Tonight: CityLAB and Catapult PGH explore Garfield

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Sometimes the best ideas for tomorrow are the ones you learned a long time ago.

In elementary school.

Over the past year, Catapult PGH has organized monthly "Show-n-Tells" in Garfield. The events have featured businesses, artists, political leaders and athletes who had messages to convey.

Tonight's message is about Garfield itself.

Like the previous 12 Show-n-Tells, this one will be held at Catapult, a co-working space at 5139 Penn Ave. It's part of the community's First Friday effort.

"It's a great way to know what's happening on a less-formal scale," said organizer Lara Schenck. "In fact, it's pretty much as informal as it gets. Our preparation amounts to sending emails and getting people to present and buying some light beverages. We put it up as a Facebook event."

And yet they are successful.

"This Show-n-Tell is part of the 6% Place project," said Sara Blumenstein, a project manager at CityLAB.

OK, so now you want to know what the "6% Place project" is. Well, a while back, some researchers deduced that when 6 percent of a neighborhood's population works in "creative fields," investors perk up. With that in mind, the nonprofit CityLAB is striving to reach -- and exceed -- that level.

"CityLAB contacted Catapult to put together this Show-n-Tell," Ms. Blumenstein said. "We're working to do a bunch of projects that have a bunch of goals. One is to highlight Garfield's assets to people from outside Garfield who might not know about them. To build community and connect Garfield residents to the creative and entrepreneurial activities that we've seen along Penn Avenue.

"The goal of this Show-n-Tell is to share stories of people from Garfield and have them talk about the kind of work that they do. But also to talk about Garfield and what drew them to the neighborhood and what they like about living in Garfield. The reason is to let more people know that Garfield is a great place to live or work or start a business."

Tonight's speakers will be Jason Sauer of Most Wanted Fine Art; Jessie Rommelt of the BUNKERprojects; Mark Fairclaugh of the 6% Place committee; and Michael Stanton of Open Hand Ministries.

Let's take BUNKERprojects, for example, because it has the most upper-case letters in its name.

"BUNKERprojects is an experimental gallery-residency we're developing on Penn Avenue," said Ms. Rommelt, 23, of Garfield. "We're actually rebuilding what was a burned-out apartment. We're completely customizing it for artists, so that they have access to studio space, gallery space and space to live while they're here.

"When it's finished, it will be enable artists to live and work in our space, doing intensive work that will culminate in a show or piece or event that will be shared with the public."

The building they're working on is at 5106 Penn Ave., the same building as Roboto. It's just a few blocks from Catapult, right in the midst of all the other trendy spots on Penn. They will be able to accommodate two resident-artists at a time.

Ms. Rommelt and her partners got the idea after graduating with art degrees from Penn State University.

"We all shared this grungy, little basement apartment where we worked on our artwork," she said. "It was not pretty, and we thought, 'How could we make a space that could do all the things that we wish a space could do for artists?'

"When we moved to Pittsburgh, we jumped on the train of people rejuvenating buildings, customizing them for our needs."

They've been working at it since November.

"Tonight we'll be talking about what we're up to," Ms. Rommelt said. "We want to get the word out for the upcoming Indiegogo-crowd sort of thing campaign. And Garfield is perfect. It's already an arts neighborhood. It has a diverse population, it's on a major thru-way and it's close to so many other neighborhoods. And there's a lot of energy toward rebuilding it and making it a great place to live."

Show-n-Tell #13: Garfield Showcase is at CatapultPGH, 5139 Penn Ave. Like most of First Friday, it's free and open to the public.

"People should come schmooze from 5 to 6, and then the speakers start at 6," Ms. Schencke said.

artarchitecture - neigh_east

If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at or 412-263-1456.


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