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Old 05-10-2007, 06:39 AM
 
1,569 posts, read 3,087,059 times
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I'm with you Letsgosee. It is good to hear your story—I joke around and say if I ever want to retire, I’ll have to move to Mexico. Are people willing to start an artist community where you are? Sometimes it takes someone organizing it and people find they like it. I also need a small theater—Olympia has two! I always seek out artists or people sharing their creativity to talk to wherever I live. I love that flow of ideas that happens, inspiration from each other when we're feeling like a dry arroyo. This quarter working in the ceramic studio at school that is happening and it is great. It seems to happen more when we are actually working together in the same space then just talking but talking is good too.

I've been flipflopping for four years! But it is continuing because I am in college. It is wearing thin though - wish I'd decide what I want to do and where I want to live and settle down and stay. It will either be New Mexico or here unless I come up with some idea of a job that I just want to do that requires a masters. Good luck!
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 24,920,738 times
Reputation: 3840
Default Part I - Pittsburgh

Well, itís time to talk about Pittsburgh. I wrote up a full-length spiel and it crashed, so letís see if I can reconstruct some of my thoughts:

Over the last five years Iíve visited the City quite a few times but this five-week visit was the longest. The extended time gave me the opportunity to imagine it as a place to live, and possibly work. I was fortunate to have an acquaintance who rented me a duplex for dirt cheap in one of the contiguous boroughs of the City, and in easy access to my daughter and family.

Pittsburgh is geographically very spread out, but has only about 350,000 people in its metropolitan area. Each neighbourhood is rather unique, and the rivers and bridges make for some great vistas. People refer to the City by sector, and I am most familiar with the East Side.

What I find especially appealing about Pittsburgh is its architecture, history, public/private funding and services. Although it does not have much of a public transit system, you can count on the bus system to run. I drove for the most part, and while parking in some of the more congested areas (Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and the Strip District) is not impossible they can be a challenge.

I was able to discover three artist living and/or working communities: one in the South Side (Brew House), another in East Liberty (The Spinning Plate) and a third in Lawrenceville (Ice House). Of the three Iíve visited two. The one on the South Side was among my favourites; whilst there a few years ago they had some of the best puppet theatre Iíve ever seenótalk about art, we are talking stupendous. The South Side is already somewhat gentrified, and is bustling with restaurants, a new slick un-mall with too many shops, several good cafes, two or three second hand bookstores and probably more that I have just not been to or explored.

MORE TO COME!
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 24,920,738 times
Reputation: 3840
Default Part II - Pittsburgh

The second community, Spinning Plate in East Liberty has a terrific gallery space on the first floor with huge windows facing the street. I never managed to visit the third community space in Lawrenceville (never enough time).

Of the three neighbourhoods, Iíd say that Lawrenceville may prove to be the most ďartistĒ friendly in the true sense of the word, with housing still affordable, and the beginning of some good store-front galleries, cafes and restaurants. But, Spinning Plate has the reputation as an already well-established living loft.

Here are some links.

This is some info about Spinning Plate

http://www.artspaceusa.org/neighborhood/spinningplate/

Hereís some good info on Lawrenceville:

http://www.popcitymedia.com/neighborhoods/lawrenceville.aspx (broken link)

Lawrenceville artist community

http://www.artistsandcities.org/ice_house.html (broken link)

And here are some links to the South Side and Brew House


Hereís some good info on the South Side

http://www.southsidepgh.com/index_new.htm (broken link)

Brew House in South Side

http://www.brew-house.org/programs.php (broken link)


MORE TO COME!
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Old 05-10-2007, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 24,920,738 times
Reputation: 3840
Well, while I continue to cogitate on the pleasures and perils of Pittsburgh, I'll just give a mini-update on my travels; get out that atlas, letsgosee.

After I left Kent (CT), I drove to Great Barrington (MA) on the backroad (Rte 7), and made a short pitstop at the art supply store to see if they had anything that would rattle my painting fingers. Not much, but I did manage to drop thirty bucks on useful but unnecessary stuff, and a couple of watercolour pads.

I knew as soon as I drove into town, a town I've been to dozens of times, I wouldn't stay, and quickly made my way on several serious back roads to Cummington, MA--a small community on a small river. My intention here was lunch. When I lived in the Pioneer Valley, I would often go up to the Country Store for bagels (fresh from NYC); Shelbourne Coffee (roasted in the region) and perhaps some other home-made food-stuff from the region.

I then took off for Northampton, MA. Pity that nothing stays the same, and Northampton, which I've always ranked 1 of 3 of my favourite towns, has now taken a serious fall from my favour. It is been miserably treated in the last few years, and I was astonished it ranked as a good "retirement" town in last week's NY Times. It looked as if it was experiencing a downward spiral into genteel, but unpleasant poverty. I talked to a couple of folks I know, and while it was hard for them to admit that this once special town was losing its perfume, they could see how my fresh eyes saw the serious decline.

But, I stayed and went to all my old haunts, and then went over to Amherst (the home of Hampshire, Amherst and UMass) Colleges. I was less disappointed with Amherst's changes, but when I drove out the following morning, I knew that I had crossed off one more place from my list of possible re-locations--sadly!

With the sun shining brightly, I took the major highway(s) to Cape Code--where I am sitting now, at a small Inn on the Ocean, the fog potentially burning off, and drinking fresh brewed coffee.

I'll try to finish up Pittsburgh later today.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:43 PM
 
46 posts, read 190,165 times
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Default What happened to Northampton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ontheroad View Post
Well, while I continue to cogitate on the pleasures and perils of Pittsburgh, I'll just give a mini-update on my travels; get out that atlas, letsgosee.

I then took off for Northampton, MA. Pity that nothing stays the same, and Northampton, which I've always ranked 1 of 3 of my favourite towns, has now taken a serious fall from my favour. It is been miserably treated in the last few years, and I was astonished it ranked as a good "retirement" town in last week's NY Times. It looked as if it was experiencing a downward spiral into genteel, but unpleasant poverty. I talked to a couple of folks I know, and while it was hard for them to admit that this once special town was losing its perfume, they could see how my fresh eyes saw the serious decline.

But, I stayed and went to all my old haunts, and then went over to Amherst (the home of Hampshire, Amherst and UMass) Colleges. I was less disappointed with Amherst's changes, but when I drove out the following morning, I knew that I had crossed off one more place from my list of possible re-locations--sadly!
.[/b][/i]
I've enjoyed reading about your travels and search for an artist community and would have suggested Asbury Park, NJ but I'm not sure how well the artists are doing now that AP has been "discovered" by New Yorkers looking for a closer/cheaper place at the shore.

Artists, along with gays/lesbians, helped to turn around Asbury Park about 7 years ago. Gentrification and, to me, vulgar development along the ocean has pushed up rentals but I think there's still struggling artists' enclaves nearer to downtown.

Here's a quote from a 2005 NYTIMES article:
" Ms. Pastorelli, who went to kindergarten in Asbury Park, said that while local residents may still be somewhat skeptical of the boom here, New Yorkers - particularly artists fleeing Greenwich Village and Brooklyn - are enthusiastic.

"When artists come - and Asbury is getting more and more a reputation of being an artsy community - it's a win," she said. "It gives the community a positive image."

Years before the artists arrived, there were great efforts on the part of Bruce Springsteen and his musical heirs, yet the city's boardwalk amusements declined to nearly nothing. While neighboring towns like Ocean Grove and Loch Arbor thrived, and other communities not too far away - Rumson, Deal and Spring Lake - went over the top in prestige and price, Asbury was mired in despair." (http://tinyurl.com/2fckqh (broken link))

Also, I was saddened to read about Northampton, one of my favorite towns too. Haven't been there in about 5 years and wondered what has caused the decline that you saw. Any ideas or impressions would be most welcome.

Cindy175
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Old 05-11-2007, 07:42 AM
 
35 posts, read 95,812 times
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I've a friend in Northampton who downsized her beading business there 2 years ago, we didn't really discuss the reasons, but she did mention the market had changed. Too bad, I really liked the town, but we too were there 5 years ago.

Anyone have any direct experience with Grand Junction, Colorado?
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 24,920,738 times
Reputation: 3840
Cindy175 and tcburns, I'm off to my next port of call--up the road, but no internet. However, I'll get back to you over the weekend on Northampton's changes, and more on Pittsburgh.
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Old 05-11-2007, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 24,920,738 times
Reputation: 3840
Default About Northampton

As I was driving out of Northampton on Rte 91, I had the radio on. I'm not certain it was NPR, but they had an interview about the economics of Massachusetts, and in particular Western MA. It was not an indepth program, and I was driving fast, so I only caught a word or two.

What happened to Northampton appears to be economic? It appears to be economic not cultural, but it has also changed radically in the cultural sense. Instead of young UMass students sitting on the steps around the corner from Center Street and in front of the candystore, or on the Church wall, it was beggars, borrowers, tattoo'd folks, and just plain poor folk.

I only had a chance to speak to one of my shopkeeper/acquaintances, and she's been in the Valley for 32 years on Main Street. Another friend who I've known longer and better was out of town, but I talked to her staff. Things are dire but people aren't talking about, and are probably hoping it will turn around (for the better).

The streets were littered, not only with debris, but with things to sell in front of shops, merchandise you would never have seen in Northampton 3-5-10 years again. Throw away stuff! Store fronts are empty; many of the businesses I've frequented out of business, and a general pall on the town.

By comparison Amherst seemed set in stone, a clock turned back to Emily Dickinson. The Jeffrey Amherts Inn, and the square was clean, and some new, upscale shops were visible.

However, rte 9, is a huge strip male from where the old Bread & Circus (now Whole Foods) was until the entry into Amherst: WM, Lowe's, you name it, and about 5 chain hotels.

It was quite discouraging!
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Old 05-11-2007, 03:37 PM
 
Location: a primitive state
9,888 posts, read 20,181,181 times
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That is sad. I remember traveling through there many years ago and thinking it looked like the kind of town I liked, too.
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Old 05-11-2007, 11:27 PM
 
46 posts, read 190,165 times
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Thanks for the info - I liked all the quirky stores and eccentric locals who used to hang around downtown. A town in NJ, Red Bank, which I visit often also went through a down-turn--it was called Dead Bank then--so hopefully the business/uni/political leaders will be able to turn the town around. I'll have to drive up there and check the scene out after the tourists leave (that is, if the tourists are still coming).
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