PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Hale Street in Homewood at the turn of the 20th century was a neighborhood for middle-class African-American families making decent livings working in the nearby mansions of men who made Pittsburgh an industrial powerhouse.
The passing years were not kind to Homewood; it’s streets stalked by violence.
But Vanessa German looks at the neighborhood through the eyes of an artist.
A New York gallery exhibit of her work last November was a huge success.
“It’s now in museums, and in great collections in New York,” says German. “And that’s the work from Homewood that is now supporting the ARThouse.”
Two-and-a-half-years ago, German’s Hamilton Avenue front porch became a studio for neighborhood kids.
Then, they moved the ARThouse into a temporary building, and with the tools of her trade, she began teaching what dreaming and imagination is all about.
“By sharing what I love, I actually realize that’s the way you share love,” said German.
Earlier this month a man was shot to death on Hale Street, just feet from German’s refuge for kids.
The death of Jeff Jackson became a teachable moment, too. The sidewalk where he fell is now painted gold, and the words “life is sacred,” written on the side of the house.
In April, German began raising money on the Internet for a new and permanent home for the ARThouse. The campaign was only 38 days long.
“So we raised $38,000 on the Internet, and that was 411 people from like nine different countries, most people from Pittsburgh,” she says.
That, plus money from the sale of her own paintings and sculptures raised the rest of the sale price. Closing was Wednesday.
“We did it,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do so I’m going to ask for literal hands on help, but we can go down there.”
Eight doors down is German’s latest canvas.
“A place where you can go to let your heart speak and let your soul speak,” she says.