NEXT Up: Jen Saffron

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Jen Saffron produces and curates photography and writes and teaches on the subject. Also a singer, Jen performs regularly at local clubs and churches, but mostly spends her time on the North Side with her sons and niece in their Victorian home. Jen works as Director of Communications for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Monday, September 29

The morning starts with fresh juice and calm in the garden behind our house in North Side’s Deutschtown. My sons Leo and Eli are with their dad, this week, and Charis, our niece, will still be asleep before her CCAC classes—I will enjoy a rare moment, alone in the walled in garden shared with Dale, my next door neighbor, followed by a walk across the 9th Street Bridge to downtown to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council where I work. There, I’ll get on message (coffee helps) for an interview with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Joyce Gannon. We’ll talk about the Arts Day of Giving, coming up on Thursday, October 2nd. After that, I’ll join fellow GPAC staff to hash out the script and speakers for our popular annual meeting.

Later in the day I’ll walk through the Cultural District to see Russell Howard at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and talk strategy for our approach to city leaders, asking their support for a hot new festival in 2016.

At 4:30 p.m. it’s a short hike back to the North Side to prepare for a send-off dinner in the shared garden for artist Elena Hiatt Houlihan, who will winter in Mexico after staying next door for a few months. Her exhibition of jazz paintings just opened at MCG-Jazz, so she’ll smartly get back to the sun before Pittsburgh winter sets in. After roasted chicken and a bit of wine we’ll catch Brad Yoder at Acousticafe – he’s this week’s musical host. If the spirit moves me, I’ll put my name on the list and sing, myself.

Tuesday, September 20

At 8 a.m., I will call Mitch Swain, my boss (Mitch, are you reading this?) to review his talking points for KDKA’s Pittsburgh TODAY Live, where he’ll join Theo, the ArtDOG from Animal Friends, to talk about Arts Day of Giving and animal adoption.

Then, I’ll ride my bike through the gorgeous Allegheny Commons park for a Greek omelet at Lindo’s with Shaunda Miles from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. We’ll swap PR horror stories (um, I mean, speak collegially about promoting arts and culture). Mitch and I will regroup at 11 a.m. to plan a regional visibility campaign for the arts, followed by the awesome Indian Spices buffet with my wonderful friend, musician Paul Labrise.

The rest of the day will be spent promoting programs for artists and nonprofits, like the upcoming grants info session for artists at the New Hazlett Theater, and the pro-bono HR clinic with attorneys.

At night it’s off to Grove City College in time to teach the Digital Citizen class. Tonight is a blogging clinic for 2.5 hours. After returning around 10:15 p.m., I will crash in bed, for real.

Wednesday, October 1

After a staff meeting, I’ll cross the street to 707 Gallery. Being a musician and music lover with a vinyl collection, myself, I cannot wait to see Well Played, Paul Rosenblatt’s installation of 15,000 albums, turntables, and the like at 707 Gallery as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial. Then, it’s a walk down the alley past public art installations Cell Phone Disco and Memento Mori to SPACE Gallery for Public Record, also part of the Biennial. Two Girls Working’s piece is one I’ve purposefully kept at bay so I can be surprised.

Back at the office, I’ll finish out the workday with writing, social media, and posting photography of Garry Merola and Dennis Yablonsky of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development—they bought Garry’s paintings through the Art on the Walls Program.

My son, Eli, has Curriculum Night at the Environmental Charter School at 6 p.m., and Bob and I will meet his 6th grade teachers. I am constantly impressed with this school and how Eli has turned into a real lover of learning.

Then I will jet off to yet another inspired moment: VIA Music and New Media Festival’s opening at The Shop in Bloomfield. Neil Hagerty is performing with Dan’l Boone—I’ve been a fan of his since seeing him play at an anti-apartheid show in DC when we were teenagers. Let’s see what their music/video hybrid will dish up, 30 years later.