weekly wordpress photography challenge from Pittsburgh: dreamy

I took this at Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Gallery which is a very short walk from our apartment. It was during a very unique exhibit that started Tesla Coil type machinery when a visitor walked into the room.

taken recently at Wood St Galleries in Pittsburgh

taken recently at Wood St Galleries in Pittsburgh

Here is a link to a short video.

Going to Wood Street Galleries is an adventure in itself. The building is an old, industrial era piece of classic architecture. I have other pictures of it on this website. You should make it a point to visit! If you are unsure of how to come downtown to visit, using our Uber code could get you into town at no cost (depending on how far out of town you live).

I love these challenges from WordPress. They really help bloggers continue with new content.

a brief interview with Sean from the Pittsburgh office of the Green Building Alliance

A HUGE thank you to the Green Building Alliance for taking the time to answer these questions for me. I love how Pittsburgh’s landscape and cityscape has changed since I lived at Point Park University in the late 90s. This office has been one of many forces behind that change.

According to their website the local office was founded in 1993 and was the first US Green Building Council affiliate. I love this text from their About page:

“A Connector: GBA’s members are on the ground building, designing, consulting, commissioning, and advocating for better buildings and spaces in the region. Interested in learning about green building? GBA’s got you covered. Looking for help on a project? Green Building Alliance’s expert staff members can put you in touch with the right people. Want to meet others in the industry? Events hosted by GBA are perfect for networking. In short, GBA is here to connect the dots!how proud are you of Pittsburgh’s leadership on the green building movement?”

These questions were answered by staff member Sean Luther. He is the Pittsburgh 2030 Districts Senior Director according to their website.

Sean Luther | photo credit: GBA website

Sean Luther | photo credit: GBA website

How proud are you of Pittsburgh’s leadership on the green building movement?
I think one of the most understated aspects of Pittsburgh leadership in the healthy and high performance building movement has been its evolution over the past ten years. Success in this sector was originally a very tight collaboration between nonprofits like GBA, the public sector, and private business and real estate companies. Increasingly however, the private sector has embraced sustainability – and the LEED standard in particular – without the direct intervention of government. This evolution typifies the region’s business community, and the unique public/private relationships that have driven Pittsburgh’s success over the past few decades.

How excited are you for the new PNC structure to be completed?
The Tower is certainly one of the most exciting real estate developments in the country right now. I think all of us who are promoting sustainability in the building sector are very excited to see the cutting edge technologies that PNC is incorporating into the project come online. In particular, the solar chimney and passive cooling program that is integral to the building has the potential to radically change the way we think of building operations in this region.

More than just as a sum of next generation technologies however, I am personally excited at what the Tower represents for Pittsburgh and for Downtown. A project this substantial represents the continued economic stability of the region, the importance of Downtown as an employment center, and Pittsburgh’s tradition of innovation.

And personally, I have enjoyed rising into the skyline from my apartment in Downtown over the past two years. It has been such a thrill to watch the structure, and now the façade rise into the skyline.

How do you feel about Pittsburgh’s green building revolution erasing some history? (I LOVE Pittsburgh’s mix of the old and new)
Downtown Pittsburgh’s density, tight street grid, and service as a job center all but ensures that we will always be having to be mindful of the balance between the historic fabric and new development. Our Downtown has so few building sites compared to our peer cities (something we should be thankful for, surface parking lots are the bane of successful downtowns), and the building sector evolves so rapidly that we cannot always rely on redevelopment to drive our region forward. That being said, it is always more efficient to re-use and existing building because of the high impact of materials and energy required for new construction.

I think Downtown has been generally very successful at finding the balance between need for modern office space and reuse of our spectacular historic structures. Many times, as in the Clark Building and the James Reed Building, maintaining historic buildings requires a change of use. It is important though that we hold the new construction that emerges to compliment these historic buildings is held to the highest possible standard for the community; including pursuing high performing building systems and ensuring occupant health. Projects like the Tower at PNC Plaza and re-investments in our existing buildings are pushing these trends forward in an important way.

What would you like to see as Pittsburgh’s next step?
I think Pittsburgh is at a very critical junction in terms of understanding how to continue to grow the economy without the knee jerk of greenfield development to accommodate it. For every Google at Bakery Square and Show Clix in Downtown, there is two or three growing companies that feel compelled to make their home in Cranberry or at the airport. Pittsburgh’s urban centers have remained robust because of how history of job decentralization. The rapidly increasing focus on sprawling job centers not only blunts our region’s success in sustainable buildings, but also directly imperils the success of Downtown.

weekly wordpress photography challenge from Pittsburgh: signs

Hey guys,

The theme for this week’s photography challenge is “signs”.  Any kind of sign that I see in daily life. There are plenty of possible subjects in downtown Pittsburgh as you may expect.

As someone without a professional camera – only my cell phone – I wanted to focus on subjects that are new to the blog and apply a few filters.

Here is my first:

This alley has been used in many movies.

This alley has been used in many movies.

Here is my filtered shot:

filterest strawberry way in Pittsburgh.jpg

Here is another original shot:

Harris Theater Pittsburgh.jpg

This is the last one. This sign is a great example of urban decay. It’s been attached to this building for a while…I see it in older pictures of Pittsburgh.

older sign in downtown pittsburgh.jpg

Here is a link for one of the ghost sign posts I’ve done. Downtown Pittsburgh has a TON of ghost signs!


I’m back with a few pictures from my recent wedding


After taking some time off for my wedding, I’m officially back. I have some huge plans for this site!They range from varied Pittsburgh based content…to more interviews…to redirecting it to my own domain! :)

I’d like to say thank you to the Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie for the recent guest post! It was an awesome article and you should pay her a a visit if you haven’t already.

Here are a few pictures from the day I became a married man. The ceremony was held just outside Pittsburgh at Jess’ childhood home in northern West Virginia.

A huge thanks to Joe Riebling for taking these great photos!

The wedding was at Jess' childhood home...one of the highest points in the panhandle of West Virginia. It was about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh.

The wedding was at Jess’ childhood home…one of the highest points in the panhandle of West Virginia. It was about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh.


LOVE this shot! I have a link for the photographer on my blog!

LOVE this shot! I have a link for the photographer on my blog!


Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s Review of eatPGH & Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Urban Supper

Urban Supper Table

Urban Supper Table

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither eatPGH, nor Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, nor from any of the sponsors of the Urban Supper. I’m just a Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoys sharing foodie adventures with others. All photos were captured on an iPhone 4S, utilizing Instagram. :)

Saturday evening marked the third Urban Supper, hosted by the ladies of eatPGH and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. eatPGH & P.D.P joined forces to turn a Downtown parking lot into a sophisticated “pop-up” restaurant for the night! This special evening included a D.J. Jarrett Tebbets playing swanky tunes, samplings of wine from the Pittsburgh Winery (Strip District) and beer from the Four Seasons Brewing Company (located in Latrobe, PA). In addition, two mixologists dressed in their finest prohibition-era attire served a special “punch”, infused with spirits from Wigle Whiskey. Volunteers were ever present throughout the night; they served appetizers, cleared dishes and re-filled water glasses & helped the night run smoothly.

When I first arrived to the Urban Supper, I was welcomed by Julia Gongaware of eatPGH with a friendly greeting and assurance that my Mother and I were included on the guest list. The chefs (Richard DeShantz of both Meat & Potatoes and Butcher and the Rye, Keith Fuller of Root 174 and Brian Pekarchik of Grit & Grace, SpoonBRGR & Willow) were already making preparations for the evening ahead of them. My Mom and I sampled wine from the Pittsburgh Winery (Merlot- so good!), and conversed with each other while we nibbled on the two “small bites” that were served during cocktail hour (a pate and devil’s on horseback).

Once the clock struck 6:30, Wes and Tom (the two mixologists) assembled “the punch”, which consisted of Wigle Whiskey’s Wheat Whiskey and Landlocked (which is a spirit made from buckwheat honey, and falls between being a brandy and a rum). Wow- the punch was strong, but oh so tasty! The punch was a beautiful deep cranberry color, and was served in these petite and elegant punch glasses. Dinner started promptly at 7:00pm with the first course:

Salmon Tartare

Salmon Tartare from Keith Fuller

Salmon tartare- cream cheese/everything/hard-boiled egg/black caviar/pickle/ marble rye

Salmon Tartare close-up

Salmon Tartare close-up

This dish was prepared by Keith Fuller. One of the reasons why I wanted to attend this Urban Supper was to FINALLY sample some of the incredible food that Chef Fuller serves! This was a very clever dish! What a creative concept to deconstruct the classic salmon & lox bagel, sans the bagel! I loved scooping up the salmon with a little bit of the cream cheese, the black caviar and the marble rye. Salmon is one of my favorite fish dishes; you can never go wrong with salmon. :)

Ginever Collins

Ginever Collins from Wigle Whiskey

Next up: Ginever Collins- Wigle Organic Ginever/yuzu/lime/pinot grigio/hopped bitters/grey sea salt/seltzer. This drink had a very interesting taste! This cocktail definitely had a savory favor. Also, I could not taste the alcohol in it; thank God I only had one of these drinks! I loved the stripped straw inside of the drink as well.

Heirloom Tomato

Heirloom Tomato from Richard DeShantz

After the first cocktail of the night was served, course number two arrived: heirloom tomato- whipped ricotta/grilled bread/olives/cucumber/picked red onions. This dish was by Richard DeShantz.

It was evident that this was DeShantz’s dish- Meat & Potatoes and Butcher & The Rye’s signature grilled break was utilized in this dish. Those restaurants have the best bread EVER! As soon as I took my first bite of the heirloom tomato, I was in foodie heaven. Now, I wonder: “why can’t every tomato be an heirloom tomato”? This was just sooooo good! The ricotta cheese paired so well with the tomato, and the olives and cucumber brought a complexity of tastes and textures. In other words: I loved this dish! :D

Hot Dog dish

Hot Dog by Keith Fuller

Course #3: hot dog- black mustard/mustard seed/sauerkraut/brown butter/relish. This was by Keith Fuller of Root 174! One of the reasons why I wanted to attend this Urban Supper was to FINALLY sample some of the incredible food that Keith Fuller serves!

This was my favorite dish of the night! Chef Fuller deconstructed the hot dog and created an artistic yet scrumptious presentation of the hot dog on the plate! The hot dog was INCREDIBLE! I LOVED the black mustard, the yellow mustard and mustard seeds, as well as the sauerkraut, brown butter, relish and little bits of hot dog bun. Comfort food at its finest!

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned from Wigle Whiskey

Cocktail #2: Old Fashioned- Wigle Whim: Hopped Rye Whiskey/apple cider/allspice/bitters/lemon oil. This was one of my favorite cocktails of the night! Great work, Wes & Tom! So tasty, and the color of the cocktail in the star-lit night was (dare I say it) sexy. ;-) While I sipped this drink, I felt as if I was transported to the set of Mad Men, but one of my fellow diners reminded me that Don Draper wouldn’t be drinking his Old Fashioned with apple cider (lol). Nevertheless, I thought this was the PERFECT Old Fashioned Cocktail!

Pork Belly

Pork Belly from Richard decants

Dish #4: duroc pork belly- pastrami smoked/pretzel spaetzle/onion pumpkin beer puree/pickle mustard seeds/sauerkraut cracker. This course was by Richard DeShantz. I love me some pork belly! I am happy to report that this pork belly was even better than the Pork Belly taco that I had at Meat & Potatoes in May. The combination of the pastrami, pretzel, pumpkin beer, pickled mustard and sauerkraut was a heavenly combination! Even the gentleman sitting across from me was raving about this dish! Also, the pork belly paired well with the Old Fashioned cocktail.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak from Brian Pekarchik

Course #5: grilled hanger steak- corn, tomato, and zucchini sauté/bone marrow custard/chimichuri. I have to admit, I’m not usually a big steak fan, but Chef Pekarchik really made this dish work for me! I really appreciated that he substituted these wonderful summer vegetables in place of potatoes. A healthier take on this classic dish! Also, I could taste the bone marrow (which, thanks to Meat & Potatoes, I have grown to love), which added a sophistication to this dish.

Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake from Brian Pekarchik

Last dish of the night: apple coffee cake- poached apples/streusel/salted caramel. This dish was INCREDIBLE! I loved the fact that Chef Brian made me forget that I wasn’t having chocolate for dessert. This dish was just a beautiful dessert! It was tasty and visually vibrant. What more could any man or woman ask for in a dessert?


Pousse-Cafe from Wigle Whiskey

The final cocktail and toast of the night: Pousse-Café: Wigle Applewood Wheat Whiskey/spiced pear/cinnamon/maple bacon. This was my FAVORITE cocktail of the night! Dessert in a glass! I watched Wes & Tom meticulously craft this dessert cocktail, too. It’s evident that these two gentlemen take pride in their work and seriously love cocktails!

Tom & Wes

Tom & Wes hard at work on the last cocktail of the night

Well Pittsburgh Foodies, that’s my review of the Urban Supper! Make sure to stay tuned to eatPGH’s blog to discover when the next Urban Supper will be held! I highly recommend attending this event, and buy your tickets as soon as they go on sale (this event will sell out)!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art and cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s blog

Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s Twitter page

Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s Instagram page

eatPGH’s website

eatPGH’s Facebook page

eatPGH’s Twitter page

eatPGH’s Instagram page

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s website

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Twitter page

Wigle Whiskey’s website

Wigle Whiskey’s Facebook page

Wigle Whiskey’s Twitter page

Four Seasons Brewing Company website

Four Seasons Brewing Company Twitter page

Pittsburgh Winey website

Pittsburgh Winery’s Facebook page

Pittsburgh Winery’s Twitter page

Meat & Potatoes’ website

Meat & Potatoes’ Facebook page

Meat & Potatoes’ Twitter page

Meat & Potatoes’ Instagram page

Butcher & The Rye’s website

Butcher & The Rye’s Facebook page

Butcher & The Rye’s Twitter page

Butcher & The Rye’s Instagram page

Root 174’s website

Root 174’s Facebook page

Root 174’s Twitter page

Grit & Grace’s website

Grit & Grace’s Facebook page

Grit & Grace’s Twitter page

BRGR’s website

BRGR’s Facebook page

BRGR’s Twitter page

Spoon’s website

Spoon’s Twitter page

Willow’s website

Willow’s Twitter page

“Pittsburgh has a soul you can see” -Alexandre Arrechea

Have you seen these public art installations in downtown?

This work is outside Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

This work is outside Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

This work is outside the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh

This work is outside the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh

Thanks to the Cultural Trust, I recently had an opportunity to interview the man behind the works -internationally renowned Alexandre Arrechea.

This is the plaque outside one of the pieces:

Description of the No Limits Pittsburgh Cultural Trust exhibit.

Description of the No Limits Pittsburgh Cultural Trust exhibit.

This only gives part of the history of this amazing artist. Here is a link to the official press release that tells his history. I wanted to use the interview opportunity to explore his philosophy on art and his thoughts on Pittsburgh.

photo courtesy of alexandrearrechea.com

photo courtesy of alexandrearrechea.com

Tell me a little about yourself .

I became an artist very young. I studied in Cuba my whole career until the very early days of the 90s. I used to collaborate with Los Carpinteros, until after 12 years I started to make my own work and started to focus on architecture and spaces. I love to control spaces. What is interesting for me is to try and bring a new angle or a new aspect to architecture.

No Limits – the work displayed in Pittsburgh – is the most well known of my more recent projects but a lot of my previous work is just as important because I was building everything towards No Limits. What it accounts is more about the process than results. I had done something like this prior back in 2010 in Times Square. It involved video projection rather than a physical thing. The projection was on the Nasdaq LED screen and it showed a wrecking ball that hit the building and bounced back. (!! how cool !!) That idea of a projection that represented an idea of wrecking a building – which you don’t want to do – at least was representative of the moment the project was presented which was so near to the economic collapse of 2008. It was to call attention to that specific building and what it represents. Before that, I developed a very small project that was a lead in to No Limits. It was a house made out of stainless steel that was linked to the Dow Jones – when the Dow went up or down the piece would expand or contract. So that idea of trying to link architecture to an event was a break through for me.

If I were to tell you that two of the pieces here – one being the Seagram building and the other Met Life –  were turning into coils and they are, for me, some sort of fire hoses. Fire hoses define the building because you would need to use the hose to maintain the building. That is the type of thought behind this particular project and what I have been building through the years. I’m now working on a book that will be published in the fall that will show my work leading up to No Limits.

I’ve seen a lot of people stop and congregate around the no Limits pieces and try to figure them out.

Great! That really pleases me a lot!

I was pursuing with No limits an invitation for people to play with the work. Sometimes we feel that reality is out there and we are unable to change things. I think on the contrary we are totally culpable to change things in our environment. What you think is permanent is not and that feeling of being able to change things is something I want to encourage people to feel.

You’ve always been into warping space?

Yes that’s always been there. I always further explain this by talking about a specific project. I remember when I was invited back in 2004 to do an exhibition in Havana by some friends that own one of the alternative spaces to exhibit art. It was a very tiny space. When they invited me, I wanted to make something that extended the invitation they gave me to others. The idea at the time was to build a new tiny gallery inside the main gallery so I can invite other artists. That alone was a commentary on the lack of alternative spaces in Cuba. That idea of always trying to expand the notion of space is something I have been pursuing since the early days.

Continuing with that I remember this project I did with a museum in Spain called Free Entrance. The name turned everything into a big fight with the museum because they didn’t want people to think they were given entrance to the building for free. The project was a video camera at the entrance to the museum so the people coming in were recorded. I then edited that information and build sort of a wooden stadium inside the museum. I placed large screens throughout the stadium that should show how people would enter through the initial entryway but the stadium would actually remain empty. The idea would create a weird situation but I’m making commentaries on how the museum is not a place to count how many people come there but the experience with the art. That’s what really matters – how art would change people and not the museum.

Another project like this was a project I created in Havana. I invited basketball teams to do a game and we went to this court near our neighborhood. While they were playing I recorded everything that was happening. Then later, I took the backboards out and replaced them with large screens. I invited the players and people to come so they could see ghosts of the game surrounding them. It brought issues of what it is like to participate in something and not change the result. I always want to make you think of where you are in the moment. It’s always important to know the context.

What do you think of our fair city?

I’m amazed and thrilled! I was given a tour around the city and taken to that hill where you can see everything. You are able to see all the beauty. Pittsburgh is an amazing city. You come here with your preconceptions of what the city is about but when you are here it is a blast. How the old architecture survives next to the new is a dialogue that is amazing for me. That the city has a soul that you can see is amazing. The fear we all have is that past architecture will give way to new to create a place that can be beautiful, but that old essence is gone. You don’t want that for any city especially for a city like Pittsburgh.

Thank you very much to everyone at the Cultural Trust for this interview opportunity! They have been doing a great job in enriching the lives of people that work and live in downtown.

call for Pittsburgh artists to make bicycle racks to be installed in the Cultural District

–I know my posts have been erratic recently. They will be for a bit in the run up to the wedding. I do have a large story on the amount of people living in downtown that I’m working on, though.

I had to post this straight from the press release. How cool is this?




Request for Qualifications Deadline: November 30, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA—The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the second phase of the bicycle rack project, the first phase being completed in September 2014, with the installation of five artist-designed bicycle racks throughout the Cultural District. The Trust invites Pittsburgh-area artists (residents of Allegheny County) to design and develop functional bicycle racks to be located along the Penn Avenue corridor from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (11th Street) to Stanwix Street. This second phase of the project will produce five bicycle racks, with the potential for more to follow.

The deadline for the request for qualifications is November 30, 2014.


Each selected artist receives a fee of $3000 to create a unique and functional bicycle rack. This fee covers the costs for design, fabrication, finishing, and transportation of the completed bicycle rack to the installation site. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is responsible for the cost of installation and naming plaques.

Specifications for Design

The bicycle rack finish is to be galvanized steel (either raw and/or powder coated), aluminum, or stainless steel. No other finishes, including hand-painted finishes, will be accepted.
Each bicycle rack will be limited to two bikes.
The bicycle rack should support the bikes in at least two places, including one wheel.
The bicycle rack must allow for ease of locking utilizing a commonly used “U” lock or longer cable lock.
Each bicycle parking space is easily accessible without moving another bicycle for access and maneuvering.
Base plates should be a minimum of 1/4” thick steel with the ability to be bolted to a concrete pad in four places.

All bicycle rack designs must adhere to all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for protrusions in the right-of-way, including the ability to detect the rack with a white cane. To be detected by a white cane, the protruding or leading edge of the rack shall be 27” or less above the sidewalk surface, and between 27” and 80” above the sidewalk surface, protruding or leading may overhang a maximum of 12”.
The top of the bicycle rack design must be a minimum of 36” tall. Except for the bicycle rack supporting brackets, the shortest section of the bicycle rack must be a minimum of 27” tall, tall enough to be perceived by pedestrians and avoid tripping hazards.
The space between the rack features must be larger than 9” and smaller than 3.5’ to avoid children trapping their heads.
The design must not include sharp edges.
How to Apply

Each artist must submit the following for consideration:

A minimum of five images of completed works from his or her portfolio
A brief artist statement (no more than one page) on his or her approach to this project
Three references with contact information
Artists who have previously applied to the program and were not accepted are welcome to apply again.

Please share request for qualifications files using wetransfer.com, and send them to staggs@trustarts.org.

Project Timeline

Request for Qualifications deadline is November 30, 2014.
Notification to selected artists for proposals is January 30, 2015.
Proposals to be received by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on March 31, 2015.
Notification of winning proposals to artists by April 30, 2015.
Installation of bicycle racks by August 7, 2015.