Artist profile: Mike Bonello

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Many artists today are multidisciplinary, that is to say they are happiest when they use a variety channels for creative expression. One such artist is Mike Bonello, aka Tricky Powers.

He's a filmmaker, educator, musician (bass guitar, keyboards, banjo, dulcimer, etc.), producer and bass player for Dirty Faces, a local punk rock band he helped form in 1997. The group recently released an album -- the final installment of its "Age of Terror" trilogy, called "Underground Economy."

When he's not recording songs, Mr. Bonello creates experimental films that have screened at The Andy Warhol Museum, The Mattress Factory, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and on MTV2 in Europe. He also has made several experimental film loops that run during rock shows and events. He calls these live performances using multi-projectors for moving images "phantasmagorias."

Raised in Latrobe, he studied writing at Penn State University. Mr. Bonello works full time at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in Oakland, where he is adjunct faculty/operations manager. He is teaching a section of an introductory course called Motion Picture Fundamentals ("Mo Fun" for short), which emphasizes Super 8 filmmaking.

What are the strengths of that format, particularly for beginners? "Portable," Mr. Bonello says succinctly. The cameras are small and light. "You can get creative with placement, or you can take them hiking." Also, the film stock and processing costs for Super 8 are affordable. "The cheapest, easiest way to learn to use motion picture film," he says.

"I think to be an artist at all a person has to be creating work out of a personal necessity," Mr. Bonello says.

Any tips for budding musicians? "My advice is ... don't listen to advice," he says. "Listen to the music you're making and let it guide you."

"Underground Economy" follows up album, "Get Right With God" (2006) and "SUPERAMERICAN" (2005). They are available online at or on vinyl in local record stores, such as Mind Cure in Polish Hill and Sound Cat in Bloomfield.

To learn more about classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts visit



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