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Friday, March 25, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 11:42 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF BECKY SULLIVAN VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Photo courtesy of Becky Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons
The 2016 Pride in the Street headliners have been announced, and they are a stark contrast from last year’s Iggy Azalea debacle. Azalea had used what some consider racist and homophobic language on social media in the past, and protest erupted over the 2015 announcement that she would be headlining Pittsburgh largest LGBT pride event.

While on the surface, the controversy seemed to be about  Azalea's selection, the issues went deeper. (Azalea dropped out because of the protests and was eventually replaced by Nick Jonas.) Many local LGBT groups criticized the Delta Foundation, Pride’s organizers, for operating on behalf of one segment of the community — namely white, gay males — and not including all of the individuals who make up the community.

This year Kesha and African-American rapper Angel Haze were selected. According to a press release from Delta, “Kesha has used her music to bring attention to the bullying and harassment that many LGBT people continue to face.” The release also states that Kesha has recently been awarded the Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign, which is given to high profile individuals who use their platform to advance and advocate for the LGBT movement.

“Kesha has used her influence and international platform to bring attention to the challenges faced by women and the LGBT community,” said Delta president Gary Van Horn in the press release. “We are thrilled to bring her to Pride in the Street this year, and we know that Pittsburgh’s LGBT community and allies will be excited to welcome her.”

Haze, who identifies as pansexual and agender (having no gender) has also recently been recognized by an LGBT organization when they were nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for their record “Dirty Gold.” (GLAAD, which stands for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is an LGBT rights group focused on the media.) 



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Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Experts convene at the museum for a day-long supplement to its intriguing exhibit titled Captured by Indians: Warfare & Assimilation on the 18th Century Frontier.

click to enlarge "The Capture of John Brickell," a diorama in the "Captured by Indians" exhibit - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FORT PITT MUSEUM
Photo courtesy of the Fort Pitt Museum
"The Capture of John Brickell," a diorama in the "Captured by Indians" exhibit
Flesh of Our Flesh, Bone of Our Bone” includes talks, an illustrated lecture and a look at some artifacts from the show, including rare prisoner cords that Native Americans from this region used to bind captives (and which served a ceremonial as well as a practical function).

The presentations begin at 11 a.m. with a talk by Shawnee tribe member Jeremy Turner, who’ll discuss the importance and procedures of captivity and adoption among the Northeastern Woodland tribes (who in the 18th century often resorted to captivity to replenish populations lost to warfare and diseases imported from Europe).

Historian R. Scott Stephenson follows with “Halters and Cords: The Decorative Art of Securing Captives in the Eastern Woodlands,” an illustrated lecture.

The program also includes Voices of Captivity, a reading and discussion of Indian captivity narratives from the 18th century. Such narratives were among most popular literature of the time.

The day’s programming continues until 3:30 p.m. and is included with regular museum admission ($3.50-7, and free for children ages 5 and under).

The Fort Pitt Museum is located at 601 Commonwealth Place, in Point State Park. 

For more information, see here.

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Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 8:55 AM

After two-and-half-years, Cindy Lisica’s gallery in Lawrenceville begins the process of closing up shop with a reception for its 16th and final show.

click to enlarge "MADLER K," A PAINTING BY EDUARDO PORTILLO
"Madler K," a painting by Eduardo Portillo
FTW is a group show including artists from the Pittsburgh area, Houston and Los Angeles and overseas.

Lisica had recently relocated to Houston, where she has opened a new gallery, and had been running Revision Space remotely. But with the lease expiring in April, she’s ending its run.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Lisica says of Revision Space: “We put the [Pittsburgh] gallery and its artists on the international map at art fairs in Houston and Miami, and we collaborated with C.A.V.E. Gallery from Los Angeles and brought artists from coast to coast and from Asia and Europe.”

“We have had a wonderful run and are very proud of our many accomplishments and the fantastic reputation we developed for expanding the contemporary art scene in Pittsburgh,” she adds.

FTW (signifying both “For The Win” and “Fare Thee Well”) includes work by such noted locals as Paul Bowden, Terry Boyd, Miss Dingo, Haylee Ebersole, Fabrizio Gerbino and Sarika Goulatia. The show also features Jamie Earnest, Masha Fikhman, Zack John Lee, Elizabeth Rudnick and Travis K. Schwab. Artists from outside the region (showing work courtesy of Houston’s Anya Tish Gallery and L.A.’s C.A.V.E. Gallery) include Nugent Kos, Felipe Lopez, Amanda Marie, Eduardo Portillo, Jeff Schwarz, SIT, and Barbara Smith.

Tonight's reception takes place 7-9 p.m. An invitation-only early-bird and VIP preview is at 6 p.m. (contact Lisica at 412-728-4916 or cindy@revisionspace.com).

The show can also be viewed from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily this Saturday and Sunday.

Revision Space is located at 5262 Butler St.

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Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Here's what's happening in Pittsburgh:


1. Voter registration
for the Pennsylvania primary is getting down to the wire. In order to vote as a Democrat or Republican (remember, Pa. has closed a closed primary, sorry independents) on April 26, residents must register by this Mon., March 28. Aside from the presidential primary candidates, residents will be voting for party nominees for Pa. Attorney General, a Democratic nominee to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, and several state House seats.

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
Photo by Ryan Deto
2. Hundreds gathered to mourn the deaths of victims killed in the March 9 mass shooting in Wilkinsburg. A funeral for three of the five victims — Jerry Shelton, Brittany Powell and Chanetta Powell — called for an end to the violence and a new peaceful movement in the borough just east of Pittsburgh. “We as a community can do something about these senseless killings that have plagued our community,” said Rev. Maurice Trent of St. Clair's Lighthouse Cathedral, where the funerals were held. “No longer can we be a blind, deaf and dumb community. We will no longer turn a blind eye to what we see and hear.”

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nutttall
3. Complaints about police conduct have significantly decreased according to a City of Pittsburgh's Law Department. Lawsuits filed against the City of Pittsburgh have decreased by 50 percent in the last two years, while the number of complaints filed against police officers also decreased over the last two years and is down by 43 percent. At a press conference this week, Mayor Bill Peduto attributed the decrease to his administration moving the Office of Municipal Investigations to under the Law Department, and to Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay's leadership.

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
Photo by Aaron Warnick
4. Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders opened a campaign office on East Carson Street in the South Side on Wednesday night. "I think we are going to have a very competitive race here in Pennsylvania. We are 50 percent through the primary, and we believe the latter 50 percent favors the senator," Sanders' Pennsylvania campaign organizer Ryan Hughes told the crowd. See our slideshow of the event and the office.

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
Photo by Aaron Warnick
5. Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her East Liberty campaign office on Thursday night. Many local Democratic Party leaders including Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, state Rep. Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak and other party officials attended the event. "Wow. What a crowd we have here tonight. What a cross-section of Pittsburgh. Young people. Middle-aged people. People as old as me,” Fitzgerald said to the crowd of about 250. Here's our slideshow

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click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF BECKY SULLIVAN VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Photo courtesy of Becky Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons
6. The Delta Foundation has named Kesha as its headliner for the 2016 Pride in the Street event. Rapper Angel Haze, who identifies as pansexual and agender, will also perform. Last year, protesters spoke out when Delta chose Iggy Azalea, reacting to what  some consider racist and homophobic language on her past social media posts. (Eventually Azalea dropped out and was replaced by performer Nick Jonas.) But protesters, including the group Roots Pride Pittsburgh, say the Delta Foundation still has a lot of work to do to include queer and transgender people of color.  

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
7. Employee wages are going up at the Garfield cafe/lounge/gallery space that is Mixtape. At a press conference on Thursday, owner Katie Molchan said, "[We're] giving our employees a work environment where they can be comfortable knowing no matter what day they come in, they'll be able to pay their bills, that it's going to be a stable wage." Organizers with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pittsburgh also attended to discuss issues surrounding the tipped worker wage.

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY RENEE ROSENSTEEL
Photo by Renee Rosensteel
8. The Office of Public Art's guided walking tour on Friday night will highlight public art that experiments with light. Tomorrow's Art Experiments with Light: Downtown Walking Tour covers four works in Downtown Pittsburgh — "Rivers of Light," "168 Lightbulbs," "The Puddler" and "Mix-n-Match."

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On our podcast:

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHARLIE DEITCH
Photo by Charlie Deitch
This week on the City Paper podcast, editor Charlie Deitch checks in with us from Pirates Spring Training in Bradenton, Fla. City Paper’s Wedding Guide hit stands this week, so we speak to one of our models (a.k.a. staff writer Rebecca Nuttall) and wedding photographer John Colombo. And, we find out how to rent a chicken at the Farm to Table Pittsburgh conference.

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On our political blogs:


Leaders in Philadelphia's African-American community criticized the television advertisement recently released by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, who is running for Pennsylvania district attorney. 
"Mr. Zappala, who I have not met, uses footage of the untimely as well as unjust death of unarmed African Americans in Texas and South Carolina to make the case that he's been a leader in pursuing justice during his time as district attorney," said Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church. Mitchell and other leaders say that Zappala's involvement in the conviction of a police office who killed an unarmed black man in 1995 and his recent  plea deals to five white men involved in the assault of an African-American man shows Zappala has not held the perpetrators accountable. “Plain and simple, Zappala is trying to deceive voters,” Mitchell said.


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On our music blog:


click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF J. ROWDEN
Photo courtesy of J. Rowden
This week’s MP3 Monday offering comes from the prolific one-man experimental rock project known as Unfinished Symphonies. Stream or download the groovy track "Uh Huh" on our FFW music blog.



Every week on our FFW music blog, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section and included in our concert listings. Listen above!

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From the pages of our print edition:

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN COLOMBO
Photo by John Colombo
This week, our Wedding Guide for 2016 hit the streets. If you didn't grab your copy yet, check out the issue here for articles on local wedding dress offerings, floral trends, delicious desserts (that aren't cake), nontraditional venues and signature cocktails.

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Behind the scenes:


We talk to local artist 
Rhonda Libbey, who has been creating City Paper covers for the past 10 years, about her latest work for us. Libbey’s cover illustration this week depicts a cute wedding scene, but she’s best known for her work in the world of science fiction and fantasy. We ask her about being an artist in Pittsburgh, what inspires her, and how she's great at depicting local politicians as horror creatures.

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This week in City Paper history:

click to enlarge COVER ILLUSTRATION BY JIM RUGG
Cover illustration by Jim Rugg
On March 25, 2009, City Paper looked back on the prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan’s legacy in the waning days before the Obama administration chucked her out of office. Buchanan always said she believed in her prosecutions. She prosecuted Cyril Wecht for charges that basically amounted to misusing paper clips owned by Allegheny County. She built a case of trading prescription medications for sex against former physician Bernard Rottschaefer based on the testimony of stool pigeons who testified against the doctor for reduced sentences on drug charges; most also recanted their testimony. She also was no stranger to reaching outside of Pennsylvania for high-profile cases. She sent comedian Tommy Chong to prison for selling bongs online. But as one source told CP: “Just because she’s sincere about what she’s doing doesn’t make it noble.”



Editor's note: We've updated our list with information that has been added to our online coverage since this blog's original 6 a.m. post.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 6:30 PM

click to enlarge Screenshot of video footage from the press conference in Philadelphia
Screenshot of video footage from the press conference in Philadelphia
At a press conference today, leaders in Philadelphia's African-American community criticized the television advertisement recently released by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala who is running for Pennsylvania district attorney.

"Mr. Zappala who I have not met uses footage of the untimely as well as unjust death of unarmed African Americans in Texas and South Carolina to make the case that he's been a leader in pursuing justice during his time as district attorney," said Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church. "We don't know it to be true if he has, but here's what we do know. A closer look a Mr. Zappala's record shows a failure to properly respond to overt, revolting, documented acts of violence against our community, the African-American community."

Zappala's advertisement features video footage from the traffic stop of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in jail in Waller County, Texas, after being taken into custody after a routine traffic stop in July 2015. The next clip is from the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot in the back while fleeing from police in North Charleston, S.C. The third clip is from elevator footage of Janay Palmer, after she was beaten by professional football player Ray Rice in Atlantic City. 

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Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:39 PM

click to enlarge Owners Katie Molchan and Elaina Holko's Mixtape is Worker Approved - PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
Owners Katie Molchan and Elaina Holko's Mixtape is Worker Approved
Today, Mixtape, a Garfield dance lounge, music gallery, cafe and event space, announced it had joined the ranks of local businesses that are raising wages for their employees and providing paid sick leave.

"[We're] giving our employees a work environment where they can be comfortable knowing no matter what day they come in, they'll be able to pay their bills, that it's going to be a stable wage." says owner Katie Molchan. "Obviously it does mean as a startup it's going to take us longer to reach a point of profitability, but we felt really strongly that was a really important to send a message to our staff and our team. They shouldn't have to bear the brunt of losses if we have a slow day."

Today's press conference is part of a local movement to increase wages for service workers and improve employee benefits like paid sick leave. Today's speakers highlighted what they see as problems with the current system that allows tipped workers to be paid below the minimum wage. 

"The same people who put food on our table can't afford to put food on their table," said Jordan Romanus, lead organizer with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pittsburgh. "In Pennsylvania, the medium income for a tipped work is less than $13,000. To top it all off, the tipped minimum wage hasn't been raised in over 17 years. That's an entire class of workers who haven't seen a raise in nearly two decades."

According to a study by the mobile-payment application Square, Alaska — the state where the minimum wage for tipped workers is $8.75 an hour — actually tips more than any other state. In Delaware, the state that tips the least, the tipped minimum wage is $2.23.

"Our solution to this problem is simple. We need to support businesses like Mixtape who do right by their employees, and secondly, we need to eliminate the tipped minimum wage. In the seven states that have done away with the two-tiered system, their poverty rates are lower, the restaurant receipts are actually higher, menu prices are not higher, and tipping is even better."

The press conference also marked the launch of Pittsburgh City Councilor Deb Gross' Worker Approved Businesses initiative, which is designed to highlight local businesses "paying family sustaining wages and treating their workers well." 

"It's a part of the essence of Pittsburgh that we're all fighting for. We invest in each other. We are determined to be a community, and that means having a commitment to one another," said Deb Gross. "I hope that all of us will make it a priority to patronize businesses like Mixtape because they are investing in us."

This initiative follows several workers'-rights measures passed by city council, including an effort to promote small businesses that have raised their wages to $10.10 an hour. And last year, Mayor Bill Peduto signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour over the next six years. 

Last year, council also passed legislation for mandatory paid sick leave, which is currently being challenged in Commonwealth Court by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. The City of Pittsburgh has until April 11 to file its appeal, and the case is expected to go to trial this summer.

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Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:25 PM

click to enlarge "The Puddler" (detail) - PHOTO COURTESY OF RENEE ROSENSTEEL
Photo courtesy of Renee Rosensteel
"The Puddler" (detail)

The Office of Public Art
has always sought to illuminate the art we don't notice in our everyday lives, but its newest guided walking tour takes that literally by examining public art that experiments with light.

Tomorrow's Art Experiments with Light: Downtown Walking Tour covers four works — "Rivers of Light," "168 Lightbulbs," "The Puddler" and "Mix-n-Match."

"Rivers of Light," Jane Haskell's 1984 creation in painted aluminum, neon and glass block, sits inside the Steel Plaza T station at the platform level. The 5,000 square-foot environment plays with splashes of color — including warm hues in the morning and cool shades after dusk — to create the illusion of dancing river waters.

Above the entrance to Wood Street Gallery, Jim Campbell's 2001 piece "168 Lightbulbs" displays differing images using alternating light from (yep) 168 bulbs. Some of the representations include people crossing the street, traffic and even the image of Claude Shannon, the father of information technology.

"The Puddler," a work of stained glass built into the facade the 300 Sixth Avenue Building, is more of an urban mystery. While the piece was fabricated by Harriton Carved Glass Company, in 1939, the artist is unknown. The mural depicts a figure puddling steel — or placing iron into a hot furnace then stirring it. The piece is lit up at night and features animated sparks from the hot metal, a tribute to the Steel City.

The newest contribution to Pittsburgh light art, "Mix-n-Match," is the brainchild of Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn. The installation involves a series of LED bulbs laid out in the form of an oversized record-player that light up in tandem with audio tracks incorporating sounds recorded with groups of local residents. (The groups include Downtown street-cleaners and Point Park tap-dance students.) It was incorporated into the heart of Market Square last Friday.

The Office of Public Art's Rachel Klipa will lead the bilingual tour — presented in both English and Spanish.

Art Experiments with Light: Downtown Walking Tour is presented in collaboration with the Office of Public Art, Welcoming Pittsburgh and Café con Leche.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The tour begins at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Steel Plaza T station, platform level.

Call 412-391-2060 or visit www.publicartpittsburgh.org to register.

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Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:23 PM



Reggae songs singing of revolution, posters decrying the injustice toward the 99 percent, exposed brick walls and cubicles made from what appears to be reclaimed wood. That is right, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a campaign office on East Carson Street in the South Side.

Inside the Schwartz Market building,  about 50 Sanders supporters gathered and eventually filled the space before Ryan Hughes, Sanders' Pennsylvania campaign organizer, rallied  the troops.

"I think we are gonna have a very competitive race here in Pennsylvania. We are 50 percent through the primary, and we believe the latter 50 percent favors the senator," Hughes said to applause.

Hughes said he is optimistic about Sanders' chances running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State, and particularly in Pittsburgh. He said Sanders really appeals to the working-lass roots of the Steel City.  Sanders already has some political support here in the Pittsburgh area, including Braddock Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, who has endorsed Sanders.

Hughes also pointed out Sanders' platform on social and racial injustice, including Sanders' call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. When asked about affordable housing, Hughes said that Sanders would work with Congress to pass legislation to address that issue, including possible legislation on community land trusts. (Lawrenceville has started the city's first community land trust, and Sanders created the country's first while mayor of Burlington, Vt., in the '80s.)

The event was a chance for volunteers to get to know each other, according to Hughes, and there were voting registration stations as well as literature about the Sanders campaign. Hughes also said that supporters should expect a lot of visits from Sanders closer to the New York state Democratic primary, held on April 19.

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Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 1:45 PM



Pennsylvania's primary is on April 26, but the deadline to register to vote is this Monday — March 28. 

Of course, the presidential primary has much of the spotlight, but also up for grabs is the Democratic nomination for one of Pa.'s U.S. Senate seats — a seat which has been called crucial for party control. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, former Pa. environmental secretary Katie McGinty and former congressman Joe Sestak are vying to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the general election.

Also on the primary ballot: candidates seeking the Pa. Attorney General nomination (controversial incumbent Kathleen Kane will not seek re-election) and local candidates seeking re-election to their Pa. House posts. (See our more of our PolitiCrap blog posts for coverage of these races.)

In mid-February, Pa. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes stopped by City Paper's offices to talk about the state's new online voter registration system. Pennsylvanians can find online voter registration info at register.votesPA.com, where the application is offered in both English and Spanish. So far the system has seen just over 200,000 new users. Residents can also use it to update their voting records — address change, party change, etc.

"About 40 percent of those using online voter registration [are] using the tool to update their records. And, every time you update a record, what that means is our voter rolls are more accurate," Sec. Cortes told CP. That means, he says, a more efficient workflow for county election offices.

Historically during presidential election years, voter turnout is around 60 percent in Pennsylvania. During municipal elections, turnout can dip as low as 40 percent. 

“We have a challenge here in Pennsylvania when it comes to actually voting,” Sec. Cortes said. “A large percentage of our population don’t exercise their right to vote.” 

Currently there are about eight million registered voters in the state — four million Democrat, three million Republican and the rest unaffiliated. In Allegheny County, about 865,000 citizens are registered, with around 512,000 Democrats, 240,000 Republicans, and the rest unaffiliated.

Pennsylvania is a closed primary state though, so only voters registered with a specific party will be able to vote on April 26.




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Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 9:11 AM

click to enlarge This week’s Pittsburgh City Paper cover artist Rhonda Libbey - PHOTO COURTESY OF RHONDA LIBBEY
Photo courtesy of Rhonda Libbey
This week’s Pittsburgh City Paper cover artist Rhonda Libbey


Rhonda Libbey is a local artist from Oakmont who has done work for Pittsburgh City Paper for more than 10 years. Rhonda’s cover illustration this week depicts a cute wedding scene, but she’s best known for her work in the world of science fiction and fantasy. Scroll through her online gallery and you’ll see monsters, dragons, skeletons and a great selection of winged creatures.

We caught up with her over email after she finished painting this week’s cover illustration.

What’s your favorite thing about being an artist in Pittsburgh?
I love that there are so many genuinely nice artists who live here. It’s great to be able to collaborate, or just get together and chat about the business of being an artist. (Shout out to my friends in Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators!)

You studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Has Pittsburgh’s art scene changed at all since you first started out?
I did study at AIP in the mid-’90s, and I earned a degree in visual communications with a major in illustration, minor in graphic design. While I did learn classical painting techniques, my experience was not typical for many students who went there because AIP has always been a school that focused on graphic arts. They didn’t ever teach much on the things that would benefit anyone looking to get into the fine-art gallery scene.

I feel that the scene has changed since I graduated, but my experience is certainly linked to how things have changed in the fields of illustration and graphic design.

What inspires you?

That is a really hard question to answer. Sometimes it’s something in colors paired together, or beauty in the natural world. Sometimes it’s an abstract concept, a desire to tell a story or the desire to inspire others.

click to enlarge This week’s Pittsburgh City Paper cover sketch by Rhonda Libbey, and the final product
This week’s Pittsburgh City Paper cover sketch by Rhonda Libbey, and the final product

I’ve seen you post lots of drawings of your ferrets online. I actually have a painting done by a parrot from the National Aviary. Have you ever put paint on your ferrets’ feet and put them to work?
I have two little ferret sweethearts, though neither of them have shown any interest in art. However, a few years ago, I had a little fellow named Icarus. Not only was he a classical-music fan, but he had this one stashing place (all ferrets have stashes of stuff they steal) where he organized everything by color and the color groups were all evenly spaced. One day I also saw Icarus scratching at some paper, so I put some colored transfer paper under it so his scratches made colorful marks on the pages underneath.

I think my favorite illustrations you’ve done for us were the couple of Halloween-themed issues, where you turned local politicians into horror creatures. But you’ve also done really cute cartoon work, like this week’s cover and your 2008 police line-up of video-game characters. Do you enjoy the darker stuff more?
Aww, thanks! I enjoyed creating those covers. Cartooning has been a part of my journey as an artist since I graduated from AIP. Without a doubt, I have always had a dark side. I suppose I am drawn to it more.

click to enlarge Rhonda Libbey’s 2008 Pittsburgh City Paper cover on video games, and her 2013 Halloween-themed cover of Luke Ravenstahl
Rhonda Libbey’s 2008 Pittsburgh City Paper cover on video games, and her 2013 Halloween-themed cover of Luke Ravenstahl

Your portfolio is full of mermaids, goblins, dark angels and lots of other fantasy pieces. If you could turn into any of your fantasy paintings, which would you choose?
Hmm, mermaid would be fun. Elves are really rad, too.

Do you have any projects coming up we can look forward to?
Yes! There are two that are really cool; unfortunately, I am under [a non-disclosure agreement]. All I can say is stay tuned. In a few months I can talk about it and post about them all over social media.

Other than the NDA projects, I have been working on a whole different direction for my work. It’s more stylized than a lot of my older work, but I really dig it. Everyone can expect to see more of it this year. Examples of the new look can be seen on my PSI page; my actual website really needs an update.

You can see more of Rhonda Libbey’s work at pittsburghillustrators.org/accounts/view/RhondaLibbey, www.rhondalibbey.com and by searching "Rhonda Libbey" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Lisa Cunningham is Pittsburgh City Paper’s art director.

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