Cecile Shellman is an independent curator and diversity catalyst at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
In the burgeoning East End region of Pittsburgh, along the busy Penn Avenue Arts Corridor, lies a collaborative arts exhibition and studio locale that is the brainchild of D.S. Kinsel and Julie Mallis (Magic Organs) and Jenesis Magazine (Thomas Agnew, founder). Conceived to be a welcoming, engaging venue that is thoroughly accessible in all the right ways, Boom Concepts promotes the notion that art and artmaking belong to everyone and are expressions of the soul. Boom Concepts feeds that soul by not only displaying the art, but by teaching the rudiments of art making; exposing their audience to the performing arts including music and dance; facilitating collaborations with institutions of higher learning, engaging in media literacy, and connecting body to spirit. While committed to youth development, BOOM is interested in connecting folks across ages and cultural backgrounds.
Braddock Libraryâ€”the flagship Carnegie Library of Pittsburghâ€”has found a partnership with Carnegie Museum of Art that is as unique and important as it is powerful. It is so impactful, in fact, that itâ€™s even called Transformazium. Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburghâ€™s Oakland neighborhood has exhibited cutting-edge exhibitions and installed captivating projects of contemporary art since the early 1900s. In 2013, one of the Carnegie International exhibitionâ€™s most relevant and poignant pieces was a collaboration with Braddock Library that is still going strong today. Is art for the people, or only for certain people? This lending library takes a truly equitable approach, embracing the notion that art is for all; that surrounding oneself with beautiful images of oneâ€™s choice, is elevating, enriching, and just as gratifying as taking a tome off the shelf burrowing deeply into another world. It works like this: Artwork from the Lending Library collection are catalogued and accounted for in the same way that any other holdingâ€”book, magazine, or videoâ€”is kept on site. A patron whoâ€™s interested in, or even just curious about, a work of art can request and check out the artwork, take it home, and enjoy it for the duration of the loan period, up to two weeks. Itâ€™s one thing to enjoy a painting or framed drawing from afar, with throngs of people at a popular museum or in the pages of an art encyclopedia. Itâ€™s quite another to enjoy the artwork in the company of your own collection of furniture and things, nestled among your own treasures, drawing strength and sustenance from each brushstroke and delicate array of patterns. Art is also meant to be shared, so this concept allows neighbors the ability to enjoy the same works of art in turn.
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on 1815 Metropolitan Avenue is a treasure among local arts organizations that support urban youth. Through the visual, musical, and culinary arts, MCG can help youth and families develop directed skills that will have real world application and enrich their lives immeasurably. Manchester Craftsmen's Guild's world renowned jazz program invites blues and jazz musicians from around the world to take the state-of-the-art stage. Their music program highlights the rich legacy of jazz music in Pittsburgh, honoring and showcasing both legends and new acolytes. Students of all ages are mentored by accomplished musicians, and learn performance skills as they share smooth stylings to packed crowds year after year in the 350-seat auditorium. As youngsters develop their craft, they can aspire to record at MCG's own music studios, or to be represented by the jazz program's own Grammy Award-winning label. Lining the walls of the elegant galleries are works on paper, canvas, and ceramic art--some of which is actually created by the mastermind behind the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild experience himself. William Strickland, popularly called just Bill, is a MacArthur fellow award recipient known worldwide for his innovative ideas and urban education. Mr. Strickland is an accomplished artist who has shared his love of fine craftsmanship and entrepreneurship, and creating an unparalleled program for inner city youth. Through their culinary program young adults learn basic skills in the culinary arts--everything from how to be a line cook to a master chef and food preparer. What can you do at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild? As a visitor, you may tour their facility at anytime. Their educators are eager to showcase the work of the students and the innovative model of instruction and industry. You can participate as an audience member in the MCG JAZZ series. You can visit the art galleries and admire the creations and professionally curated exhibits, and you can even buy artwork to support the students and the organization. You can rent the facility for your own events, and enjoy the benefits of delicious catering and dining services.