Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Was Supposed to be in Cleveland by Now

Mike DeCapite reading at The Literary Cafe, Cleveland, March 2012
I was supposed to be in Cleveland last night, reading at another writer's book release party at a certain bar. The storm threats impelled me to cancel my bus ticket at the last minute; although I want to believe that Cleveland is an easy jaunt down the road, that can be less true during the winter months. (The train would have been safer, but I would have had to board at midnight and arrive at 3:00am.)

The occasion: Mike DeCapite's prose chapbook, Radiant Fog, has just debuted, and Jim Mason was reading with him as well. Mike was born and raised in Cleveland, the son of another Cleveland novelist, Ray DeCapite. Since his 20s, Mike has lived in San Francisco, London, and now (for many years) New York. He's a wonderful writer of place, of getting to and from places, and especially of moments in time and place. His recent piece over at Rust Belt Chic, "December," describes a moment in a cold Cleveland evening and reads like a gem of a prose poem. His novel Through the Windshield has been called a “Whitmanesque hymn to Cleveland” (Jocko Weyland, Rain Taxi). I loved his last chapbook, Creamsicle Blue, which traveled from New York to Cleveland to San Francisco and always back to New York. By his own admission, his writing often tells stories but he doesn't write stories per se. As a reader, I love watching him achieve a very delicate balance of description and revelation: as if his art is that of finding the right ratio of interior to exterior. What does a hidden road along the Cuyahoga River have to do with a particular feeling from 1982? Everything. The writer can taste the feeling in his mouth in the same way he can taste the cold air of that particular night, and the reader can taste it, too. Mike DeCapite has the touch for locating himself as a narrator.

Last night's reading was held at The Literary CafĂ©. I had the privilege of reading there with Mike in March of this year: The small bar they call "The Lit" has been serving beer and shots on Literary Road in Tremont since late 1991, and Mike DeCapite has been reading there something like once or twice a year for two decades. The bar itself (which hosts monthly readings and weekly life drawing sessions) is lined in a warm pine wood paneling and exposed brick, with touches of brightness everywhere—Christmas lights, framed drawings, a glowing face in the window, a fake fireplace burning away. The warmth of the customers, who seem to have known each other forever, is also palpable. 

Greetings from The Lit
As a reading audience, the scene at The Lit reminded me most of The New Yinzer Presents readings held at ModernFormations Art Gallery in Pittsburgh, or the Last Sunday, Last Rites reading series at the Baltimore Hostel. In each case, the audience knows each other well, and the coziness starts there. (People congregate in the center of the room and laugh and embrace, whereas at some New York readings, people arrive in ones and twos and hug the walls. Looking out from the stage, the room appears empty.) Beer flows at each of these reading series, but it doesn't interrupt the audience being highly attentive once the reading begins. At The Lit, I was especially impressed; the bar laughed heartily at many of my most subtle almost-jokes, at life's little ironies embedded in not-funny prose. They really got everything I was doing as a writer. In the end, I realized that I owed at least some thanks for that to Mike DeCapite. The degree to which our literary sensibilities overlapped was the degree to which his audience could easily pick up on my innuendos: These people were his readers—many had been reading and listening to him read for at least 20 years. This left me to ponder on the process and patience of building a long-term audience (in a city where you don't live anymore, no less!).

Graffiti on Cleveland Museum of Art's renovations
Cleveland: An old friend was going to meet me there from Ann Arbor. With the pending blizzard, we would have stayed in a hotel room, and in fact he got a last-minute great deal on the Renaissance Cleveland, right there in Public Square. I've only been to Cleveland a few times, but from Public Square I would have known where to eat breakfast (around the corner, inside the landmark Terminal Tower), how to get the city bus to the reading or to the Cleveland Museum of Art (the bus is $2.25, the museum is free), and which direction the Megabus stop was (in fact it's steps from the hotel). Did you know that Cleveland's city bus system runs 24 hours? Or that they have a bus line that's as close to being a light rail as you can get? It's similar to Pittsburgh's Busway, but where Pittsburgh's system avoids the traffic lights but is off the beaten path, Cleveland's Healthline (subsidized by the Cleveland Clinic) has a dedicated lane right down Euclid Avenue, the main thoroughfare between downtown and Case Western and the art museum. Enclosed bus stops have machines for bus tickets, which aren't collected by drivers but bought on an honor system; all doors open at every stop, which speeds service to an impressive efficiency. This all feels a bit like Rust Belt Luxury to me.

Pittsburgh isn't in the "snow belt" of lake effect snowfall, but it feels like a Great Lakes city here this weekend. The wind is blowing fierce and cold from the west, much colder than we've felt in a long time, and last night I went to bed with a hat on. But today I'm feeling, if not warm, then strong enough to handle the cold. I want to say it has something to do with being bundled up in the clothes I'd packed for a potential blizzard weekend in Cleveland and Ann Arbor. See you next time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December Unblurred

It had drizzled all day on Friday. While that makes for a very dreary, hiding-in-the-house and drinking cocoa kind of day, it made for a glittery evening on Penn Ave for the lat Unblurred of 2012. The streets were alive with lights.
David Bernabo: Having Already Said Quite A Bit
David Bernabo: Having Already Said Quite A Bit
David Bernabo's works were the highpoint of Ghosts, etc. at ModerrnFormations. The installation took up most of one wall in the back gallery. The light, fresh palette made me homesick for spring.

Ghosts, etc.
Modernformations Gallery and Performance Space
Exhibit runs until the 28th.
4919 Penn Ave

Emily Eckel (left) and Joyce Compton (right) at the Irma Freeman Center
Emily Eckel (left) and Joyce Compton (right) at the Irma Freeman Center
This was a really great exhibit! So many incredible variations on the theme of Dolls; some were sweet, some were frightening, but all of them were amazing. The dolls were created by a loosely organized group called the Jane Street Art Doll Collective, who explore the boundaries of dolls and doll-making.

Over the next two Saturdays, Chris Fondi will be conducting doll making classes. If you missed the opening reception, the show will be up for the first Unblurred of 2013, on January 4.

Through January 4th. (closing reception)
The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination
Gallery Hours are 2 -5 PM on Saturdays in December
5006 Penn Ave.

Gary D. Owens at Most Wanted Fine Art
Gary D. Owens at Most Wanted Fine Art

Gary Owens' works at Most Wanted Fine Art were really energetic, almost frantic. Even the somewhat prosaic subject matter of a sleeping pet was approached with this incredible energy. I really do need to get a better camera; these images are a little washed out, but you can still read the texture really well.

The Doors of Perception
Most Wanted Fine Art
5015 Penn
Steph Sciullo at Stuff N Such Society
Steph Sciullo at
Stuff N Such Society

Heh heh. It's a rat. In a box.

This, along with many other oddities, are available for the off beat holiday shopper at the Stuff N Such Society. You know, to celebrate Krampus.

Stuff N Such Society
"The Art of Collectible Culture"
5015 Penn Ave (Basement)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

NY Times Story on how Robert Moses and NYC Government Placed the Poor in Harms Way

Finally, after rarely bringing the issue up, the brilliant caring folks at the NY Times have come to wonder why so much of New York's public housing ended up in highly vulnerable flood zones. 

From The New York Times:

How the Coastline Became a Place to Put the Poor

"It’s impossible to talk about the landscape of modern New York without talking about Moses, who leveraged his position as head of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance to mass-produce thousands of units of high-rise public housing, often near the shoreline. His shadow looms over much of the havoc wreaked by the storm."
Well, is only Moses to blame? In the more than 60 years since these policies started - few if any have publicly recognised the clear danger.

'Initially, there was a strict screening process to get into the Rockaways’ new projects. Over time, though, those with steady incomes were encouraged to leave, to make room for people on public assistance. To city officials, the Rockaways’ distant location made it an ideal destination for troubled families and individuals. The projects that lined the seven-mile-long peninsula were soon joined by facilities for recently deinstitutionalized mental patients and high-rise nursing homes."
The article is too short but touches on the long history.

My two posts

Sandy and Far Rockaway: Another Tragedy of Urban Planning

Far Rockaway was dumping ground for mentally Ill warehoused in Nursing Homes

I hope very much the New York Times links work.

Zagat's taking Pittsburgh Reviews More Seriously- Sort of

Lots of good and bad economic cross currents are impacting the region- one of the best being a growing rep as a cool, interesting place to live or visit.

After pretty much ignoring Pittsburgh for years, Zagat's finally included 7 restaurants; Capital Grille, Ruths Chris; Mortons Steak House; McCormick & Schmicks....even Cheesecake Factory in a "chain survey".

Response of course was pretty furious. Zagat's promises a full Pittsburgh Restaurant guide in early 2013.

You can participate in the survey- Here.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Give art and make a maker's day

There are several DIY fairs in Pittsburgh every year, focused around the holiday season. These occasions bring together crafters and artists from all over Pittsburgh, and in some cases the region. These events not only showcase talent and imagination, they offer you an opportunity to find unique gifts for special friends and family.

Handmade ArcadeHandmade Arcade has found a home at the David Lawrence Convention Center for their annual holiday fair. There is a list of over 150 vendors, offering Jewelry, clothing, papercraft and more. Many local favorites will be there with their wares. This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, December 8.

I loved this event when I attended last year. There were so many vendors with unique items, it was hard to take it all in. I want to point out that shopping for DIY items does not put any more of a dent in your budget than shopping in more conventional stores. Artists and crafters are very aware of market constraints. Many vendors will have items priced reasonably, and it won't be hard to find gifts that fall within your budget. Some items will be priced as low as $10, and can be great stocking stuffers or a gift for a coworker.

These DIY fairs range throughout the month of December, and new ones come and go. While not exactly a maker fair, the venues along Penn Ave will be open for their monthly Unblurred series. Currently, 707 Penn Gallery, in downtown, has a holiday market in place during regular gallery hours and the Pittsburgh Glass Center will have a Holiday Glass sale as well as an opportunity to create your own ornament on December 8. Although it is over for this year, FE Gallery (Butler St, Lawrenceville) had a series of weekend markets, which will hopefully return next year. I Made It, which took place last weekend, is also an annual event that showcases local DIY crafters and artists.

Box Heart Gallery - Celebrate the Season
Box Heart Gallery - Celebrate the Season

Although most of the fairs are over for this holiday season, there are several venues that consistently carry not only DIY crafts, but fine crafts and art. Several of them have regular holiday shops. Again, opportunities for purchasing inexpensive gifts abound, but the upper end of the price points is much higher. The work tends to be of higher quality, even in their more reasonably priced items.

Box Heart Gallery showcases the work of the artists represented by the gallery during the month of December. It's a great time to get acquainted with their represented artists as well as a time to shop for some special little item. There's a range of beautiful jewelry, holiday ornaments, and prints. Also, there are these great little mobiles by gallery artist Sherry Rusinack that are simply charming. Also, Box Heart will be having a special sale on December 15.

No matter what neighborhood of Pittsburgh you happen to find yourself, there is bound to be a gallery or so that will have a holiday-themed shop. Highlights include:
- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (Shadyside) has a great holiday shop, showcasing the work of members of Pittsburgh's many arts guilds.
- Society for Contemporary Crafts (Strip District) has an absolutely beautiful year-round shop that showcases the finest crafts.

Enjoy your holiday season, I know I will.

Friday, November 30, 2012

BuckWild: Why Is Making Fun of Rural Whites So Cool?

There are few things I hate more than political correctness but one of them is hypocrisy. While stereotypes are often central to humor, most of the public and media have grasped the harm they can often do- often imposing an extreme level of sensitivity to the way many groups are portrayed. Rural Appalachian whites remain as a group it's more than cool to make fun of, as embodying everything that's dumb in America.

It's not new.

From an essay on Yahoo :Appalachian Americans: The Invisible Minority
These sentiments are deeply ingrained in American history. For centuries politicians displayed prejudice towards Appalachians, making comments like "[They are] the lowest scum and rabble..." "the vilest tricking and cheating... people into whose heads no means can beat the notion of a public interest or persuade to live like men," and "the laziest two legged animals that walk erect on the face of the Earth. Even their motions are slow, and their speech a sickening drawl... a natural stupidity or dullness of intellect that almost surpasses belief," (Heilman, 2004). Although Appalachians are considered 'white Americans,' such statements reek of racist social Darwinism. The centuries-old stereotype that anyone with an Appalachian accent possesses a "natural stupidity," is still perpetuated by the media. Television shows like "Beverly Hillbillies", "Green Acres" and "Hee Haw" have been described as "the most intensive effort ever exerted by a nation to belittle, demean and otherwise destroy a minority people within its boundaries"
Sadly, our tolerant nation seems almost more divided than ever, with "sophisticated urbanites" eager to point out the contrast between themselves and the ... other people out there. BuckWild, a new "reality show" of course shows you exactly how most people live in West Virginia.

See Trailer Here:

From The Charleston Gazette:
"Bailey said these kinds of reality shows tend to sensationalize and exaggerate, and she hoped people watching "Buckwild" at home will see it not as how West Virginians really live.

"Obviously, the show is just perpetuating a stereotype West Virginia has been working hard to shed ourselves of," she said. "Unfortunately, a show of this nature, if it becomes popular, will make it very hard to sell the state of West Virginia or the city of Charleston."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Legendary Rather Ripped Records, Born Again in Lawrenceville

How many Record Stores become famous album titles and how many of those are in Pittsburgh?

From The Post Gazette:

"Its owner is Russ Ketter, who grew up here on the South Side and left for the West Coast in 1969 to pursue a songwriting career. "Instead of going to Woodstock, I went to Berkeley that weekend."

He has no regrets about that.

He got a job at a record store called Leopold's and then moved across town two years later to open Rather Ripped, inspired by a stoned friend's description of his condition at a particular moment. The store was well timed with the punk scene that was about to explode in the mid-'70s.

"Everybody came through that store, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the glam rock scene. As soon as The Police came to the U.S., they did an autograph party at our store" -- partly because drummer Stewart Copeland went to UC Berkeley."

The story seems amazing and worthy of a book: Patty Smith's first West Coast Performance- in the store came after Ketter wrote a letter begging her to play-- signed in his own blood

The store came to an end in 1980 after a terrible fire but the story hardly ended there.

Read all about it.

Rather Ripped will be opening up in a little storefront under Arsenal Lanes, and will sell a variety of records, CD's, Posters, Rock Collectibles, and vintage clothing-- from the source, so to speak.

Geek Alert: Alan Turing Film, Codebreaker to Screen @ Waterfront, December 6

 Alan Turing, a math genius, who played an important roll in winning WWII, and called by many the founder of modern computer science is likely known by hard core geeks.

Thursday, December 6, 2012
@ 7:30 PM

To reserve tickets:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Reality, Both Major Parties are Against Rational, Open, Legal Immigration

As you know, this blog is not against political posts providing they relate closely to issues that impact the region, cultural or urban issues. Few are more important than immigration.

The Democrat party got a lot of traction painting the GOP as a xenophobic, old white, anti immigrant party, since Republicans almost never interacted in urban areas, and created a campaign based mostly on winning rural and exurban votes, they pretty much walked into that stereotype. They seemed to be not just against massive illegal immigration, but against almost all newcomers.

In public discourse the concept of legal immigration has been dropped almost entirely.

The dirty little secret is that Obama's record isn't one of supporting, open, legal immigration, particularly among the highly skilled people every economy desperately needs.

From Forbes:

"The Obama administration has worked to limit H-1B accessibility since the president assumed office. The stimulus package prohibited most major financial firms from participating in the program, and in 2010, the administration increased fees as much as $2,300. Over the same period, USCIS began to deny record numbers of applications—rising from 11 percent in 2007 to between 17 and 29 percent under this administration."
How bad is it? America is actually harassing and deporting entrepreneurs that have already created companies and jobs.

From CNN Money:

"Darash, 38, originally came here from Israel for college and returned in 2010 to launch Regpack, a software company in San Francisco. It's growing so fast, the company already needs to add another 10 workers.
But instead of focusing on expanding his company, Darash has been fighting to stay in the country."

 A recent study showed that immigrants account for 76% of patents filed at the nations top schools.  You would think we would have a red carpet out for people like this?

From CNN Money

That year, 54% of those patents came from students, postdoctoral fellows or staff researchers. That's an issue, because the United States is losing ground against other nations by pushing out immigrant graduates seeking to launch their own businesses.
Few options exist for those who want to stay in the country legally, and the most common route -- finding another company to sponsor your visa -- goes against the entrepreneur's mission.

Honestly, a country has to be pretty arrogant and delusional to think it can get away with treating potential job creators like this.

One can hope that a more rational, adult discussion of the issue develops. This is a short post, I don't mean to imply we should only be open to the super talented, educated or wealthy. We need a top to bottom reform that opens up a clear legal process for a broad group of hard working, striving people.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Exhibit :Radiant Circles Ruth E. Levine's Generous Life

"Radiant Circles Ruth E. Levine's Generous Life" is on exhibit at the American Jewish Museum (located at theJewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill) until January 2013. Everyone I know who has seen this exhibit has loved it. Ruth Levine, who died in 2010 was an important part of the arts community in Pittsburgh. She produced beautiful and interesting work and was immersed in the Pittsburgh  arts community, sharing ideas with artist friends and colleagues, attending a wide wide range of  events  and participating on non-profit boards. Ruth was a resident of our city from just 1998-2010, but in that time, she made quite an impact.I was fortunate to have been a friend of Ruths. And I often find myself wondering "What would Ruth think, or say?" She was/is a force.
The work in Radiant Circles was completed over a 20 year period.Two excellent reviews of this exhibit are: Kurt Shaw's at the Tribune Review here and Andrew Goldstein's at The Jewish Chronicle here. A small, but very well-written catalogue by Melissa Hiller is a splendid addition to the exhibit. I would note that there is no easier place in Pittsburgh to see an exhibition, as one can just walk in anytime that the JCC is open.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What About Having Black Friday on Penn Ave?

Every once in a while, I throw out an idea hoping someone else might consider following up on it.

Lots of college kids and others leave town for the holidays, but the diaspora floods into Pittsburgh to share a few days with family. I'm pretty sure the day after Thanksgiving is The Warhol Museum's busiest day.

Too bad for the city, we don't have a great, cool way to share some of the grass roots energy happening in places like Garfield with people who don't know about it. Pittsburgh has more going for it than Station Square, or a walk down Walnut or Carson Street, but often it's hard to show that off in a day or two.

The First Friday Unblurred is already a well known way to experience the alt galleries, stores and performance spaces that have popped up on Penn Ave. My guess is it wouldn't be a big leap to market a "Penn Ave Black Friday" as a night of indie art, craft and shopping.

Something for folks on Penn to think about.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Clairton, A Forgotten Steel Town's Unforgettable Football Team on The NY Times Front Page

The Friday after Thanksgiving, Heinz Field comes alive with High School Football championship games, where many of the fancy big high schools, like Central Catholic, North Allegheny, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon show off all their pride. But somehow the games can never mean as much as for the old factory and coal towns.

From The NY Times:

“The businesses have shuttered; we lost our mill, lost our grocery store,” said Tom McCloskey, the principal at Clairton High School and an alumnus. “It seems the odds are stacked against the town. Football is a way we can persevere, ride the success of the team. A lot of people look forward to Friday night. Everybody comes together around one common good thing we’ve got going on."
Apart from providing community pride, football serves as a neon advertisement that, despite its troubles, Clairton remains open for business. In fiscal 2011, the city budget finished in the black for the first time in at least a decade. United States Steel has invested more than $500 million to upgrade the nation’s largest coke plant here along the Monongahela River, 12 miles south of Pittsburgh. A grocery store is planned for next year. Real estate is plentiful and cheap."
"The players celebrated and dressed and headed for home, one win from establishing an improbable state record with 60 consecutive victories.
“It doesn’t matter where you are around Pittsburgh,” said Mathis, the athletic director. “You say Clairton, people think great football. They don’t think dying steel mill town.” 
Clairton won their 60th consecutive victory over Sto-Rox. They haven't lost since  Sept. 11, 2009    

Friday, November 16, 2012

Very Rare, Robert Johnson Record found at Jerry's Records in Squirrel Hill

 I Believe I'll Dust My Broom, is the second song blues legend Robert Johnson ever recorded and copies are extremely rare.

One was just found in a waterlogged box of records found while cleaning out an attic.

From The Post Gazette
"Johnson, born in 1911, was an itinerant street-corner musician who never achieved fame during his lifetime. In November 1936, he recorded 16 songs, including "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom," at a temporary studio set up at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas. It was one of only two sessions he ever did, but his influence was substantial, thanks to such British blues players as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, who revered his work and covered his songs in the '60s.

The mythology of Robert Johnson is that he gained his ability to play the blues by selling his soul to the Devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi. His death in 1938, at age 27, is mysterious, but it is believed that he was poisoned by a woman's jealous husband."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Several Area Restaurants get Gordon Ramsay Makeovers

OK, the show called kitchen nightmares isn't where most places want to be featured, but for many old places, it's a last shot to survive and become loved again.

 Miss Jean's Southern Cuisine, in Wilkinsburg got a makeover which I think involves a 10,000 investment in decor and equipment, plus an intensive top to bottom look at every aspect of the business and menu.

From the Post Gazette

"It was rough," Ms. Gould said. "It's not easy ... someone telling you your food is not good."
Worse, there was a great deal of bickering between the owner and her staff. But one of the show's biggest draws is showing how Mr. Ramsay smooths over the personality clashes
"Gordon has an amazing way of getting to know people very quickly, and getting beneath and mask and the layers and to the heart of the person, "Mr. Weed said. "So he's a little bit of a therapist, too, in that regard."

Ms. Gould, a fan of cooking shows, applied to be on the show last year but said she didn't expect to have Miss Jean's Southern Cuisine chosen. Turns out, soul food is a particular passion of Chef Ramsay."

Afterwards, Gordon is redoing an old Italian place in Beaver County.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Sketchbook Project Mobile Art Library will be outside Assemble this Friday

The mobile sketchbook library, originally scheduled for The First Friday Unblurred will be parked in front of Assemble this Friday from 6-10 (Free)
"The Sketchbook Project a traveling collection of sketchbooks made by creative people from all over the world, will be at Assemble. Come see sketchbooks chosen for this year's tour theme "A Landmark and a Mission", curated by Christopher Jobson, creator and editor of Colossal, a blog that explores the intersection of art, design, and physical craft."
From Sketchbook Project 2013
5125 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA

Minimally Charged | Drawings and Paintings by Jackie Hoysted

Jackie Hoysted
Jackie Hoysted at Box Heart Gallery

I stopped in BoxHeart Gallery last week to see their recent exhibit Minimally Charged: Drawings and Paintings by Jackie Hoysted. It is a striking show of contemporary portraiture. The works are invariably of figures on fields of solid color, and the majority are works on paper.

An intense portrait, Lucretia (pictured below), is hung prominently in the front of the gallery. It is one of the larger paintings in the exhibit. The background is a rich red, with the figure and the ground interplay throughout. The work is stark, combining gestural line, brushstroke and a flat expanse of ground. Minimally charged, indeed. Although it is somewhat a misnomer since in fact there is a considerable amount of intensity within this portrait as well as the others.

Definitely not a restful exhibit, the works have a frenetic quality in the figure that is discordant. The simplicity of the grounds really showcase this in a way that a traditional drawing on white paper does not, increasing the tension in the works.

Jackie Hoysted

From Box Heart's site:

Artist Jackie Hoysted has a fascination with the form and how to best represent it. She is drawn to the restful starkness and simplicity offered by minimalism, but she finds more self-truth and identity in expressionism. Her artwork aims to marry these two styles by severely limiting the palette, by confining mark-making only to essential form, and by using a high key and garnish palette to suggest mood and contemplation. Read more

The exhibit continues through next week, including the holiday weekend. If you have a chance to stop by between your family celebrations, it is well worth the trip.

October 30 - November 24, 2012
Minimally Charged
Drawings and Paintings by Jackie Hoysted
Box Heart Gallery

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: Saturday, November 24, 2012
As an aside, Box Heart Gallery is participating in Small Business Saturday, offering a $25. on custom framing projects. And there is plenty to choose from in the gallery that you can have framed for your special gifting needs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Returns @Panza Gallery

David Grim
David Grim
Millvale is just across the Allegheny River from my home. On a nice day, I can walk over there in less than twenty minutes. But with all of the construction on Route 28, I haven't ventured across on foot for awhile. It's a difficult proposition for us habitual pedestrians, and the new intersections have made it much more daunting.

It's completely my loss, though. There's a fabulous gallery over there that I hardly ever get to because I always seem to be able to come up with some excuse for not walking across the bridge. Lucky for me, a very good friend provided transportation to the opening of Returns at Panza Gallery this past weekend. I'm so glad she did, it was a strong show.

Pictured above is some recent work by David Grim. I love the color in these works, as well as the abstracted qualities. More of David Grim's work can be seen in this online portfolio.
Olga Brindar 
Olga Brindar

One entire side of the gallery was installed with these large works on paper by artist Olga Brindar. The works had a nice vitality to them. Ms. Brindar has a very nice portfolio site, where you can view more of her work.

Mia Tarducci Henry 
Mia Tarducci Henry

There were a scant handful of paintings by Mia Tarducci Henry, which were really beautiful. The works are very organic and heavily textured. You can get to know Ms. Henry better on her site.

Friday, November 09, 2012

In the Middle of Post Storm Crisis, NY's Mayor Bans Food Donations to Homeless Shelters

 I couldn't resist posting about this-- under the rule that political posts related to urban issues are a big part of what this blog is about. Also, this is an extreme example of policies that exist in other cities.

From The New York Post

"For over a decade, Glenn Richter and his wife, Lenore, have led a team of food-delivery volunteers from Ohab Zedek, the Upper West Side Orthodox congregation
They’ve brought freshly cooked, nutrient-rich surplus foods from synagogue events to homeless facilities in the neighborhood. (Disclosure: I know the food is so tasty because I’ve eaten it — I’m an OZ member.) The practice of donating such surplus food to homeless shelters is common among houses of worship in the city."
The city may no longer accept this food which might not meet safety standards or the city's strict new guidelines limiting portions, salt, fat content and nutrition.

What's involved here is of course something much more important, the right of both donors and recipients to share a sense of community.
"The beneficiaries — many of them senior citizens recovering from drug and alcohol abuse — have always been appreciative of the treats he and other OZ members bring. It’s not just that the donations offer an enjoyable addition to the “official” low-salt fare; knowing that the food comes from volunteers and community members warms their hearts, not just their stomachs.So you can imagine Richter’s consternation last month when employees at a local shelter turned away food he brought from a bar mitzvah. "
The danger is also that breaking the bonds and ability to provide private charity undermines the basic safety net -- which ultimately has to go beyond government. As many city neighborhoods endured 5 or more days without power the city was held together by private networks and neighbors helping each other far more than official aid.

A growing number of cities have made it illegal to distribute food to the homeless.
"In Philadelphia — where the ACLU launched a lawsuit last week attacking the ban on the outdoor feeding of homeless people, enacted June 1 — the plaintiffs in the suit include Chosen 300 Ministries Inc., the Rev. Brian Jenkins, the Welcome Church, the Rev. Violet Little, the King’s Jubilee, the Rev. Cranford Coulter and others, according to the Pennsylvania Record.
“Food sharing programs for the homeless also express an important message about the desperate circumstances of the poor,” the suit says, according to the Record. “The programs have been hugely successful, furthering the religious mission of the plaintiffs and providing, at no cost to the city, a needed social service. The programs have functioned continuously without significant interference by government officials or adverse effect on the public interest""ybe he’s just anti-food? Maybe put this one to a vote — it’s hard to imagine what harm fresh soup and bagels (two items that have already been turned away) could do to a hungry person"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tami Dixon's One Person Show Tells South Side Stories

The idea of doing a one person show based on South Side characters seems sort of obvious-- mainly cause this is such a weirdly interesting place- that has grown and evolved as it should, with layer after layer of personal and collective history. An amazing, if often annoying neighborhood like no other.
Taking audiences on a vibrant, hometown adventure, the ambitious one-woman show depicts a dynamic neighborhood--from steep city steps and teen rebellion, to the J & L plant and local haunts--via more than 100 interviews with South Side residents, multimedia projections by Pittsburgh-based artist David Pohl and original music by Nathan Leigh.
Tami Dixon, the main creator/ writer/ actor is from Cleveland, graduated from CMU and lived in NY, bringing some perspective to the work.
The resulting content, which ranges from the highly funny and poignant, to the deeply personal and sad, addresses a myriad of human experience, including addiction, race, community, family, loss and death, and the issue of what is left in a community over after something goes away.
"It's an unflinching look at a community I see myself in. I started out as a tour guide taking people through the South Side and then I had to address how and why I am connected to them, and why I was the one telling the stories. It's been an incredible learning process for me about the craft I have been in for most of my life," adds Dixon. "I realize these people have been in my body for years and now I am putting them into a physical space. I am telling real people's stories and I have to be really careful about honoring them."
My opinion off the bat is that, if the work is weak-She should tweak away, it's not like there the place is short of stories worth telling and characters worth meeting.
Written and performed by playwright and actor and South Side resident Dixon, co-founder of Downtown-based Bricolage Production Company, South Side Stories runs November 10th through December 16th, in City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio Theatre. Opening night performance is Friday, November 16th, at 8 pm.

Far Rockaway was dumping ground for mentally Ill warehoused in Nursing Homes

Part two of my Hurricane Sandy/ Far Rockaway post. Sadly, the story gets much worse. Not only was Far Rockaway a dumping ground for housing projects far away from opportunity and community, it became the place to put even more vulnerable populations.

From the NY Times
"The units are just the latest development in the troubled evolution of New York's mental health network over the last half-century. As the state continues to empty out its costly psychiatric hospitals, it appears to be moving even further from what it says had been a fundamental goal: helping the mentally ill gain independence and self-sufficiency to live within a community.
The investigation of the nursing home units shows that the mentally ill residents -- many in their 30's and 40's and physically healthy -- often receive little in the way of rehabilitative therapy and are chiefly left to wander the halls or languish in their rooms. The residents are not violent and have not been involuntarily committed by a court."
"Gain independence and self-sufficiency to live within a community." Really, by being warehoused on a very isolated barrier island almost 2 hours out of Manhattan and far away from most public services?

It should have been clear to any responsible caring person, that this location was very exposed to storms. in fact, Hurricane Irene and many other storms had impacted the island.

For some reason, I am having trouble embedding the videos.


Yet the google map shows the area is loaded with nursing homes and care facilities.

I understand a big part of what happened is that Rockaway became an easy place to put things other communities might reject having- but morally, this is still a poor excuse.

Anyway, it gives some insight into reality of how the "liberal" governments of NY and many cities actually operate.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sandy and Far Rockaway: Another Tragedy of Urban Planning

I apologize for another post not directly related to Pittsburgh, that I think brings up some relevant urban issues. As many know, I am from NYC and have some knowledge of one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy. My sister, her husband and now my nephew all worked as lifeguards on the same beach in Far Rockaway for many years. For public school teachers this fit in as a fun summer gig. I haven't been there in many years. It's not the most attractive place, dominated by large public housing projects isolated on a long stretch of beach. Far Rockaway, is not just slightly far away from almost anywhere, else in the city- it's really, really far away. Yes, there is a subway, which in theory could take one into Manhattan if one has a spare hour and a half to two hours- if it's running well.

To break the suspense- I always wondered why someone thought concentrating large numbers of poor on a barrier island, exposed to storms, so far a way from jobs, shopping or social opportunities was a good idea.

From The Manhattan Institute,
Blessed with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Jamaica Bay to the north, the Rockaways became a popular resort area of elegant hotels and fine houses in the 1830s. The coming of the railroad in the 1880s encouraged more intensive development, including playlands, amusement parks and a few apartment buildings. Attractive beachfront communities were developed, such as Belle Harbor, Neponsit, and Arverne. The opening of the Cross Bay Bridge in 1925 and the Marine Parkway Bridge in 1937 made the Rockaways convenient for middle- and working-class households, who bought the bungalows, frequently distributing themselves according to ethnic heritage.

Later, a series of factors related to falling incomes during the depression and the area's long distance from the city sent the Rockaways into decline.
Officials in the Wagner and Lindsay administrations found what they regarded as an answer to decline: build large public housing projects along the gorgeous beach. Today, the old towns of Arverne and Edgemere have some of the highest concentrations of public housing—and crime and unemployment—in New York. The city also used federal and state financing to support the development of dozens of nursing homes.

Um, That's right- city officials thought an isolated island might be a great place to warehouse not just the poor, but also the infirm, elderly.
These days, almost no one regards the Wagner or Lindsay land-use planning decisions favorably. District manager Gaska, for example, calls the Rockaways the Siberia of city government. "For five decades, the city and state governments dumped their problems here," he says. "If you were a problem tenant in public housing, NYCHA sent you here. If you didn't have a job and weren't going to get one, then this was the place for you. When the state government started closing their hospitals, they began placing those with mental disabilities here, but without any services. The Rockaways now has 50 percent of the borough's adult-facility beds. The state just keeps approving new facilities via their sham community approval process. They send us what's called a 60-day letter, telling us they're going to approve a new facility. We say no, and they say, 'Thank you for your opinion; we're going to open it anyway.' One result was that, according to the 1990 Census, one-third of our population was on public assistance.
Yes. and the mentally disabled too- far away from any support system. What happened seems to have been a cycle, in which any project or population that was unwanted in the rest of Queens was dumped on this secluded stretch of land, few people cared about.

No great shock that big problems developed. That's on a good day but add a a big Atlantic storm or hurricane and one has the potential for a massive tragedy. Now the only subway line into Rockaway may be down for months and ocean water has seriously damaged power lines. While I don't expect government to provide instant perfect responses to all disasters, I wish they would stop creating bad situations like they did in The Rockaways. It's one thing to not help people and another to forcibly create communities in which it's hard for people to help themselves.

Update: As of this posting, most people in Far Rockaway have gone 10 days without power, heat, subway service and other basic needs. Another storm is bearing down on the area.

Monday, November 05, 2012

November Unblurred

Tugboat Printshop
Tugboat Printing

As always, there is somebody trying something new during Unblurred. This month, Tugboat Printshop had a shallow sort-of bookshelf kiosk on Penn, between Winebiddle and Evaline. I hope they make it back again next month. The booth was such a nice addition to the Unblurred event.

Artists In Mission
Artists in Mission
Another new face, Artists In Mission Gallery (AIM), located at 5159 Penn, had a photography exhibit by Jessica Nan and a reading. The venue was a private residence, and the exhibit was held in the livingroom. It was really crowded and I couldn't get an interior shot, but it was so cool that someone opened their home for the Unblurred event.

I never have a chance to get to all of the venues and special events during these first Fridays. There was so much more that was just happening for the evening, and there are still all of the regular venues, like Awesome Books. I did stop in to say hello to Christine Bethea at ARTica. The shop got a recent "face lift" from designer Joesph Hall and is looking particularly spiffy. If you're looking for some quirky or unique gift, stop in and poke around a bit.


The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination (5006 Penn)
Closing reception for Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Artists II
June Edwards
June Edwards
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher
Tim Fabian
Tim Fabian

The Irma Freeman Center has moved to an alternating monthly exhibition schedule, covering two months for each exhibit. So it does give you a little longer to come back and really explore the works. The current show, Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Artists, is a really far-ranging survey exhibit. There are several pieces that are exceptional among the works presented, alongside some that are sort of naive. The installation was well thought out, though, so the works didn't clash. Among the best works were those by Tim Fabian, June Edwards and Wendy Osher (pictured above).

 “The Good Fight” New Works by Christian Breitkreutz

Christian Breitkreutz
Christian Breitkreutz

From the show statement --

Men, women, children and beast alike, we cannot afford another day lost behind blinded eyes. This is a call to arms to do battle against the trumpets of evil sounding off in our brains! We must all rally behind one another to keep fighting The Good Fight!

Do you like Quentin Tarantino, with his over-the-top portrayals of violent acts? You know what I mean; shiny, farcical violence, violence that is so extreme it becomes kitsch. Like a Tarantino movie, this was an exhibit of some pretty intense images of stylized violence. Cute skeletons, pretty blood colors and decapitated heads with bland expressions. There was also a touch of the kind of imagery you would see in a Dia De Los Muertos festival.

Most Wanted Fine Art
"A Year in A Life" - new works by Nina Sauer and Ryan Dunmeyer

Ryan Dunmeyer
Ryan Dunmeyer
Ryan Dunmeyer
Ryan Dunmeyer

Curses. I really need to get a new camera. Yes, I took pictures of both artists' work. Please take my word on it that Nina Sauer's work is really great. They were small-format pieces, with a really nice sensibility. Her work pairs very well with Mr. Dunmeyer's, pictured above. Definitely a show worth catching, and Most Wanted Fine Arts does have regular hours.

If you want to catch the transitory stuff that happens each month, you might want to sign up for the Unblurred e-blast. Or just be spontaneous and show up some First Friday. You never know what you'll find.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Idora Park Carousel Barely Escapes Hurricane Sandy

The already bittersweet story of the last remaining gem from Youngstown's Idora Park came close to epic tragedy. After decades of decline, the park burned to the ground in 1984, with the last major remanant, an amazing carousel bought by the wife a wealthy NYC developer. Finally, fully restored and placed a few feet from the water's edge in a small park under The Brooklyn Bridge. From The Daily Beast
The 48 horses and four chariots that make up what’s now called Jane’s Carousel—after Walentas—brought delight to children at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio—then a prospering steel town—in 1922. After the city declined along with the steel industry in the 1970s, a fire consumed the park, but spared the historic carousel—in 1974, it became the first one ever listed on the National Register of Historic Places—which went up for auction in 1984.

The Walentases scooped up the bruised and battered carousel for $385,000, and it was shipped in parts to New York City in 1984, and the horses were stored for much of the next few years in individual stalls in the basement of David’s building at 45 Main Street.
Told by experts, the Carousel would be safe from a 100 year storm, Sandy a mere category 1 Hurricane almost washed it away.
There, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on a three-foot high pavilion that usually stood 30 feet from the river’s edge, the waters whipped up by Hurricane Sandy were engulfing the carousel she had cared for over decades.
Check out the scary images.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tours of Ohio for political junkies

From NPR

What the hell, Ohio isn't likely to see many benefits from the swarm of political locusts that show up every four years. Might as well cash in by attracting tourists.
Tourism with a theme isn’t new. But former BBC and New York Times reporter Nicholas Wood felt there was something missing in the tourism industry. WOOD: “It struck me – if you can have art tours, history tours, why can’t you have serious political tours? So we give people, ordinary people the same opportunity you and I have had.” So Wood launched Political Tours, designed specifically for the political junkies. The company is bringing a small group to Ohio and Washington to look into the 2012 presidential election.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Retiring Stagehand Looks back on 40 Years of Pittsburgh Theater

The Trib has an amazing look at Ken Brannigan, retiring from The Benedum. (formerly The Stanley Theater)

Brannigans have been working Pittsburgh backstages for more than a century. The walls of Brannigan’s Benedum basement office display photos of union picnics and parades that illustrate the history of Pittsburgh theater, Brannigan’s family and Local 3.

His great uncle John Brannigan was an assistant electrician at the New Duquesne Theatre in 1910. During the years, Brannigan’s three great uncles, his father, his uncle, his brother and an assortment of cousins and their kids have joined the union and worked backstage.
Likly not gonna happen, but I wish he would write a book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sometimes Better to do nothing part two: Cleveland's Warehouse District

make a gif
make a gif

 I posted this before and after GIF months ago, which illustrates how little is left of the Warehouse district just west of Cleveland's downtown.

Truth is I don't know the exactly how or why these buildings were torn down- but given overall national history and the relative proximity to Cleveland's massive sports stadiums and I-90, I have an idea.

 Most, do not look like they were historic gems- some of those were saved. What one sees is blocks of solid, useful buildings, forming an urban, walkable fabric, perfect for gradual reuse- or even replacement.

 Michael Lewis, in Moneyball says it's not the great players or moves a team doesn't make that haunt as much as the disastrous gambles that don't pay off. The other thing one got from the movie- is that the temptation to swing for the fences and grab for the the trendy all star or latest urban fad is almost overwhelming.

We can see that in cities pretty clearly. Once, a massive destructive mistake like a West Side Highway or Allegheny Center is made, it's very hard to fix. Perhaps nothing hurts as much as a design that permanently breaks or changes the street grid.

Let's hear it for small-ball.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cincinnati's Over The Rhine: Why It's sometimes best to do nothing has a nice story and photo essay on Cincinnati's Over The Rhine neighborhood, long considered one of the largest semi intact collections of historic buildings in the country.

Just a few years before, none of this would have been possible.

Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine area, just north of downtown, had become a wasteland, a desolate, scary place that most residents -- let alone tourists -- had no reason to visit except for occasional trips to Findlay Market and Music Hall.
Not familiar with the full story, but year after year, as the place suffered from decline and disinvestment, I'm sure many thought the city should "just do something", tear it down, build a new stadium or indoor mall or change the street grid or add lots of parking garages-- like we so often have done in Pittsburgh.
Over the second half of the 20th century, the neighborhood grew increasingly abandoned, was a magnet for illegal activity and became home to hundreds of vacant buildings. In 2000, the neighborhood was prominently featured in "Traffic," a movie about the failing war on drugs, as the place where the daughter of Michael Douglas' character, the national drug czar, goes to get high.
Easy to see now, that such a classic set of buildings and block grid so close to the downtown was an above average attraction but in the 50's, 60's and 70's most, "smart people", thought just the opposite. Sadly, Allegheny City's Central market area had many of the same attributes as OTR.
Buffeted by the urban problems common to most American cities after World War II, the renamed "North Side" was deemed blighted despite much evidence to the contrary, leaving it vulnerable to the gargantuan renewal schemes of the 1960s. A new highway thickened the isolation belt of the railroad, and north of this wall, in the old heart of downtown Allegheny City, the bulldozers arrived in batallions. With the smashing of the beloved Market House on the Diamond, and the raising of a massive and mediocre suburban mall, it was as if the soul of the city itself had finally been extinguished
Sometimes the best "plan" is to value what you have and just wait to see what happens.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Interesting "You Didn't Build That" backround story related to Pittsburgh and Roanoke

I am trying to only put up political posts that pretty closely relate to Pittsburgh's history and culture. This one is just an opinion- but I think I bring in perspective and backround.

He also- never mentions, that government can and often has disrupted and destroyed vital human connections or that government officials may be racist. The town where Obama made those comments, suffered badly from the same kinds of policies that tore down communities like The Lower Hill and the core of Pittsburgh's North Side business district.

What's interesting about Roanoke?

As the speech and location entered the national media- I thought, why do I know that place? Well, Roanoke along with Pittsburgh and Newark just happens to be one of three cities looked in Mindy Fullilove's book Root Shock, on the devastating social, economic and emotional effects of Urbam Renewal programs on black communities. From The Roanoke Times,
Urban renewal wiped blocks of Roanoke's black neighborhoods from the map and divided Gainsboro -- one of the city's oldest sections -- into a fractured patchwork of houses, industrial lots and splintered community groups. So while a proposal this month to end one of the last remaining relics of urban renewal has offered Gainsboro residents a chance for closure, it also has exposed frayed social ties.
In Pittsburgh, promises of better housing and community infrastructure resulted in a highway and sports arena- In Roanoke, a community was torn down to build a Coca Cola Bottling plant. In both cities, the programs left anger and a loss of confidence. "The legacy of distrust between the neighborhood and city government could make that difficult. In 1979, when the city council was considering a similar proposal, the Rev. Kenneth Wright of Gainsboro's First Baptist Church said, "It is imperative that the city not overlook the moral commitment that has been made to the people of Gainsboro."

Further on:
"The whole goal was to move low-income people out of these neighborhoods that surrounded the downtown, sell the property to commercial developers, so the city wins, the developers win. ... The only people who lose are those in the neighborhood, who still remain there," said Radford University professor Reginald Shareef. "The anger is, for those who remain, their quality of life in the neighborhood has gone." About 1,000 people live in Gainsboro, scattered across roughly 500 residential properties, nearly half of which are currently vacant, according to city real estate records. The housing authority owns about 85 of those vacant residential lots, most of which are concentrated on the neighborhood's north side."
In all three cities, the promised net improvements in the tax base also never quite panned out. It takes a real stretch to imagine, the Lower Hill or the Central Ward of Newark are better off today because this was done.

But, the thesis Mindy makes in Root Shock is that the destruction, in lost relationships is almost beyond calculation. In my opinion, these effects are a huge unexamined factor in recent urban, minority and American history.

Friday, October 05, 2012

A Busy Busy Arts Weekend in Pittsburgh

Somehow, John Morris and I are going to get to all of this..........and I am  sure we will misss some things that we don't even know are occurring!
Friday: Mendelson Gallery. James Nelson and friends. A great collection of artists:
Painter James P. Nelson exhibits recent work and welcomes friends and colleagues -

photographer David Aschkenas
painters Robert Qualters and Philip Rostek
sound artist R. Weis
mixed-media artist Carolyn Wenning
in an exhibition that explores the worlds within everyday reality.
October 5-27, 2012
Opening Reception: October 5th, 7-9 pm
Also Friday "Unblurred" on Penn Ave. The Unblurred just get better and better. More and more art, more and more people, more a mix of people on the streets. Among the many openings tonight is "Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Artists" at Irma Freeman: Ad so much more. For details go here
Saturday and Sunday: "Figment Pittsburgh". The first time Figment, an interactive art exhibit has been held in Pittsburgh. Other venues include Boston and NYC. See the CP cover story "The Figment festival of interactive art makes its Pittsburgh debut Weekend-long fest brings local artists to Allegheny Commons" by going here
Saturday: "Wood-Fired Words- Braddock" I know it is autumn when this event occurs. Great readings and great wood fired pizza. From the Unsmoke website:
Saturday, October 6th

Readings, art, a pop-up bookstore, and wood-fired pizza

7pm - 10pm

Readings start at 8:30pm

$7 admission

Curated by Sherrie Flick

The 4th annual Wood-Fired Words will feature readings by: Sean Thomas Dougherty, Braddock’s 2013 Into the Furnace Writer-in-Residence; Sarah Leavens, Braddock’s current Out of the Forge Writer-in-Residence; and Salvatore Pane, author of the forthcoming novel Last Call in the City of Bridges, published by Braddock Avenue Books.

The event will also include The East End Book Exchange pop-up used bookstore, paintings by local artist Anna E. Mikolay, and wood-fired pizza baked in Braddock’s community pizza oven (with special chef appearance by Kevin Sousa). Drinks are BYOB, and an ongoing potluck will occur inside the gallery.

Into the Furnace is a writer-in-residence program in Braddock, PA. The selected writer is housed in a two-room suite in the former St. Michael’s parochial school convent, which is located beside UnSmoke Systems Artspace, across the street from the Edgar Thompson Works, and beside the community pizza oven. Into the Furnace offers an adventuresome creative person, whose work and work ethic can benefit from the energy Braddock has to offer, up to 9 months of creative work time at our urban residency.
Out of the Forge is a new writing residency for post-MFA graduates held in conjunction with the Into the Furnace residency. It allows time and space for an emerging writer to focus on his/her craft as well as engage with the Braddock community. Housed in the convent building next to UnSmoke for 6 to 9 months, the writer-in-residence becomes part of the heart of Braddock’s burgeoning literary community.
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of thirteen books across genres including the forthcoming All I Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 and Scything Grace. He is the recipient of two Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry and a Fulbright Lectureship to the Balkans. Known for his electrifying performances, Dougherty has performed at hundreds of venues, universities and festivals across North America and Europe. He has worked as a lecturer, in factories, warehouses, as a security guard, in a bakery, a sawmill, and as a teacher of at-risk youth. He currently works at a pool hall and teaches creative writing part-time at Cleveland State University.
Sarah Leavens received her MFA in Poetry and Nonfiction from Chatham University, where she served as the Margaret Whitford Fellow. While at Chatham, she organized the monthly reading series Word Circus in collaboration with Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery and earned certificates in the Pedagogy of Creative Writing and Travel Writing. Originally from the middle of four cornfields in Indiana, she has lived at length in Ohio, where she coordinated an arts outreach program for at-risk youth and families in Springfield, and served as Vice President for the Yellow Springs Arts Council. Her recent work has appeared in Fourth River and Weave; she teaches writing and visual art in Pittsburgh.
Salvatore Pane was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His novel, Last Call in the City of Bridges, will be published by Braddock Avenue Books this fall. His chapbook, #KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning, is forthcoming from NAP. He is an Assistant Professor of English Creative Writing at the University of Indianapolis. His fiction has been nominated or shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Web, and Wigleaf’s Top 50 [Very] Short Fictions. He won the 2010 Turow-Kinder Award in Fiction judged by Stewart O’ Nan with an excerpt from his novel. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in American Short Fiction, Hobart, PANK, Annalemma, BOMB, The Rumpus, HTMLGIANT, The American Book Review, and many other venues.
Braddock Avenue Books is an independent literary press dedicated to publishing both new and established writers and graphic artists whose work engages honestly and meaningfully with contemporary circumstances. Braddock Avenue Books especially supports writers using literary fiction, the long-form essay, or graphic fiction and nonfiction for serious explorations of what it means to be alive today. Founded by local writers Jeffery Condran and Robert Peluso in 2011, Braddock Avenue Books is located in Braddock, PA.
Sherrie Flick is author of a novel, Reconsidering Happiness (Bison Books), and the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume). Select anthologies include Flash Fiction Forward (Norton), New Sudden Fiction (Norton), and The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. She has received fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, The Ucross Foundation, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A recipient of a 2011 Work of Art Award for Artistic Vibrancy from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, she teaches at Chatham University and (for 10 years) served as Artistic Director for the Gist Street Reading Series. Sherrie was instrumental in the creation of the Into the Furnace writing residency program.

The East End Book Exchange was founded in the summer of 2011 on two simple ideas: love of books and love of Pittsburgh. It is a pop-up used bookstore dedicated to connecting booklovers and books in the heart of Pittsburgh’s East End. Each weekend, The East End Book Exchange appears in a community space or local business in a different neighborhood.

Anna E. Mikolay is a painter and installation artist who lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. She received a BFA from Edinboro University and maintains a studio space at Unsmoke Systems Artspace, in Braddock, PA. Upcoming Pittsburgh exhibitions include New Paintings at Concept Art Gallery, a site-specific installation at Future Tenant Gallery, and a solo exhibition at Unsmoke Systems Artspace. Recently, she was an artist in residence at the New York Student Art League's Vytlacil Campus, Sparkill, NY and a fellow with the 2011 Flight School Fellowship, Pittsburgh Filmmakers in Partnership with Creative Capital. Recent projects include, The Space Between, a solo exhibition at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, an installation for the 8 Hour Project, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA and paintings in the show, Minimalism in The 21st Century at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.