Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Justified Sinner comes to teach at SCC

The JUSTIFIED SINNER, renowned Scottish artist DAUVITALEXANDER, is bringing his Cabinet of Curiosities to the Society for Contemporary Craft. 

Influenced by musician John Cage, architect Frank Gehry, metalsmith Bob Ebendorf, jewelry worn by Renaissance men, and children's TV shows from the 70's, this eccentric award-winning artist has been a finalist in the PMC Studio Open Competition and exhibited as part of the Goldsmith’s Hall Craftsmanship and Design Awards, as well as exhibiting this year in the Landfill Art Project here in Pennsylvania and Beneath The Skin at the Sheffield Institute of Arts in Sheffield, UK. The work shown here is The Four Cocktail Rings of the Apocalypse. More information and other examples of the artist’s work can be found at Dauvit Alexander’s website. He also has a great Etsy Site with really affordable work.

hymn to amun-ra, found brake pad from a light aircraft,silver, blue topaz, custom-cut citrine, lapis-lazuli, acrylic enamel, rare-earth magnets, kevlar from a bullet-proof vest, 3d print of a scarab beetle

Dauvit Alexander will be teaching NEW JUNK JEWELRY at the Society of Contemporary Craft. The class is a tutorial in combining found and discarded objects by traditional fine jewelry techniques. Participants will create their own personal, wearable, environmental apocalypse.

The Four Cocktail Rings Of The Apocalypse: Pestilence

NEW JUNK JEWELRY runs from Monday July 11th to Friday, July 15th, and there are still a few spaces. The tuition for the class is $425.00 (some partial-tuition scholarships are available.) Please call: Sherrard Bostwick, SCC Director of Education, at phone number: 412.261.7003 extension 25 or email: for more information or to register. 

Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Rings

atavism, found, corroded hand-made nail, silver, found washers, spring washers, file tang, key, natural sapphire crystal, sapphires and carnelians

I Put A Spell On You

Monday, June 27, 2011

There's a new restaurant in town

It feels like over the past 2-3 years Pittsburgh has welcomed a gaggle of exciting new restaurants. Ranging in specialties such as tacos, burgers, "American", and exotic fusions, and with a strong overall trend of using locally-sourced ingredients, there is something to delight every pallet! Pittsburgh has never tasted so good.

Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
Kevin Sousa, chef and owner of Salt of the Earth in Pittsburgh, finishes a plate of local legumes and farm-raised rabbit.
Places like Salt of the Earth and Legume both emphasize the importance of serving local and seasonally appropriate foods in an unpretentious and comfortable atmosphere. 


Getting into the foodie spirit, I've been trying to test all of the new places I can. As an Upper Lawrenceville resident I was super excited that a new restaurant was opening a short walk from my house on the 5100 block of Butler Street. If you’re familiar with Lawrenceville you'll know that while Central L-ville is hopin', there isn't much going on after 47th street. The new restaurant is called Alchemy N'Ale - a name that, I assume, playfully adopts the Pittsburghese "N'at". "Alchemy N’ Ale will bring a rustic, yet modern sensibility to the old world charm and hospitality of classic English-style, countryside pubs," the eatery's Facebook page claims. They had a VIP opening on Thursday, June 24th, which was actually open to anyone - sort of a pre-opening opening. My boyfriend and I walked down to check out the new décor and the food and drink menus. Formerly the location of Geno's Restaurant and Big Belly Deli, the distinctive sign of the previous restaurant still hung on the exterior, repainted in butter yellow with dark lettering spelling out the new name. While I’m all for reuse/recycle, the shape and color of the sign immediately seemed out of place with our expectation of a rustic, yet modern English-style pub. 

Old Geno's sign.

Entering the front door we sidled up to the bar and inquired about the complementary specials for the evening, which included warmish Coors Light bottles (there were lots of other beers available - good beers, we just went with what was free for the event). After we got our drinks we wandered over to the seating area to check out the atmosphere and look over the food menu. Because this was a special event, we didn't order dinner, but partook of several very tasty Hors d'œuvres of muscles and steak tartar that were being served by tattooed waitresses. The menu looks promising with an interesting sounding Lobster Deviled Eggs appetizer and hearty meals in the $10-18 price range, designed by an executive chef formerly of NYC’s Tribeca Grill, which is co-owned by legendary actor Robert De Niro.

While certainly not a pretentious atmosphere, it also isn't a pleasing one. They had exposed the brick in the walls, as well as the dark brown, rough-hewn wooden joists in the central wall that divides the bar from the seating area – both of which were done beautifully and is a style I’m fond of. What wasn’t great was that the beautiful rose-colored brick is dulled by a dusty rose-colored paint on the walls. Without any contrast or complement, the colors run together and make the whole wall look blah - despite strategically placed spotlights on the brick. Further muting the environment is the overly polyurethaned, honey-colored, wooden tables and chairs that, while designed to look rough and practical, looked plastic. Following the legs of the blocky chairs down I was very disappointed to see flecked and polished concrete floors that seemed to be leftover from Geno's. The creamy-brown colors of the floor, mauvish color of the brick and walls, and shiny burlap color of the furniture all come together to create an very bland space whose pallet was reminiscent of my grandmothers house. The only splash of color came from the kitschy fake ivy that was worked into the dividing wall between the tables and the bar, and the wall between the bathrooms. Bright, plastic green vines that made me wonder if the plants hanging from the ceiling we fake as well. A lone shelf on the back wall seemed to hold random knick-knacks, looking much like an after thought. If only the fake ivy were a real indoor, vertical garden I could have ignored the rest of the decor, but it was not. It also appears that they are planning to have DJs on the weekends, which is just another odd and ill-fitting part of this new place. Of course, I will reserve my final judgment until after I go there for a real meal, on a weeknight, but at this time I'm not too optimistic that I can ignore the atmosphere.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New in the Store

Some great new pieces by Robert Villamagna in SCC'c Store. Email Sharon at to buy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Awesome Pittsburgh - GREEN!

Ok, I know I said my next post would be about Braddock, but I've decided to push that back for now to cover PGH, the green city

How many cities have you been to where you can disappear into a public park and forget you're in the middle of the city? Central Park in New York is a man-made wonder. Lincoln Park in Chicago is a treasure to the people of the Windy City. What I like about Pittsburgh City Parks is that there are so many. If fact, there are dozens of small, lush parks through out the city so that no matter where you live, you can probably walk or take a quick drive to get your fix of green. The city and surrounding areas offer a wealth of activities year round including swimming, skating, hiking and biking, kayaking, and during the summer, "Cinema in the Park."

Cinema in the Park - Grandview Park in Mt.

But the parks are a work in progress. Organized in 1996, The Conservancy was established to restore Pittsburgh's four (now five) Regional parks - Frick, Highland, Riverview, and Schenley. Through an enormous amount of effort from volunteers this organization has raised $50 million and turned these parks into something to brag about. In addition to great outdoor space, this city is criss-crossed with trails for walking, hiking, and biking, including the famous Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail, which offers 135 miles of hiking and biking between Cumberland, MD, and Duquesne, PA, near Pittsburgh. The cities newest Regional Park - Emerald View Park - not only boasts one of the best views from the top of Mount Washington, but they are developing 19 miles of hiking trails. Through the Knit and Crochet Trail Markers Project, knitters and crocheters of all skill levels are welcome to participate in making biodegradable trail markers from cotton yarn. The markers will be used to identify trails in the Emerald View Park in the Allentown, Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington neighborhoods. Much of the material for this project was supplied by Knit One, in Squirrel Hill.

Volunteer installing a crocheted trail marker.
But the green isn't confined to just the parks. Tree Pittsburgh speaks for the trees, supporting our urban forest, and keeping our city street trees looking nice and healthy!

Trees at Pittsburgh Brewing Company
Community gardens also help to keep Pittsburgh neighborhoods healthy by providing a local source for nutritious food and by promoting community involvement. Grow Pittsburgh supports a number of projects that demonstrate, teach and promote responsible urban food production. 

From Grow Pittsburgh Photo Albums
No longer the Smoky City, the changing industry of Pittsburgh has led to significant improvements in the region. Rebecca Flora of the Green Building Alliance explains, "As home of the world's first green convention center, and host to 5,000 people for the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) national Greenbuild conference in 2003, Pittsburgh is recognized as a leader in the global green building movement." WYEP, the "First Green Station in the Nation", and the Allegheny Front support a series of green workshops around the city to encourage citizens to venture outdoors and be conscientious of their impact on our environment. Bike PGH is tireless in its efforts to support bicycle advocacy, safety and culture — cutting down on traffic congestion and pollution.

There are many excellent examples of how Pittsburgh is working hard to make a positive change. Obviously the city isn't perfect, there is still a lot that can be done, which means there are a lot of ways to get involved and make a difference! Check out the Pittsburgh Green Story for more information about the city's transformation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awesome Pittsburgh - See, Buy, Make

This weekend was sunny and beautiful in Pittsburgh. Friday night was the monthly Unblurred gallery crawl in Garfield and the Three Rivers Arts Festival was in full swing. I felt so enamored with Pittsburgh this weekend that I thought I would write a series of posts highlighting some of my favorite things about the Steel City, whether you're visiting, relocating, or a long-time resident. 

Pittsburgh is Art

First and foremost - Pittsburgh's Art Scene. Not only do we have Unblurred every month, which features free openings at a bunch of galleries and performance spaces all in a walkable area along Penn Avenue, but we also have the Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District. Organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, this free quarterly crawl takes place in walkable downtown Pittsburgh and boasts free family-friendly openings at over 20 galleries, theaters, schools and other cultural locations. Home to several major museums, such as the Carnegie Museum of Art and Andy Warhol Museum, smaller galleries and art centers also stand prominently in the local and national scene, such as our own Society for Contemporary Craft, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center

The summer always brings with it the excitement of the Three Rivers Art Festival, a free 10-day event featuring over 400 artists, numerous exhibitions, hands-on activities for all ages, outdoor concerts, films, theater and dance performances and lobster burgers.

2011 Three Rivers Arts Festival.
To find out more about Pittsburgh's art galleries, local artist Rick Byerly volunteers his time to keep a fabulous blog about, you guessed it, Pittsburgh art galleries! A great way to get to know the city through art is by going on the Sprout Public Art Walking Tour. This tour offers a free printable brochure/map that integrates with your cell phone to give an in-depth look at the cities unique murals.

Learn more about the Sprout Fund Here!
Not only is there amazing art to see, but lots of opportunities to start your own art collection! I think we have some of the best buying opportunities around, from stores that are open daily to annual events. Contemporary Craft's Store features the best international, national, and regional craft artists in our centrally located space in the Strip District and online. We have a strong focus on emerging artists, giving collectors the opportunity to get an inside look and first pick at the hottest new artists! Wildcard in Lawrenceville focuses on local artists and crafters, from cards to t-shirts. Not only does this store and gallery have great artwork, but the space itself is a piece of art with a floor crafted from sliced tree branches and aged brick walls. The opportunities to see and buy local art extend into the frequent, nomadic indie craft fairs organized by the I Made It Market and the once yearly Handmade Arcade, which features a juried selection of DIY artists from across the country as well as free hands-on activities.

Finally, with all of this art, there must be a lot of opportunities to MAKE! From film-making to stained-glass, if you want to learn it, you can find it in Pittsburgh. Classes are available at Contemporary Craft's Studio, the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Union Project, The Pittsburgh Glass Center and so many other awesome places that I can't list them all.

Students working on a project during one of Contemporary Craft's Artist and Kids workshops.

There is too much art in Pittsburgh to condense into one short post - Pittsburgh is Art. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section! My next Awesome Pittsburgh post will be about Braddock...which I guess isn't technically Pittsburgh, but it's close enough. Stay tuned!