Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Book by Karen Lillis "Watch the Doors as They Close"

Writer Karen Lillis lives in Pittsburgh. But she lived in nYC for many years, and her newest book, "Watch the Doors as They Close", is set in Brooklyn, where the novel's narrator writes about her recent love affair. I read this book in a couple of days and really enjoyed it. Usually, I read through a book in spurts.....and go back and forth...so this is definitely an indication of my interest in the book! Quoting here from the Amazon review:
“This is the story of Anselm.” A woman plans to set down a faithful portrait of her ex-lover, just days after he’s fled their one-room romance. But as she looks back on the crash-and-burn affair, her writing quickly reveals her own contempt for and obsession with moody, unpredictable Anselm. The 35-year-old narrator is an unpublished writer and retail clerk who spends her working hours shelving in a downtown bookstore, her days off laying low in a Brooklyn luncheonette. Anselm is a charming but hapless recent New Yorker, composer of music, and an Ivy League drop-out who hails from a disastrous Appalachian childhood. His storyline is heartbreaking, yet the fallible narrator goes in and out of sympathy for him as she vacillates between telling his story and theirs. In a voice that evokes the melancholy of Jean Rhys and the frankness of Annie Ernaux, Watch the Doors As They Close recounts the intense affair as it disintegrates--all the while painting vivid scenes of American rural poverty and New York bohemia at the turn of the Millennium.
Pittsburgh Magazine also reviewed "Watch the Doors as They Close" in their current issue. For the review, go here And, if you hapen to be in NYC this weekend, there is a free reading by Karen at Zinc Bar.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another hidden cost of sprawl as road salt contaminates streams

Most of us are just starting to face the cost of reparing our sprawling infrastructure, but dozens of other costs still are not widely acknowledged.

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Leftover salt has unsavory outcome for municipalities

"If we brought (the salt) out here, we'd have to cover it with tarps. No matter how well we stored it, we'd probably have less salt by the time next winter rolls around because of water runoff," Getz said, adding that presents environmental concerns because a stream is nearby.

In July, a water-main break beneath a storage area in South Park washed tons of salt into adjacent Peters Creek and killed hundreds of fish.

The township's storage area is an old Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel, about 175 feet long and 20 feet high. Today, it holds about 2,000 tons of salt, which piles to the ceiling through much of the tunnel.

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Road salt is polluting Ohio drinking water

Since 2009, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has found rainwater runoff from road-salt piles fouling public and private wells in five Ohio communities. Though not considered a health threat, the salty taste of drinking water grew so bad that the village of Camden in Preble County had to abandon its wells.

“After you get to a certain level, you can certainly tell there is a change in the taste,” said Melissa Williams, the Preble County health commissioner. “It will corrode your plumbing fixtures, also.”

The issue has Ohio EPA officials dealing with a new type of pollution that’s not specifically covered by environmental law.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weapons of Mass Creation Benefit Concert Assures Cleveland the Festival is Back in Full Force for a Third Year

With the constant, almost overwhelming recent press surrounding the idea of entrepreneurial spirit and start ups as the answer to Rust Belt revival, distinguishing genuine passion versus business plans can be a hard sell. The reason Cleveland is sold on WMCF is simple: Finley and his team are fans. In only three years it’s shown Cleveland the power of a small group of people with big ideas about art. And that’s the DIY movement Weapons of Mass Creation has been about all along.

Cleveland is home to plenty of unexpected success stories. Weapons of Mass Creation Festival is not one of them. Backed by one of the city’s savviest design firms, Go Media, the fledgling Midwest showcase of design, art, film and music has had no lack of creative talent, resources and, above all, energy at its disposal. Now in its third year, it’s no surprise WMCF has won the hearts of Cleveland with its ideas about community building through the arts. This June 8-10, the festival will host 20 speakers, 20 designers and more than 30 bands. Highlights include designer Johnny Cupcakes, best-selling author Austin Kleon and Cleveland buzz band Cloud Nothings.

On the same evening as the Rock Hall inductions there's a spirit of art and vitality throughout Cleveland with no exception at the kind of venue that’s been voted Best Hipster Hot Dog Bar. Go Media partner and WMCF founder Jeff Finley seems unassuming in a pair of sneakers, jeans and wiry frames when he takes the stage at Happy Dog to introduce Saturday’s benefit concert. With a laid back demeanor and modesty in his voice, he keeps his comments quick and gracious but not without his goal: bring in more than 1,000 people this year and be the biggest festival of art and music in the region.

Finley’s ambitions come with a boyish smile and excitement. He’s right up front snapping pictures with his phone of every band playing, the festival’s over-sized logo as the back drop. With the constant, almost overwhelming recent press surrounding the idea of entrepreneurial spirit and start ups as the answer to Rust Belt revival, distinguishing genuine passion versus business plans can be a hard sell. The reason Cleveland is sold on WMCF is simple: Finley and his team are fans.

The movement Weapons of Mass Creation Festival is inspiring, or at the very least bringing to light, revolves around a DIY, grassroots, punk inspired culture and most importantly, this idea of being a fan – celebrating and learning from one another. You could hear it in the music this Saturday – the energy of Eddie Doldrum and Indigo Wild, the bittersweet folk of Ashley Brooke Toussant playing a stand-out cover of The Ronnette’s Be My Baby. And when Cherry Cola Champions closed out the night, despite being Kent-based, the sound was so quintessentially Cleveland – heavy and full of reverb -- you weren’t surprised when Champion's vocalist chimed in, “This is my favorite bar in Cleveland, by the way.”

Towards the end of the evening, a first time listener made an innocent side comment about the duo Cherry Cola Champions that inadvertently defined the entire festival up to this point. “They have a big sound, it really fills the room,” she said, “I would have thought there were more people in the band if I couldn’t see them.” While the festival has a dedicated crew of street team members, volunteers and supporters, in only three years it’s shown Cleveland the power of a small group of people with big ideas about art. And that’s the DIY movement Weapons of Mass Creation has been about all along. 

More info on Weapons of Mass Creation Festival: http://wmcfest.com/

Great Interview "Remembering the Titanic" Essential Public Radio and Post Gazette, Barbara Kharouf

These two stories are really fascinating. The two links below take one to an interview with, and news story about, Barbara Kharouf, whose grandmother, father and uncle survived the Titanic. In the radio interview on Essential Pittsburgh, a radio show on EPR. Barbara Karouf, a Pittsburgh native describes her family's experience of surviving the Titanic. Ms. Karuof, a wonderful interviewee, describes her grandmother’s account of how she managed to get from steerage to the first lifeboat with two children in tow.They were on their way to join her grandfather in Brooklyn NY.They eventually moved to Pittsburgh, where her grandfather worked as an engraver at the weel-known jewelry store Hardy and Hayes.
To Listen HERE NOTE click on the arrow next to the speaker.
For the Post Gazette article, go here

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Private bus line aims to fill the gaps in Detroit's failing transit system

Public safety, transit among $160 million in cuts in Detroit budget proposal

On top of earlier cuts

Slowly private business people are wondering if they can serve this market.

From The Detroit News

Didorosi's first bus will launch the last week of April, and the other two will follow. Didorosi said he wants to quickly expand to day service after starting with a schedule that runs from 5 p.m. to midnight Mondays and Tuesdays, and 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Didorosi said he plans to base routes on public bus lines and market research. A day pass will cost $5 even as gas prices sit above $4 a gallon.

The obvious need for the service is so great and the current system so bad, few politicians are complaining.

Didorosi said longtime promises of more efficient bus systems and light rail are going nowhere.

"In the now, there's nothing. It's impossible to get around downtown," Didorosi said.

We have to get away from the idea that the failure of top down, poorly run government transit automatically means the death of transit service.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More thoughts about a possible Teenie Harris Museum

A few more thoughts about what a Teenie Harris museum might look like and what it's purpose and programing might be. I am hardly an expert on either African American; Pittsburgh or larger issues of urban history. I also don't know that much about photographic history, so one can take these ideas as food for thought.

The Teenie Harris archive seems to show how little most of the public knows about it's own past. It often raises more questions than answers.

Luckily, Pittsburgh already has one of the best possible models of a stand alone museum of a single artist, that both documents that artist's work and places it in a continuing living context of shows involving others.

First, an idea of the show's success.

Coverage or reviews appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Art Daily, The Daily Mail, Time Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and National Public Radio. An AP story on the show was published in 300 papers across the country.

From The Post Gazette

"Overall museum attendance was up last year over the previous year, said Jonathan Gaugler, Carnegie media relations manager, with "huge spikes over the holidays and after Teenie opened." It's also been "way ahead for the year" to date compared with last year at this time. African-American attendance has approximately doubled, he said. Counts for individual shows are difficult to tally because admission numbers include Natural History Museum visitors, but attendance on March evenings, free through a Jack Buncher Foundation grant, gives some idea, escalating from 1,082 early on to 1,665 last week.

"Several hundred comments including identifications and stories have been left in the galleries, some of which are periodically posted on the Carnegie website (click on Information and scroll to What's New). "People write, 'This was my mother, my grandmother, I was the flower girl in this wedding.' They tell heartwarming and heartwrenching stories,"

This brings me to the first concrete reason a permanent space needs to exist, which is to capture the memories of the people who lived in and knew these communities while they are still here.

Museum programing

Of course the primary focus of the museum will be the exploration of Teenie's work, but like the Warhol, it will be very important to do more. Harris may be growing into a Pittsburgh legend, but he is still not very well known outside of town. The Westmoreland and recent Carnegie Museum shows garnered lots of national press, most of which faded very fast. Since he stayed in Pittsburgh and his full archive was left here, too few scholars have had a chance to put his work in perspective.

Part of the problem is that the vast rich world Harris shows us, now seems almost unbelievable. James Van Der Zee took staged pictures of a small slice, of Harlem's intellectual and social elite. Harris, shows the amazing social capital that existed from top to bottom --corner stores, bars, clubs, schools, sports- the famous, the struggling and the striving.

A major goal of the museum is to explore other urban photographers and journalists and try to get a fuller and more realistic picture of what was really going on in America's "working class" neighborhoods. The Teenie Harris Museum would explore urban. African American and photographic history.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The case for a Teenie Harris Museum: A forum for urban history

Well, the Teenie Harris show, I gave a tepid review for, (wishing for a larger selection of full scale prints) really grew in my heart and soul. I went back three times and now wish I had gone more often.

The good news is it will tour. It also, became a pretty huge hit in town and garnered a lot of national and international press.

A reduced version of the exhibition will travel to the Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago (February 4–June 4 2012); the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (August 7–October 28, 2012); and the Robert Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center (January 20–April 13, 2013).

The bad news is that the show will be edited down and isn't scheduled for high profile venues like The Smithsonian, ICP or any major museum.

The online archive continues to grow and be enriched with more personal stories and info.

More than one writer grasped the historic importance of this huge collection of pictures documenting a community.

The Big Legacy Of Charles 'Teenie' Harris, Photographer

The black and white images captured by Charles 'Teenie' Harris that re-tell the musical history of black America in the 20th Century

I think the Harris archive is almost without equal as an extensive, in depth portrait of American life. His 50,000 photos are not made up of many pictures of the same moments, but capture almost 50,000 separate, distinct people, places and events.

Harris didn't just record crime scenes or fashionably dressed people or jazz performances or sports or staged portraits or interesting buildings or pictures meant to advocate a political or social agenda. From his work we get a full idea of a lost time and place. As full an idea as one person could ever provide.

Of course, the time and place is one of endless interest. What happened to the thriving, beautiful, dynamic community he captured? Sadly, no similar record exists of The Grand Concourse, Newark's Central Ward or even of Harlem itself in it's glory days.

So many questions and so many possible points of discussion. In my opinion, Pittsburgh really needs a stand alone museum of Harris's work. My hope is it would become a center for not just African American, but all urban history.

Charles Caldemeyer: Structures

Box Heart is hosting a brunch event this Sunday for artist Charles Caldemeyer. It might be worth your while to take an opportunity to drop by and discuss this work with the artist. From Box Heart's site:

Caldemeyer's exhibition, "Structures," has grown out of his interest in the power of imagery to state a personal inner reality in public terms, and to summarize different levels of experience with a pictorial symbolic language. Each painting is arranged in four horizontal panels oriented in opposite directions around a central axis to suggest different levels of cognition and a sense of history and/or archaeology. The inhabitants of the "structures" are quotations from history and art history, as well as Caldemeyer's own invented figures. Read more

I hate to just leave it at this; the exhibit deserves greater scrutiny than what I am offering here. I am interested in seeing this show, and will be making my way to the gallery sometime over the next couple days. The work is highly detailed, and beautifully produced. I am most interested in the blend of materials since it sounds like a challenging mix.

Brunch @ Box Heart
with Artist Charles Caldemeyer
Sunday, April 15th: 1-3pm
Free and open to the public.

Charles Caldemeyer: Structures

April 3-28, 2012

Box Heart

4523 Liberty Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224


Gallery Hours:

Tuesdays: 11am - 6pm

Wednesdays - Saturdays: 10am - 6pm

Sundays: 1-5pm

Zero Landfill weekend @ Guardian Storage in The Strip

Session 1


Guardian Storage - Strip District
2839 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

A great, guilt free way for designers and architects to clean out their old samples, binders and stuff! A great source of supplies and inspiration for artists, crafters, designers and DYI fanatics!

Pollination Day - Friday 04/13 from 12-3 pm
Interior designers and architects are invited to drop off their expired specifications samples. Including carpet, wallcovering, fabric, stone, glass, tile, laminate, three ring binders and vinyl samples.

Harvest Days - Saturday & Sunday 04/14 & 15 from 12-3 pm
Artists and educators harvest creative supply items including fabric, carpet, ceramic tile, glass and wallcovering samples, three ring binders and specialty papers. Bring boxes or bags to carry your selections home.

More info.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Help bring the Before I Die Project to Pittsburgh

"The 'Before I Die' Project is an interactive public art project created by artist Candy Chang. It encourages and inspires community residents and visitors alike to share their stories and dreams in a public forum. Through this project we can be reminded of how valuable we are not only as individuals, but as united communities."

Here's the Kickstarter. Support it if you can.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Rock Hall opens it's downtown library and archive

Musicians,Lenny Kaye, Donovan, Andrew W.K.;producer Seymour Stein and others talk about how important the newly opened Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library will be in the study of blues and Rock history.

The hall and the brand are still a vastly under leveraged asset for Cleveland.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

GA/GI Festival Details: Green Fire and Haute Fashion

Don't miss the Geek Art/Green Innovator's Festival in Pittsburgh from Thursday, April 5-Saturday, April 7th in various east end locations. This fire is lit and feed by stories shared. Come down to BFG Cafe(Big Fat Greek), at 5335 Penn Avenue and take part in our Unofficial Show and Tel l(Meet and Greet), Open Jam, and Interactive Story-Sharing Circle. Bring your music, acting, poetry, stories and- if nothing else- bring yourself!

Tentative Story-line for Gathering(Could be longer or shorter)
2-3 pm: Unofficial Show and Tell( Connections and Conversation Time)
3-4 pm: Open Story Jam (Improb Collaboration)
4-5 pm: Story-Sharing Circle(Main Event)

We encourage you to share stories that are related to the environment, but are open to all subjects that uplift.
Click to join us on FB!


Fashionation: March of the Fashionists is GA/GI's way of showcasing eco, reimagined and vintage looks from unique fashion designers from Pittsburgh and beyond! A newcomer from Philadelphia is artist Joanne Douglas with an upcycled handbag collection--Feonixe. Feonixe is a movement in modern material culture. Each piece is one-of-a kind and custom made by upcycling fabrics and materials, encouraging us all to, live, shop, design on purpose," Returning fashionistas include the Neighborhood Academy and LaVerne Kemp who wowed the audience with her sylized bee-keeper hat and jewelry from only the best recycled bits!

FOR MORE INFO ON GA/GI Festival April 5-7 visit....