuels: A Noisless patient spider @Kim Foster Gallery
April 28 - June 4, 20

"Samuels’ drawing The Odyssey of a patch of street exactingly renders a 21 x 310-feet stretch of scarred asphalt onto a 92 x 33-inch sheet of paper. With the help of a magnifying glass, you discover that the drawing is made from handwriting that word for word transcribes the entire text of Homer’s Odyssey, the epic poem of war and homecoming. The cracked asphalt is the street in front of Samuels’ home. The text winds its way down one side of the sheet of paper returning up the other side, back to her home, and ends with the text’s call to bring a halt to the great leveler, War.

Before beginning to write, Samuels affixed a photo-mask of the street’s crevices and potholes over the paper. After the text was written, she peeled away the mask removing some of the text. Where the text was destroyed, the drawing was created. Accompanying the drawing is an archive of the lost and destroyed memories made from the text-covered photo-masks."

Kim Beck: Space Available on The NY High Line

March 4, 2011 - January, 2012. On rooftops along Washington Street, between West 13th and Gansevoort Streets.

Kim Beck presents three sculptures resembling the skeletal framework behind advertising billboards. These blank forms emulate the abounding indicators of the economic recession, such as empty storefronts and "For Sale" signs. Beck's sculptures have the illusion of depth when viewed from the front, but as visitors move past them, the side views reveal that they are completely flat, cut from perspective drawings and built like theater props.

Play: A Gift To America, Recalls The Mural's Creation @ St. Nicholas Church in Millvale

A play written several years ago about the creation of amazing Maxo Vanka murals will be performed at St. Nicholas Croatian Church, under the murals themselves Tonight through Saturday.

"David Demarest, who taught English literature at Carnegie Mellon University until his retirement, wrote "a dramatic interpretation of the creation of the murals" and titled it "Gift to America." The hour-long work was first staged in St. Nicholas in 1981 and to sold-out audiences in 2008.

"Gift to America" returns to St. Nicholas Church on Wednesday and continues through May 7. A silent auction of two drawings by Mr. Vanka and a poster for an exhibition of his work, and the Thursday performance with cocktail reception, will benefit the Campaign to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and at 8:30 p.m. May 7. The church hall will open one hour prior, and seating will begin a half hour before the performance begins. There is no reserved seating. Tickets are $20 from or 412-394-3353, or $25 at the door. The benefit performance will begin with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by an 8 p.m. performance and dessert reception. Tickets are $75, $80 at the door."

A long quote from Merge who visited the Church with me in 2007.

"Vanka's personal belief in the futility of war and his sadness at seeing his homeland destroyed are made patently obvious through his work. After being commissioned by Father Albert Zagar to paint the murals in 1937, Vanka completed two cycles of paintings (20 altogether)- the first in an eight-week span that spring, and the second group in 1941. The latter works clearly demonstrate his anguish over the war in Europe. He set for himself grueling shifts of up to 16-18 hours a day, and sustained his energy with multiple doses of Coca-Cola. Zagar gave the internationally-renowned artist a freehand to depict whatever imagery he so chose. In doing so, Zagar empowered Vanka to create timeless works mixing secular and spiritual concerns in a manner wholly original.

The content of these murals is truly unforgettable. There are mournful peasants entreating God for support in their difficult struggles in the Croatian countryside. An angel in a gas mask looms over the congregation from high upon one wall. An anguished, crucified Christ separates two war-crazed soldiers. In a similar scene, the Virgin Mary desperately tries her hand at a peaceful resolution. On another wall an industrial robber baron sits at dinner and is served a cleansing course of fiery retribution by a skeletal hand. These are not the placid reassuring scenes of sanctification that a regular churchgoer becomes acclimated to. They challenge the viewer to seek the holy in the most trying of times.

Had these paintings been completed for a museum, they would inspire a constant stream of tourists from all over the world. As it is, they await the few who become aware of their existence through word-of-mouth. Since my initial exposure to them, I have tried periodically to see them again. But it's no use showing up on church property, hoping for the random chance. You must call ahead of time to see the murals. Fortunately the woman in charge of tours is accommodating, and will show you around for nothing but a freely-offered donation. If you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, I am scheduling a group tour for either this coming Monday or Tuesday. Contact me if you want to be included. The experience will leave an indelible mark upon you."

Some images taken by me.

Slideshow from Pittsburgh Quarterly

Maksimilijan Vanka on Wikipedia

Tours of these amazing murals are now offered every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Why Pittsburgh Should Consider A Comprehensive City Plan Like Youngstown 2010

Anyone who digs deep enough into this blog's history will know that my personal views lean Libertarian and I'm deeply doubtful of conventional urban planning. This being said, perhaps what might be worse is the hodgepodge of disconnected--non planning I see in Pittsburgh today-in which the city and authorities like the URA seek to "engage the public" or more often reveal their already made plans.

A few weeks ago, I told you about a sudden series of meetings (or at least sudden to me) open to Oakland residents about neighborhood design--meetings that did not involve people from surrounding neighborhoods like The Upper Hill, East Liberty, Squirrel Hill or Shadyside. Not long before, East Liberty did something similar--again without input from surrounding areas. Likewise, those interested could attend meetings about Pittsburgh transit which were also completely detached from zoning, development and other topics.

Now it's Homewood's turn and as is not unusual, the process starts with a press release handed down from top city officials.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Ricky Burgess today announced a new collaborative designed to bring East Liberty-style growth to the struggling Homewood neighborhood.

Mr. Burgess announced that the city Planning Department will provide $150,000 to the Homewood-Brushton Community Coalition Organization to hire one or more economic development specialists. He said additional funding announcements by the city and Urban Redevelopment Authority will be made in the next week or so.

How exactly, any of these places or plans are supposed to understand issues like service needs, transit planning or parking and traffic without carefully looking at and coordinating on a wider level is never explained. Often, this job is left to a well paid out of town consultant who flies in and dumps off some advice. The end result is a public confused and unaware of the potential and development options that might be available, who rightly feels the process is a waste of their time.

Interestingly, Pittsburgh's nearby although much smaller neighbor, Youngstown has done things very differently by creating a process that got a broad section of the public, to think about the city's past and future.

"In the infant years of the new millennium, the city realized it urgently needed a new vision. Jay Williams was working as the city’s director of community development in 2001 when the planning department sought out the expertise of Youngstown State University (YSU), the leading employer for the city and Williams’s alma mater. YSU had plans in mind for its own growth, but ended up nurturing a rehabilitative partnership with the city. Williams, along with D’Avignon and Anthony Kobak, the current chief city planner, teamed with YSU academics piqued by the research of new urbanists such as Stephen Graham and Ann Markusen. Youngstown came to recognize itself, in the words of Markusen’s theoretical work, not as a “sticky” place —an urban center that continuously draws people (Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City) — but as “slippery” — one where it’s easy for, say, a YSU student to slip into the city, and then slip out due to lack of jobs or housing.

“Our right-sizing plan came out of talks we were having internally acknowledging that although our population wouldn’t be going back to the hundreds of thousands, but that smaller didn’t mean inferior,” says Mayor Williams. “The question we asked was, because we were once so much larger how can we take the remnants of what made us large and build upon that?”

The planning team began to consider a counterintuitive approach to development: rather than grow the city, it should clean and “green” up the unoccupied real estate. They conceived and presented a basic “right-sizing” formula to the Youngstown public, who fleshed out the plan with their ideas and expectations. Or, depending on whom you ask, the planners consulted the public first and then drew up a blueprint for Youngstown 2010.

No matter its genesis, the eventual plan reflected three years of public surveys and town hall meetings aimed at understanding the city’s needs. “Overwhelmingly, people said they wanted the city shrunken, and they were for cleaning up the blighted situations that were causing different variations of decay, crime and abandonment,” Kidd says. Thousands of citizens were consulted, and hundreds of students and professionals logged the process. The plan went into high gear after Williams was elected mayor in 2005. At 34, he was the youngest mayor Youngstown ever elected, and also the first African American — two identity aspects that resonated with college students and the emerging black majority."

Now again, I'm not an expert on what Youngstown did. Some might say, this long series of meetings was useless and didn't get down to specifics. It did however get a large percentage of people to support several general themes--that the city in the short run would have to shrink and that resources should be focused on key areas like the downtown. In the few years, since, the relative lack of acrimony and trouble likely came from these early meetings, where a broad base of people came to understand and buy into a certain way of looking at the city.

In my opinion a process like this in which people could meet, study, talk and speak with experts about major issues on something beyond just a neighborhood level would pay huge dividends over time.

Youngstown 2010

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Cleveland's Playhouse Square: A Model for Economic Vitality--In The Wall Street Journal

In a time when arts organizations all over and Cleveland itself is hurting badly, Cleveland's main theater district thrives as an integrated real estate developer- extracting the value it's own theaters bring and building on it through property development.

"What makes PlayhouseSquare unique is that it not only renovated and manages the performance spaces—including the five historic theaters (the Ohio, the Palace, the State, the Allen and the Hanna) that otherwise would have been bulldozed for parking lots—but it also created a local development corporation that owns more than 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space inhabited by more than 3,000 workers in five buildings; developed the 205-room Wyndham Cleveland Hotel; and manages an additional million square feet of real estate throughout the Cleveland metropolitan area.

Its budget of more than $60 million puts it ahead of the better-endowed Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art. Two-thirds of PlayhouseSquare's annual budget supports the performing arts. One-third is reinvested in its real-estate ventures.

"The real-estate business is a working endowment for the theaters," said Gina Vernaci, vice president of theatricals for PlayhouseSquare. "The stages feed the neighborhood's excitement and vice-versa," she added. "People who work down here now think about PlayhouseSquare as a campus."

Playhouse Square on Wikipedia

A Week of Pittsburgh's Art Scene As Seen By Warhol Director, Eric Shiner In Art In America

Eric Shiner gives us an inside look at Pittsburgh's art scene in Art in America. This guy just doesn't sleep and is determined to not allow his new administrative duties as the new Warhol Director get in the way of his very active interest in engaging artists and curating shows, both inside and outside Pittsburgh. Check it out.

Roving Eye: Flying high In Pittsburgh

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Few Photos of Cleveland's Rock Hall and Downtown Waterfront

I know, these images will not excite most people who have visited Cleveland, since this is one the places they have been. As you can see, the weather was sort of bad and limited our chance to walk around much--Also the Rock Hall itself does not allow photography at all.

You might notice, also, the huge Football Stadium across the way, which is used only about 10-12 times a year, but manages the rest of the time to make a large area, dead and unpleasant. There may be some tiny park there or something but it didn't look worth looking for. This stadium is the gift that keeps on taking, right in an area, Cleveland really needs park and recreational space--or where The Rock Hall might have expanded--perhaps with exiting small scale performance spaces. There was room for both.

The ship in the foreground is a classic Great Lakes iron ore ship now open for tours.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Support Fleeting Pages on Kickstarter

Face it, the economy sucks-almost everywhere, many great causes and art projects need support and we can't help everyone.

Fleeting Pages is a concept that will

A) Make use of an existing empty space in the city--and we know there are still so many of them.

B) Create energy in the city and inspire more building owners to allow more flexible uses.

C) Show off the incredible diversity of writers, self publishers, and Indie Press both inside and outside the region

D) Provide critical income to hard working but unrecognised authors, artists and poets

E) Allow for important interactions between local, regional and national writers, publishers and creators

F) Create opportunities for educational workshops, demonstrations, readings, film screenings and performances.

"In essence, Fleeting Pages consists of taking over (taking back??) one of the spaces, left empty by a failed big box bookstore (Borders) in Pittsburgh, for one month, starting May 7th, and filling it with independent & self-published work of all kinds, book arts, workshops, and events.

All revolving around various forms of written self-expression.

The idea is a result of a few things; a great appreciation for independent and self-published works of all kinds, as well as for those who create them, the toll taken on local booksellers by big box bookstores, a concern for the cultural effects of big box stores in both their existence and their failure, and a general frustration with the model of the publishing industry.

We felt compelled to do something. Fleeting Pages is what we came up with. It will test the theory that what is happening with “books” – creation, consumption, access – matters to many. And if given the opportunity to take over, or take back, one of these empty spaces they will. And in the most brilliant of ways.

The end result, what Fleeting Pages will ultimately become, is a beautiful unknown as it is dependent upon what others are willing to add. The framework is there – the space, the concept, and a few people volunteering to work their hardest in support of the project."

Please consider supporting Fleeting Pages on Kickstarter with a contribution of as little as a dollar