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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2022 at 12:19 PM

click to enlarge A photo from Amanda Waltz's award-winning Pittsburgh City Paper article on Hidden Media Network - CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
A photo from Amanda Waltz's award-winning Pittsburgh City Paper article on Hidden Media Network
In fall 2021, Pittsburgh City Paper A&E Editor Amanda Waltz entered Wonderland, a Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party. It was just one of many events heavily promoted on social media by Hidden Media Network, promising “all the best virtual and live experiences in over 30 cities around the world.” She left with more questions than answers.

In the following days, the more Waltz reported on the international event planning company, the more she discovered allegations of “bait and switch” tactics, unsafe COVID protocols, and more.

On May 24, the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania awarded Waltz with the first place Golden Quill award for “Excellence in Written Journalism, Arts/Entertainment – Division 3” for her report on the company, Hidden Media Network Promises Fun, Immersive Experiences, but Some Say Everything’s Not as It Seems.

The 58th annual Golden Quill Award ceremony, held at the Rivers Casino, honors “professional and student excellence in print, broadcast, photography, videography and digital journalism in Western Pennsylvania and nearby counties in Ohio and West Virginia,” according to the announcement.

Also receiving first-place wins were City Paper literary writer, Rege Behe, for “Excellence in Written Journalism, Criticism – Division 3” for his literature in Pittsburgh; former staff writer Kimberly Rooney for “Excellence in Written Journalism, Business/Technology/Consumer –Division 3” for their report, State Lawmakers Join Pittsburgh Restaurant Owners in Revolt Against Food Delivery Apps; and, former art director Abbie Adams for “Excellence in Journalistic Craft Achievement, Cover Design – Print, Divisions 1-4” for her Black Women Leaving Pittsburgh cover design.
click to enlarge Excerpt from Abbie Adam's award-winning Pittsburgh City Paper cover design
Excerpt from Abbie Adam's award-winning Pittsburgh City Paper cover design
City Paper also was named a finalist in multiple categories. The full list is below:

Excellence in Written Journalism, Arts/Entertainment – Division 3
Winner: “Hidden Media Network Promises Fun, Immersive Experiences, but Some Say Everything’s Not as It Seems,” Amanda Waltz

Excellence in Written Journalism, Criticism – Division 3
Winner: “Literature in Pittsburgh,” Rege Behe

Excellence in Written Journalism, Business/Technology/Consumer –Division 3
Winner: “State Lawmakers Join Pittsburgh Restaurant Owners in Revolt Against Food Delivery Apps,” Kimberly Rooney

Excellence in Journalistic Craft Achievement, Cover Design – Print, Divisions 1-4
Winner: “Black Women Leaving Pittsburgh,” Abbie Adams

Excellence in Written Journalism, News Feature – Division 3
Finalist: “How Newsrooms, Police Departments, and Social Media Fail Missing People of Color,” Kimberly Rooney

Excellence in Journalistic Craft Achievement, Personality Profile Photo – Divisions 1-6
Finalist: “Chrome Cable,” Jared Wickerham

Excellence in Written Journalism, Lifestyle – Division 3
Finalist: “Why Are So Many Black Women Talking About Leaving Pittsburgh?” Dani Janae

Excellence in Written Journalism, Public Affairs/Politics/Government –Division 3
Finalist: “Why Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Continues to Avoid Scrutiny,” Ryan Deto

Excellence in Written Journalism, Columns/Blogs – Division 3
Finalist: “Voices,” Tereneh Idia

While City Paper always appreciates being honored for our writing and artistic talents, hearing that our stories resonated with our readers, and from the people we write about, is more important than any award we've ever received. We are grateful for your continued support.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2022 at 4:49 PM

click to enlarge A portion of Pittsburgh City Paper editorial designer Lucy Chen's award-winning news layout
A portion of Pittsburgh City Paper editorial designer Lucy Chen's award-winning news layout
Pittsburgh City Paper is honored to announce it has won six awards in the 2022 Keystone Media Awards, a statewide journalism competition for Pennsylvania media companies.

The awards, published on April 28 by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, are presented each year to Pennsylvania journalists whose work "displays relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and furthers First Amendment values."

Editorial Designer Lucy Chen won first place in the News Page Design Category for her print layout on Kimberly Rooney's story on Critical Race Theory.

Columnist Tereneh Idia won second place in Columns for three of her 2021 pieces: Didn't we almost have it all? Contemplating Black arts in Pittsburgh, The global (and local) politics of Black beauty, and The soul of a country.
click to enlarge Dannielle Brown announced the Marquis Jaylen Brown Foundation along with the end of her 237-day hunger strike at Freedom Corner downtown on her 50th birthday on Thu., March 11, 2021. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Dannielle Brown announced the Marquis Jaylen Brown Foundation along with the end of her 237-day hunger strike at Freedom Corner downtown on her 50th birthday on Thu., March 11, 2021.
Staff photographer and videographer Jared Wickerham received a second-place win for his News Event Photo of Dannielle Brown as she announced the end of her hunger strike, and photo intern Kaycee Orwig earned an Honorable Mention  for her Feature Photo illustrating Dani Janae's story on artist Zeal Eva.

Former managing editor Ryan Deto also won second place for his News Beat Reporting on the Pittsburgh police, which included his report on a protester injured by a police projectile.


Finally, the entire City Paper staff received second place in the Special Section category for its Coloring Issue: Getting Around Tahn.

More than 2,500 entries were received from 110 news organizations, and City Paper competed in the category of "multi‐day publications with 20,000 to 49,999 circulation." While the greatest reward comes from folks reading its stories, City Paper's staff is honored to be recognized for their hard work.

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

Posted By on Sat, Jan 8, 2022 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge 2020 Pittsburgh City Paper covers - COVER PHOTOS BY JARED WICKERHAM
Cover photos by Jared Wickerham
2020 Pittsburgh City Paper covers
When Pittsburgh City Paper photographer Jared Wickerham found out writer Jordan Snowden was interviewing local social media influencer Martayla Poellinitz, he knew he wanted to involve her make-up artistry in his cover shoot.

In the wake of George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, Martayla, who had reached over 25,000 followers on her TikTok account @martymoment at the time of our article, was using her make-up artistry to spread political statements like "Defund the Police" and "Arrest the Cops who Killed Breonna Taylor" to her followers.

For her City Paper cover story, Jared invited Martayla to write an expression of her choosing on her face with makeup. She chose "Black Lives Matter," and the two of them got the shot (with organizers' permission) during a Civil Saturdays protest.

Their work, along with the graphic design of Abbie Adams, has earned them Best Cover Design (magazines) in the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation's
2021 Robert L. Vann Media Awards.

"
The awards honor excellence in journalism coverage of African American and African diaspora communities, individuals and issues," read a press release announcing the awards on Jan. 8, which were delayed due to COVID and "other challenges."

City Paper also won two other awards for Excellence in Written Journalism Non-Daily Newspapers/News Services: Tereneh Idia, who was recently named one of the winners of the prestigious Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism award, won Best Column for the second year in a row for her Voices column, and Jordan Snowden, also a repeat winner, won the Best Business/Consumer/Technology category for her story on "Pittsburgh stylist Chi Ilochi uses her company to heal, help, and inspire through clothing."

Founded in 1973, PBMF is a nonprofit organization consisting of Black professional journalists, public relations specialists, and journalism professors and college students. The journalism awards competition was launched by PBMF in 1988 to honor Robert L. Vann, the Pittsburgh Courier publisher committed to journalism and creating a voice for the Black community.

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Friday, December 31, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Dec 31, 2021 at 8:00 AM

2021 was another dumpster fire of a year, kicking off with the Capitol insurrection, then continuing with the pandemic raging on as COVID cases grew amid battles over masks and vaccinations. Sure, there were some bright spots. (Check out our 2021 People of the Year winners for some examples.) But we're pretty sure most of us are in agreement that we're all just happy to see this year finally come to an end.

So what did Pittsburgh City Paper readers want to read about during this year of contention? Penises. That's right. A story about tiny penises was our most-read story of the year. (We love you for that.) But you clicked on some serious stuff as well, along with our writers' great arts and food stories. You also looked for advice on where to get out of town and, bless your alternative loving hearts, you were really into a painting of a duck.

Relive your favorites here:
click to enlarge Mola's Pork Belly Bao - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP Photo: Ryan Deto
Mola's Pork Belly Bao

10. 13 Pittsburgh sandwiches that go beyond french fries and coleslaw

click to enlarge Emily Anderson of Pittsburgh Fatties Social Club - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Emily Anderson of Pittsburgh Fatties Social Club
9. Pittsburgh Fatties Social Club sets out to create a more fat-friendly city

click to enlarge Photo from the cover of The Demon of Brownsville Road - IMAGE: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
Image: Penguin Random House
Photo from the cover of The Demon of Brownsville Road
8. A famous Pittsburgh haunting to get big screen adaptation from New Line Cinema

click to enlarge PHOTO: COURTESY OF REDDIT
Photo: Courtesy of Reddit
7. GetGo apologizes, explains reason behind recent Moon Township closure

click to enlarge A man walks across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in Wheeling, W. Va. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
A man walks across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in Wheeling, W. Va.
6. The essential day tripping towns from Pittsburgh

click to enlarge CP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP Photo Illustration: Abbie Adams
5. How the pandemic has shifted Pittsburgh’s housing market

click to enlarge Leanne and Steve Ford - PHOTO: HGTV
Photo: HGTV
Leanne and Steve Ford
4. How a new Pittsburgh-based HGTV home renovation show almost made me buy a painting of a duck

click to enlarge Bernie Sanders, devoted City Paper reader.
Bernie Sanders, devoted City Paper reader.
3. Parking chairs to city steps: The best memes of Bernie sitting in his chair in Pittsburgh

2. Criminal-justice advocacy coalition backs “slate of eight” for Common Pleas judge races in Allegheny County

click to enlarge The first tiny dick posted on @412dickrescue
The first tiny dick posted on @412dickrescue
1. Tiny dicks descend on Pittsburgh

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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Dec 21, 2021 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge Pittsburgh City Paper columnist Tereneh Idia
Pittsburgh City Paper columnist Tereneh Idia
Pittsburgh City Paper columnist Tereneh Idia has tackled difficult topics, including racism, COVID-19, and body shaming, with blunt honesty and earnest passion. Now, her work has earned her a Pittsburgh Foundation award named after a respected local journalist.

Idia is one of two winners of the 2021 Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism award, created to honor the legacy of the late Sally Kalson, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2014. Kalson was a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and columnist who, according to a press release, “put the spotlight on injustice and wrote truth to power” over her 30-year career.

Idia was chosen by a committee of advisors because, like Kalson, her City Paper Voices column “challenges Pittsburgh because she wants it to be better and knows it can be better.”

Idia is splitting the award — which includes a $5,000 cash prize that will be shared between the two winners — with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist Sean Hamill, whose investigative series on the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center showed how the Beaver County nursing home failed to protect its residents and employees from COVID-19. The facility is now under investigation by the Pa. Attorney General’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
click to enlarge Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist Sean Hamill - PHOTO: RANDY OLSON
Photo: Randy Olson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist Sean Hamill
Since being launched in 2019, the Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism Award Program reaches statewide to identify a broadcast, print, or online media journalist whose work embodies what Kalson was known for: “fearlessness, fortitude, and excellence in taking on issues of our time.”

“This program is our small effort to encourage people to look for, and report stories that go against the grain, despite that they implicate powerful interests,” says Kalson’s surviving husband, Ed Feinstein, who serves on the award committee along with Mila Sanina of PublicSource, attorney Amy Ginensky, investigative reporter James Steele, and Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman.

Also serving on the committee is Andy Conte, director of Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation. Conte spoke to Idia’s win, saying, “I think Sally would see a fellow traveler in Tereneh’s work.”

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Idia graduated from Drexel University LeBow College of Business. As a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar, she received her Masters in Science in Fashion Design from Kenyatta University and started her career in fashion as an educator, including teaching at Parson School of Design in New York City and as a visiting scholar on global fashion at Yale - National University of Singapore.

Idia has won numerous awards in the past, including back-to-back Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for Excellence in Written Journalism, Daily for Columns/Blogs. She was named Best Column (aka the Billy Manes Award) by the 2020 Association of Alternative Newsmedia and as one of the winners of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation's 32nd annual Robert L. Vann Media Awards.

Her multi-award winning CP column adds to a number of projects, both writing and non-writing related, Idia has done over the years. In addition to Voices, she writes the CP Clothes Make column, interviewing Pittsburgh artists, business owners, and others about their personal style. She also runs Idia’Dega, a global fashion collective for which she travels and works with African and Indigenous women artisans, including those of the Olorgesailie Maasai tribe in Kenya, and of the Oneida Indian Nation in New York.

Idia also recruits Pittsburgh artists to create designs for TripleAAAnimals, a series of fake sports teams that pay homage to local wildlife and the city’s distinct neighborhoods. The ever-expanding design collection can now be found on clothing, tote bags, and other items. As for her writing, Idia feels validated, to some degree, by her Kalson award win.

“I so often feel like I’m writing into a void,” says Idia. “Sometimes I feel like what I’m writing doesn’t have an impact. This recognition brings me hope that people are reading my columns and are gaining recognition of issues faced by Black residents.”

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Sep 30, 2021 at 2:25 PM

click to enlarge A volunteer puts on gloves before handing out Iftar boxes at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh during Ramadan in May 2020, part of Alex Gordon's award-winning story on Pittsburgh's Muslim community celebrating Ramadan during the pandemic. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
A volunteer puts on gloves before handing out Iftar boxes at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh during Ramadan in May 2020, part of Alex Gordon's award-winning story on Pittsburgh's Muslim community celebrating Ramadan during the pandemic.
As an editor, it’s often difficult to know which stories to submit for yearly awards. No publication really knows what judges are looking for, and sometimes, you don’t even know what kind of competition you’ll be facing.

But this year, there was one story I immediately knew I was submitting to the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania's 2021 Golden Quill Awards: Managing Editor Alex Gordon's feature on How Pittsburgh's Muslim community is celebrating Ramadan during coronavirus, a beautiful story on a group of local people who had to shut down everything during their holiest months of the year. It was a story that not only our staff was proud of, but Alex told me he was honored to write.

This week, Alex's story was awarded first place in Excellence in Written Journalism, Traditional Feature during the Golden Quills award ceremony, honoring the best journalism in Western Pennsylvania and surrounding counties in Ohio and West Virginia.

After the story was published, Alex shared with me how touched he was that one of the subjects in his story invited him and his fiance to his home for dinner after the pandemic was over. That sadly never happened. Alex died by suicide in October 2020.

While Pittsburgh City Paper always appreciates being honored for our writing, hearing that our stories resonated with our readers, and from the people we write about, is more important than any award we've ever received. But this one really means a lot to us, and all of us thank you on Alex's behalf.

City Paper also took home several other first-place awards in Division 3, including a Best of Show, as well as multiple finalists. The full list is below:

Excellence in Written Journalism, Traditional Feature

Excellence in Written Journalism, News Feature

Excellence in Written Journalism, Public Affairs/Politics/Government

Excellence in Written Journalism, Columns/Blogs
Views by Tereneh Idia,” Tereneh Idia

Excellence in Written Journalism, Enterprise/Investigative
Ray Sprigle Memorial Award
"America the Unprotected,” Cody McDevitt

Pittsburgh City Paper was also a finalist in the following categories:

Excellence in Written Journalism, Spot/Breaking News
FINALIST: Police Escalate Protest Outside Peduto’s House With Pepper Spray, Projectiles and Apparent Kettling,” Hannah Lynn

Excellence in Written Journalism, Profile
FINALIST: Pittsburgh Stylist Chi Ilochi Uses Her Company to Heal, Help, and Inspire Through Clothing,” Jordan Snowden

Excellence in Written Journalism, Business/Technology/Consumer
FINALIST: Pittsburgh Artist Creates Black Lives Matter T-Shirt to Help Fight Systemic Racism, Ends up in Fight Against Big Business Ripping Off His Design,” Lisa Cunningham

Excellence in Written Journalism, Medical/Health
FINALIST:
America the Unprotected,” Cody McDevitt

Excellence in Written Journalism, History/Culture
FINALIST:
Preserving Pittsburgh: How Pittsburgh’s 3-Year-Old Archive Department Is Working to Make the City’s History More Accessible,” Hannah Lynn

Excellence in Journalistic Craft Achievement, Sports Photo
FINALIST:
Pittsburgh Riverhounds Host First Professional Sporting Event During Pandemic,” Jared Wickerham

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Friday, August 6, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Aug 6, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Pittsburgh City Paper is currently seeking four student interns for the fall semester. Interns must be students currently enrolled in Pittsburgh-area colleges or universities, and receive college credits for the internship. City Paper’s internship program offers real-world experience with professional training. Internships are unpaid, but each internship includes a weekly stipend of $60 to cover transportation and other expenses. Hours are flexible, but each position will require a commitment of approximately 15 hours per week, depending on the school's requirements. Applications are due Wed., Aug. 18.

News Reporting Intern

The fall reporting intern will pitch and write stories for both print and online, with a strong focus on news and community outreach reporting. Basic writing and reporting experience is required. Previous work in student media is recommended. Interns should be able to turn stories around quickly and are encouraged to pitch ideas often. Please send résumé, cover letter, and writing samples to managing editor Ryan Deto, ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com. This internship lasts from Sept. 1-Dec. 23.

A&E Writing Intern

The A&E intern will pitch and write arts & entertainment stories for both print and online, with a strong focus on visual arts, theater, and music reporting. Basic writing and reporting experience is required. Previous work in student media, such as college newspapers or magazines, is recommended. Please send résumé, cover letter, and writing samples to A&E editor Amanda Waltz, awaltz@pghcitypaper.com. This internship lasts from Sept. 1-Dec. 23.

Photo Intern

The photo intern should be a student photojournalist with an artistic eye who can tell a story through images. Editorial work will include photographing news and arts, both for print and online. Weekend availability is required. Prior student newspaper work and an outgoing personality are a plus. Send a résumé and a link to an online portfolio to staff photographer Jared Wickerham, jwickerham@pghcitypaper.com. This internship lasts from Sept. 1-Dec. 23.

Fall Marketing Intern

The fall marketing intern will report to the Advertising Director and will last from Sept. 1-Nov. 26. The role will provide experience in marketing and advertising in the events and media industry. The two major projects this intern position will assist through completion during the Fall duration is the 2021 Best of Pittsburgh celebration and Pittsburgh City Paper’s 2022 Media Kit.

Responsibilities will include:
  • Planning and setting up the City Paper booth at planned Fall events
  • Assisting in coordination and administrative needs for the 2021 Best of Pittsburgh event
  • Collecting and organizing marketing data for the 2022 Media Kit

Requirements:
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of MS Office and/or Google Suite Office
  • Passion for the marketing industry and desire for real-time experience

Interested students should email a cover letter and resume to Advertising Director, Jasmine M. Hughes at jhughes@pghcitypaper.com.

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Friday, April 30, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2021 at 10:06 AM

Pittsburgh City Paper is honored to announce the news, arts, and entertainment altweekly has won four awards in the 2021 Keystone Media Awards, a statewide journalism competition for Pennsylvania media companies.

The awards, published on Thu., April 29 by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, are presented each year to Pennsylvania journalists whose work "displays relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and furthers First Amendment values."

click to enlarge Artwork for The Health Issue - CP ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP illustration: Abbie Adams
Artwork for The Health Issue
City Paper competed in the category of "multi‐day publications with over 50,000 circulation" and won First Place under the Special Section category for The Health Issue, a publication with stories focused on mental health and suicide prevention. This issue was dedicated to former CP managing editor Alex Gordon who died of suicide in October 2020.

The altweekly also won a second place award for graphic design, and two honorable mentions.

The First Place win for The Health Issue is especially meaningful for City Paper because it was published a month after Alex's death while the staff was still grieving, choosing to honor his memory by turning their grief into something meaningful and aiming to help others who were struggling. In addition to CP's full-time staff, contributing writer Tara Fay Coleman also penned a personal essay for this issue about her own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.

click to enlarge PAGE DESIGNS BY ABBIE ADAMS
Page designs by Abbie Adams
City Paper art director Abbie Adams took home a second place win in the Keystone Awards for Feature Page Design for her layout on Hannah Lynn's story on Preserving Pittsburgh, a feature on Pittsburgh's three-year-old archive department working to make the city's history more accessible. Not only did Abbie design the cover and pages for the story, but she joined Hannah on her interview to take photographs, which she then used as references to illustrate all of the artwork that accompanies her page designs.

click to enlarge Black Lives Matter activists in rural Bedford County illustration for Pittsburgh City Paper and Spotlight PA story - CP ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP illustration: Abbie Adams
Black Lives Matter activists in rural Bedford County illustration for Pittsburgh City Paper and Spotlight PA story
An Honorable Mention Award went to CP news editor Ryan Deto and writer Joseph Darius Jaafari for the News Feature Story category for a story published in partnership with Pennsylvania nonprofit newsroom Spotlight PA. Ryan and Joseph's story, which ran simultaneously in both publications, looked into how video footage did not support state police accounts of shots being fired at a group of civil rights marchers in Central Pennsylvania, which then led to misinformation inspiring paranoia and rallies against the marchers in two small towns.

CP art director Abbie Adams' illustration of Black Lives Matter activists in rural Bedford County for this story also won an Honorable Mention award for Graphic/Photo Illustration.

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Apr 16, 2021 at 11:43 AM

click to enlarge Pittsburgh artist Morg Cunningham
Pittsburgh artist Morg Cunningham
This week's Marijuana Issue cover features pals partaking in cannabis products by Pittsburgh artist Morg Cunningham. Hailing from the North Hills and now a neighbor in Beechview, Cunningham works by day as a digital designer and an illustrator at night. Pittsburgh City Paper caught up with the artist after her Marijuana Issue cover hit stands this week.

How long have you lived in Pittsburgh?
My whole life! I grew up in the North Hills and left briefly for college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Once I got my first job, I moved to Bloomfield, then to Beechview, where I just bought my first house with my partner. I’m pretty invested in my neighborhood’s community garden, so I’m staying put for a while!

How did you get into illustrating?
I was going to school for graphic design and took a digital illustration class over a summer and really enjoyed it. I dabbled a little with it throughout college, but I didn’t hone in on it like I wish I had looking back. Fine art drawing was definitely not my scene, and I wasn’t sure where my silly doodles were going to get me. I only really got back into illustration a couple years ago when my friend Alex asked me if I wanted to work on stuff to submit for the Pittsburgh Zine Fair with her. I really think that was a turning point for me and am so grateful because we got in! It was a hugely motivating and validating experience for me.
click to enlarge ARTWORK: MORG CUNNINGHAM
Artwork: Morg Cunningham
Is art your full time job?
I’m a digital designer so a lot of the day to day isn’t exactly art, but there’s room to be creative and I like to raise my hand when illustrative assignments come around. There was a period after college where I hardly made anything in my free time. I felt drained at the end of the day and beat down. I’ve since realized it’s the passion projects I do after-hours that keep my creative spirit alive and well.

Your art features illustrations of colorful food, critters, and lettering, as well as zines and even some Sculpey! When you sit down to create, how do you decide what to work on? Do you work in series, or do you draw on your daily experience?
I am all over the place. Sometimes I like to have a plan, sometimes things happen spontaneously. Sometimes I work on drawings to build a skill; other times I’m working on a zine or bigger idea.

Last year changed a lot of creatives work and routine … how do you think 2020 impacted your work? Are there things that you want to carry on moving forward into 2021 and beyond or evolutions in your work because of this time?
I work from home now, so the lines between work life and real life have been difficult to separate. This year I’ve been instituting a “Morg Makes Stuff” night twice a week though to help set time aside. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my phone tells me "hey it’s 7:00, you’ve had dinner, now it’s time to go make something." I sometimes turn to my partner begrudgingly not knowing what to work on. I have a tendency to start too many projects and leave loose ends for months at a time. So, he usually tells me to finish one of those and then I play with clay instead. It’s not a perfect system yet!

What is your dream job?
I think a cookbook would be the big dream of a project to check off a bucket list. I just love cooking, baking, and eating so much and would love to be part of someone’s process of putting recipes to paper.
click to enlarge ARTWORK: MORG CUNNINGHAM
Artwork: Morg Cunningham
What’s the most fun project you’ve been paid to do?
The City Paper cover! I’ve had the opportunity to do illustrative work for brands at my previous agency jobs and now in-house but I’ve never seen my name attached to something like that. Not to mention, it was for the Marijuana Issue, I mean it was just a lot of fun!

Do you have any big or exciting projects coming up?
I have been planning a “re-launch” of my Etsy shop for this summer. I have a “How to Drink” zine series that I’ve reworked as well as some other journals, zines and Sculpey creations! I have a few small things in my Etsy shop currently but the big restock will be coming in June. People can follow me on Instagram to peep the new stuff and know when it’s going to be in the shop!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Posted By on Sat, Mar 13, 2021 at 10:00 AM

It was a year ago this week when the pandemic reached Pittsburgh, and everything began to get canceled. Like so many others on social media sharing memories of their "lasts" throughout the week, Pittsburgh City Paper staff members also found ourselves sharing stories on our office Slack about the last time we saw a movie in a theater, the last time we saw a concert, the last time we saw a friend IRL. And instead of just keeping them to ourselves, we thought we'd share our stories with you, which you can read below. Do you have a story of your own you'd like to share? Email it over to info@pghcitypaper.com. If we get enough submissions, we'll throw up another post next week and share some of our favorites!

click to enlarge Jars of fermented squash and beets - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP photo: Hannah Lynn
Jars of fermented squash and beets

Unmasked

by Hannah Lynn, staff writer

Last year, right before lockdown, I was taking a weekly fermentation class at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination run by Ferment Pittsburgh. The first week, we learned to make fermented squash and and beets. We were sent home with jars to let sit for several days, or a few weeks, until they were done. The second week, we made kimchi. Everyone in the class was aware of the virus, and we all lined up to wash our hands, but no one had masks. When I walked home with my jar of kimchi I thought, "I don't know if I'll feel comfortable going to the class next week." And then when I got home, I learned that Tom Hanks had coronavirus at the exact same second that Sarah Palin was revealed to be a contestant on the Masked Singer. Weeks later, I opened the jars and was grateful I had them.

click to enlarge Woody, Buzz, and Jackson - CP PHOTO: JASMINE HUGHES
CP photo: Jasmine Hughes
Woody, Buzz, and Jackson

Toy Story

by Jasmine Hughes, advertising director

The “shutdown” seems so long ago that I literally had to stop and say, “What was going on in my life sans-pandemic?” Then it hit me. That’s right, I just spent the last year of my life in the Toy Story COVID bubble. You see, that Sunday, we had just made a trip to the toy aisle to buy our son his first action figures. These weren’t just any action figures, though; these were Woody and Buzz Lightyear! Jackson, my son, had just watched Toy Story 4 and was obsessed with everything in the franchise. We were excited to be able to buy him his first toy that, in reality, he ever wanted. At only one and a half, most of the toys he had were just given strictly for development purposes. When buying those action figures and watching him play with them, we started talking about all the fun we would have that year taking him to the movies, Gateway Clipper character cruises, Disney on Ice, etc. Dreamers, I guess. Honestly, I am glad we had Woody and Buzz because working from home with a toddler during a pandemic was hard enough, and Buzz Lightyear got me through a lot of tough times.

 
click to enlarge Best Shitty Beer Bracket - CP PHOTO: ABBIE ADAMS
CP photo: Abbie Adams
Best Shitty Beer Bracket

Last Call

by Abbie Adams, art director

A small group of friends came over to answer the question, "What is the best shitty beer?" I labeled sets of Dixie cups with numbers and each person's name. We blind taste-tested, took notes, and reviewed our findings, each round getting fuzzier and louder than the last. Corona Light won.

As we drank, people shared stories of their past few days in the changing world. I imagine we talked about what might happen in the next two weeks. Maybe it was because of the pour after pour of beer, but that night is a warmly-lit memory. It would be the last time we shared our dining room table with friends, and I wish I would have known to hug them extra hard at the end of the night.

click to enlarge Dani Janae on stage at Locals Only
Dani Janae on stage at Locals Only

Till the World Ends

by Dani Janae, staff writer

One of the last things I did before COVID hit was perform some of my poems for Locals Only at Thunderbird. The show was organized by local drag and video artist Gia Fagnelli. Locals Only is a show that is curated to feature primarily Pittsburgh artists and creatives. Normally, I would perform a couple times a month, then take a couple months off to regroup, and I had a few more appearances lined up that got canceled or moved online. That night, I got the pleasure of meeting and seeing the artist Moody Ting perform on sax. When she opened playing Britney Spears, I knew I was in for a great night.

click to enlarge Zack Durkin finally says, "I do." - PHOTO: RYAN MAINE
Photo: Ryan Maine
Zack Durkin finally says, "I do."

Here Comes the Groom

by Zack Durkin, advertising representative

Right before closures started to affect the world, my fiancé and I had just put down the final deposit on our wedding for May. Luckily, we were already planning a small intimate event. But when it was clear that restrictions were going to go far beyond the two-week period we had all originally anticipated, we knew we had to reschedule. We also knew we did not want to wait much longer, and since our venue was outside, we found a date that fell right in September. Our small group of guests came fashioned in masks, showered us in socially-distanced love, and gave us a hell of a party to remember before we shut ourselves back up for the rest of the pandemic.


click to enlarge Villanelle hams it up for the camera at Grist House. - CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP photo: Amanda Waltz
Villanelle hams it up for the camera at Grist House.

Staying Paws-itive

by Amanda Waltz, senior staff writer

After we adopted our dog Villanelle in January 2020, my husband was so excited to take her out to a brewery. On the first warm day in mid-March, we took her to Grist House in Millvale. The place was packed. She was very nervous and shaky, but we wanted to socialize her with other dogs and people. One angelic dog whisperer pet her while she talked about her own rescue's struggles with anxiety. Not long after this, the shutdown happened, so Villanelle's socialization was put on hold. Instead, she has spent the last year bonding with us, aka sleeping on the couch for hours and begging for bites of food (she especially likes apples and carrots). Getting to know her and seeing her true personality come out has made this pandemic more bearable.

click to enlarge Owen Gabbey and friends
Owen Gabbey and friends

Don't Go, Bucs

by Owen Gabbey, advertising representative

Leading up to COVID, my main stresser was telling Pirates season ticket holders that there was nothing to worry about and that baseball games wouldn’t be getting canceled. That aged poorly.

Other than that, about a week before the pandemic hit, I went to a Cleveland Cavaliers game with a bunch of friends. We somewhat strangely took a bus trip there with a bunch of college students (my friend had an in with a professor who was leading a group trip there; I don’t know, still kind of confused on the details there). So my experience was public transportation, overcrowded restrooms, and arguing with a stadium employee who claimed I didn’t pay for my chicken tenders. How much I’d give right now to be arguing with a stadium employee that claimed I didn’t pay for my chicken tenders.

click to enlarge Kimbery Rooney eating in a restaurant pre-COVID.
Kimbery Rooney eating in a restaurant pre-COVID.

Up Hill Battles

by Kimberly Rooney, staff writer

The last weeks before quarantine were weeks of dissonance. I was starting a new job — my first full-time job after graduating — in a field relating to my undergraduate degrees, but I was letting go of the hundreds of hours I’d put into improving my milk aerating and latte art skills as a barista. I was meeting new coworkers and reconnecting with college friends, but I was trying to keep space for the friends I’d met through the coffee shop.

I was refuting every person I met who spread COVID-related conspiracy theories about China or repeated racist stereotypes, and I was walking without my headphones on as anti-Chinese attacks began. I was relearning how to ride a bike and even made it to the top of the Shady Avenue hill without shifting to a lower gear. I was checking my hometown on Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 map every day because there was no other way I could check on my birth parents’ health. I was cherishing a last night out at the Cage with a friend because my life was changing, and I knew it would take a while to adjust.

click to enlarge Sweaty college wrestlers tussling on wrestling mats pre-COVID. - PHOTO: KAYCEE ORWIG
Photo: Kaycee Orwig
Sweaty college wrestlers tussling on wrestling mats pre-COVID.

Spring Brake

by Kaycee Orwig, photo intern

For me, the world started shutting down a year ago this week, when Pitt announced our move to online learning and the Pittsburgh Marathon announced its cancellation. It felt bizarre, as a less than a week prior I was in the Peterson Events Center photographing sweaty college wrestlers tussle on wrestling mats. Not a mask was in sight, but sure enough a week later, my spring break would turn into a half semester of virtual learning, and all of my college friends would move back to their respective homes. We didn’t know what we were doing, and our professors sure as hell didn’t, either. As an extrovert in a pandemic, the first month or two were rough, but I was lucky. I had a place to go home to, and a big family to support me. This past year, as crazy as it was, has been alright to me and has taught me a lot.  


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  • Nicki Mulvihill and Victoria Birchok on board the cruise

All Aboard

by Nicki Mulvihill, advertising representative

The last thing I did before the world shut down was travel out of the country, which seems crazy to say now. A friend and I had booked a spontaneous 3-day cruise to the Bahamas (we had some extra vacation days and an itch to travel, so why not, right?) about a month prior to the shutdown, and the cruise itself sailed just over a week before things started to get canceled. To this day, I’m still shocked at how normal it all was: no masks, no temperature checks, and social distancing wasn’t even a term in our vocabulary yet. I cringe now when I think about being jam-packed on a plane and on a cruise ship, unmasked, with thousands of people just days before lockdown. In hindsight, I’m glad I was able to go and enjoy tropical paradise for a few days before being stuck at home for a year.


click to enlarge Jared Wickerham and the "team photo" squad before the BNP Paribas Open was canceled.
Jared Wickerham and the "team photo" squad before the BNP Paribas Open was canceled.

Empty Court

by Jared Wickerham, staff photographer

At the end of February, beginning of March, I was photographing a couple of tennis tournaments that I’ve worked for over the last six years. The Oracle Challenger Series was wrapping up on a Sunday as the word about COVID-19 circulated, and the BNP Paribas Open was set to start the next day. Ball kids were given gloves to wear, and hundreds of hand sanitizer stations were ordered for the larger tournament when the first case was discovered in Orange County. The OCS tournament finished around 3 p.m. on Sun., March 8. A few hours later, it was confirmed that the BNP Paribas Open would be canceled due to COVID-19, not yet declared a pandemic. That tennis tournament ended up being the first major North American sporting event to cancel amidst growing coronavirus cases.

click to enlarge Lisa Cunningham and Barratou Toure at the New Hazlett Theater
Lisa Cunningham and Barratou Toure at the New Hazlett Theater

Intermission

by Lisa Cunningham, editor in chief

I had an unusually busy week a year ago, which in retrospect, feels like somehow I knew something was coming which pushed my normally shy and workaholic self out of the house and office to do so many things at once. And looking back at my Facebook memories, I'm grateful now to have those photos to remind me. On March 8, I went out to eat at Shaka in Federal Galley and then saw Prime Stage Theatre's play The Outsiders at the New Hazlett Theater with Barratou, my oldest and dearest Pittsburgh friend. (This is also the last time I've seen a friend outside of work since the pandemic began because I'm still going into the office at least several times a week and taking every precaution I can to stay safe. An entire year since I've last hung out with a friend!)

On the following day, I was thrilled to get to see the inspirational "Me Too" activist Tarana Burke in person at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, a talk moderated by Pittsburgh's own brilliant Deesha Philyaw. But it was on March 10 while watching the musical The Band's Visit at The Benedum Center that I knew things were about to change. Even though the play was a delight, I can still remember being painfully aware of every single audience members' cough that occurred in the crowded theater during the show. Two days after I published my review on our site, PNC Broadway was forced to cancel the rest of the performances because of the pandemic, and the Benedum Center sadly hasn't been able to reopen since. Fingers crossed, I'll get back there soon.