Penn Avenue Arts District is Unblurred
There was a time when you might not have felt safe walking there. There was a time when you might not have found anything you wanted to see there. There was a time when you might have been warned not to go there. Oh my, how times are changing. The place in question is Penn Avenue on the Garfield/Bloomfield line between Negley and Mathilda Avenues and last Friday evening it was buzzing with activity as another rendition of Unblurred sprang from doorways all along the thoroughfare.
As the early evening sun threw long shadows up Penn Avenue towards East Liberty Circle, hundreds of strolling patrons took advantage of dozens of venues that opened their doors to showcase a variety of art, music, food and live performances. And the fun continued well into the night, giving testament to the undeniable fact that another Pittsburgh neighborhood is being transformed and rejuvenated with the help of the local artist community.
Unblurred is a program of the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative and takes place the first Friday night of every month but January. A sampling of June’s offerings included the opportunity to have your portrait sketched by Cara Kleid while assuming your favorite yoga position at Yoga Hive, watch hot glass demonstrations at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, participate in a neighborhood painting party and create decorative boards to cover windows and beautify vacant buildings at the Pittsburgh Beautification Project Studios, and dance the tango at the Law Office of Richard J. Walters and Adjacent Downstairs Artspace. In addition, there was a lot of art to see – from the traditional to the avant-garde, music to hear, and delicacies to consume – mixed throughout a multitude of galleries, shops, restaurants and interstices. (A list of Penn Avenue attractions is available here.)
The crowd that flowed up and down the sidewalks was as varied as the artwork – as diverse as the city itself. People of different ages, races, sexes and styles moved easily among each other, sharing space, laughs and surprises. From mothers pushing strollers to seniors pushing walkers, from college students to union workers – all were there, all were welcome, all were having fun. There were even a couple of people from Cleveland and nobody seemed to mind.
The Penn Avenue Arts Initiative was created in 1998 by Friendship Development Associates in collaboration with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. The PAAI’s mission is to revitalize the Penn Avenue Corridor by using the arts to enhance public perception of the district, instill pride in the neighborhood, and foster community ties. Their objectives include increasing the number of artists who live and work in the area, supporting the purchase and renovation of property to make them more accessible to artists, marketing the area to artists and arts-related activities, and empowering local youth by having artists engage them in meaningful art projects.
Friendship Development Associates is a non-profit community development organization whose mission is to revitalize the Friendship neighborhood. FDA works to improve the housing stock, provide high-quality affordable housing to low/moderate income households and develop commercial buildings. Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the social, economic and physical fabric of the Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship neighborhoods by engaging and inspiring members of those communities. BGC strives to motivate people to revitalize the physical environment, improve the economy and strengthen the social well-being of their neighborhoods.
With many warm First Friday Nights ahead, why not head out to a part of town where your mother might have once told you not to go? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite place to eat, or buy a book, or take a walk, or take a class, or just hang out. You’re bound to see something new. You may even be part of its creation.
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EVERYTHING AT ONCE: Artwork by Susan Constance, Jean McClung, John Morris, and Patrick Schmidt
The Spring Salon:
Modernformations Gallery and Performance Space
Annual Juried Exhibition
Opening Night: April 2nd from 7 to 10pm.
Artists and non-artists from the Western Pennsylvania area are being juried…by you!
Past winners include Kat Cole, Jairan Sedeghi, Ben and Andy Kehoe, and Jesse Best!
Please join us in the celebration!
Come for never seen before local art and artists, food, drinks, and fun.
Come to vote!
You will determine who wins their very own solo exhibition at the gallery in December 2010
You will help discover new talent!
Exhibit runs through April 30th