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A man walks down Talbot Avenue in Braddock on Wed., Feb. 10.


FEB. 17-24, 2021 VOLUME 30 + ISSUE 7 Editor-In-Chief LISA CUNNINGHAM Director of Advertising JASMINE HUGHES Director of Operations KEVIN SHEPHERD News Editor RYAN DETO Senior Writer AMANDA WALTZ Staff Writers DANI JANAE, HANNAH LYNN, KIMBERLY ROONEY 냖㵸蔻 Photographer/Videographer JARED WICKERHAM Art Director ABBIE ADAMS Graphic Designers JOSIE NORTON, JEFF SCHRECKENGOST Sales Representatives ZACK DURKIN, OWEN GABBEY, NICKI MULVIHILL Circulation Manager JEFF ENGBARTH Featured Contributors REGE BEHE, MIKE CANTON, LYNN CULLEN, TERENEH IDIA, CHARLES ROSENBLUM Interns COLLEEN HAMMOND, KAYCEE ORWIG National Advertising Representative VMG ADVERTISING 1.888.278.9866 OR 1.212.475.2529 Publisher EAGLE MEDIA CORP.

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thehealingcenterusa.com PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER FEBRUARY 17-24, 2021






How the pandemic has shifted Pittsburgh’s housing listings BY RYAN DETO // RYANDETO@PGHCITYPAPER.COM


HE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC has done some unusual things to

housing markets across the country. In high-rent cities like San Francisco and New York, rental prices have dropped significantly, seemingly caused by wealthy renters decamping from the city to live in or purchase homes in more remote locations, since they are now working remotely. At the same time, many home-buying markets are booming. According to brokerage firm Redfin, home prices in urban markets throughout the country increased by 15% from November 2020 to January 2021. This increase is slightly ahead of suburban home buying markets in America. Former renters could be spurred on by the pandemic and low-interest rates to finally buy a home, even if it means staying in the city. So where does Pittsburgh stand in this pandemic housing market? According to a report from apartment search site Apartment List, Pittsburgh rents in January 2021 have decreased by an average of 5.7% compared to January 2020 rents. That’s still far below the rental drop pace of high-price cities like Washington, D.C. or San Francisco — which saw a 27% decrease year-over-year — but Pittsburgh’s rental drop is faster than comparable Rust Belt cities, many of which actually saw year-over-year increases in rent. This isn’t to say that Pittsburgh is more affordable now compared to other Rust Belt cities, as its January 2021 average rent for a one-bedroom unit is $846, placing it among the most expensive compared to cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, or Detroit, according to Apartment List. On the flip side, demand for purchasing homes in Pittsburgh has been up during the last year, according to local RE/MAX Realtor Tim Gyves. “This summer was extremely competitive for folks,” says Gyves, who saw a noticeable increase in business after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted for real estate agents. “I had clients that were outbid by three to four other people in a row for some homes. … Last year was the busiest year I have ever had, which is strange, but I think a lot of other agents would say the same.” The drop in rent prices and rise in the home buying market could spell a shift in behavior for Pittsburgh residents and new arrivals. Gyves thinks the market is showing signs of something regional leaders have been predicting and/or desiring for some time: Pittsburgh’s relatively cheap home prices are keeping people in Pittsburgh and attracting others from outside of the region. “It is never gonna be apples to apples,” says Gyves of comparing Pittsburgh to other cities. “We do have a fair amount of industry crossover ways, with our tech center. You sort of get folks who are moving where people can do the same job as those other cities. It makes sense for them to buy. They never had a chance in [Silicon Valley], but here they might.” CONTINUES ON PG. 6







Homes in Brookline

Whether that trend holds is uncertain, but for now, it appears the pandemic might be contributing to it. According to a recent Bloomberg article, Pittsburgh may be seeing some demand for its neighborhoods that contain amenities attractive to urban residents. According to Redfin, housing prices in the city of Pittsburgh are up about 20% since last year and are currently averaging $202,000. And the city’s housing market is even slightly more competitive than traditionally popular suburbs and exurbs like Mt. Lebanon and Murrysville. “Buyers in the city have to be ready to go — they can’t pause,” Kelly Hanna Riley, of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, told Bloomberg in February. “They have to know they might go over asking price.” In Pittsburgh, Gyves says he has seen a mix of buyers interested in the suburbs

and the city, with a strong focus on “firstring” suburbs that offer a mix of suburbia and urban amenities, like coffee shops and restaurants that are within walking distance for residents. Redfin’s housing market index has first-ring suburbs like Dormont and Bellevue among the most competitive housing markets in the region. Gyves believes increased demand in first-ring suburbs and city neighborhoods is a mix of the pandemic and historically low interest rates. Both involve many renters who are either looking for a little more space for quarantining, or people who are finally ready to make the home-buying plunge knowing they are getting a relatively good deal with low-interest rates on mortgages. Pittsburgh’s share of mortgage payments to income is at 11%, which is relatively low

compared to other cities, according to real-estate website Point2. “Some people are wanting space, whether because of kids or a person working from home. They might need more room,” says Gyves. “Some people are moving here and buying in the city to take advantage of the amenities that will be back when the pandemic ends.” But this hot housing market comes with consequences. Gyves said home prices in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods are appreciating fast, and getting out of reach for some home buyers. And renters are affected, too. Before Pittsburgh saw rents drop in 2020, it saw a significant jump in rents of 4.3% in 2019, according to Apartment List. This increase might have pushed those with the means to purchase homes, which could have helped to drive down rent in

Follow news editor Ryan Deto on Twitter @RyanDeto



the short term. Rental supply temporarily increases, but those without the means are stuck with increased rent in popular areas. These forces are contributing to gentrification in some city neighborhoods, which is forcing some lower-income residents out of desirable urban areas. In the end, Gyves says Pittsburgh’s housing market had a very interesting year under the pandemic but cautioned against assuming these trends are set in stone. “It is hard to say if this is a permanent shift because everyone is adjusting to the pandemic,” says Gyves. “There is still a mix of pent up demand, of people moving here, and people interested in staying, but then still some long-time natives that might not want to sell their home due to uncertainty related to the pandemic.

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Items for sale inside Tal and Bert in Dormont





home is a great way to improve one’s mental health year-round, especially in a city like Pittsburgh where gray skies can hit extra hard. And when filling your home with wares from local Black-owned business Tal & Bert, the planters can do just as much boosting to your spirits as the plants themselves. The idea for Tal & Bert came to owners, Val and Ray Talbert, in late 2019.

By February 2020, the wife-and-husband team had launched their storefront in Dormont after taking months to perfect their signature design of stunning crystal planters for succulents and other small plants. Despite launching only a matter of weeks before the pandemic hit, the Talberts have already seen monumental success, including amassing over 36,000 Instagram followers, getting national media attention, and having their products

TAL & BERT 2892 W. Liberty Ave., Dormont. talandbert.com and instagram.com/talandbert



carried in stores like Macy’s and Urban Stems. They plan to open a second storefront this year in Sharpsburg. Tal & Bert planters are made of hand-poured concrete, sculpted by hand in their Mt. Lebanon studio, then cracked to reveal a raw mineral they mined themselves. Most have a gray, white, or black concrete base with a large number of crystals available, including unique finds like kunzite and green apatite. The plants burst from the center of the holders, creating a bright, colorful geode. The store, available in person and online, also has a section called “bougie parfumee,” featuring candleholders

containing beautiful soy candles with scents like Sweet Grass and Wildflowers, as well as tea light holders in black tourmaline, amethyst, rose quartz, and blue calcite. Val’s love for crystals started at an early age. Her parents used to take her to caves to go rock hunting as a kid. “I wanted to incorporate raw minerals into every day, functional art,” she says. Many people’s experience with crystals comes from engagement rings that are cut and polished, but Val says she saw beyond that. “I really wanted to show people that raw minerals can be almost prettier than the polished ones,” she says, noting

that Tal & Bert uses natural minerals that have been ethically-sourced. “That’s kind of what my hope was, to show them the raw minerals can have this imperfect beauty to them.” But despite seeing massive interest in their business, Val and Ray say they have experienced some setbacks being a Black-owned business in Pittsburgh. “It’s kind of like a little club of brickand-mortar store owners, especially where we are,” Val says. “The majority are white-owned businesses on our street.” Throughout February for Black History Month, Val and Ray have launched an Instagram live series where they’ll be addressing these issues and answering questions about being a Black-owned business. Val says that getting all of the required paperwork to open their store was incredibly hard; she says people were evasive, and she had trouble getting people to help. “We probably could have opened two months beforehand, but we weren’t able to because no one was getting back to us about opening the store for doing permit checks and everything like that,” she says. With


Owners Ray and Val Talbert

their Dormont location, they didn’t have to look for any other financing, but with their second location in Sharpsburg, they’ve been reaching out for loans and grants towards Black-owned businesses, with little success. There are also misconceptions and biases imposed on Black businesses, according to Val, who says that many people hold Black businesses to a higher standard. “We have to jog to keep up with [white-owned businesses] walking,” she says, adding that customers who have one bad experience with a Black-owned business often write off all Black-owned stores in ways that they don’t with larger companies like Amazon, Walmart, or Target. Despite setbacks, Tal & Bert has continued to rise in popularity, and Val and Ray hope to not only grow their production base — branching out into t-shirts and other wares — but expand beyond Pittsburgh (they are currently scouting locations for another store). They also continue to boost others, with a “Giving Back” tab on their website, highlighting their support for “initiatives and missions around the globe.”

Follow staff writer Dani Janae on Twitter @figwidow



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MISREMEMBERING A SUMMER OF PROTEST Comparing the Capitol riot to the racial justice movement cements a false history BY LARA PUTNAM // INFO@PGHCITYPAPER.COM


VER SINCE AN insurrectionary

mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the racial justice protests of summer 2020 are again a hot topic of discussion — primarily among those seeking to downplay the seriousness of Jan. 6 by asserting, as a supposedly self-evident comparison, that protest violence this summer was worse. We heard this rhetorical move during the impeachment proceedings last week even from the jurors themselves. When Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt was asked whether the video evidence of intentional violence by the Capitol rioters had changed his mind about conviction, he responded, “Well you know, I mean, you have a summer where people all over the country were doing similar kinds of things.” Republican Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, who faced widespread censure in the spring for calling Black Lives Matter a “radical left-wing hate group,” according to online news

site Patch, argued January’s events were a kind of vindication: “Now politicians and the media are suddenly outraged after having spent the last year justifying, excusing, and often ignoring the unrest and the lawlessness that destroyed nearly every major city in the nation.” Not merely inaccurate, this hyperbole (“destroyed nearly every major city”) is untrue in a particularly damaging way. False equivalencies can help cement false histories even when they are countered. Analysts who see Jan. 6 as uniquely dangerous have mainly responded by highlighting January’s very different context: presidential incitement of efforts to overturn election results. Yet the assertion that the summer’s protests were largely violent needs to be explicitly challenged as well. Because beliefs have consequences. Indeed, distorted claims linking this summer’s protests to violence haven’t just emerged retroactively — they preceded protests in many places, with real-world results.

First, some numbers. The killing of George Floyd on May 25 set off protests against police brutality and in support of racial justice that would total more than 7,000 separate gatherings by the end of June 2020. This wave of collective response was both decentralized — local people organized events with little to no coordination between them — and unprecedented in its geographic breadth. In Pennsylvania alone, late May and June saw protests held in over 230 different communities, roughly 10 times the number that had ever held a “Women’s March” or a “Tea Party” protest. The racial justice protests involved literally millions of attendees and were overwhelmingly peaceful. As published in The Washington Post, scholars found reports of protesters or bystanders injured in just 1.6% of 7,305 protests documented, and police injured in 1%. Only 3.7% of protests saw reports of property damage or vandalism, and not all of these were actions by protesters.

Toy Slaughter raises a fist during a Black Lives Matter march in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tue., June 16, 2020.

Nevertheless protests were heavily policed: arrests were made at 5% of the events, over 8,500 arrests in all. The rarity of violence is remarkable given how easily it could be provoked, either intentionally or not. Especially in communities where relations between police and community were already tense — cities with a history of failures of oversight or accountability — it was easy for mistrust and communication gaps to accelerate conflict.

Read more work from our news partner PublicSource — Pittsburgh’s nonprofit, digital-first news organization — online at publicsource.org.

On June 1, I attended a protest in East Liberty, marvelling at its scale (the march grew to 1,000 people), the diversity of participants and the careful safety measures on display: masks, hand sanitizer, protest marshals communicating with authorities as the route evolved. That evening, I was again present as a line of police in riot gear issued unintelligible orders through a bullhorn to the last stragglers of the march and then fired “less lethal” weapons when they failed to disperse. Hours later I listened as city

leaders at a late-night press conference painted a picture of protester-initiated mayhem starkly at odds with what I had seen. Anyone who learned of the protest through TV news clips saw broken glass and arrests and heard “a peaceful protest turned violent” — due to the actions, they surely assumed, of the 22 people arrested or others who got away. Many viewers likely missed the news that within weeks all charges had been dropped. There’s a deep irony here. When authorities are primed to expect that protesters intend violence, or have been infiltrated by outside agitators who do, it makes it easier for misjudgement or mishandling to escalate. And this summer, prior perceptions were being shaped by an onslaught of false claims. In Pennsylvania town after town, social media rumors claimed outsiders were planning to carry out violence at Black Lives Matter or George Floyd solidarity protests. The rumors proved false. Rather they were part of a nationwide wave of disinformation which had locals arming themselves in fear of supposed “busloads of antifa” from Oregon to Ohio. That is another part of the summer’s story currently being erased — the way false claims of violent “antifa” plans were shaping perceptions before any local protest even began. The scale of the false rumors was anything but small. Working as a team with CONTINUES ON PG. 12








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Professor Mike Colaresi and David Frisch through Pitt Cyber, we found advance rumors of planned violence by outsiders in Quakertown, Hamburg, Manheim, Phoenixville, Abington, Doylestown, Bensalem, Bristol Borough, Hilltown, Vandergrift, Honesdale, Hazleton, Saxonburg, Mars, Kittanning, Ellwood, Johnstown, Indiana, Elizabethtown, and Aliquippa — and those were simply the cases we found on our first pass. Such rumors had real-world consequences. In multiple places, protests that local high school students had stepped up to organize as an act of hopeful community solidarity were canceled. Sometimes protest organizers themselves became targets of vicious threats of violence. Sometimes armed counterprotesters showed up, not infrequently brandishing the same banners — Trump 2020 and Confederate flags — carried by the vigilantes who attacked the U.S. Capitol six months later. So it’s particularly jarring now to hear January’s violence retroactively justified with the insistence that “the other side” carried out similar acts last summer. For when we reconstruct the summer’s actual history, what stands out are the multiple pathways through which advance claims linking racial justice protests to “antifa” violence raised the risk

of conflict, pre-framed local memories and laid the groundwork for the rhetoric we are now hearing. The reality is this: A small number of cities saw dramatic and tragic violence and property damage this summer — almost never instigated by racial justice protest organizers themselves and too often worsened by aggressive mishandling by police or public authorities. In a larger number of places, groundless rumors of supposedly intended violence preceded protests. That fueled the arrival of armed counterprotesters, shaped police responses, and lingered in public memory even after protests concluded smoothly. And, most widespread and frequent of all, in thousands of cities and small towns nationwide, local residents came together in emotionally wrenching but entirely peaceful protests to denounce anti-Black racism and to begin asking what justice for George Floyd and beyond might look like locally. For this history to be summed up as “unrest and the lawlessness that destroyed nearly every major city in the nation” — as voices ranging from county commissioners to senators to social media trolls are now attempting — is a false and costly rewriting of our very recent past.

Lara Putnam is UCIS Research Professor in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at LEP12@pitt.edu and followed at @Lara_Putnam on Twitter.




OW LONG ’TIL BLACK Futures Month? is the title of a brilliant collection of short stories by literary genius N.K. Jemisin. Like her longer form works, it contains speculative fiction challenging notions of time, space, and place. Her work also challenges the notion of past, present, and future. What is past? What is present? What is the future? Black History Month works this same way. In fact, all of history does. As the incandescently astute James Baldwin said: “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history ...” We are simmering in our history through our DNA, we are living our history in our daily lives, and creating history as we move into the future. Which is why the question I posed to some young people now seems a bit misplaced. Inspired by the title of Jemisin’s book, I asked them, “How would you celebrate a Black Futures Month?” There was a long pause in the electronic responses as I waited for emails to come back, expecting to hear about space travel, new nations, or flying cars. Actually, Miles (age 9), who believes Black History or Black Future should be recognized every month, did mention flying cars, repeatedly, according to his mother Dorie Taylor’s email. In concert with his brother’s response, Nevins (age 12) said he would want to celebrate Black makers and their inventions. I started to imagine that this duo could become the very inventors we would all be celebrating, or, perhaps, I can look forward to a video of them in their flying vehicles. How I came to understand that my question now, especially now, was missing a step came from my nephew Thaddeus (age 11). The question I should have asked is, “How can we celebrate or think about Black Present Month, a


Black Now Month?” For then I would get to the core of the issue which Thaddeus does in his response: “I would like to see kids not having to worry about police brutality. I wouldn’t want people to be scared about what they see on the news. I want to see that kids don’t hide behind their parents’ car every time a cop car comes around the corner. I don’t want to see a kid crying after history class. I don’t want to see innocent Black people being killed. I don’t want to see police hurting protesters fighting for their rights. I don’t want to see people breaking into the Capitol with guns, who are real threats. I don’t want to see police joking and taking pictures with them. I want everyone in this country to feel safe, no matter who they see, where they are, or what they are doing.” After seeing this email, with a photo attachment of my nephew’s young, but

clear and defiant hand lettering, I showed it to a friend who said, “These are not the thoughts a child should ever have.” As a human being, an adult, a Black person, a Black woman, and this child’s aunt, I have to admit my heartbreak at reading this, but also my pride for his empathy and understating the value of everyone. He gets the words “... and justice for all” even though we as a country clearly do not. To understand and appreciate Black History, we have to know the actual history. But how can we, with layer after layer of milky, whitewashed, myth-making paint covering the truth? A truth that only a few seem to care enough to strip down to make the baseboards and foundations visible. Our job includes making Black Present, Black Now justice filled — not better, not “better than,” but true justice. This creates a path to a Black

Future that is not just equitable, but lovefilled; healing the Black History and Black Present, while acknowledging that both contain the many joy and love of Black people several millennia old. Our history, our DNA as Black people, contains more joy and love then pain and trauma; if it did not, we would not be here today. We have to use the complete inheritance of our ancestors to make a way in this present as we create new dreams, new goals, new plans for our Black Future. Maybe then, we can fulfill the hopes of Thaddeus’ simple humanistic wish, that many of us in Pittsburgh — Black, Asian, Queer, Elderly, Disabled, Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim, and more — do not feel at this moment in this region: “I want everyone in this country to feel safe, no matter who they see, where they are ...”

Follow featured contributor Tereneh Idia on Twitter @Tereneh152XX PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER FEBRUARY 17-24, 2021



Cabinet of Curiosities in the Irma Freeman Center foyer



Irma Freeman Center for Imagination weathers pandemic with shops, shrines, and support BY AMANDA WALTZ // AWALTZ@PGHCITYPAPER.COM


OR A WINTER FRIDAY during the pandemic, there are a surprising number of people in the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination for the opening reception for Shrines. The new installation is displayed in all its shiny glory in the back gallery, its name spelled out in large, gold letter balloons. Before the pandemic, this particular night would have been just another First Friday Unblurred monthly gallery crawl in Bloomfield, when crowds of people would stroll up and down Penn Avenue to see the latest shows at Irma Freeman Center and other spaces. In this Friday’s case, the handful of masked visitors coming in and out of the Center are enough to create a vibe many have missed since COVID-19 put an end to most public gatherings, all while allowing for social distancing. Overall, the Irma Freeman Center



demonstrates how galleries in Pittsburgh and beyond have had to adapt in order to survive. Sheila Ali, the Center’s director and curator, and granddaughter of its namesake, points out that Shrines is the first solo exhibition for artist Eryn Oberst, a young painter who also does tattoos, comics, and zines. They also work at the neighboring Bantha Tea House, and copies of their zine titled “The Best Makeout Spots in PGH” were on sale at the reception. “Basically, I find a lot of older artists are pushing their shows to next year,” says Ali. “I’m thinking it’s giving more young people and less experienced people more opportunity. … We’ve always tried to include emerging artists in group shows, but a lot of times, people who get the shows are pretty wellestablished artists.” Oberst, who also goes by Eryn O, says

they have displayed work at the former Black Cat Market space in Lawrenceville (the business has since moved to Garfield) and on the walls of Spak Brothers pizza shop. “I’ve had shows at coffee shops, restaurants, and cafes, but to have this space all be mine and be able to do what I want, it feels amazing,” says Oberst. “I’ve had so many ideas and wanted to do an installation but didn’t have the space. I feel like I’m taking all my ideas I couldn’t use for previous art shows and finally putting it all together.” Shrines is only one part of the Irma Freeman Center experience, however. No space is wasted, as the foyer has become a mini-exhibit, and the front gallery has been converted into a boutique selling an eclectic array of items made by local artists, ranging from an impressive, full-length robe made of

recycled afghans to jewelry and bags. Most items, save for some massproduced posters, are one-of-a-kind. Currently, Ali says she represents about 20 artists — many have previously shown at the Center — by selling their work in the boutique and through an online shop. She wants to keep the retail side “exploding with product” by constantly adding new things and keeping it fresh. “I’m trying to help out these artists, and I think the artists are happy that their stuff is somewhere,” says Ali, adding that prints by Oberst will also be available. “It’s an outlet. Even if people aren’t buying, they’re definitely looking.” Ali says the shops are part of an effort to generate income in a time when funding for spaces defined as non-essential is hard to secure. She has had to cut gallery hours significantly,


Shrines artist Eryn Oberst

SHRINES BY ERYN O Continues through Sun., Feb. 28. Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. 5006 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Every Sunday from 2-5 p.m. or by appointment. irmafreeman.org

but encourages visitors to make appointments to come in. “We’ve been here for so long,” says Ali, who opened the Center in 2009 to honor the legacy of her grandmother, a prolific local artist. “We really have been a central hub for people meeting before the pandemic, and we had staying power. We saw a lot of people go, and now I know a lot of people are struggling. I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Nobody knows.” The Center’s foyer holds its own treasures, including a Cabinet of Curiosities containing dioramas by Diane Keane, glass artist Michael Magnifico of Fig Studios, and paper artist Katy DeMent. With Shrines, the Center has also become a temporary place to mourn, an aspect made all the more prominent by the exhibition being in a gallery dedicated to the memory of Sandra Streiff, a local artist who passed away last year, and whose signature “shadow paintings” are seen on display in the space. As Ali puts it, Shrines — with its abundance of iridescent streamers, rhinestones, and glitter — is “very glam, but it has this undertone of despair.” The show is Oberst’s tribute to six young

friends who died tragically over the course of the pandemic. Entering the gallery, I was met with artistically enhanced photos of the deceased, all part of a display accompanied by a bouquet of roses. “It’s definitely been hard to mourn,” says Oberst. “I want people to come in here and feel like they can have a space to remember someone.” Oberst says that, in addition to memorializing friends, Shrines also memorializes moments, even potential ones lost to the pandemic. For example, A Shrine to “Halloween,” which features a string of winged jack-o’-lantern lights, conveys Oberst’s own feelings about not being able to celebrate her favorite holiday. Ali says that, while the future of the Center may seem uncertain, for now it can serve multiple purposes, as a place to support the creative, financial, and emotional needs of artists, and as a place for visitors to reflect. She recalls how receptive people were when she held a naming ceremony for the Streiff Gallery in October 2020. “People came out because they needed it, they wanted to see it,” says Ali. “It’s a way for people to process.”

Follow senior writer Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP

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The 1896 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra posing before a concert at the Carnegie Music Hall, the symphony’s first home.







Orchestra has weathered economic depressions, wars, and previous pandemics, and it’s not going to let COVID-19 prevent it from celebrating its 125th anniversary. “It’s still proving to be a very generous gala event,” says Pittsburgh Symphony CEO and president Melia Tourangeau. “We’re really pleased about that. People are really sticking with us.” The PSO is pivoting to a digital

celebration, premiering on Sat., Feb. 27, to mark its 125th anniversary. Planning for the celebration began three years ago, taking inspiration from the centenary. Collaborations with 12 arts organizations, performances of the Beethoven string quartets at the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, and full orchestra commissions, as well as an international tour are only some of what had to be canceled in COVID’s wake. The only part of the original plan that survived was a February

125TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION 7:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 27. $25 donation. (Includes online access for two weeks.) pittsburghsymphony.org

release of a new recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Instead of the planned celebrations, the orchestra broke into smaller ensembles for socially distanced performances recorded in mid-October. Wind and brass had to perform outside, and inside, the PSO followed state and CDC guidelines, capping the number of people involved in recording to 25, socially distancing musicians by at least eight feet on stage, mandating mask-wearing at all times, COVID testing musicians every week, and establishing individual unpacking stations and foot traffic routes to avoid people crossing paths. The PSO worked with Pittsburgh-

based production studio Flying Scooter Productions to record and edit footage for the 125th anniversary celebration, as well as to create its “Front Row” series. Audiences get to see musicians up close, with editing and camera angles guided by the PSO’s artistic team to complement the music. “You’re really in the middle of the performance the way the camera angles are, and, really, it’s a very different experience than hearing a Beethoven symphony on stage at Heinz Hall in the audience,” says Tourangeau. “You can see the expression in the eyes, even though everybody has masks on, you can really see the passion and the CONTINUES ON PG. 18







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expression in the players, and it’s a very unique experience.” The need for smaller ensembles has challenged the artistic team to find pieces that fit within the restrictions of who can be on stage — or outside — at the same time. Still, it has led to the symphony performing parts of its repertoire that are not typically seen by the general public. Attendance for the anniversary premiere, which will remain available online for two weeks, requires a donation of at least $25. The program will become available to the general public for free later in March, and WQED will broadcast it on television. Donations for the gala go towards funding the digital content in the PSO’s Learning and Community Engagement programs. The PSO’s budget, though trimmed by 30%, must still pay its musicians, who are part of the American Federation of Musicians union, as well as the staff and production company, in addition to keeping the lights on and covering the costs of cleaning, health protocols, and testing. While some previous patrons of the


An ensemble of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a mid-October socially distanced rehearsal for the 125th anniversary.

Follow staff writer Kimberly Rooney 냖㵸蔻on Twitter @kimlypso



symphony have not pivoted to the digital content, new viewers are making up the difference. On a typical night of classical music, Heinz Hall is usually filled with 1,500-1,700 audience members, and on the first night of a digital performance, about 1,500-1,800 people tune in, with viewership numbers increasing the longer a performance stays online. The PSO has also invested in digital equipment for Heinz Hall to improve the quality of the recorded performances, and it plans to keep digital performances in its portfolio moving forward. The turn to digital content this season may have been unexpected, but the PSO has still crafted an engaging celebration within the challenges of a new medium and the constraints necessary to keep its musicians and staff safe. “I’m amazingly proud of our organization for being able to continue to pivot in this environment and create meaningful musical content for our community, and celebrating this milestone in this unique way,” says Tourangeau. “We’re going to be stronger on the other end of it, there’s no doubt.”


Andrew William Smith and Lisa Velten-Smith in Quantum Theatre’s Far Away




EARLY A YEAR INTO the pandemic and many people are getting tired of the digital and virtual versions of the art they used to see in person. Luckily for theater fans, Quantum Theatre understands this exhaustion, and created a play-film hybrid performance that, while still an online experience, is not your typical Zoom performance. For their interpretation of playwright Caryl Churchill’s 2000 play Far Away, Quantum Theatre built three sets in one warehouse in Manchester, as the play is divided into three distinct sections. The performance will be available to view through Quantum Theatre’s website from Fri., Feb. 19-Sun., March 7. Set in a dystopian version of our world, the lean 45-minute play begins with an eerie and mysterious scene between Joan, played by Lisa VeltenSmith, and her aunt Harper, played by Ingrid Sonnichsen. Joan is trying to get information from her aunt about something disturbing she saw outside, while

Harper is not eager to give out any secrets. From there, the play moves to a hat factory, where Joan forms a friendship with fellow milliner Todd, played by Andrew William Smith, who is VeltenSmith’s real-life husband. (Back in June, the couple was involved with a set of online plays put on by Quantum Theatre that all involved actor couples. That filming set-up involved rehearsals over Zoom and shipping microphones to actors.) “It progressed all the way to us making this full-on film with a SAG contract and elaborate sets that we built in a huge facility,” says Quantum’s artistic director Karla Boos, who co-directed Far Away along with Joe Seamans. The production was shot and edited in a total of six weeks, but it doesn’t look like a rush job. Set designer Kelsey Garrett helped give the warehouse set the feel of being shot in an old creaky house, with lighting from Sydney Asselin that captures the darkness of the mood. For filming their production, the Quantum team used SAG-approved

COVID-19 regulations, which included frequent temperature checks, virtual fittings, and teaching actors to do their own makeup. Despite the challenges, everyone was happy to be working in-person for once.

FAR AWAY Fri., Feb. 19-Sun., March 7. Pay what you can. quantumtheatre.com

“It was so great to be with people in a rehearsal,” says Boos. “Watching actors really act, and even though it was a film, and I’m new to that, I felt like I was at home.” Boos first saw Far Away the year it premiered, and its statements on politics and war stuck with her over the past two decades. She says that when she first saw the play in 2000, it was “shocking,” but it now feels “prescient” about the current political climate. While Boos herself acknowledges that

audiences are getting tired of consuming art online, she feels that Quantum Theatre’s production of Far Away stands out from other digital productions that have adapted for the pandemic. But, like nearly everyone in the entertainment industry, she hopes that live performances can return by the summer when the weather is warm, and they can be done outdoors. While it will still be a challenge, Quantum Theatre is well-equipped for performing plays outdoors and in unusual locations. The company is known for staging shows in places not typically meant for live theater, like their 2019 production of King Lear at Carrie Blast Furnaces. “We’re hopeful because we work environmentally, and we often work outside,” says Boos. “We do think that by summer, a significant number of people are going to be vaccinated and because we can make large outdoor spaces for distanced audiences, we think we’ll be in the vanguard of companies that offer live performance.”

Follow staff writer Hannah Lynn on Twitter @hanfranny PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER FEBRUARY 17-24, 2021




^ Karen Russell

THU., FEB. 18

FRI., FEB. 19



Wherefore art thou Romeo? He’s online, along with his star-crossed lover, Juliet, as part of the Pittsburgh Public Theater Playtime series Classics N’at, a selection of digital programming that makes old plays new again. PPT resident director Justin Emeka presents Romeo N Juliet, a reimagined Shakespeare adaptation that focuses on African-American and Black immigrant communities for the well-tread story of two very young, very lovestruck, very ill-fated teens from feuding families. The PPT website describes it as a “sensitive, lean retelling that centers Black culture and characters.” 7 p.m. Continues through Sun., Feb. 21. Donation required for access. $10 minimum. ppt.org

In continuance of its Black History Month celebration, Arcade Comedy Theater brings us another night of Black-focused entertainment. For the next event in the series, they are hosting An American Roast, a game show where comedians take turns roasting figures and events of American history. This night features Deric Brown, Miles Miller, Christina McNeese, and more. The performance will take place on Arcade’s YouTube channel. 9 p.m. Free. arcadecomedytheater.com



SAT., FEB. 20 TALK • VIRTUAL There was a time when penguins dominated popular culture, from March of

the Penguins to Happy Feet. While the tuxedoed birds have largely receded from the spotlight — unless, of course, you’re a Pittsburgh hockey fan — there’s still plenty to learn and love about them, which you can do during Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s event Every Penguin in the World. Hear from researcher Charles Bergman, who has traveled the world to see and photograph every species of penguin. 1 p.m. $15-21. pittsburghzoo.org

ART • VIRTUAL The blazing hot dumpster fire that was 2020 didn’t dampen the spirits of FunA-Day Pittsburgh. The community art project still kicked off 2021 by doing what it does best, encouraging people to flex their creative muscles every day throughout the month of January. Now you can view what participating artists produced, which includes

everything from music to hand-carved wooden spoons, by visiting the Virtual Art Show, up now through the end of February. Continues through Sun., Feb. 28. Free. funadaypgh.com/artshow2021

SUN., FEB. 21 FILM • VIRTUAL February is Carnival season, so join City of Asylum for an installment of their film series Mout’ Open, Story Jump Out! Presented in partnership with the Sabira Cole Film Festival and the JouvayFest Collective, this installment will feature three short films that highlight and celebrate the history and culture of Carnival in the Carribean. The virtual screenings will be followed by a panel discussion entitled Global Caribbean Culture: Resistance and Spiritual Fusion. 6 p.m. Free. alphabetcity.org


^ Every Penguin in the World

MON., FEB. 22 LIT • VIRTUAL Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures is hosting the eighth of its Ten Evenings lecture series. Ten Evenings: Karen Russell will feature Russell’s most recent book, Orange World, a collection of short stories that leap across time and place with outlandish situations and tender slices of ordinary life. The Pulitzer Prize finalist, New York Times bestseller, and 2013 MacArthur Genius will also answer questions that were submitted in advance. 7:30 p.m. (Available online for one week.) $15. $10 for students. pittsburghlectures.org

TUE., FEB. 23 TALK • VIRTUAL Throughout Black History Month, Carnegie Science Center is highlighting the “amazing and groundbreaking influences” of Black scientists. During a Facebook Live Career Connections Chat, guests will meet Afua Bruce, the Chief

Program Officer at DataKind, a “global nonprofit that harnesses the power of data science and AI in the service of humanity.” Bruce, who previously served as the Executive Director of the White House’s National Science and Technology Council, has used technology to improve outcomes in criminal justice reform, immigration, and more. 7 p.m. Free. facebook.com/carnegiesciencecenter

WED., FEB. 24 TALK • VIRTUAL Spring is closer than you might think, and nothing signifies the start of the season like the return of migrating birds to Pittsburgh. And with that avian influx comes potential problems for our feathered friends. Learn more about how to keep local and migrating birds safe this spring with the panel discussion Spring Migration and the Safety of Our Local Birds. The virtual talk is hosted by the Frick Pittsburgh and includes an ornithologist, conservationist, and others. 7-8 p.m. Free with advanced registration. thefrickpittsburgh.org •






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ACROSS 1. Cousins of the 2-Down 7. Radar spot 11. Dust 14. Share one’s emotions 15. “Yeah, ___ that ...” 17. Religious pilgrim’s trip 18. Babes in a fraternal group? 20. They sometimes lead to sudden death: Abbr. 21. Make it happen 22. “___ nacht” 23. Miracle worker? 25. Verbal cut-in 27. They flow with Bordeaux reds? 31. Nobel prize 33. Upstate New York engineering coll. 34. Lost fumbles, e.g. 35. Intro level instructors, often: Abbr. 37. Kind of orange 39. Teammate of Simone, Gabby, Laurie, and Madison 40. Bad golf slice from the roof? 45. Made to order 46. Power Trip singer ___ Gale 47. Make a go of it 48. Eye part 50. Experimental room 51. See 38-Down 55. Places a lid on in an ethical way?

60. Kiddie wheels 61. Old Testament prophet 62. Polished part 64. Prefix in some cold-weather products 65. It might give your cheeks some color 66. Pirate rebel who does a quick step? 70. Sun Devils of the Pac-12 71. It moves on sliding scales 72. Set off 73. Coffee provides it 74. Dinosaur with two claws 75. Tempur-Pedic rivals

DOWN 1. Polite turndown 2. Cousins of the 1-Across 3. Legally protected 4. Abril and julio are part of it 5. Memories, Dreams, Reflections psychologist 6. Laudanum ingredient 7. Howled at the moon 8. Bus. acquisition 9. Note from one cleaned out 10. Makes amends 11. Game where nobody gets any calls? 12. Kim of Sex and the City

13. Dream outfit? 16. Panang curry cuisine 19. Disease that comes from repeated head injuries, for short 24. ER drips 26. The total package? 28. “... maybe?” 29. IRS forms mavens 30. Eye-opening trouble? 32. Animal’s haunt 36. Quiet pursuing of game for sport 37. Turning point in ancient history? 38. Word next to a harp on some 51-Across 40. Hurt 41. Words

of guarantee 42. Bob Marley classic with the repeated words “little darlin’” 43. Skin care brand 44. Stooge snort 49. Biological pocket 52. Unprincipled person 53. Bad-tempered 54. Decorations at some gender reveal parties 56. Daring escapes 57. Office park wing 58. Apple ___ (financial app) 59. 7” halves 63. Hard to swallow 65. Nuke 67. Besmirch 68. ___ Skidmore (Oklahoma! character) 69. Travelers org.? LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS




Hitachi Rail STS USA, Inc. is seeking a Head of Procurement - Americas, to work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Head of Procurement will be required to perform complex project and management accounting duties as part of a dynamic rail transportation company. Must be willing and able to travel domestically and internationally 50% of the time. Apply at: http://sts.hitachirail.com/en

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Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA, Inc. (“Bombardier”) seeks a Project Commercial Manager / Lead to work in Pittsburgh, PA and be responsible for managing the commercial, contractual and claim aspects of various rail and transportation equipment projects. Send resume to Kelly Krivijanski, Human Resources, Bombardier Transportation, 1501 Lebanon Church Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236.

NAME CHANGE IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-21-000314, In re petition of Latanya Hemingway, parent and legal guardian of Raven Sade Hemingway a minor for a change of names to Hadassah Baht Israel and Rebekah Baht Israel. To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 19th day of March, 2021 at 9:30 A.M., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

Corporation seeks a Software Architect in Pittsburgh, PA, to be responsible for analyzing, designing, and developing

Payment from the buyer will be taken by credit or debit card only. Auction will be held online through storagetreasures. com. Open bidding begins on March 15th, 2021 at 7pm and ends on March 22nd, 2021 at 7pm. Bolt Storage LLC reserves the right to bid at the sale; refuse any or all bids, and to cancel the auction at any time for any reason. To settle this claim please call (412) 889-8137.



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Need Help with Family Law? Can’t Afford a $5000 Retainer? Low Cost Legal Services- Pay As You Go- As low as $750-$1500Get Legal Help Now! Call 1-844-821-8249 Mon-Fri 7am to 4pm PCT (AAN CAN) https://www.familycourtdirect. com/?network=1




IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-21-612. In re petition of Megan Elizabeth Miller for change of name to Megan Elizabeth Sousa. To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 25th day of March, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-20-11124. In re petition of Roberto Carlos Alban for change of name to Roberto Carlos Miller. To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 4th day of March, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

IN The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: No. GD-21-476, In re petition of Mary Elizabeth Oeler parent and legal guardian of Peter Vincent Oeler-Giambattista for change of name to Peter Vincent Oeler. To all persons interested: Notice is hereby given that an order of said Court authorized the filing of said petition and fixed the 11th day of March, 2021, at 9:30 a.m., as the time and the Motions Room, City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA, as the place for a hearing, when and where all persons may show cause, if any they have, why said name should not be changed as prayed for.

Submit resume to:

SAVE YOUR HOME! Are you behind paying your MORTGAGE? Denied a Loan Modification? Is the bank threatening foreclosure? CALL Homeowners Relief Line NOW for Help 1-855-4395853 Mon-Fri : 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Sat: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm(all times Pacific) (AAN CAN)

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FINANCIAL Struggling With Your Private Student Loan Payment? New relief programs can reduce your payments. Learn your options. Good credit not necessary. Call the Helpline 888-670-5631 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Eastern) (AAN CAN)


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LEGAL NOTICE Under Provisions of Article 325-7 of the Lien Law of the State of Pennsylvania, Bolt Storage LLC (previously “Storage Squad” LLC), 1261 Streets Run Rd. West Mifflin, PA 15236 (412) 889-8137, will sell the personal property stored by 2 tenants.





MASSAGE M2M Massage by Lee 24/7 • 412-628-1269 Call 412.685.9009 to advertise in City Paper.

PERSONALS Female Companion wanted 30-40 y.o. Waist length hair and/or cornrows a PLUS PLUS! Permanent Position 724-223-0939 Wash. Co NAMASTE! Find a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit with one of our massage therapists, yoga, or spa businesses

Metro Community Health Center offers full dental services to everyone regardless of identity, income, insurance status, or the ability to pay. Make an appointment by calling 412-247-2310 and visit our website, www.metrocommunityhealthcenter.org, to learn more. 1789 S. Braddock Ave, #410 Pittsburgh, PA 15218 To make an appointment: (412) 247-2310

Emergency HIV MEDICATION AND PREP available to ALL

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Sealed proposals shall be deposited at the Administration Building, Bellefield Entrance Lobby, 341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15213, on February 23, 2021, until 2:00 P.M., local prevailing time for:

Service & Maintenance Contracts at Various Schools, Facilities, Facilities & Properties: Gas and Oil Burners, Boilers and Furnaces Inspection, Service, and Repairs (REBID) Project Manual and Drawings will be available for purchase on Monday, February 8, 2021 at Modern Reproductions (412-488-7700), 127 McKean Street, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15219 between 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. The cost of the Project Manual Documents is non-refundable. Project details and dates are described in each project manual. We are an equal rights and opportunity school district.

• ALL INSURANCES ACCEPTED • WALK INS WELCOME • tRANSPORATION PROGRAM • NO INSURANCE? WE CAN HELP North Shore - 127 Anderson Street - Suite 101 Timber Court Building, PIttsburgh, PA 15212 Phone: (412) 322-4151 washington, pa - 95 Leonard Avenue Suite 203, Washington PA 15301 Phone: (724) 249-2517 beaver county - 2360 hospital drive Suite 1, aliquippa, pa 15001 Phone: (724)707-1155 Erie - 3104 State Street, Erie, PA 16508 PHONE: (814) 619-4009



Profile for Pittsburgh City Paper

February 17, 2021 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Pittsburgh's leading arts and entertainment newsweekly featuring a cover story on how the pandemic has shifted Pittsburgh's housing market,...

February 17, 2021 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Pittsburgh's leading arts and entertainment newsweekly featuring a cover story on how the pandemic has shifted Pittsburgh's housing market,...