Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Reverse the Negative

We visited our son and his girlfriend in Pittsburgh this last weekend, September 6 and 7. One of the things we did was to visit the Phipps Conservatory. We parked the car on the street just across from it and as we walked, we saw these two locations right across from each other.

I had taken some figurines to the city thinking I might leave a couple there. This location was not one I would have thought of, but when I saw these two graffitied words, I knew it was the right place. We went back to the car, picked out a couple, and set them down.

I don’t know why these words were chosen and why someone went to the trouble to write them, and I’ll never know. But it seemed that their sadness could be reversed just a little, maybe. I felt I had to try.

Train Trip

About a year ago I made a train trip to Pittsburgh to visit my son. I spent the trip glued to the window. And I took notes in my little orange Rhodia notebook, though not with any real purpose in mind – maybe I thought it might jog my memory when describing the trip to my family and friends.

I thought of making a zine out of it because of a friend – a zine-maker herself. The trip seemed like a good fit for a zine. I was further encouraged by a visit to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where there is a great zine collection (I eventually submitted mine to the library and it’s now in their collection).

Now a friend has posted it on the little orange notebook’s blog – she is the editor and a wonderful artist herself. Take a look if you’d like – the whole text is published. And if you want an actual copy, let me know and I’ll send you one.

Thank you to Stephanie, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Katie!

And here’s a picture, not of a train, but of one of the things I really enjoyed on the trip – the buses in Pittsburgh are all different colors, and I loved seeing them moving around the city…
yellow bus #2

A Journey

Here is a story about a project I did that required the help and participation of quite a few people for me to accomplish it. And it’s one that has meant a lot to me, because it involves my favorite people and the place where I feel most happy, other than my own home – the public library.

In April of this year, I visited my son in Pittsburgh, where he is living right now. I took the trip on my own and traveled by train from Philadelphia – a seven hour journey. The trip made a big impression on me. There was an unending progression of interesting sights from the train window, and then I spent 4 days looking around Pittsburgh, some of it on my own and some with my son.

One of the places I visited was the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main location. I particularly wanted to go there to see their zine collection. Some time earlier, a student in one of my collage classes introduced me to the existence of zines. I found the idea fascinating, that I could put together my own publication. Inspiration as to what to do, though, evaded me, and the idea of trying my own remained something just in the back of my mind.

Then, my son gave me some zines he bought at a zine fest in Pittsburgh – and I learned of the CLP zine collection from researching the authors of those zines. So, as a result, I found myself spending an afternoon reading selections from the collection. Just a wonderful experience, I can’t tell you. There are very interesting people are living in this world and I’m glad that some of them are writing or drawing and creating these works.

After I went home, I thought about the trip, and I consulted the small notebook that I had kept notes in for the trip – I had done this with the idea of doing something with the information, but figured mostly it would just help me remember what I saw when I told my husband about the trip. I realized my notes made a story – and then I realized, here was my zine idea.

So I set to work, wrote it all, put pictures of my notebook pages in it as well, and made painted covers. I sent them to friends, both ones I see in person and some who I know only through my mail art activities. I took my courage in hand and inquired as to whether the CLP would like a copy. Yes, the answer came back! So I sent it off to Pittsburgh and imagined it in its place in the collection there.

I received many nice comments on my work – in one notable instance, the husband of one my mail art friends wrote me a postcard saying he’d read her copy and that he traveled the same way I did, looking out the window and enjoying the everyday sights right outside. (He said that if we ever traveled together it could be difficult, because we would both want the window seat!) You can see that I felt very satisfied by the whole experience.

But there is one more thing to tell. This last weekend my husband and I visited our son (traveling by car this time). On the Friday afternoon, October 25, we went to the library to visit my zine. We couldn’t find it at first, looking in the Travel section. Then – we found it, displayed in a special spot as a new zine! For everyone to see it!

So, I want to thank Katie, Andrew, Hector (and all the others who read my zine, including Diane and her sister), Jude, and Bob for how each of you made such a nice experience possible.

If you want to know more about the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s zine activities, here’s a link.

And here’s another post I did about my trip to Pittsburgh – about their very attractive city buses!

And, if you want a copy of the zine (It’s called “Mom Takes The Train to Pittsburgh, Has a Great Time, and Then Goes Home”, email me and I’ll send you one.

It’s Just Beautiful

This past Friday, August 16, we visited our son in Pittsburgh. We had a variety of activities planned for the one day we would be in town, including taking him our old kitchen table and four chairs for his new apartment. But – I also had another purpose – I wanted to view the Knit the Bridge yarn installation on the Andy Warhol Bridge.

I won’t go into too much detail about the overall project – you can read about it on their blog here. It’s enough for this post to say that many, many people knitted or crocheted items to a specific size, and then they were attached to the bridge, along with special panels made for the towers. Panels were made by a single person, a couple of people, a larger group, or even by many anonymous people working on a stitch here and there at some more public projects. Small sections were pieced together. Knitters and crocheters are both represented.

A large volunteer force was the backbone of the event with professional help for installation as needed. It took a lot of planning and preparing for the sight that greeted our family. And a nice thing – the panels will live on – when the installation comes down (in early September) they will be washed and given to charity.

We spent quite a bit of time at the bridge. As a knitter myself, I wanted to pay tribute to each panel by viewing it individually where I could (the ones that were installed along the walkways) and see the ones from a distance I couldn’t get close to (the ones on the outside railings). I took pictures of the panels I liked most, but there wasn’t one that didn’t appeal to me.

Some pieces were obviously planned out in advance – others looked more impromptu or spontaneous. Every panel did not contain perfect work – knitters and crocheters of all skill levels were welcome. Some panels looked like abstract art and some were very traditional patterns. And don’t overlook the railings – they are all covered by knitted or crocheted black covers, once again in all kinds of patterns and styles.

We walked along slowly, enjoying the overall impressions we got from the works and also examining the work techniques. I saw several pieces I wish I had been able to ask the maker for a pattern or explanation – plenty of things I’d like to try myself!

It was a beautiful sunny day and the work showed itself off to its best advantage. The entire installation was just beautiful. I am very happy I was able to see it.

Here’s how I organized the pictures – they are in the order I took them as we walked across the bridge.

– Numbers 30-46 (the last digits of the photo number) are crossing the bridge from downtown Pittsburgh, going north. I took some pictures looking forward and some looking back at the city.

– Numbers 48-52 are of the towers and views of the outside panels, first on the east side and then the west.

– Numbers 55-67 are crossing the bridge going south, back to downtown. Some photos are looking toward the city and some looking back at the north shore.

Work Table, Enough Said

Here’s a view of projects I have lined up on my table. I may work on some of them this afternoon. My hand is healing but can only do a little right now, so we’ll see. Still, it’s hard to stay away.
work table 5-31-13

These are covers for a zine I have written about my trip to Pittsburgh in April. It’s all finished except for putting it together. I wrote a post earlier this spring about one aspect of my visit there, my fascination with the city’s brightly-colored buses.

zine covers

Here are details of the small works in process, waiting for more…something?

WIP #3

WIP #2

WIP #1

The City Bus and Art

I just came back from a visit to Pittsburgh, PA, where my son lives. I walked all kinds of places while I was there – I like to walk and though I always have a destination, I’m not usually choosy about how quickly I get there – so I get diverted into a lot of interesting experiences. There is so much that’s fascinating about everyday life, I never find myself with nothing to do or to look at. And when I go to a new place, I observe even more – because I don’t have the familiarity of the scenes getting in the way of my seeing them. I need to pay close attention because I don’t have any previous experiences to fall back on. It’s all new.

In Pittsburgh I noticed the city’s buses right away – on the train coming in, I was struck by the sight of a group of them waiting at a depot along the tracks. They are painted in all kinds of colors. There are lots of them – one is always coming into view along the street. They stand out in the traffic and help organize the visual chaos that a city can be at street level. I started to feel that they were participating in making a purposeful composition – many colored components weaving through the city, changing the scene again and again as they moved along. A collage of sorts, one that doesn’t stand still.

It’s interesting to think about – bus routes as a framework for an art piece, or maybe art experience, that changes every minute as each bus moves. I felt included in what the buses were doing and started looking for them. I wish I’d taken more pictures.