Check out the first episode of our new HSJ podcast, the "Dungeon Dwellers"! Follow the adventures of the Dwellers here each week.
Heinz Street Journal photographer Nick Guy's photograph "The Other World" is moving on to the BGCA National Fine Arts Expo! Nick's photo was one of five entered by HSJ staff and was the winner in the "Editing and Filter" Category for the Northeast Regional. Congrats, Nick!
Artwork by HSJ photographers Nick and Elizabeth were on display for a month at Kaufeehaus Cafe. All ten pieces on display sold, raising hundreds of dollars for SHH programs! Congrats Nick and Liz and thanks to Kafeehaus owners Chris, Tammy and Kyle Waraks for their generosity in displaying the photos and hosting a "Meet the Artists" event!
Check out these photos of downtown Pittsburgh, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, and the beach, all taken by Nick Guy.
Pittsburgh’s reputation as a place with a great cultural scene has been growing in recent years with stories in places like the New York Times and the UK’s Telegraph. This city has charm, history and of course, amazing museums! Growing up in Pittsburgh, as a kid, I remember each field trip I went on, especially if it was to some kind of museum, whether it was the Science Center, the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History, or, probably the most famous one, the Andy Warhol Museum. When given the opportunity me, my fellow reporter and photographer Nick and our mentor Kyle recently made a trip to a museum of modern art called the Mattress Factory, located near the Mexican War Streets neighborhood on the Northside.
When we arrived at the museum, I was intrigued with the charm of its industrial look, and couldn’t wait for what lay beyond the doors. Immediately we met our tour guide who proceeded to take us to the elevator to begin the tour. The first floor was dedicated to James Turrell, an artist who has the ability to trick your mind with his ability to manipulate light. His Catso, Red and Danaë pieces both gave the illusion of a protruding object, but it was simply light projected on a wall. Even after understanding what it is, once you look at it again, it feels as if you are looking at it for the first time all over again! Turrell, as explained by the Mattress Factory education staff, was intrigued with light at a young age. From there he is now able to spark a concept that we live in a reality of our own creation, hence being able to manipulate our sensory system and expanding past it.
“My work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing. I’m also interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity — that physical feeling and power that space can give.”
The second floor that we went to was the one I was waiting for, the one I’ve seen all over my friends’ social media: the Infinity Dots Mirrored Room and the Repetitive Vision Room. The artist is Yayoi Kusama, and the rooms, informed from when she had a terrifying yet transcending experience, represent when reality right before her eyes changed. It was said that when she was younger she remembered sitting down at a table with a tablecloth on it, and right then and there, she watched as her hand morphed into the same floral pattern printed onto it. From there these visions recur constantly even to this day. But from there it inspired her to protest wars and so much more. But what truly sparked her to create these rooms, was to recapture or recreate the feeling of blending in, just as she has. Kusama currently lives in Japan and has exhibits all over the world.When going to this exhibit, the feeling of the loss of the reality we all know will ascend your consciousness to a whole new level.
“My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plaque me into sculptures and paintings.”
Both the Turrell and Kusama exhibits are permanent, but the final exhibit we saw was in the basement and will be leaving the Factory soon. The artist is Ezra Masch, and his piece was called “Stations.” There are five screens propped on both sides of the two walled room, as you stand there, Masch was able to truly capture what it was like riding the subway in New York. With the fluent motion from one screen to the next, and the view from both sides, Masch couldn’t have been more successful with the true illusions he is trying to portray. Though his exhibit is not a permanent one, he is definitely an artist worth following and I encourage you to see this exhibit before it leaves the museum.
If Pittsburgh is a place that you come visit, then the Mattress Factory is one of the top museums you must see, for it truly is an experience and another amazing find in Pittsburgh. I am delighted that this museum is getting positive attention because it deserves to be known and it is a privilege to tour. To go there is to be engulfed in the minds of all different artists and to enter a museum, and state of mind, you may never want to leave.
Autumn is my favorite season. When I feel a cold gust of air and see the leaves changing colors and falling onto my street, I feel excited and relieved. Excited for the holidays and relief that the hot summer days of sweat and discomfort are coming to an end. Sadly, according to former Vice President Al Gore, future fall seasons in Pittsburgh could feel more like ones in Alabama. While some people may not love fall the way I do, and would look forward to a longer, hotter summer, that isn’t really the point. As Mr. Gore says, “There is an air of unreality in debating these arcane points when the world is changing in such dramatic ways right in front of our eyes because of global warming.”
When given the opportunity to attend the Climate Reality Leadership Training, I was beyond excited and knew this was something I could not pass up. Since I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, I know its history of being a steel mill town (I mean our football team is named the “STEELers,” you don’t need a history book!). As a result, we have struggled for decades and still struggle with our air quality alone. The American Lung Association ranks Pittsburgh as one of the worst areas in the country for air quality. Still, it was clear that Al Gore has done his research on Pittsburgh; he understands we adapt, we lead, and we don’t back down, even when called out by the President of the United States as a reason for not acting on climate change.
“Reality matters. We must look at the dangers - look at them - and exert our efforts to moving policies.” -Al Gore
My photographer Nick and I sat with press in the massive hall of the Convention Center and listened as Mayor Bill Peduto told the story of Pittsburgh, from Lewis and Clark to the shutting of the mills. Hearing about all of the promising programs Pittsburgh has created sparked hope, but I also realized that we still hadn’t overcome the damage of past pollution. Hearing about the ALA ranking, hearing that we continue to rank the eighth-worst for year round-pollution in the region, especially with the improvements we made, is honestly terrifying. Pittsburgh is my home, so this made me upset, but change doesn’t happen in a day. Mr. Peduto ended on a high note, talking about Pittsburgh’s bright future and our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement in spite of Washington D.C. and I was proud to be part of a city that believes in combatting climate change.
“This is where the world’s going, and we’re not going to be able to stop that, the only thing we can do is be a part of it — and lead it — like we did in the past in this country.”
- Bill Peduto
Pittsburgh itself has a fascinating history, as well as many innovative sites. One of our proudest is the amazing Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of the only “living buildings” in the world. After doing some research on Phipps Conservatory, I learned that it is also the first and only building to meet all four of the highest green certifications: Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum , Four Stars Sustainable Initiative and WELL Building Platinum Project. This building intertwines both the environmental and aesthetic aspects into one, showing how the lives of humans and the health of the environment are connected. Buildings like these inspire and show what could happen if we were to follow a more responsible path. In fact, Sarah Heinz House, the Boys and Girls Club I belong, to also received the LEED platinum award for its 2006 addition to the original building. Everyday community-based groups in Pittsburgh are also coming together to clean up garbage and plant community gardens. Green spaces are a phenomenal sight in a city environment and it’s amazing to see communities come together to help grow food for one another in places like Troy Hill, Lawrenceville and Central Northside. But, even with the changes we make at the community level, it isn’t enough to heal the world. Healing the environment requires governmental policy changes.
One of the policy seminars I attended was the “Justice: Climate Impacts, Jobs, and Health.” This discussion featured many leaders in the Pittsburgh community such as Fred Brown, President and CEO of the Homewood Children’s Village, Khari Mosley, Pennsylvania Regional Programs Manager for the Blue Green Alliance, and Veronica Coptis, Executive Director for the Center for Coalfield Justice. During their sit down chat, the moderator, Lisa Garcia, Vice President of Litigation for Healthy Communities and Earthjustice, discussed environmental problems within Pittsburgh, and how they are doing everything in their power to bring awareness to said problems and the injustices they create.
Once the panel was over, I interviewed Veronica Coptis. When I asked her how she was able to get involved and organize events, she told me the key part is to listen. Hearing that made me happy because she truly believes that anyone can help their community, whether rich or poor, no matter their personal circumstances. Someone can lead by simply listening to what their community has to say and adjusting organizations to fit the needs of the individuals they serve. Coptis also mentioned that people tend to be afraid of change - which is entirely true - but Pittsburgh is an adaptable city; change is the Pittsburgh story!
“The key part is to listen, and when you listen, the whole community is able to be involved.”
- Veronica Coptis
Finally, Nick and I had the chance to watch Mr. Gore’s entire two hour presentation based on his research and Inconvenient Truth documentaries. While it did have a very broad focus, he was able to share some specific information about Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. In Pennsylvania alone, there are already 28 facilities dedicated to building or providing parts for wind turbines, creating at least 1,400 jobs. If Pittsburgh continues down this path and follows their plan, by 2023 emissions should be reduced by 20%. By 2035, the city could be fueled entirely by renewable electricity. Change is scary, especially to those who rely on jobs like those in the coal mines, but this is a promising future, and it’s not going to stop. Pittsburghers have shown that they could survive even when the steel industry left and if coal mining becomes obsolete, former coal miners can begin working new renewable energy jobs. Through national and international action plans like the Paris and the Climate Reality Project, and, just as importantly, grassroots organizations like Veronica Coptis’ Center for Coalfield Justice, Pittsburgh takes a step towards a greener future and a greener world.
Before going to this event, I knew that Pittsburgh, along with the world's climate, was suffering from human pollution, but after sitting through each seminar, I was able to realize the true severity of the predicament the world was in. I have always cared about the environment. When I attend summer camp and I’m outside surrounded by nature, I feel at home. During his address, Gore encouraged us to spread the word about the effects of pollution and local organizations to our friends and family so we can get more people involved. Therefore, I will do everything in my power to inform people about this issue and bring the same amount of confidence, positivity and perseverance everyone showed during this event, to make a difference in my community.
On January 31st, members of Media Lab Level 2 created very personal and unique examples of "Mixed Media" by projecting art onto themselves. The results were very dramatic and super cool.
Our HSJ staff finished off the 2016 year in style with some pizza, Run DMC, and glo-stick light painting.
Friday November 18th was "Light Up Night" in Pittsburgh, which meant it was a great opportunity to do some nighttime photography on the North Shore. Be sure to check out the new photos by Nick and Tyler in our photo gallery!
Media Lab 3 members are our teen leaders. Each has to work on an individual project that expresses their creativity and teaches them new skills. Meet a few of these talented young men and women, as well as our new Studio, in this short video.
Our Media Lab Level 2 class has been learning a lot about photography recently, but this week we decided to take a pause to join the trend sweeping the web. Stop what you're doing, focus on your screen and "freeze."
The Media Lab just recently received their fantastic new studio, and it is finally only to be used by Media Lab. It combines features that previously weren't together. This includes the podcast equipment, computers, stop motion and diorama space and much more. We now can have a spot to work and have fun without disturbing anyone else.
Media Lab spent a large portion of last year working on Long Exposure Photography for a short film. Nick and Micah are continuing that work with these stunning photos from the 16th Street Bridge and the Heinz House roof.
As Sarah Heinz House heads into the 2015-2016 Program Year, expect bigger and better things from our new Media Lab staff. We will still be bringing you the high quality video and photography work we produced last year, as well as introducing podcasts into our mix of content. Be sure to check back soon.
For decades, Heinz House members have grown up with Mrs. Basel watching over them. One of the House's proudest and longest-running volunteers, Mrs. Basel is trying to earn grant money for her programs here. This video is a small thanks to Mrs. B for all her hard work and dedication.
These are some prototypes we worked on tonight in Media Lab. Expect a lot more of these in the future. We call them Heinz House Shorts and these are called "Old" and "Photo Roll." Media Lab is magic.