Lawrenceville’s 10th Artists’ Studio Tour
Lawrenceville has a reputation for embracing high-quality art and design. In the early 2000s, before Lawrenceville’s commercial district was as expansive as it is today, Butler Street was dubbed a part of the “16:62 Design Zone.” Artists were attracted to Lawrenceville’s affordable real estate and creative environment. When furniture maker Joe Kelly, one of the artists featured on this year’s Artist Studio Tour, first bought a run down building in Upper Lawrenceville to turn into his studio space, his friends thought he was crazy. Years later, they consider him a visionary. Joe Kelly saw potential in the neighborhood and quickly became involved in the community. He helped start what would later become the Lawrenceville Corporation. “Lawrenceville is a 15 year overnight success,” explains Joe proudly. It’s taken a lot of hard work, investment, community and business support but on days like the Artist Studio Tour, this “overnight success” is evident.
The 2014 Artist Studio Tour took place past Saturday, November 8th. For the tenth year, Lawrenceville artists opened their shops, homes, and studios to visitors hoping to get a glimpse into the diverse and creative work of the artists who call this neighborhood “home.” 14 Studios and 31 artists were included in this year’s tour making it the largest artist tour in Pittsburgh. One of these stops was Radiant Hall, a collaborative studio space on Plummer Street whose mission is to “create and preserve studio environments for working artists.”
Visitors were able to watch potters at work, they could put protective eyewear on to observe Bernadette of Gerbe Glass make glass ornaments, and were even able to learn the secrets of soap making at Jay Design Soaps and Gifts. Saturday’s event allowed visitors to have an inside peak and enabled artists to share their work, knowledge and many provided demonstrations.
Overall, the tour was a success. Each year it continues to grow and, for at least one day of the year, bridges the gap between artist and admirer. It would be incomplete, however, to discuss this year’s Artist Studio Tour without discussing the disappointing vandalism event that occurred at Radiant Hall. It is a privilege to be able to see artists at work and to be invited into their studio space. However, artists Gavin Benjamin and Derek Reese returned to Radiant Hall to find that their artwork set out for display had been damaged, torn, and toppled over.
There is a silver lining to this unfortunate incident. We have been able to watch an incredible outpouring of support for these artists on social media from other artists and visitors. An Indiegogo campaign has been created to help the artists cover the damages.
This annual event, as always, makes us proud of the incredible creative work produced in this neighborhood and in light of the unfortunate vandalism events, we are proud of the outpouring of community support given to these talented artists.