Photo by Alyse Horn
By Alyse Horn
Spaces Corners in Troy Hill, 1721 Lowrie St., and City Books in Allegheny West, 908 Galveston Ave., have options that can rarely be found in the average book store.
Melissa Catanese co-founded Spaces Corners with her partner Ed Panar in 2011. She said the book store is “dedicated to photography books that are published around the world.”
Catanese said the books are published by artists and photographers who are creating work that is made for books as opposed to hanging on walls. A lot of the work that is in Spaces Corners is by artists who “do exhibitions and are widely known in the museum and gallery world.” The store also has a location in New York City.
Spaces Corners began in Lawrenceville, but Catanese said it did not receive much foot traffic and she and Panar determined the store was a destination location. The two decided to close the shop for a short period, but during that time they were invited by the Carnegie Museum of Art to take up residency for three months to contribute to the Hillman Photography Initiative. The two were able to take over gallery space in the museum and turn it into a “hybrid space for experiencing photography books,” Catanese said.
They created “A People’s History of Pittsburgh” during their residency, where Pittsburgher’s were invited to submit personal family photographs for an online archive and Catanese said she and Panar then created the book “with the best pictures” out of the submissions. The book is for sale in the shop, and they are open on Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
City Books roots began 30 years ago in the South Side under the ownership of Ed Gelblum, but earlier this year the torch was passed to Arlan Hess when she bought the store in March and relocated to Allegheny West.
Hess said she carries “a little bit of everything,” but the most popular genres being fiction, military and world history. Recently she was able to get a hold of the “Black Lives Matter” syllabus from New York University and will be carrying those books in the store.
There are also candles and journals made from upcycled book covers, and soon there will be pins and tea towels for sale. Hess said all non-book items in the store “are made in Pittsburgh from Pittsburgh makers, because it’s important for me to keep the ‘city’ in City Books.”
City Books will host an event on Tuesday, November 15 at 7 p.m. with Cori Nicole Smith who will be reading from her book “Confessions of the Editor Brigand.” On Tuesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. the store will host Edward Banchs, author of “Heavy Metal in Africa.” Hess said Banchs “is a Pittsburgh writer whose book is blowing off the shelves in the US and in Africa.” On Saturday, November 26, Hess said City books will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Small Business Saturday and there will be author signings throughout the day.