Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 7/1-2/11.

c. David Grim (taken 6/29/11)

I completely forgot that June only had 30 days. Did I ever really know that? Anyway, Unblurred pops up abruptly this weekend.


Ariela Steif apparently makes large sculptures which she will unveil at Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn Avenue), along with her drawings. Meanwhile Ashley Andrykovitch returns to the walk at Imagebox with a new series of paintings. And it looks like the figures in her work have sprouted flesh! Tommy Bones appears at Studio 5013 (you can figure out the address for this venue). Seth Liebowitz (proprietor of Artform Tattoo and Gallery in Lower Burrell) and Katie Moran come together for a show at Most Wanted Fine Art (5015 PENN).

Eat food, get a drink, do yoga, take a dance class, etc. Unblurred has it all.

And the latest feature at "Blurred" (Dean Cercone's inversion of First Friday) is Seth LeDonne. You don't have to wander far from the other galleries to visit, either. The space is located at 4810 Penn.


Full disclosure requires that I disclose my revulsion for the Three Rivers Regatta and its crowds. BUT I'm a bit tormented by the fact that there are indeed a couple of attractions this year which interest me (and no, the inevitably lame Jimmy Buffett cover band is not among them). This year "World Champion Sand Sculptor" Thomas Koet is creating a mystery work, AND a small acrobatic troupe (Circus Orange) from Canada will be appearing. Of course these enticements don't make up for the lost bastion at the point... but I try to support any form of creative public amusement, especially when it's a bit odd.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heads Up: Pittsburgh Zine Fair, Coming This Summer Is Looking For Vendors

Info on this is still developing. Website just went up.

They are also looking for people to help plan and market the fair and holding regular meetings.

Pittsburgh Zine Fair is being held for the first time-ever in summer of 2011. Exact date and location will be announced soon!

Email if you would like to be a vendor and/or if you want to receive updates!

Tabling at the Pittsburgh Zine Fair

If you would like to participate as a vendor at the fair email and include the following information:

■Your name
■The name of your zine(s)
■A short description of your zine(s)

Cost to sign-up as a vendor is $10, this money will go toward covering costs of the fair.


On Facebook

Images From Pittsburgh Anthrocon, 2011

Here's a sample of the shots I took around this years Anthrocon Convention, which I missed last year. It seemed bigger and from what I heard they were very short of hotel space.

I'm not sure if the shots capture it, but the total level of creativity and invention seemed higher with a larger number of purely invented characters and creatures.

My impression is that this has gone somewhat more mainstream with a smaller percent of people fitting the geek stereotypes and large number of folks who-um, look cute without a fur suite if you know what I mean.

There was also more obviously hand crafted gear, which often showed even more expressiveness.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Construction In Pittsburgh Uncovers It's Historical Past

Archaeology magazine has a long article about the huge mass of artifacts uncovered while building, PPG Place, PNC Park, and Three PNC Plaza all of which give a much better picture of the city in the 19th Century. Possessions of prominent citizens like General William J. Robinson, The first mayor of Allegheny City and his wife as well as many of it's poor, middle and working class have been found. Remember, Downtown was in the early days very densely populated.

Both, PNC Park and The New Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh prominently display the historic artifacts found during their construction.

A real must read--with a big copyright mark on it-so I'm not making direct quotes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pittsburgh, Superhero Block Party: Fantasy, Furries, Performances Downtown

Each year the Furry Fest gets better and more creative as the city embraces it.

From The Toonseum Website

Two of downtown’s most eclectic and innovative nonprofit arts organizations are teaming up to bring you a day of superhero-themed activities for the whole family!

Parents and kids aged 6-12 will enjoy a host of activities, including a Superman sound effects workshop, make-your-own superhero costumes, outdoor jazz, free comic books, and a special matinee performance of Midnight Radio: Superhero Edition!

All activities are located on the 900 block of Liberty Avenue downtown.

Activity Schedule

(Participants may attend any or all events.)

12-8pm ToonSeum : Superheroes: Icons & Origins Exhibit

12-1:30pm August Wilson Center: Family Reading Series: John Henry Storytelling & Folklore

12-1:30pm Bricolage: Make your own mask Activity

12-8pm Musicians Courtyard: Make your own cape Activity

12-8pm ToonSeum: Make your own logo Activity

2-3:30 Bricolage: Midnight Radio Superhero Edition! Live Theatre Performance

4pm Bricolage: Superman Sound Effects Interactive Workshop

Afternoon, August Wilson Center: Courtyard Jazz

Time TBD: Live Music

TBD, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership: Cookies & Comics Free stuff.


Friday, June 24, 2011

More Shots Of Immigrant NYC



Here are a few more shots I took in NYC of the incredibly diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

I didn't go out of my way to get these. Sorry if the shots are "stereotypical" in any way--most photography, edits the world according to what the photographer wants to show. While places like this are very common in Brooklyn and Queens, there are also many places in which the ethnic shifts are far more subtle. Not all new immigrants are "poor", and many like South Asians have often live in more suburban type neighborhoods. Not everyone is shopping or living in an "ethnic" neighborhood.

Another thing these pictures hint at is the vast network of underground and below the radar jobs-from street vending, to gypsy cabs, childcare, landscaping and contracting that help employ so many.

One more point--Yes NYC, is growing-but obviously with influxes like this, very large numbers of people must be leaving-or the population would have gone up 400%. No place is perfect for everyone and New York has done so well by continuing to attract new people. Perhaps we can attract some of these folks-or the people who are leaving, or some other group who will find what we have right for them.

Cleveland's Large Factory Buildings Have Dynamic Collaborative Potential

To many it sounds dumb-but I wanted to see Cleveland cause it had a lot of large underused or empty factory buildings. Freshwater gives a good idea of the kind of creative ecosystems that can emerge just by throwing lots of diverse people and small businesses in one space where they can easily interact.

it takes a village: a redevelopment story for the ages

It starts with the sad story of another Cleveland business, which packed up and left for the suburbs (likely for a huge scale single floor factory) leaving one million square feet of empty space on Cleveland's east side.

Since that time, however, Tyler has been reborn as a thriving entrepreneurial district -- a bona fide urban village on the fringes of downtown. Each day 420 employees and 350 students come to learn and work at this village's two schools and 50-odd businesses. Toss in a coffee shop, peaceful green spaces, and a truly collaborative spirit and you've got one of the most unique redevelopment projects going.

So far they have been shocked by the demand as people seek them out-looking for just that kind of flexible, yet communal environment.

"Despite the fact that it is located 40 blocks east of Public Square, and comprised of little more than bricks, steel, concrete and glass, Tyler feels like its own little neighborhood. Employees grab their morning coffee from Pulley's Café, which is located in donated space and staffed by employees from another tenant, Solutions at Work. When one company at long last secured a recycling Dumpster from the city, he chose to locate it not at his loading dock but in a common area. New tenants make a point of buying their office furniture not online, but at APG, the on-site showroom."

Cleveland has several other similar buildings I know of--all of which are seeing solid demand.

The Tower Press Building
78th Street Studios

Pittsburgh: Grey Market curated by Josh Tonies @Fe Gallery Opens Tonight

"Fe Arts Gallery is delighted to feature local and national artists who challenge notions of value. A Grey market enables person-to-person exchanges, like Craigslist and eBay, where individuals can negotiate value. With the proliferation of artist run spaces, the gallery has expanded to include alternate modes of distribution and exchange. Each artist in this exhibition speaks to various facets of this phenomenon.

Jim Kidd is the artist in residence in Transformazium’s screen printing shop. Transformazium is a collective emphasizing the neighborhood as a center for production of innovative ideas, collective action and public health. Kidd’s work challenges the archive by presenting a collection of objects and images that reassign historical value. Evoking nostalgia, Brianna Rigg reassigns cultural value through artistic composites of familiar objects. Chad Gordon’s work conceptually and figuratively juxtaposes the aesthetic of ubiquitous glossy magazines with his own reinterpretation that engages the global market economy. Questioning the concept of value altogether, Edgar Um Bucholtz presents an installation, using video of a burning car from a "Eurosleaze" cult film in dialogue with wall text."

FE Gallery non profit art space is one of the more important venues in the city series of great shows and events.

This Friday, Artist, Josh Tonies, who is on the west coast getting an MFA, returns to curate this show-which gives another peak at an artist connected to North Braddock's Transformazium.

Fe Arts Gallery
4102 Butler St. Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Opening Reception:
Friday, June 24, 2011

Exhibition runs June 24 - August 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York City Asian Population Tops A Million: Images From Flushing Queens

From The New York Times

"Not so long ago, the phrase “New York’s Chinatown” meant one thing: a district in Lower Manhattan near Canal Street. Now it could refer to as many as six heavily Chinese enclaves around the city

Koreatown was well known as a commercial zone in Midtown Manhattan, but now parts of Flushing, Queens, where tens of thousands of Koreans have moved, feel like suburban Seoul. The city has spawned neighborhoods with nicknames like Little Bangladesh, Little Pakistan, Little Manila and Little Tokyo.

Asians, a group more commonly associated with the West Coast, are surging in New York, where they have long been eclipsed in the city’s kaleidoscopic racial and ethnic mix. For the first time, according to census figures released in April, their numbers have topped one million — nearly 1 in 8 New Yorkers — which is more than the Asian population in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined."

This area, Flushing, Queens is one the city's emerging ethnic downtowns dominated primarily by a huge Taiwanese/Chinese community and the largest Korean population in the city. Flushing, which is not far from Laguardia Airport, now has many offices and hotels.

As you can see from the images-this is a place of considerable wealth and dynamism.

Under Bloomberg, transit and bus hubs are being rezoned to encourage the development of alternate, business districts to encourage more two way commuting. Although this trend has been going on naturally for a long time.

If you never leave Manhattan, You really don't know New York.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Great Migration In Reverse: African Americans Return To The South

While New York's population is growing, attracting a vast global elite, and still surging immigrant populations, on some deep level the city has failed as a place most of it's working middle class residents either can or increasingly want to deal with.

Many, particularly in the far flung semi suburban areas that make up large parts of Brooklyn, Queens and even more so New Jersey and Long Island are packing it in and heading south--including, now several of my relatives, who also now live in the Charlotte area.

No group seems to be making this choice more than it's black middle and working class.

For New Life, Blacks in City Head to South

Spencer Crew, a history professor at George Mason University who was the curator of a prominent exhibit on the Great Migration at the Smithsonian Institution, said the current exodus from New York stemmed largely from tough economic times. New York is increasingly unaffordable, and blacks see more opportunities in the South.

The South now represents the potential for achievement for black New Yorkers in a way it had not before, Professor Crew said. At the same time, unionized civil service jobs that once drew thousands of blacks to the city are becoming more scarce.

“New York has lost some of its cachet for black people,” Professor Crew said. “During the Great Migration, blacks went north because you could find work if you were willing to hustle. But today, there is less of a struggle to survive in the South than in New York. Many blacks also have emotional and spiritual roots in the South. It is like returning home.”

This is part of a much larger emerging trend strongly impacting the former Rust Belt worthy of a series of posts.

Chicago -- Fewer Blacks in City Could Affect the Politics

Blacks leaving major cities for life in the suburban South

Study Finds African Americans Leaving Cleveland

The Herbert & Dorothy Vogel Collection: 50 Works For Ohio @ The Akron Art Museum

50 Works For Ohio

By now, you may have heard of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, the postal worker and librarian who managed mostly through sheer dedication, sacrifice and sincere enthusiasm managed to amass one of the country's most important collections of Contemporary art.

The remarkable story of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel has become the stuff of lore. He a postal clerk, she a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, who decided shortly after they married in 1962, to live on Dorothy's salary and to devote Herb's to purchasing art. Together they purchased thousands of artworks, cramming their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment floor to ceiling with art.

Though the couple’s initial exposure to many artists was through gallery shows, they rarely purchased art from dealers. Instead, when they became interested in an artist’s work, they visited the artist studio and bought directly from him. They typically only purchased objects they could take with them on the spot.

The Vogel Collection has been characterized as unique among collections of contemporary art, both for the character and breadth of the objects and for the individuals who created it. When the Vogels began collecting in the early 1960s, their focus on drawing was an unusual one, suggesting another aspect of their foresight. Many drawings in the collection represent an artist’s initial form of an idea and others act as plans to be followed by a collaborator in the making of a work of art.

Part of the trick behind their collecting was that they rarely had to pay full gallery prices for anything--because they often bought from artist's whose work was being ignored or under appreciated. It's actually hard to know just how little the Vogels had to pay for anything since many artists just won't say. Quite often they were just given things for showing any interest at all.

Another "trick" was that both artists and galleries wanted them to own works, since they never sold them-even as they became so valuable.

Now, a large part of their collection has been distributed to museums across the country through an agreement with The National Gallery which gave one institution in each of the 50 states, 50 works from the collection.

The Herbert & Dorothy Vogel Collection: 50 Works For Ohio
June 18, 2011 - October 16, 2011

The Akron Museum Of Art

Monday, June 20, 2011

Open Call New York Urban Design Competition

OK, I just came accross this and I'm actually not too sure what this exactly about.It looks too awesome to ignore and I had to post about it.

Submissions due July 14

"Urban Design Week is a new public festival created
to engage New Yorkers in the fascinating and complex issues of the public realm, and to celebrate the streetscapes, sidewalks, and public spaces at the
heart of city life. Through an open-call ideas competition and a rich roster of discussions, tours, screenings, workshops, and events across the five boroughs, UDW will highlight the fact that cities are made by collective effort, and that each of us can play a part."

Near As I can tell this is an open call to any designer, artist, architect or urbanist with an idea to respond to a particular "NY Challenge"

The challenges themselves are the product of public input--

"Wouldn't it be great if...."

Some challenges are vague-but others are specific concepts-an urbanist, or person with more specific knowledge might flesh out.

A Random Sample

#117 Wouldn’t it be great if...It was actually feasible to get through the crazy intersections in front of Lincoln Center

#585 Wouldn’t it be great if...86th street was closed off to cars and had a light rail running across town.

#473 Wouldn’t it be great if...Flatbush had a green and social center

#306 Wouldn’t it be great if...there were bike commuter depots.

#538 Wouldn’t it be great if...highway underpasses had light installations-slash-pigeon repellers

#455 Wouldn’t it be great if...all that unused (or underused) land underneath the Williamsburg Bridge (Manhattan side) could be put to some productive or recreational use??

#456 Wouldn’t it be great if...building owners had more incentive to convert their rooftops into landscaped spaces, thereby reducing heat island gain and creating more open space for their residents?

#466 Wouldn’t it be great if...people and buildings didn't have to leave all of their garbage on the street in giant piles of bags, and instead had recycling and waste receptacles at the ends of the streets like they do in Europe?

#432 Wouldn’t it be great if...we used more of the old armories around the city for arts and cultural activities, like the one on Park avenue.

By the City / For the City

Calling all Designers: New Yorkers shared hundreds of ways that they think the city’s public realm could be designed to make it smarter, more beautiful and livable, and now we’re asking architects, designers, artists, and urbanists to respond to their challenge!

Now it’s your turn: Look through 500+ ideas we received, define your site, and apply your design skills to give visual form those ideas.

Together, all of these ideas – from citizens and designers alike – will be form a collective portrait of how we imagine the future, a crowdsourced testament to the ingenuity the many people who love this city. All of the submissions will be gathered in the Atlas of Possibility for the Future of New York, an exhibition and book that we’ll launch at this September’s first-ever Urban Design Week.

Check out all the details and ideas here

Pittsburgh, Show Off Your Gardens On Steeltown Anthem

No, we don't have a High Line--but unlike New Yorkers many of us have a little slice of paradise in our backyard, alleyway, hillside or community garden down the block.

Steeltown Anthem wants pictures to post!

It’s summertime! I feel like here in Pittsburgh we wait all year for the couple months where we can grill outside, play in the park, swim and take long bike rides. In the past I have had people ask me if I would consider posting people’s gardens and I thought now is the perfect time! This isn’t limited to just your backyard, you can also submit public gardens as well!

How to submit:
1. Send me a photo or photos of your garden (.JPG files)
2. Include your first name and neighborhood
3. Email them to

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ex Cleveland Ad Man Tells Us Why He Thinks The City's Neighborhoods Have So Much Potential

From Freshwater Cleveland

OK this guy, Alan Glazen seems smarter, harder working and more creative than average by a long shot. He's now in the Avertising Hall Of Fame! Still, his take on how Cleveland neighborhoods like Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit Shoreway offer a great stage for authentic craft businesses rings very true to me.

He's now taking his thinking to the bank by starting a second career involving himself in new local restaurants and other ideas.

"It's the same story now. Shoppers are growing tired of soulless big box stores and contrived "lifestyle centers." These places lack any ties to the community. They have no local personality. There is no desire for excellence; no quest to be the best; no locally sourced foods. If you opened a Friday's or Applebee's in Ohio City, it would be a ghost town."

Like me, Glazen sees parts of Cleveland that remind him of Brooklyn.

"The question of which neighborhood was easy: Detroit Shoreway. Having lived in Brooklyn, I felt right at home. Detroit Avenue was just like Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, where many New York chefs were opening indie bistros."

As he says--only come with an A game. This isn't about what's in the place already, as much as about what you are willing to bring to the table.

"And I assure you -- there is money to be made. You can absolutely make a living in these urban neighborhoods and others. Just do ordinary things extraordinarily. Offer exceptional things accessibly. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Why should you open your bicycle repair shop in a Cleveland neighborhood rather than in a suburb like Solon or Westlake? Because you share a spirit with the bike messengers and people who ride to work each day instead of drive."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Plans In The works To Transform Historic Youngstown Building Into A Boutique Hotel

Have to get back to Youngstown soon and really check it out. For a place that was absolutely flat on it's ass, a lot of low key positive things seem to be happening there exploiting the richly historic and well designed downtown and a good synergistic relationship with Youngstown State University.

Developer Envisions Wick Building as Hotel

"Out-of-town visitors to the Youngstown Business Incubator, the university, and to venues such as the Covelli Centre have no choice but to stay in the suburbs because of the lack of guest lodging downtown, Marchionda said.

"The initial reports suggest there's a need for more rooms than we first intended to build," he elaborated. Just how many rooms the new hotel would provide remains under study. "We're moving aggressively to do what we want to do there -- build a boutique hotel," the developer said.

Marchionda said the new hotel would be similar to Glidden House in Cleveland, an upscale hotel on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. "It would be an independent operation run by a group that invests in these types of things," he said, not a chain. "They would be an owner/operator and partner with us."

Should all go according to plan, Marchionda said he could proceed on the project over the "next few months," and begin work in earnest during the first quarter of 2012."

One problem that usually comes up with hotels on historic urban blocks is that the need for parking often results in tearing down one or more neighboring buildings--as is proposed for the planned renovation of East Liberty's Highland Building-and almost every hotel renovation in Detroit.

Simply Slavic, Pan Slavic Festival in Youngstown Today

This is a cool idea-Youngstown is having a festival celebrating the food, beer, music, art of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, Russia, Poland and The Ukraine.

12 noon-8 PM in downtown Youngstown Followed by The Slavic Disco

For more info

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chicago Area Companies Rethink The Corporate Campus & Move Back Into Downtown

A few of the very large old school cities-mostly Chicago and New York have begun to draw back many more of the corporate headquarters that left for suburban campuses. (In NY, this has been going on for a long time)

From Crain's Chicago Business

Today, Sears Holdings Corp. and AT&T Inc. are looking to escape their compounds in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates. A shrunken Motorola has space to let in Schaumburg. Sara Lee Corp. eyes downtown office space after less than a decade in Downers Grove. Companies from Groupon Inc. to GE Capital hire thousands in Chicago while their suburban counterparts shed workers.

All reflect changes in the corporate mindset that spawned the campuses dotting outer suburbia. Empire-building CEOs from the 1970s through the 1990s craved not only cheap real estate but total control of their environments. They created self-contained corporate villages that cut off employees from outside influences.

As the 21st century enters its second decade, many companies are discovering the drawbacks of the isolation they sought. Hard-to-get-to headquarters limit the talent pool a company can draw on and feed a “not-invented-here” insularity that ignores major shifts in industries and markets.

Interestingly, companies and some of their investors are starting to connect suburban settings with a lack of innovation.

Another major factor is that in an era of leaner freelance work environments being tapped into a deep pool of potential workers, contractors and suppliers that central urban areas can provide is ever more important. One also can cut costs by not having to provide cafeterias, gyms and other services to replace the normal services of a city.

Potential employees are making similar calculations in reverse about the potential to find a new job in more remote suburban locations and finding it wiser to locate where the largest number of employers are.

One big problem with these very specially designed and isolated campuses designed around a single company is that they are often very hard to fill if that company shrinks or leaves.

Building an attractive city and a large broad base of small companies can help attract the big ones. Google now has it's second largest offices in NYC and has located next to a company it bought, DoubleClick.

So far, this trend has not happened strongly in many other cities-partly because real urban locations with substantial advantages over office parks are rare. It's a "Catch-22" situation-The city lacks enough density, diversity and energy to have a big network of companies and it can't build up any energy cause 60% of the land area is for parking.

More links

Chicago area businesses looking to move from suburban campuses.

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?

Images Of Old Industrial New York

Industrial Queens

Industrial Brooklyn

Many say you can't compare, NYC with Pittsburgh because New York has no industrial past.

In fact--Every major city in the era before modern transport and refrigeration had a large industrial component--ports where cargo was laboriously off loaded by hand, local factories, slaughterhouses, Breweries and hundreds of local warehouses.

New York was of course, the nation's primary port until the early 1960's and it's leading area for shipbuilding, which was very much a heavy industry. It also was a leading manufacturing area for garments, jewelry, toys, electrical components and many other products.

The neighborhoods of NY, with the closest resemblance to Pittsburgh are on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, where long before the subways were built, dense clusters of worker housing sprung up around the ports and factories.

Until about early 1980's Manufacturing still accounted for over a half million NY jobs-a number that today is much, much lower. The city's efforts to protect many former manufacturing districts through strict zoning codes, have only very recently changed. Almost all of New York's famous art districts grew up illegally in these former industrial or warehouse areas.

These are a few shots I took around these now very rapidly changing areas in Queens and Brooklyn.

(FYI--Blacks and Puerto Ricans did not originally migrate to NY "to collect welfare", but to find work mostly in New York area factories.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Will The Pittsburgh Biennial Get Much National Press?

Finally, a number of major cultural venues, The Warhol, The Carnegie Museum, The Warhol, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and CMU's Miller Gallery are collaborating on a large scale exhibit project similar to what I have long advocated on here.

"We are quickly becoming one of the most dynamic art communities in America, and the Pittsburgh Biennial is going to prove that Pittsburgh is a place that cherishes and supports the arts," says Warhol curator Eric Shiner.

Highlighting a broad spectrum of works and providing increased recognition for more than 60 of the region's top artistic talents, the survey-style show features everything from 2-D work, installation and sculpture, to time-, interactive- and process-based works.

Pittsburgh Filmmakers will dedicate its galleries to a presentation of media arts, while works on view at The Miller Gallery will examine the city's long labor history as well as CMU's legacy of presenting courses that explore the social role of art in public contexts. Featured at the Miller will be collectives and artists who work collaboratively in socially engaged ways, such as in publishing, installation, art education, new media, performance, and printmaking."

Finally, many of the best artists in the city brought together in the kind of large scale show that should allow each to really show off what they are doing.

Now comes the next question--will anyone beyond the immediate Pittsburgh region know about or care about this show? Well, on a positive note-since the show has a somewhat broader definition of a "Pittsburgh artist" and has included several people who no longer live here full time, at least one NY dealer I talked to knew about it.On the negative side, the absence of any artists from a wider region-means that those places have no particular need to pay attention.

I think the show will receive limited out of town coverage and that very little of the wider contact, dialog and recognition will develop. Pittsburgh is like the irritating date who only talks about themselves. My guess is Pittsburgh Foundations and other large funders are behind some of this extreme introversion. They are not doing any serious Pittsburgh artist any favors.

Green Thinking Needs To More About Neighborhoods Than Buildings

Up until very recently, the whole LEED certified green building thing looked and smelled like a bit of a racket to me.

The biggest flaw in LEED is measuring buildings without looking at the context they fit into which is why many of them sit in parking lots with no transit access--or in areas exclusively zoned for single uses-where you will have to get in a car to get a cup of coffee.

This year standards have come out to better evaluate neighborhoods.

First launched as a pilot program in 2009, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in cooperation with the Congress for New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, to reward environmentally conscience neighborhood design. The new standards sought to encourage the creation of places that protect fragile land, lower energy use and emission creation, and limit waste. The three umbrella standards which the USGBC ranks new projects;

1) Smart Location and Linkage,

2) Neighborhood Pattern and Design,

3) Green Infrastructure and Buildings;

all seek to create a benchmark for area development. The Smart Location and Linkage standard focuses on limiting newly developed land, rejuvenating brownfields; while conserving bodies of water, erosion susceptible land, animal habitats, and agriculturally rich soil. It encourages the creation of neighborhoods that promote dense and well connected areas that support pedestrian and bike traffic. Neighborhood Pattern and Design focuses on the infrastructure choices made within the community that reduce the carbon footprint created by residents in their day to day lives. And Green Infrastructure and Buildings, much like LEED’s original green building code, uses passive and active designs and tools to reduce water waste, improve energy efficiency, and lessen infrastructure’s environmental impact.

Copied with links kept.

Location. The centers of regions and older suburbs perform better than the fringe, even if other factors are held constant.

Connected streets. A well-connected street network (featuring smaller blocks and lots of intersections) shortens travel distances and makes walking more feasible and pleasant. It is the single most important determinant of how much walking will take place in a neighborhood and the second most important determinant (after location) of how much driving will take place.

Places to go. A mix of conveniences such as shops, schools, and places to eat and socialize encourages walking, promotes fitness and health, and reduces emissions from driving.

Ways to get around. The more transportation choices, the better. If you’re lucky enough to be within walking distance of rail transit, for example, the number of automobile trips during rush hours can be up to 50 percent lower than what would otherwise be expected under standard engineering forecasts.

Density. As I have said before, it doesn’t necessarily have to be high density to reduce driving and watershed-damaging pavement per household. We see substantial improvements in performance as we move from large-lot sprawl even to ten homes per acre; beyond 40 to 50 homes per acre, we continue to see improvements, but at reduced increments. Moderate density helps a lot.

Green stormwater infrastructure. While runoff per household goes down in denser neighborhoods, runoff per acre can go up unless mitigated. Green infrastructure, when in the form of publically accessible green spaces, can also bring an array of additional benefits to a neighborhood.

In my opinion-real green building certification should give at least equal weight to the buildings context as to the building itself -which is why almost all the buildings, in a walkable, transit oriented place like Manhattan are more than half way to an A.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

National Geographic Traveler Includes Pittsburgh On List Of Six Best Cities To Kayak

A lot of lists out there seem bogus, but this one naming Pittsburgh as one of the most interesting and beautiful urban areas to Kayak rings true. The city has yet extract full value from most of it's waterfront.

Did you know you can kayak down the Chicago River in the heart of The Loop?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Supersize NYC, Apartment Buildings Scale Up

When you live in a city or visit often, it's hard to notice how rapidly things are changing. NYC used to always have a whole lot of apartment buildings, averaging between 12 and 25 stories with a relatively small number of really tall ones. Even so by looking at the skyline one could usually know with confidence that most of the tallest buildings of 30 stories and up were office buildings, located in the two main office districts--downtown and midtown. Also, many large areas were mostly made up of much smaller residential buildings. In the last 15 years or so this has radically changed with a new emerging skyline in which both apartment and office buildings regularly top 40 stories.

Spotting the apartments is somewhat easy, since most of these new buildings have tall needle like forms or other tricks meant to maximize window space as opposed to office buildings in which large block floor plans are more desirable.

There are two main factors, the first being that Manhattan as basically the only urban area with a fully supported high capacity subway system and mostly unbroken street grid is just seeing a massive amount of demand.

Another factor is that city government in the Bloomberg era has made a concerted effort to maximize development and tax revenue per dollar of transit investment.

The sum total result is a city that is both increasingly anti car, pro pedestrian and pro growth at the same time. Similar things are happening in the outer boroughs, but the story there is more complex.

Part of Historic Strip Produce Terminal To Be Taken Down

Plans are in the works by the owner of the iconic wholesale produce market on Smallman Street to tear down about a third of the building as part of a larger plan to better connect the Allegheny River waterfront.

It (Buncher) is seeking to tear down a section of the terminal between the 16th Street Bridge and 17th Street, or about 528 feet of the 1,478-foot-long building.

Even as it described the terminal as a "Pittsburgh icon," the URA argued that its length and unbroken nature "inhibits the development of the Allegheny River frontage."

"The combination of the terminal and the 16th Street Bridge creates barriers that limit redevelopment of the area to the 'gated community'-type project, and reduce the opportunity for public access to the river," it wrote in its application to the state.

"Removing a block of the produce terminal allows the riverfront connection, and allows the new development of the riverfront parcel the visual and physical connection to the rest of the city that will allow the new development the greatest chance of success."

Plans for the property include constructing a 75 unit residential building as well as offices and retail. The existing-Pittsburgh Public Market which now occupies the space would move to the remaining part of the building.

Generally, I strongly support the plan. People need to appreciate history while being honest about the current Strip which does not work very well for wholesalers (who originally depended on rail terminals) or support thriving retail beyond very limited hours.

Developing a more normal street grid and integrating the Strip better with the river and the Downtown will improve both by making the area more dense and accessible to pedestrians. When will Buncher start to do the same thing with the hideously ugly superblock buildings it owns on Liberty Ave?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Bushwick Street Art

The last of the images I took of Street Art in Bushwick, Brooklyn last week during an open studio weekend.

Be back with more thoughts and posts which hopefully will be relevant. Cleveland, in particular has large masses of the building types that make up Bushwick, and is starting to develop the kind of organic mixed use buildings many creatives crave.

Some Bushwick Street Art

Bushwick reminded me of Williamsburg, in perhaps the early 1990's, where the scene mostly made up of hundreds of artists studios, pop up galleries and hit and run parties wasn't obviously visible.

A big clue as to the underlying energy is the mass of high quality street art--something increasingly very rare in the rest of the city or at least Manhattan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pittsburgh Urban Chicken Coop Tour Tomorrow

Finally some of the rules about small scale urban farming in Pittsburgh city limits are now clear enough for people to come out of the closet/coop and show off what they have been doing raising chickens and bees in the city and offer advice.

From The Post Gazette

Earlier this year, Pittsburgh City Council enacted legal guidelines for chicken and bee keepers. Simply -- with restrictions on rendering and conditions about food storage and cage size, location and security -- the law allows three chickens and two beehives for every 2,000 square feet of property. One more of each is allowed for each additional 1,000 square feet.

Now that that's all settled, the group that got together to advocate for a progressive city ordinance has stayed together to advocate for the lifestyle and to give people a taste of it.

On Sunday, the first Pittsburgh Urban Chicken Coop Tour, aka "Chicks in the Hood," will focus on East End and North Side neighborhoods, where the bulk of keepers are known to be, from 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Tour Tickets are 5 dollars--which goes to The Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's Urban Agriculture Programs. Children can tour for free.

Purchase tickets and the included tour map at...

The Quiet Storm (In Friendship)

Tazza D'Oro (In Highland Park)

Crazy Mocha, 2 East North Ave. (North Side)

Tickets will also be sold at 7665 Lock Way West (at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Allegheny River Boulevard), Highland Park

There's also a Facebook Group

Friday, June 10, 2011

Discover Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District Tomorrow

Cleveland has a lot of places that remind me of Bushwick, with lots of grit on the surface and energy beneath locked away in large buildings--or seemingly disconnected until you take a closer look.

Tomorrow might be a good day to check out the emerging Gordon Square area on the West Side.

This Saturday, June 11, the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood will be rolling out the carpet to visitors when it hosts Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day.

Taking place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Detroit Avenue between W. 54th and W. 69th streets, the family-friendly event will include live music, classic cartoons in the Capitol Theatre, performances by CPT and Near West, local food, beer and fun.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

2011 Pittsburgh Biennial.

The big event this weekend is the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Biennial. In addition to its main location (Shady and Fifth Avenue), additional work will be presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art (reception June 16), Pittburgh Filmmakers, The Warhol (reception Sept. 17) , and the Miller Gallery (CMU, reception Sept. 16).The opening reception at the PCA runs this Friday night from 5:30 to 9PM, and Filmmakers picks it up from 8- 11PM. The curatorial staff for this is impressive- Eric Shiner, Astria Suparak, Dan Byers, and Adam Welch. The roster of artists includes Jacob Ciocci (Paper Rad), Paul LeRoy, Chris Kardambikis, Ben Hermstrom, Kim Beck and others. I'm certain it costs money.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June Unblurred

Last week, I posted about Box Heart's 11 Anniversary exhibit. This week, I want to talk a bit about Modern Formation's 10th Anniversary exhibit, ret·ro·spec·tive. From the site --
The anniversary exhibit will feature works from Modernformations private collection and artwork and exhibit documentation from the artists below (see site). Also on display will be documentation and information about significant events during our 10 years – from poetry readings to concerts, film showings to dance, plays to fundraisers, and many other unique gatherings.

It was entirely too crowded to take pictures on Friday evening, but it is an amazing exhibit and lives up to the description. Both Modern Formations and Box Heart make significant contributions to the Pittsburgh art community, mounting exceptional exhibits on a regular basis. Definitely check out these celebratory exhibits while you can.

Modernformations Gallery and Performance Space
4919 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15224
Thursdays 7pm - 9pm
Saturdays 1pm - 4pm or by appointment

Olwyn Best - Door Open Door Closed

It was a really active night at the Irma Freedman Center. There is an excellent exhibit of Olwyn Best's paintings mounted in the front gallery. Her work, as she describes it, is spiritual in nature.

“I ask the Great Unseen...Visions and Dreams”
Paintings by Olwyn Best
June 3rd- July 1st, 2011
The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination
5006 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Gallery Hours: Saturdays and Sundays 2 - 5 PM or by appointment

Also at the Irma Freedman Center was
Yamoussa Camara
and Camara Drum and Dance. Highly energetic and very, very fun. Especially the crowd watching.

Yamoussa currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA where he teaches dance at Carnegie Mellon University, is on the Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) Teaching Artist Roster for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, teaches drum and dance workshops for children and adults, and performs with various ensembles in addition to his own ensemble Camara Drum and Dance.

I also stopped in to say hello to Christine Bethea at Artica. Check out that great cabinet behind Christine. It's really fabulous!

New York Likely To Win Back UBS, Affirming The City's Strategy To Focus On Residents--First.

In recent years, NYC has more than got it's groove back as a home for corporate headquarters as more firms find the city's central convenience to more than offset other costs. Even more important in recent years has been that large numbers of their best employees and prospects want to live in or closer to the city.

“A key piece of the mayor’s economic strategy has been to make New York City a place people want to be,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said, “and more than ever the city is the ideal location for any company, like UBS, that succeeds by attracting a talented, motivated work force.”

A UBS trader in his 20s said that like many of his peers at the firm, he would have preferred a job in New York City, where he lives.

“I mean, it’s annoying,” said the trader, who asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak about the possible relocation. “I take Metro-North. I live pretty close to Grand Central, so it’s not a terrible commute. But it’s not ideal.” The trip takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how many stops the train makes."

How could Stamford lose with an awesome attractive asset like I-95 slicing the city in half--and all those super attractive parking garages? Yuk!

To be honest, the city still does lose some back office space to suburban locations--but other departures tend to be towards the New Jersey waterfront, which is much more like an urban, transit oriented extension of the city itself.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Upcoming Exhibits at Unsmoke Systems

Personally, I'm going to mark these on my calender. Sometimes there is buzz ahead of time. Sometimes I hear nothing til the opening has passed. Often it is easiest to see the Unsmoke exhibits by going to the openings, as gallery hours are usually limited.
I Am Immortal July 2011
Lost School August 2011
Confluence September 2011
Pyrotopia October 7-8, 2011
Aaron Meyers May 2012
Ashley Andrykovich June 2012

"Make Yourself at Home" First Exhibit of Unsmoke's New Season

The first exhibihit of Unsmoke Systems season (which goes from now til the cold weather starts)opened Saturday. It did indeed feel like a house warming party....maybe in a house with some unusual objects, but homey...and with lots of interesting visual riffs on the topic of home. This included a board in which people were asked to rate the most important things they do at home, and how enjoyable they were (or not). Going to the small upstairs area was quite a surprise (this area is usually not used for exhibits)and finding a very well-appointed kitchen and exhibit attenders at a dining table in a dining room. They looked like they had been invited weeks ago, Thought provoking and playful.
The exhibit is open by appointment only. Contact Laura Marsico at Also note that John did a post before the exhibit, see below.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

If You Are In NYC, Check Out The Bushwick Open Studios

So far my trip to NYC, has shown a city doing well, curating and exhibiting the work of famous dead and living established artists--but not so well keeping the energy in it's living arts community.

The grand exception two this rule is now the 5 or so square mile area of Brooklyn including eastern Williamsburg, Bushwick, Ridgewood and Bedford-Stuyvesant where the arts community may be making it's last stand at least as a large connected, organic entity.

350 artists studios and alternative galleries in this area will be open through the end of Sunday.

Bushwick Open Studio Website.

In Case You Don't Have Enough To Do This Weekend...Great Highland Park Yardsale

See posts by John and Merge below about the plethora of arts events this weeekend. Then on Sunday it is the Great Highland Park Yard Sale. And it is truly great. THe sale has a relatively low profile advertising wise...I always make it a point to not miss it by checking for the sale dates sometime in May. Here are the details...note 130 households! STARTS AT 9 AM
Annual Great Highland Park Yard Sale
For more than 20 years
Sunday, June 5th
130+ Homes
Bargain Opportunities Abound
Held in conjunction with the Bryant Street Festival
Maps and listings available the morning of sale at:
Negley & Hampton St.
Highland & Stanton Ave.
Tazza d'Oro
Stanton-Negley Pharm.
Bryant Street Market

Friday, June 03, 2011

Make Yourself At Home" - An installati​on by Laura Marsico : Opens Saturday @ Braddock's Unsmoke Systems

Image from

Looks like the drought of exhibits at Unsmoke Systems in Braddock might be over with what looks what could be a very exciting instalation/happening. The artist went to school in Pittsburgh and seems to have spent the following years as herbalist and artist in the mountains of North Carolina. Here she intends to clean out her accumulated stuff, both physical and mental and reform it into a new and likely beautiful experience. As you can see from the artists web site, she has great visceral sense for materials.

"The happening will be dotted with (primarily) repurposed throwaways. As I attempt to lessen the load of “stuff” in my surroundings, certain things continue to hang around with mysterious value dangling over them. They speak of fantasy, memory and functional use in ways that are unique and arbitrary. What happens with these objects and thoughts are curious and inspiring, like the windowsill decorations and garbage in the alley ways of Pittsburgh. Through observation and activity in the space that “Make yourself at home” encompasses, you are encouraged to examine what is it that allows you to feel connected and be at home."

“Make Yourself At Home” by Laura Marsico
Unsmoke Systems, 1137 Braddock Ave, Braddock PA 15104

Opening: Saturday, June 4, 6-9 pm
Exhibition continues through June 18 by appointment only

More info here.

Box Heart: 11th Anniversary

Sonja Sweterlitsch

Box Heart has mounted its annual Anniversary Exhibit, showcasing new works by gallery artists. The show is carefully curated, with an eye for contemporary expressions and fine work.

Box Heart represents a very diverse group of artists, whose practices span formal painting through visionary assemblage. Sonja Sweterlitsch (see above) demonstrates fine control in her portraits; the gallery has severl samples of her work. Tate Hudson's work (see below) was particularly compelling. The surface is rich in layered texture, images and mark shifting across the long format.

Tate Hudson

There are some beautiful and compelling works on display. Box Heart, luckily, documents their exhibits very well and has mounted a slideshow that gives a great tour of the gallery. If you would like to see more of the artists represented by the gallery, check the slideshow for Au Courant. The catalog is available on line. Congratulations to Box Heart on bringing eleven years of their extraordinary vision to the Pittsburgh community.

Although the list doesn't include every artists that is represented by Box Heart, the list is extensive and impressive --

- Kuzana Ogg - Thomas Bigatel - Keith Garubba - David Nelson - Tate Hudson - Gail Beem - Crista Pisano - Robert Bishop - Mark Loebach - Nadim Sabella - Christine Wuenschel - Jackie Hoysted - Shawn Watrous - Lyn Ferlo - Sonja Sweterlitsch - V. Mann - Toby Kreidler - Jason Shorr - Joshua Hogan - Isabelle Garbani - Victoria Goro Rapoport - Kyle Ethan Fischer- Chung Fanky Chak - Sherry Rusinack - Adam Kenney - Seth Clark - George Kollar - Tony Cacalano - Alex Lobus - Sherry Rusinack

May 24 - June 18, 2011
11th Anniversary Exhibition
Group Exhibition and Celebration!
Box Heart Gallery
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays: 11 AM - 6 PM
Wednesdays - Saturday: 10 AM - 6 PM
Sunday: 1 PM - 5 PM

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pittsburgh Weekend Arts Events: 6/3-4/11.


It should be a nice night to stroll along Penn Avenue and take in the sights and sounds of Unblurred. The highlight of this month's event is SURE to be Modern Formations' Retrospective, featuring a selection of work from some of the many outstanding artists that have appeared at the gallery (4919 Penn)over the last ten years. They include Mike Budai, Andy Kehoe, Ben Kehoe, Rick Byerly, and Masha Vereshchenko.

David Matthews appears at Garfield Artworks with an exhibit documenting his performance art project (1995-2002) whereby he posted advertisements in which he claimed to be seeking a girlfriend. Alongside this work are a collection of his drawings called "Profitable Cute Kid".

Erick Brockmeyer and Kuan Ju are at work with low level electronbics at Assemble (5125 Penn), and Brian James Gonnella shows his paintings at ImageBox (4933 Penn). You can also see a decade of drawings by Cameron Clayton at The Shop (4312 Main Street, Bloomfield) from 7-11PM. Gabe Felice opens up the "Blurred Series" (curated by Dean Cercone) at 4810 Penn. Weekly installments follow throughout the summer. And as always, there is plenty of other stuff to discover just by showing up and walking up and down the street.

If you want to venture to another part of town, you can stop by Silver Eye (1015 East Carson Street, South Side) for their first annual Pennsylvania Photography Biennial, Keystone.1. There will be 16 photographers from all over the state participating, and the reception runs from 6:30-8:30PM. And it's FREE.

Also- check out the release (finally) of Black Forest. The Andy Warhol Museum will be officially rolling out the third collection of Unicorn Mountain artists with a bit of fanfare, as a part of their Good Friday series (6-10PM).


Gallery 4 (206 S. Highland, Shadyside) is featuring "Wunderball", an exhibition of sculpture and paintings by Anthony Purcell. The opening reception starts at 7PM.

AND don't forget the Three Rivers Arts Festival starts this weekend. I'm not going to point out any highlights... just check out their site HERE for your favorites.

Giant Teddy Bear Public On Park Ave

Came across this huge sculpture on Park Ave and 53rd St, which is there temporarily and interestingly--is for sale.

Personally, this openly capitalist merger of public art and the marketplace doesn't bother me at all and only reflects the city's prime role as a grand theater to display anything. Also, the work is just weird enough to take the edge off a building that's more than a little too full of itself.

The guard standing by it adds just the right touch of strange. Did this thing sell?