Photo by Erika Fleegle

East Deutschtown received a colorful makeover during Neu Kirche’s Grand Opening celebration Aug. 29.

By Erika Fleegle

Art officially came alive in East Deutschtown. After a year of renovation and planning, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center held its Grand Opening event Aug. 29 with a day-long celebration of community and creativity.

Colonel Eagleburger’s High-Stepping Goodtime Band led visitors on a tour through the center’s commissioned Fallow Grounds and Neu City projects. Fallow Grounds for Sculpture aims to reimagine vacant lots as significant cultural meeting grounds, according to Neu Kirche Community Program Coordinator Oreen Cohen. Local residents donated these vacant lots, and artists of both local and national caliber have taken their own liberties with them, creating everything from precarious stacks of wooden wheels to a play-by-play of a game of checkers illustrated by a tower of bricks.

Neu City, which is a collaboration between Neu Kirche, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the nearby Food City community garden, merges contemporary art and sustainability practices. Five artists were invited to create art pieces within a garden located on Spring Garden. In the garden, clay sculptures and an awning woven from plastic bags crop up among sunflowers, tomatoes and pumpkin vines. Each piece serves as a dialogue surrounding climate change and community building.

Both exhibits were open for the duration of the day.

Following the walking tour, Hannah Thompson presented Connected Movement, a performative piece in which she explored movement and imagery through connected costumes handmade from recycled fabric. Myrna Patterson took things a little slower, leading an outdoor yoga class for all ages on Tripoli Street.

One of the most energetic events of the day was artist Tom Sarver’s Art Olympics. Accented once more by the sounds of Colonel Eagleburger’s band, three teams of artists raced against the clock to create a sculpture made from materials they brought with them as well as “mystery materials” that were already on-site.

“Originality is ruling the day,” said Art Olympics judge Wayne Younger, pastor of CityView Church, of the competition. “I love it!”

After the two-hour event, artist Craig Freeman and his team, the Commission for Cosmic Craft Transmission, were declared winners for their sculpture involving contacting extra-terrestrials to petition for a living wage for Pittsburgh artists.

The day’s festivities concluded with the official opening of the Neu Kirche gallery with the current exhibition In the Making, which showcases small portions of all the artworks included in Fallow Grounds and Neu City.

Executive Director Lee Parker was pleased overall with the turnout.

“We’ve had waves of people coming in and out of the gallery. It’s been fantastic.”

Visitors then danced the night away with audio-visual artist Nathan Lorenzo in Neu Kirche’s chapel space.

IMG_3056Photo by Erika Fleegle

Artists participated in the Art Olympics during Neu Kirche’s Grand Opening celebration Aug. 29 in East Deutschtown.