Photo courtesy of Atithi.

If you’re a local artist, Sukanta Nag wants you to be his “atithi” in Sharpsburg.

The word, which is Bengali for “guest,” is also the name of the art studio and coworking space Nag opened on Nov. 1 at 1020 N. Canal St.

An open house will be held on Friday, Nov. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. with free drinks, food, entertainment and tours of the building. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks.

“We want to build a more connected artist community here in Pittsburgh,” says Nag, who also owns Adda Coffee & Tea House, a local chain of cafes. “We hope that the Atithi collaborative space can allow artists to connect and share their unique viewpoints to amplify each other and their own stories through conversation and collaboration.”

The building’s first floor will be renovated this winter and will debut in 2022 as a community hub. The area will eventually include a small food incubator space.

The site’s top two floors will house 11 studios that can be leased on a month-to-month basis from $350 a month for an 80-square-foot space to $500 for 200 square feet. The rent includes access to a podcasting studio and a photography darkroom. The public can use these amenities for a fee.

The purpose of Atithi is to create an affordable, collaborative environment for artists from all backgrounds.
Painter Corey Ochai, a Braddock native and a longtime Sharpsburg resident, will serve as community director.

“Atithi is bigger than just creating art, it’s about creating relationships and developing skills to help our community members in achieving their dreams — whether that’s becoming a full-time artist or continuing to hone their craft in a safe and supportive environment,” Ochai says.

When it came to naming the spot, Nag, a native of Bangladesh, asked his nieces back home for help. Atithi was inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s story of the same name about a boy who chooses a wandering life over the comforts of societal norms.

That is Nag’s vision for the building: a place that allows creativity to wander without being boxed in by convention.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.