Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If You Live in Cleveland, You Might Want To Check Out This Co Working Space in Ohio City

Say hello to Cowork Cleveland from Cowork Cleveland on Vimeo.

One thing that bothers me about urbanist discussions is that many people feel it's just a lifestyle choice. Many people, particularly the self employed see real economic value in collaborative environments.

Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit Shoreway are becoming great places for small business people and the self employed.

From Freshwater Cleveland

"McDermott and Veysey visited similar coworking spaces in other cities, including Chicago, before they decided to launch Cowork CLE. “This is something that’s become popular in bigger cities,” says McDermott. “We chose Ohio City because it is an artisan neighborhood. We believe our clients are creative, independent artisans who are yearning for a collaborative environment."

The owners of Cowork CLE hope that the space will function as a kind of entrepreneurial incubator. By developing relationships in a shared work environment, their customers will be able to share useful information, help each other grow and eventually even refer business to one another, they say.

“We’re hoping people will make connections,” says McDermott."

You might want to check this place out if you live in Cleveland.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Texas Art Site, Glass Tire Creates Southern California Regional Site

As a New Yorker, The Los Angeles area always struck me more as a brand, masquerading as a city. The one thing they do well is slapping a cohesive mental image on a vast region of disparate parts, none of which alone would warrant such a high level of attention.

Not so surprisingly, the ten year old, famous art website, Glass Tire that did so much to connect and brand the Texas Art community, is creating a spin off site linking Southern California.

Glass Tire: Southern California

The map's tire icons link to art events and stories in each sub region-

Santa Barbara
Santa Monica/Venice
West Hollywood/Midtown
Culver City
Downtown LA
LA -Other
Orange County
San Diego

This is a vast area of 215 miles, between Santa Barbara and San Diego with a travel time of almost 4 hours, much further than the distance between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Wouldn't it be amazing if we thought a bit more regionally. What factor do state borders and old money foundations have in creating artificial distortions? Do people who visit or live in one place know much about what's happening so close by?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nakama Becomes First Major Tenant of the North Side's Garden Theater Block

Jean, was excited that the popular South Side, Japanese restaurant, Nakama would be opening up on the North Side. I was somewhat less, impressed since I assumed they would be locating in the semi dead zone around the stadiums that has hosted a revolving door of sports bars.

Wrong! Nakama, instead will be locating in a gorgeous historic building at the edge of the Mexican War Streets.

From The Tribune Review

"Nakama, the popular Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar on the South Side, will take 5,000 square feet in the Masonic Temple building at North and Reddour Street, said co-developer Craig Totino.

"They are viewed as an anchor for the Federal/North project," said Totino, co-owner of Collaborative Ventures in Mt. Lebanon. The firm and Zukin Development in Philadelphia formed Allegheny City Development Group, the joint venture that's developing the block."

"Our goal is to start construction this summer and take about nine to 12 months," Totino said. "So Nakama should occupy in summer 2013 -- possibly earlier, in the spring."

A delusional, Yinzer myth seems to be that the whole North Side was dragged down by the former porno theater next door.

More about the building.

"Built in 1895 in Romanesque Revival style, the Masonic Hall was originally used as a fraternal meeting house with four separate ground floor storefronts: three along West North Avenue and one along Reddour Street."

Fine--If the government wants to claim credit for the revival of the block, ignoring decades of efforts (see the post about Randyland) by local residents, perhaps they can take some responsibility for the highways and misguided projects like Allegheny Center which did so much harm to The North Side.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Randyland On The Today Show

Sorry, I don't watch much TV aside from a few Steeler's games. This story on Today about the North Side legend is a few years old. I believe it's Randy Gilson's birthday and the Mattress Factory tweeted this.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The old Pittsburgh art blog has a good post with links to a long list of pieces about Randy and his ongoing creation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Who Knew? It's Legal to Hail a Cab and Pittsburgh Transportation Group Wants to Promote it

Why do discussions about increasing urban convenience, vitality and reducing the parking footprint so rarely mention taxis or any other non standard transport like shuttle buses or mini vans? It's driving, big transit (perhaps biking) or nothing.

One look at the Burg told me this had the makings of a great cab city since so many of the key areas of town, The North Shore, The Strip, Downtown and The South Side are so close together. The problem is that it's hard to boost residential and business density in these areas without cabs and it's hard to run cabs without that density. (It's a whole lot harder if the land is hogged by mostly empty stadiums)

A new program by the biggest city cab company, Pittsburgh Transportation Group aims to dedicate at least 15 cars to just these areas.

From The Pittsburgh Business Times

"So here's the solution: Come March, Yellow Cab will roll out a fleet of black and white, newer model cars dedicated exclusively to the greater Golden Triangle Area-Downtown. South Side, North Shore and parts of the Strip District."

An ad campaign promoting the service will use catchy phrases like "What the Hail" and "Hail Yes" to promote the still foreign concept of flagging down a cab on the street here.

Personally, I have a few doubts about the service if it doesn't extend to include a slightly wider area like Bloomfield, The War Streets, the whole Strip District and most of Lawrenceville. Still, I like the thinking here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Creative Clash! How Can Pittsburgh Take It's Tech and Creative Industries to the Next Level? Talk @ Carnegie Museum

This event, which costs $45 tomorrow night seems to be full, so I'm just passing it along.

Thursday, January 26, 2012
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Location: The Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh 15213-4080

Pittsburgh is a city rich with creativity and innovation. Now, how do we take our success to the next level? Heralding the Council’s new Creative Technology Network, and presented in partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Art, Creative Clash! will explore Pittsburgh’s history and future as a key innovator at the intersection of art and technology. Today, industries including design, gaming, filmmaking, advertising, education, fine-art, production, robotics, digital media – and much more – are coalescing to make Pittsburgh home to a thriving creative technology community. Join us, and join the conversation, as we examine what it takes to sustain and grow this exciting community!

Details here.

Gabe Felice Mural in Greensburg

Still getting together my posts from my Greensburg trip. One unexpected highlight was coming across this mural by Greensburg/Pittsburgh artist Gabe Felice. Most of the other murals we came across were pretty tame and historical.

The size, is for a mural pretty small, but this piece is loaded with color and content. I like the way the design works with the structure of the brick surface in a creative, playful way.

It was Sunday, so almost everything was shut down, however the little block, the mural is on, is now home to a few stores, a hipster coffee shop/gallery and Seton Hill's new art studio building.

Gabe Felice Website

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Documentary About Cleveland's Industrial Music Scene City/Ruins: Art in the Face of Industrial Decay

"This is the trailer for the first full length feature by Petrus Filmwork. City/Ruins is a documentary about the Experimental Industrial movement in a city crushed by Industrial collapse. Examining the effects of the mired economy on this underground art community and the art that is produced in it's wake. The story is built around interviews and performance clips of those involved in the scene, intertwined with visual evidence of Industrial decay, via montage of decayed landscapes."

Anyone seen this or know a lot about the scene there? Please comment with more info.

Westmoreland Museum Of American Art Gets an $8 Million Grant From The Richard King Mellon Foundation

Me and Jean drove over to Greensburg to catch the last day of The Tides of Provincetown show. The Westmoreland is really worth the trip and will be getting a whole lot better with a planned museum expansion.

Press Release From The Museum.

"The Westmoreland Museum of American Art has received an $8million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation in support of their capital and endowment campaign. The campaign includes plans for an architecturally significant new wing, renovation of the existing building and a complete re-design of the grounds. The gift is the largest contribution to-date received by the Museum. Of the $8 million, the Foundation indicated that $2 million is to be reserved to shape a challenge to other donors later in the campaign. The fundraising goal of $35 million includes $15 million for construction, $15 million for endowment and $5 million to support Museum operations during the life of the campaign.

Planning for the expansion/renovation was initiated in 2009 in response to the continued growth of the Museum's collections, educational programming, and critically acclaimed exhibitions program. The Museum's 50-plus year old building was also in need of reconfiguration to serve the needs of an art museum operating in the 21st century. The Westmoreland is currently in the design and programming phase of planning"

I will be back to post about the show and my recent trip around Greensburg. A bit of advice, if you can help it, visit on a Weekday or Saturday since the town really shuts down on Sunday. The town itself is a treasure, that only shows hints of what it could be.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Google Will Be Adding 70,000 SF of Space at It's Bakery Square Offices

From The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"The Mountain View, Calif.-based search company has reached a deal with developer Walnut Capital to lease another 70,000 square feet of space at Bakery Square, a $130 million development.

With the decision, Google will occupy about 115,000 square feet of the 250,000-square-foot building. It now has about 45,000 square feet on two floors.

It plans to occupy some of the space later this year and the rest next year. Officials also have been told that with the expansion, Google may have as many as 500people working at the site.

The company approached Bakery Square officials late last year about adding more room and had a lease signed by the end of December"

Yes, they are hiring. follow the link for details.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cleveland News Station Turns Political Corruption Trial Into Puppet Theater

Cleveland is having one of those, do you laugh, cry or shoot yourself moments with a sadly absurd public corruption trial.

With no cameras allowed in court, WOIO Action News has decided to put on little skits based on the day's court transcript.

From Cleveland.Com

"It's entertaining ... it's professionally done, but it's not news," said Randy Reeves, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the executive producer of KOMU, the NBC affiliate in Columbia that is owned by the university. "This is a line I wouldn't cross. The visual distracts from some pretty serious stuff. Even at the end of the newscast, it's puppets. I can't get past that."

A second broadcast professor at Missouri, Barbara Cochran, called the segment "a comic way of dealing with the fact that in 2012, cameras are still barred from federal courtrooms, and the public is denied the opportunity to see for themselves what transpires at a public trial."

TEDx 1000Lakes - Chuck Marohn: Video Shows The Weird Unsustainable Nature Of American Infrastructure

There's a lot of meat here in a fairly short video. Likely will be back with thoughts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ohio DOT Promised Billions in Road and Bridge Construction It Can't Pay For

Anyone concerned about the 15 Trillion dollar reported Federal deficit should know that it's the tip of a much larger iceberg of looming costs most people don't know about.

Remember, the fight over pedestrian access to the brand new Inner Belt Bridge, Cleveland was gonna get? Surprise, it now looks like a new bridge may not be built till 2020 or later even though the current one may have serious structural issues!

Turns out the State transportation folks just wish listed important projects with little knowledge of how they might be paid for.

For years, the state has "over-programmed" for the money available, Wray said. Project commitments total $3.3 billion through 2017, but only $1.6 billion in revenues is projected for construction, he said.

Meanwhile, revenue from federal and state gas taxes has remained flat, while the costs of maintenance and construction have inflated, he said.

He expects disappointment not only in Cleveland but across the state with the draft list.

The West Shoreway project also doesn't fare well. It is not on the funding list, Wray said, despite a concerted appeal from the city of Cleveland for another $21 million.

Expect this to be an ever growing story. Ironically, in many cases, failing infrastructure offers a grand chance for cities to reinvent themselves in more sustainable ways.

Remember that The West Side Highway, in NY and Embarcadero Freeway in San Fransisco were only removed after partial collapses.

The Cleveland Browns Want More City Money For Immediate Stadium Repairs

In most cases tax financed sports stadiums are the gift that keeps on taking.
Known in Cleveland, as the factory of sadness, Browns Stadium might take the cake.

From Cleveland.Com

"Under the complicated proposal, the Browns would get this year's $850,000 plus $5 million from the next six years of repair money drawn from the tax revenue collected countywide on alcohol and tobacco sales and administered by the city. In exchange, the city would not have to make its annual contributions from the tax money to a stadium repair fund for the next six years.

But what happens if additional needs arise during that time? Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson's chief of staff, said the city will consider dipping further into the so-called sin tax money."

The team contends they are fixing the effects of the harsh northern climate. (Hello, who chose to put it that location on the lake front?)

Pack up the truck and get lost, scumbags. IMHO, Cleveland is sort of a great town, it doesn't need this abuse and it could certainly put this piece of land to better use.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Amazing Site, RETROgrapher Maps Pittsburgh's Photographic History

West Carson Street at Fernwood Street Southside

Hoffers Way, Hill District, 1924

Constructing The William Penn Hotel 1915

How did I not know about this amazing resource that posts the exact mapped locations of Historic Pittsburgh Photographs.

How it works?

All of the photographs on the site come from the City Photographer collection hosted and curated by the University of Pittsburgh's Archives Services Center

Retrographer uses Google Maps to make it easy for anybody to geotag these images. This geotag data is sent back to the Archives Services Center to become a permanent part of the archive.

About The Project

Retrographer was started in the Fall of 2010 as a project for the Senior studio Pieces taught by Dylan Vitone at Carnegie Mellon University. The project has evolved and lives on after the class has ended. So far over 5,300 photos have been tagged by people all over Pittsburgh

Retrographer continues to evolve. Check back soon on your smartphone, a mobile app is on the way.

If you have any feedback about Retrographer please email me at dpieri@gmail.com -Dane Pieri

You can really spend lots of time on this site.


All photos on the site seem to be in The Public Domain

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Internet As We Know It Is Threatened

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

The following post is the opinion of John Morris and may not be shared by other contributors to this blog.

As with any other piece of pending legislation, it's hard to get a grasp of specifics. Let's just say, this doesn't look good. The above video gives what looks like the likely chilling effects of this open ended proposed law.

A good article from The NY Times about this.

Most scary is the very shrewd way it will use intimidation against search engines, social media and other websites to get them to censor content. Most people will not know it's happening.

Please learn about and act to stop this.

Good Conversation About Development and Consolidation On Urbanophile

Sorry, I will try to get back to posting more.

Urbanophile has a post up, debating the common assumption that a large number of our regional problems would be solved by combining local and county governments. Insane fragmentation makes it hard to argue against some level of consolidation, but it might have a downside.

The blog's author lived in Indianapolis for many years and is very familiar with the two main examples of "big box", consolidation, Columbus and Indy. He notes that there are few examples of real failure in this model, but perhaps no shining example of success. Sooner or later, one runs out of land to consume and one has to face the work of good design and good government. There's always a county line to to flee across at some point.

But another thing occurs to me. Because Midtown is part of a much larger city, it suffers from the problem of a diffusion of responsibility. That is, it can assume the rest of the city will carry the load in some respects. This manifests itself in a strong anti-development NIMBY contingent that is opposed to urbanization. Any proposed development of any kind is greeted by wailing and teeth-gnashing by opponents, who’ve been known to do things like pull their kids out of school to serve as props at mid-day zoning hearings where commissioners are told neighborhood kids will literally die if new apartments are approved.

I don’t know what the sentiment is in Bexley, but they’ve certainly implemented more actual urbanization than Midtown. I suspect one reason is that Bexley knows it has only its own tax base to rely on. If its residents want to keep quality schools, they can either approve more commercial and intense development, or watch their residential property taxes go up significantly over time. That focuses the mind wonderfully.

So I also hypothesize that in addition to making redevelopment more difficult for reasons of the structure of government, big box government also inculcates an anti-development mindset to a greater degree than small box government.

Also, interesting is that many of the examples of urbanist innovation and success in these regions have come from independent suburbs like Carmel, Indiana and Bexley, Ohio.

The downside is this.

On the downside, it seems almost inevitable that many of these unconsolidated suburbs will turn into complete failed cities, often left ignored and forgotten. There are plenty of beyond dysfunctional suburbs in Chicago just like this. I presume it is similar in places like Pittsburgh. I think it is notable that consolidated cities like Indianapolis and Nashville don’t have any truly failed suburbs. Another benefit of the big box city.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can Cheerleading Go Too Far? Debate On Rust Wire

Seems a bunch of Cleveland area bloggers got together to talk about the pros and cons of civic boosterism. Things got heated and from what I can tell, a bit ugly.

From Rust Wire:

It's always a question, how much one should focus on the positive and ignore the often obvious problems out there?

A long quote from Cleveland blogger, Bridget Callahan:

"On one hand, the Boosters have understood this better than the rest of us. In their social media based world, it is important to stay on message, that’s how all good and effective propaganda works. You pick the message, in this case how awesome Cleveland is, and you pound it into people’s brains ad nauseum until it becomes unacceptable to believe anything else. The Boosters, by and large, are marketing people. They have a product, and they are pushing it. It’s not frank intellectual discussion, it’s not nuanced civic strategy. It is just straight up emotional reaction, and they want you to have it. The world has over and over again proved the effectiveness of propaganda. Most recently, let’s all think back to a certain recent Presidential election that had those Hope posters plastered on every rusty bridge and alley from coast to coast. Hope is not the way you run a government, but it is a way to get people emotionally involved. It breeds a feeling of us versus them, of camaraderie. It is true that lots of Clevelanders feel stupid telling people out of town where they are from. It can’t hurt to seed some civic pride. We’re a fucked up city, but lots of cities are, and the Boosters’ main mission is to convince other young people with expendable income to either move here or stay here because really it isn’t so bad. And for that particular population, it really isn’t so bad. Speaking from that class level, it’s pretty okay here.

( However, when you decide to bully people on their own blogs about their suspected lack of devotion to your message because they point out other people live here too, or when you yell at someone to leave town? That’s trolling. )"

My big problem with many boosters is what they are selling.

The real problem with professional boosters is that they are often promoting the wrong stuff. What their bosses say is good, whatever the latest new fad or project, the foundation and government crowd is chasing. Often, this turns out to be bad stuff. A good example is press stories about a corp or agency "investing" so many million dollars. In the short run, that's certainly great if you are a contractor working on the project (or a politician cutting a ribbon.) Rarely do stories look under the hood at what the long term positives or negatives are.

Cleveland needs boosters as long as they have their eyes open.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

TEDxPittsburgh - Don Carter - 2.4 Million

I will likely be back with some more to say about this thought provoking video. Although, he touches on some great points, I'm perhaps a little less sure, The Sun Belt will become the "Drought Belt". A huge amount of western water is used/wasted by agriculture. Even so, water is a huge asset here.

"Overall, agriculture accounts for 83 percent of all water used in California. It's true that California grows the majority of America's fruits and vegetables, so liberal use of water by its agricultural sector would not be unexpected. However, few people would suspect that growing feed for cattle is the predominant agricultural use of water in California. In 1997, 1.7 million acres of the state were planted to alfalfa alone. Irrigated pasture and hayfields consume more water than any other single crop in California - more than a third of all irrigation water. Together, alfalfa and hay and pasturage account for approximately half of all water used in the state.

The story is similar in other western states. In Colorado, some 25 percent of all water consumed goes to alfalfa crops. 2 In Montana, agriculture takes 97 percent of all water used in the state, and just about the only irrigated crop there is hay and pasture forage; more than 5 million acres in the state are irrigated hay meadows. 3 In Nevada - the most arid state in the country - domestic water use amounted to 9.8 million gallons a day in 1993. By contrast, agriculture used 2.8 billion gallons of water per day. 4 Altogether, agriculture uses 83 percent of Nevada's water 5 - and the major crop is hay for cattle fodder. In Nevada, while cow pastures are flood irrigated, wetlands at wildlife refuges and the state's rivers often go bone-dry."

Water, however is just one of a host of resources wasted in by current patterns in the Sun Belt. Most people also don't realise how vital access to water for manufacturers.

He downplays many of the other assets in the region like our colleges, which are not close to being fully exploited. The term "Tech Belt" seems limiting, but I wouldn't mind the term "Knowledge Belt".

Check it out and share your thoughts. All predictions should be taken with a huge grain of salt. How many people thought a few years ago there would be a natural gas energy boom around here now?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Pittsburgh Sprawl Map and Talk on Urbanophile

Image from Urbanophile (Screen capture from TEDxPittsburgh - Don Carter - 2.4 Million)

Aaron Renn of The Urbanophile blog has a great post up, that includes a graphic display of sprawl in the Pittsburgh region. Also, included is the earlier and even more dramatic picture of sprawl in Buffalo, from a Chuck Banas post on the subject.

Read all the comments, which include many interesting links. Several people point out the map is a bit deceptive since it doesn't compare with the region's peak population of around 2.7-2.8 million reached in the 1960's. Even so, what one sees is a dramatic increase in land use for a population that stayed pretty close to the same.

A few people thought things didn't look that bad relative to sprawl in other regions.

My response:

I would love to see some kind of estimate of infrastructure costs per person. (LOL, since these are “public goods” nobody has likely tried to come up with that number)

My guess is that the Pittsburgh region has to have one of the highest costs. Whatever the relative level of sprawl here, one has to see every small bit of it as very, very expensive.

After, Venice, the Pittsburgh area has the largest number of bridges–over rivers, over hollows, over gorges and across valleys. These don’t come cheap. Add to that, a good number of tunnels.

Of course, that just scratches the surface of the massive environmental impact. Not surprisingly, the area is known for areas of very poor air quality and a flash flood risk from storm drainage problems.

The area also is pretty close to leading in the number of bridges considered substandard.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Washington Post Piece Says Pittsburgh is "in": Trashes Annoying Portland

From The Washington Post:

As a born-and-raised Pittsburgher, I’ll go a step further. Portland, with its elaborate facial hair and abundance of strip clubs, represents irony. Pittsburgh, with its working-class pragmatism, is the opposite: earnest and straightforward. It’s a place where people drink cheap beer and wave their Terrible Towels without self-consciousness. Hipsters take faux working-class attributes —brusque beards, Pabst Blue Ribbon and occupations such as butchery — and integrate them into their lives with an ironic wink and a superiority complex. In Pittsburgh, you can find all of the above, only without the derision and affectation. The natural life span of the hipster has come to an end. What was a lifestyle adopted to make fun of the mainstream has now become the mainstream. There are no more [expletive] hipsters to be looked at (The blog “Look at this [expletive] Hipster” hasn’t been updated since September), and jokes about them — much like every skit on Portlandia — have started to feel a minute or a paragraph too long.

Right, Pittsburghers don't do irony very well. Love it or leave it, it's pretty real around here.

Burgh Diaspora digs deeper into comparing the two cities and points out that Pittsburgh has a large number of assets that are built to last. It dug up this quote about Portland.

Why Portland Sucks And Pittsburgh Does Not

“We’re a small town that does not have a major university, that does not have a major arts school,” Schiff says. “We’re off the map in a number of ways.”

Be back with more thoughts about this.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Don't go back to sleep

Don't go back to sleep, Laurie Trok's solo exhibit, is a presentation of her collage work. The works are assembled from re-purposed materials, from manila folders to magazine pictures. Her approach to collage is complex, with multiple layers and dimension.

If you missed the opening in December, Laurie Trok's solo is having a last showing at 3634 Penn Ave this Friday.

Don't go back to sleep
Laurie Trok
January 6, 6-11PM
Closing Party
Morris Levy Gallery
3634 Penn Avenue

Cool Cleveland Seeking Northeast Ohio Musicians For Videos

No, this is not exactly gonna be a high paying gig, but they do mention a small stipend and "big exposure". You know how this works, if your music stikes the right cord, you could be a viral star.

Wanted: Northeast Ohio Area Musicians

Cool Cleveland is putting together short videos on each of the cool neighborhoods in the region, from C-Town to Y-town, from the Football Hall of Fame to the Rock Hall, from Oberlin College to Lake Erie Wine Country, from Highland Square to the Erie Islands.

If you’re a musician or a band from Northeast Ohio and would like to have your music featured in one of our cool videos, we’re looking for you to help make these mini-movies relevant, energetic and enjoyable. All styles will be considered, especially uptempo. We’re not sure there’s a “Cleveland sound,” but we’re looking for it.

More details here.

On Screen/ In Person Tour Of Independent Filmmakers Accepting Submissions

As you know, a personal peeve of mine is the relative lack of opportunities for local artists to show regionally or nationally. Pittsburghers can attend the Three Rivers Film festival and I'm sure Baltimore, Philly and DC have similar events. But, how many chances are there for someone in Baltimore to see a film by a Pittsburgh filmmaker? Thank god for YouTube!

On Screen/In Person is now accepting submissions for 2012-2013 tour of independent filmmakers!

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation is seeking the best in new independent American film to tour through its On Screen/In Person program.

Selected films will be screened in communities across the mid-Atlantic region accompanied by their respective filmmakers.

Filmmakers collaborate with host sites on the tour to develop community activities, such as Q&As, artist talks, or workshops, among other options, to further engage audiences in the screened work. The Foundation will pay selected filmmakers a stipend for each host site visit, cover all travel and accommodation expenses, and provide a per diem.

Film submissions, including animation, documentaries, experimental and narrative work, are accepted online via Withoutabox. To submit your work or view the filmmaker guidelines, please visit On Screen/In Person at Withoutabox.com.

Deadline for submission: January 20, 2012

See the details here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Surprising Opposition To Historic Districts Grows In San Francisco

Pittsburgh, has very little of the extreme historic zoning they have in San Francisco.

The Times had a great piece about the revolt by many of the people, working to restore classic houses, one might expect to be avid supporters of these laws.

But even compatible plans can be frustrated by burdensome regulations, some property owners said.

“I consider myself a preservationist, and I encourage preservation,” said Robin Levitt, an architect who lives in an 1890s false-front Victorian house in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Mr. Levitt said he abandoned plans to replace rotted staircases on the front of his house because historic preservation requirements were too expensive and time-consuming.

“When regulations make it prohibitive economically to make improvements on your property,” Mr. Levitt said, “it’s over the top for me.”

People tend to assume that giving a building or district historic status, instantly preserves the property. The reality is far more complex. Yes, It will make it hard or impossible to tear down the building--right now. But, unless there is lots of money available, it does nothing to fix or restore it. Often, it places barriers or costs that lead to the ultimate death of the structure.

A personal story, from NY which I believe to be true.

Back in the early nineties, I was involved in a group that put together art exhibits and other performance nights in the upper floor of a old courthouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The area at the time was a mix of historic brownstones, but seeing an influx of many poor immigrants.

A few of the people helping with the music events had dreams of opening a non profit music school in a beautiful abandoned police station across the street. These people loved the building and wanted very much to preserve it. They also, didn't have much money, and needed it to function well as a school.

Here--I found a post with pictures and some history.

From what I heard, a big problem they faced was that landmark status made it impossible to make significant changes to the building. In this case--they needed to remove the jail cells-which didn't exactly fit their needs and made using a large part of the building difficult.

Sadly, in the time since, the building has further deteriorated and now is very likely to be torn down. Amazingly, I later heard about an old police station in the Bronx that went through a similar problem and was torn down.

More Great Links ....Charles"Teenie" Harris Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art

It is wonderful to see one of my favorite photographers Teenie Harris starting to get his due. His composition is amazing, as is his ability to capture the personalities of his subjects. And his contribution to the photographic documentation of American life, is, in my opinion, unequalled. The exhibit of his work at the Carnegie (already previously discussed in this blog), is up through April 7th. This exhibit was at the top of the Post Gazette's list of outstanding exhibits of 2011(the exhibit opened late October, 2011)
NPR recently aired an excellent story about Teenie Harris, The Big Legacy of Charles "Teenie" Harris For the audio, go here
The Post Gazette has added to their series (called "Two Shots")of interviews of individuals photographed by Mr. Harris. These video interviews focus on the memories of specific individuals who were photographed decades ago, either for their portrait, or as part of a Pittsburgh Courier story. Artists, take note of the video of Thaddeus Mosley. For the series go here

Sunday, January 01, 2012

One Town's Video Response To Being Listed as Dying

Somehow, I missed this video which is being listed as one of the best marketing videos of the year--and by a few, the greatest music video of all time.

From Artsblog

On January 11, 2011, Newsweek magazine published a now infamous article titled “America’s Dying Cities.” It crunched U..S census data to list the top-10 cities with 100,000 residents or more that experienced the steepest population decline in the country.

Number 10 on that list was Grand Rapids, MI. But the residents of Grand Rapids were about to prove that the reports of their city’s death were greatly exaggerated.

The video is said to have cost $40,000, all of which came from the local business community but clearly the contributions of thousands of city residents are what make it powerful.