Charles Caldemeyer: Structures

April 11th, 2012 Sus Posted in Bloomfield, BoxHeart, Commentary Comments Off

Charles Caldemeyer: Hot and Cold (Encaustic, Oil, Watercolor, Ink, & Charcoal on Panel)

Box Heart is hosting a brunch event this Sunday for artist Charles Caldemeyer. It might be worth your while to take an opportunity to drop by and discuss this work with the artist. From Box Heart’s site:

Caldemeyer’s exhibition, “Structures,” has grown out of his interest in the power of imagery to state a personal inner reality in public terms, and to summarize different levels of experience with a pictorial symbolic language. Each painting is arranged in four horizontal panels oriented in opposite directions around a central axis to suggest different levels of cognition and a sense of history and/or archaeology. The inhabitants of the “structures” are quotations from history and art history, as well as Caldemeyer’s own invented figures. Read more

I hate to just leave it at this; the exhibit deserves greater scrutiny than what I am offering here. I am interested in seeing this show, and will be making my way to the gallery sometime over the next couple days. The work is highly detailed, and beautifully produced. I am most interested in the blend of materials since it sounds like a challenging mix.

Brunch @ Box Heart
with Artist Charles Caldemeyer
Sunday, April 15th: 1-3pm
Free and open to the public.

Charles Caldemeyer: Structures
April 3-28, 2012
Box Heart
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays: 11am – 6pm
Wednesdays – Saturdays: 10am – 6pm
Sundays: 1-5pm
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The word made flesh

February 4th, 2012 Sus Posted in Commentary, Galleries - Pittsburgh, Unblurred Comments Off

StephenTuomala at Modern Formations

StephenTuomala at Modern Formations

Seeing the foot traffic on Penn Avenue, it was hard to believe that it’s February. It was a great night for a brisk stroll among the galleries and artspaces open for first Friday. The last three winters have seen heavy February snowfalls, which is a huge deterrent for all but the most stalwart of art patrons. Last night was a happy intersection of lovely weather and a fantastic exhibit.

I have been looking forward to the Stephen Tuomala exhibit at Modern Formations, and it did not disappoint. The show is beautifully installed, and the work is really engaging. Mr. Tuolmala’s loose interpretation of the body is raw with tension.

The works are ink on bible pages, taken from a couple different volumes. The larger works were crated by joining multiple pages together. An installation of dozens of skull drawings cover an entire wall, exhibiting a remarkable and subtle variation in form. The work emulates the Otranto Cathedral, with its wall of martyr’s skulls. The presence of the work is intense. Across the room are three unflinching nudes that are disorienting. The life-sized figures float in a field of inky darkness, seemingly placid in the state in which they are depicted.

Modern Formations has regular gallery hours, so if you missed the opening, it’s not too late to see the exhibit.

Modern Formations
Stephen Tuomala
The Word Made Flesh
4919 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15224
Thursdays 7pm – 9pm
Saturdays 1pm – 4pm or by appointment

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Detritus – Tom Norulak solo at 709 Penn

December 29th, 2011 Sus Posted in Commentary Comments Off


Driftwood by Tom Norulak

I love those unanticipated hours, where you aren’t committed to being somewhere or doing something. Last week, I happened to have one of those little schedule gaps while I was downtown. Putting the time to good use, I swung by 709 Penn Gallery, and I’m so glad that I did.

I very much admire Tom Norulak’s etchings, and his solo, Detritus, provides an overview of his etchings over the last several years. The images are predominantly of industrial and consumer waste, abandoned and overtaken by nature. Not just the softly decayed and greyed flotsam of paper wrappers, though. This series concentrates on larger pieces of waste, like old tires and abandoned oil rigs, and sawblades.

Without exception, the images are in black and white. While the works are grounded in objective imagery, the prints have abstract qualities that show a sense of exploration beyond the immediate. The lighter textures seem gritty and grainy, but on closer examination have an almost crystalline structure. The very deep blacks seem to come away from the surface, or in some instances appear calligraphic. The prints bear up to close examination, providing a complex experience of subject and aesthetics.

I think you can bring your own thoughts to this exhibit; Mr. Norulak has provided the viewer with the information to draw their own conclusions without the condescension of an arts-based “teaching moment” and without brazenly dictating an agenda.

Etchings by Tom Norulak
November 25, 2011 – January 8, 2012
709 Penn Gallery
The Trust’s Education & Community Engagement department

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December Unblurred

December 5th, 2011 Sus Posted in Commentary, Unblurred Comments Off

The theme for Unblurred in December is large group shows; it seemed like the larger venues on Penn were all doing some variation of this. It was interesting to see the different takes on that idea, and it made for a very active evening. I am sure I missed as much as I got to during December’s Unblurred.

Winter in Frames at ModernFormations
Winter in Frames

A fun exhibit of small format works, Winter in Frames invited artists to submit works for public voting. The top three voted artists get a group exhibit. While the gallery typically follows a monthly show rotation, Winter in Frames will remain in place through January 14, when the winners will be announced. If you missed the exhibit opening on December 2, you can always swing by during regular gallery hours, or for first Friday (January 6).

There are several images from the exhibit in the slideshow. And no, I’m not going to say who I voted for. I will say that it was a nice balance of work. Survey shows like this, with no stated theme and no over-arching juror, can be difficult to present. ModernFormation’s Director, Jennifer Quinio Hedges, did a phenomenal job with organizing the installation.

Exhibiting artists include –
Ron Copeland, Julie Urban, Dafna Rehavia Hanauer, Jake Reinhart, Lauren Toohey, Donnie Toomer, Steven M. Yeager, Lizzee Solomon, Katie Sussman, Stephen Tuomala, Stephen Knezovich, Nancy Schuster, L.J. Swiech, Carol Skinger, Ruthanne F. Bauerle, Stephen Haynes, Chris Humphrey, Joel Brown, Mark Zets, Jeff Zets, Eric White, Lindy Hazel LaDue, Rebecca Rose, Kristin Turcsanyi, Susan Contanse, Jes LaVecchia, Mark Mangini, Ryan Emmett, Jay DelGreco, Aimee Manion, and Joseph Materkowski.



Irma Freedman Center: Renee Ickes

Renee Ickes

A special off-the-wall presentation of local artists work, Lascaux to Garfield was a very short exhibit. There were many familiar names, and the exhibit was a joint venture between the Irma Freeman Center and The Puppet Happening.

There were several pieces that stood out for me. Renee Ickes, whose work is pictured above, creates some very cheeky pierced and cut paper pieces. Laurie Trok, who does very intricately layered paper-cut collages, had a couple small pieces in the show. More of her work is available for viewing at her solo show at Morris Levy Gallery, opening December 10.

Puppet Happening is a venture of Tom Sarver’s, who has been producing puppet shows in Pittsburgh for years. He had a mini-festival at the Irma Freeman Center over the weekend, and will be doing more in the future.

Exhibiting artists include: Sheila Ali, Alberto Almarza, Ashley Pixelle Andrews, Tommy Bones, Dean Cercone, Victoria Cessna, Matthew Conboy, Thommy Conroy, Murphi Cook, LEX Covato, Mike Cuccaro, George Davis, Tirzah DeCaria, The Dirty Poet, Sam Ditch, Zach Dorn, Kirsten Ervin, Gabe Felice, Irma Freeman, Claudia Giannini, Karen Hartman, Doug Hill, Jennifer Howison, Renee Ickes, Carolyn Kelly, Jessica Langley, Chris Lisowski, Maria Mangano, Jean McClung, Anna Mikolay, David Luis Montano, John Morris, Lindsay O’Leary, Organza Orgazmica (Scott Andrew, Elin Lennox and Michael McParlane collaboration), Larry Rippel, MJ Sadeghi, Nicole Sarver, Tom Sarver, Jessica Scott, Kate Sherman, Moshe Sherman, Kara Skylling, Steve Smith, Oliver Southgate, Jim Storch, Laurie Trok, Robert Zehmisch & Bob Ziller.

Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. 5006 Penn Avenue. Images from the exhibit are available in the slideshow.

Image Box: Robert Pell

Image Box: Robert Pell

Image Box: Robert Pell

Robert Pell’s low-relief pieces are very fun and beautifully presented. The works, a combination of drawing and cut-outs, are a tribute to his school notebook doodles.

Study Hall Series, Imagebox, 4933 Penn Ave

Notes of interest
Assemble went hyper local for its December exhibit, with an open call to artists living within ten blocks of the space. Lots of fun stuff, images in the slideshow.

The CottonFactory had their last Tee Rex event of the year. They won’t be opening for first Fridays again until March 2012. Note to my artist friends: The CottonFactory has guest vendors for their Tee Rex events. Contact ink[at] for details. 5440 Penn Ave.

Jes LaVecchia has her work at the Mr. Roboto Project. These sweetly-colored, illustrative works are very fun, especially on these dreary winter days. Mr. Roboto is open for several special events in December when you can view the exhibit.

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September Gallery Crawl

October 1st, 2011 Sus Posted in Commentary, Gallery Crawl Comments Off

It was a dark and rainy night. But that didn’t deter Pittsburghers from making their way to the Cultural District for the Gallery Crawl.

Wonder of wonders, the most recent edition of the Gallery Crawl was not scheduled for the same Friday as Unblurred. Too often, I have had to make a choice on which to attend. Usually I end up on Penn Avenue in Friendship because the venues have much more limited hours and the exhibits have a shorter run. In case you have lost track, Unblurred is taking place on Friday, October 7.


You have probably seen Tom Mosser’s work, walking down Smithfield Street in Downtown. His Two Andy’s mural is located on the wall above Weiner World. This past month, Mosser’s work has been displayed in the lobby of L’enfant Lofts.

In place are a few oil paintings, including the above work. There is a fine attention to color in these works, layered meticulously. On close examination, the canvas works have a low-relief of texture, heralding back to the concepts expressed by the Pointillist school. The over-blown depiction of the flower and the single eyes that comprise the paintings on exhibit allow for a lot of latitude in the color composition.

If you want to see Mr. Mosser’s work, he has a very extensive website and his studio is at the Blackbird Lofts in Larryville. L’enfant Lofts, where he is exhibiting downtown, is a loft development in progress and does not has regular hours. You can, I’m sure, peek through the windows while you’re walking on Penn Avenue.

Looped – Tom Mosser
L’enfant Lofts
806 Penn

Universal Expressions: Movement in Multiple Dimensions

Thomas Bigatel Open Wound Healing

This is an aptly named exhibit: the works by Thomas Bigatel express gesture very well. His palette, while focused within individual works, is broadly employed in the presented in the exhibit. His color choices seem impulsive, but are definitely guided by an experienced eye. Coupled with the gestural quality of his mark-making, the works are intense and kinetic.

I was particularly drawn to Open Wound Healing (pictured above). The subtle transitions of yellow to yellow-green is a calming counter to the contrasting blood-reds of the central motif. My sense of the piece was that it pulsated to the beat of a heart.

Universal Expressions has just recently opened and will remain on display through November 13.

Universal Expressions: Movement in Multiple Dimensions
Painting and Sculptures by Thomas Bigatel and Peter Johnson
Friday, September 23 – Sunday, November 13, 2011
709 Penn Gallery
709 Penn Ave
Gallery hours
Wednesday through Thursday, 11 Am to 6 PM,
Friday-Saturday 11Am to 8 PM, Sunday 11 to 5 PM. till 5 PM


707 Penn Gallery Progression

Harish Saluja includes painting in his many artistic passions. The Progression exhibit includes works from various series, showcasing Saluja’s range of expression. The works are layered with detailed texture and shift between figurative and abstract. I was drawn very much to the interpretative Mandalas that were included in the exhibit.

Harish Saluja Mandala #4

From Mr. Saluja’s site –

In his Mandala Series, his latest set of paintings, he has started incorporating figurative and semi-abstract images with abstraction. The result is a sumptuous, almost erotic celebration of joy. Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community, and connection. It is a symbol of man or woman in the world, a support for the meditating person. The Mandala is often illustrated as a palace with four gates, facing the four corners of the Earth. Before the meditating person arrives at the gates, he/she must, however, pass the four outer circles: the purifying fire of wisdom, the vajra circle, and the circle with the eight tombs and the lotus circle.

I would further add that Mandala #4 has a quality of controlled danger to it, with its central circle of slashed red and the overlapping textures that demonstrate an intrusion of one circle into the next.

Harish Saluja – Progression
707 Penn Gallery
707 Penn Ave
Gallery hours
Wednesday through Thursday, 11 Am to 6 PM,
Friday-Saturday 11Am to 8 PM, Sunday 11 to 5 PM. till 5 PM

Shake It & Make It with Handmade Arcade!

The last Gallery Crawl saw a pop-up exhibit of Jason Sauer’s work at 929 Liberty Avenue; this month, the lovely people of Handmade Arcade took over for an evening of DIY crafting and making. Tables were ranged around the room, a DJ was spinning some great tunes, and the space was packed with dozens of people. A continuous stream kept the Handmade Arcadians hopping, helping with making buttons, postcards and flowers. You could also leave a message for anyone that came in about the things you love to make.

The projects underway last evening –

“Greetings from Pittsburgh” (handmade postcards);
“Say you, Say me” (personalized pin-back buttons);
“ReFab & ReFunk” (junk flowers and mini sculptures).

Handmade Arcadians are gearing up for their big holiday show, coming in November. Hands on activities are part of the fair, so while you’re doing your gift shopping, you can also plan on making a little something. I’m sure they will be posting a vendor list on their site, but in the meantime, put this on your calendar.

SATURDAY, NOV. 12, 2011
11 AM – 7 PM
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown
• Free admission
• Over 150 vendors, local and from out-of-state
• Early Birdie passes
• Refreshments on-site
• Hands-on Handmade activities

Your Place at the Banquet

Rose Clancy Food For Thought Table

Your Place at the Banquet, curated by Rose Clancy, attempts to engage its audience in the poltics of sustenance. The exhibit extends beyond the gallery walls to include screenings and performances in satellite locations. From the exhibition site –

Your Place at the Banquet is a visual art exhibition and public awareness initiative that critically examines the mechanisms of our industrial food system and aims to empower people to sow the seeds of change through their daily choices and actions.

The exhibition features new work by Rose Clancy, H.E.A.P. HQ (Kevin Clancy, Dan Mooradian, Ali Reid), David Pohl, Tom Sarver, and Zayde Buti that seek to generate public awareness, critical discussion, and collective action around issues of food politics.

Curated by Rose Clancy. Participating artists include:
Rose Clancy, David Pohl, Tom Sarver, H.E.A.P. HQ and Zayde Buti.

Your Place at the Banquet
September 16 – October 15, 2011
Future Tenant
819 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Open Weekdays 11am-5pm

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24 Hours in the Subway @Box Heart

August 4th, 2011 Sus Posted in Bloomfield, BoxHeart, Commentary, exhibits, Galleries - Pittsburgh Comments Off

I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Garbani at Box Heart during the artist reception for her solo, 24 Hours in the Subway. We had a few moments to discuss what we like best about working with pastels.

Her group of subway inspired works are really beautiful, offering a recording of a moment’s contemplation pulled from the hectic energy of daily commuting. The works are elegantly simple in their softness and abbreviated palette. The strong contrast between decaying sooty darks, and the shallow yellow of fluorescent light emphasize the rhythm of the cars as well as the structure of the subway environment.

For all of their elegance, the works impart a sense of isolation. There are no people, and the only indication of human intrusion is the occasional suggestion of scrawled graffiti.

I did notice that Ms. Garbani chose a very substantial paper, with deckling intact, for the subway series. The square format is a difficult one to work with, and Ms. Garbani answers this challenge with aplomb.

The works are available for viewing through August 13, but you can preview the exhibit on Box Heart’s site.

July 19 – August 13, 2011
24 Hours in the Subway
Pastels by New York Artist: Isabelle Garbani
Box Heart
Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays: 11 AM – 6 PM
Wednesdays – Saturday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Sunday: 1 PM – 5 PM
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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June Unblurred

June 8th, 2011 Sus Posted in Commentary, Unblurred Comments Off

Last week, I posted about Box Heart’s 11 Anniversary exhibit. This week, I want to talk a bit about Modern Formation’s 10th Anniversary exhibit, ret·ro·spec·tive. From the site –

The anniversary exhibit will feature works from Modernformations private collection and artwork and exhibit documentation from the artists below (see site). Also on display will be documentation and information about significant events during our 10 years – from poetry readings to concerts, film showings to dance, plays to fundraisers, and many other unique gatherings.

It was entirely too crowded to take pictures on Friday evening, but it is an amazing exhibit and lives up to the description. Both Modern Formations and Box Heart make significant contributions to the Pittsburgh art community, mounting exceptional exhibits on a regular basis. Definitely check out these celebratory exhibits while you can.

Modernformations Gallery and Performance Space
4919 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15224
Thursdays 7pm – 9pm
Saturdays 1pm – 4pm or by appointment

Olwyn Best – Door Open Door Closed

It was a really active night at the Irma Freedman Center. There is an excellent exhibit of Olwyn Best’s paintings mounted in the front gallery. Her work, as she describes it, is spiritual in nature.

“I ask the Great Unseen…Visions and Dreams”
Paintings by Olwyn Best
June 3rd- July 1st, 2011
The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination
5006 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Gallery Hours: Saturdays and Sundays 2 – 5 PM or by appointment

Also at the Irma Freedman Center was
Yamoussa Camara
and Camara Drum and Dance. Highly energetic and very, very fun. Especially the crowd watching.

Yamoussa currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA where he teaches dance at Carnegie Mellon University, is on the Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) Teaching Artist Roster for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, teaches drum and dance workshops for children and adults, and performs with various ensembles in addition to his own ensemble Camara Drum and Dance.

I also stopped in to say hello to Christine Bethea at Artica. Check out that great cabinet behind Christine. It’s really fabulous!

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Box Heart: 11th Anniversary

June 3rd, 2011 Sus Posted in Bloomfield, BoxHeart, Commentary, exhibits Comments Off

Sonja Sweterlitsch

Box Heart has mounted its annual Anniversary Exhibit, showcasing new works by gallery artists. The show is carefully curated, with an eye for contemporary expressions and fine work.

Box Heart represents a very diverse group of artists, whose practices span formal painting through visionary assemblage. Sonja Sweterlitsch (see above) demonstrates fine control in her portraits; the gallery has severl samples of her work. Tate Hudson’s work (see below) was particularly compelling. The surface is rich in layered texture, images and mark shifting across the long format.

Tate Hudson

There are some beautiful and compelling works on display. Box Heart, luckily, documents their exhibits very well and has mounted a slideshow that gives a great tour of the gallery. If you would like to see more of the artists represented by the gallery, check the slideshow for Au Courant. The catalog is available on line. Congratulations to Box Heart on bringing eleven years of their extraordinary vision to the Pittsburgh community.

Although the list doesn’t include every artists that is represented by Box Heart, the list is extensive and impressive –

- Kuzana Ogg – Thomas Bigatel – Keith Garubba – David Nelson – Tate Hudson – Gail Beem – Crista Pisano – Robert Bishop – Mark Loebach – Nadim Sabella – Christine Wuenschel – Jackie Hoysted – Shawn Watrous – Lyn Ferlo – Sonja Sweterlitsch – V. Mann – Toby Kreidler – Jason Shorr – Joshua Hogan – Isabelle Garbani – Victoria Goro Rapoport – Kyle Ethan Fischer- Chung Fanky Chak – Sherry Rusinack – Adam Kenney – Seth Clark – George Kollar – Tony Cacalano – Alex Lobus – Sherry Rusinack

May 24 – June 18, 2011
11th Anniversary Exhibition
Group Exhibition and Celebration!
Box Heart Gallery
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays: 11 AM – 6 PM
Wednesdays – Saturday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Sunday: 1 PM – 5 PM

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Deanna Mance @Box Heart

March 14th, 2011 Sus Posted in BoxHeart, Commentary, Galleries - Pittsburgh Comments Off

Deanna Mance brings discipline to her works on paper, creating intricate, large-scale abstract ‘scapes. More than anything, the works are reminiscent of maps, cataloging more than streets and implying the sense of activity that one finds in a busy city. In her recent show at Box Heart, The Dead Engineer, Mance exhibits works that span the last seven years. This body of work reflects a dedication to her medium, remaining a consistent presentation. From Box Heart’s release:

As Mance looked back over those seven years, she acknowledged the transformation her artwork made in things such as; scale, material, design, color, and overall composition. Although one can certainly acknowledge those differences, the works do share a common thread. They all strive to mimic the lay-outs of improbable objects or the mistranslation of an undiscovered language. Perhaps the location of a secret hiding place or intelligence gathered from deep within the mind. Not a real engineer, Mance perceives her art as blueprints of objects that could never manifest within known physical reality.

It is a dichotomy, to say that a work can be precise as well as intuitive, but the works have that kind of feel to them. Like a jam session, where the musician knows his instrument and its range so well that he can impart incredible impact to his riffs, only Mance is doing it on paper.

The Dead Engineer is on exhibit through March 26 at Box Heart.

March 1 – March 26, 2011
The Dead Engineer:a collection of works by Deanna Mance
Box Heart
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
P. 412.687.8858
F. 412.687.6338
Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays: 11am – 6pm
Wednesdays – Saturdays: 10am – 6pm
Sundays: 1pm – 5pm

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March Unblurred

March 9th, 2011 Sus Posted in Commentary, exhibits, Galleries - Pittsburgh, Unblurred Comments Off

I am sorry to say that March’s Unblurred was the first I’ve managed to get to in the last few months. It was a good one, with lots of familiar faces.  The venues along Penn Ave are offering a full plate of the arts, adding readings to the evening’s fare. Awesome Books, Most Wanted Fine Art and Garfield Artworks al had scheduled readings. Next month, I’ll try to plan a bit better so that I can include attending one in my trip.

The International Childrens Art Gallery had some very interesting large scale paintings up in one room. Unfortunately, they weren’t labeled, and there wasn’t anybody around that knew who the artist was. Apparently, these works have been installed for a bit. If anybody can solve the mystery of who the artist is… I wish I could provide an image. None of the shots I took were very good.

Richard Schnap has a collection of his collages at Imagebox. The works are small, at about 9″ x 12″. But they pack a lot of impact and commentary into that small space.Mr Schnap has a collection of his work online.

At Garfield Artworks
13th installment of the Evolution in Arts series, showcasing artworks from regional Artists

artworks from:
Andres Ortiz Ferrari
Matthu Stull
Michelle Gregio
Radikal Kats Photography

Images: Michelle Gregio, Andres Ortiz Ferrari and Adia

Garfield Artworks had a tightly curated show for March’s Unblurred, with a nice selection of painters. The works by Michelle Gregio concentrated on palette, offering a beautiful depth and variety. Please, don’t be mislead by the image. (bad camera! bad!) Andres Ortiz Ferrari offered several works on unstretched canvas,tightly controlled in color and line. Adia presented symmetrical works, with a beautiful flow of shape.

Modern Formations has an exhibit of surreal photographs by Lindy Hazel. The above is an example taken from the artist’s site. The works are beautiful, clean and fantastical. The work provoked a sense of image play and were more gentle than disturbing.

Next month sees the return of the Ga/Gi Festival. From their site:

GA/GI Festival (pronounced GAHgee) is opening a world of possibles for non interacting industries to network and collaborate. while providing real tangible value to emerging artists and other innovators who want to demo or exhibit their talents to the general public while allowing that public of diverse demographics to see and explore innovation.

The festival takes place on April 1, along Penn Ave. There is a full list of festival activities on their site.

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