Community gathering can be a collector's dream

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If you've never been to Lawrenceville's annual Art All Night during its 15-year run, you're missing out, not just on a spirited community event, but possibly an opportunity to problem-solve the odd home improvement task.

The 16th Art All Night comes and goes this weekend at 97 40th St., 4 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Whether you love or loathe art museums, Art All Night entertains with music performances, visual artists at work and row after row of displayed artwork of assorted media that's submitted by local amateurs and professionals. Much of the art is up for bid at reasonable prices.

When I started attending Art All Night in the early 2000s, it offered some reassurance that, yes, there are young people living in Pittsburgh. Where are all these young, creative types the other 364 days each year, I'd wonder. That's less of an issue today in a more age-diverse Pittsburgh. But it's still a blast to see folks from all walks of life strolling through this intergenerational event. (Take note: A small selection of art on display might be described as graphic but there are plenty of warning signs, making it easy for parents with children to avoid.)

Art All Night is also something that keeps on giving if you're looking to add some art to bare walls in your home. Over the years I've bought more framed photos from Art All Night artists than from any art dealer or art fair.

On a wall near the front door of my house, there's a three-foot-wide framed photo of the Clemente Bridge. In my home office there's a graffiti-style painting of a TV with the words "Mind Rot" printed in lime green on white canvas.

A Pittsburgh wall in the guest bedroom has a photo of the Duquesne Incline and another picture shows a Kennywood coaster as seen from the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson plant across the Mon. An oil painting on an adjacent wall shows the spires of the PPG building with the Fort Pitt Bridge in the foreground.

My favorite Art All Night purchase story involves a door.

A few years ago when buying a home we found the house had an odd deficiency. At one point in the home's life there was a back door off the kitchen, but it was sealed up after steel siding was attached to the house exterior. Inside, the subsequent owners never bothered to drywall over where the door had been. Instead, someone just put curtains over the bare space. Pull back the curtains and you'd see the brown backing of rolled insulation.

We planned to drywall over this eyesore until Art All Night, where we found a piece of art that proved to be a relatively inexpensive, more interesting solution. At the 2010 Art All Night a photographer -- I think she taught photography at Fox Chapel High School -- contributed an old door with wood panels removed and replaced by glass panes with photos taken at Allegheny Cemetery behind the glass. Some quick measurements determined the door was the perfect fit for our new home's hole-in-the-wall doorway. We bid on the door and after a brief, back-and-forth post-Art All Night bidding war via email, we got the door for somewhere around $250. We put a blue sheet behind the door so you can't see the insulation through the small portions of glass not obscured by the photos, solving our home interior problem through creativity inspired by Art All Night.

artarchitecture

TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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