In between gardening and throwing pottery on the wheel, Stephanie Flom, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, shares her schedule this week, including why she loves working in Oakland and living in Highland Park, and the eat and drink spots she cannot live without. Most recently Stephanie served as Executive Director of the Cooper-Siegel Community Library (Fox Chapel) and Boyd Community Center (O’Hara Township).
Monday, August 25
I start my week at LA Fitness in Bakery Square where I visit with neighbors and people I’ve worked with on various community projects over the years. When we lost Nabsico, (despite our protests), we didn’t expect to gain a community hub. Oh yeah, I’ll also get on an elliptical for a bit, choosing one with a view of the Tree Vitalize plantings and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts sculptures in Mellon Park. After work, I’ll use the veggies from my Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance CSA to make a dish for our long-standing Monday Night Jackson Street (in Highland Park) Neighborhood Potluck. It’s been going on for twenty-some years! Lately, there are lots of babies with more on the way—baby boom on Jackson Street.
Tuesday, August 26
I love working on Craig Street! When I’m ready for a break I’ll get a cup of Coffee Tree Roasters best at the Bagel Factory, browse at Caliban Books and chat with John Schulmann, and stretch my legs with a walk to the beautiful gardens at Phipps Conservatory. On my way I’ll check out the offerings at Conflict Kitchen, where I’ll get some art, culture and politics served with my food. I never fail to be amazed at the vision the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy had in creating the amazing public space that is Schenley Plaza. In the evening, I’m off to Braddock Carnegie Library’s Bath House Ceramic Studio to glaze some mugs. It’s abuzz with artistic spirit—an amazing resource in the basement of the Library (in the space that was once a bath house). Note: this historic library was the first Carnegie Library in the US.
Wednesday, August 27
Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures is presenting The Moth Mainstage storytelling event at the Byham Theater tonight. I’m prepared to laugh and to cry—always a full range of emotion—when these heartfelt stories get shared. We’re excited that the national cast of storytellers is being joined by Homewood’s Art House founder/artist, actress, playwright Vanessa German and Whimsey Engineering techie/musician Gordon Kirkwood. On production days we order lunch in; I’m thinking spinach pies and baba from Salim’s Middle Eastern Food around the corner on Centre Avenue. Ali Baba’s, another favorite across the street, is closed for remodeling. What could be more fun than dining with the cast and producers as they relax after the show? We’re going next door to Braddock’s at the Renaissance Hotel. Gotta love a restaurant with a regional history theme. Just don’t casually ask my history-buff husband, Peter Oresick, about the Whiskey Rebellion unless you’re prepared for a long and thorough answer as well as a list of novels in which the rebellion is referenced. Peter is seriously passionate about our city’s past and its literature.
Thursday, August 28
Early morning kayaking on the Allegheny River. My friend Laura and I “put in” in Blawnox and paddle around Sycamore Island which the Allegheny Land Trust purchased and is protecting. Did you know that there was a swimming pool on the island? I’ll watch for the red tailed hawk, the killdeer, and hope that the blue heron will entertain us with a short, clumsy flight. After 5 p.m., I’ll meet a board member for a glass of Italian wine at Lucca on Craig Street, where we’ll sit on the patio and watch the students parade by, the freshmen looking so earnest as they travel in packs. Home to a dinner of Gosia’s Pierogies that Peter picked up from Citipark’s Bloomfield Farmers Market, along with kale from my garden and fresh basil-chicken sausages from DJ’s Butcher Block. DJ is serious about local grass-fed meats and specialty sausages, plus he’s got a great smile. He reminds me of my dad, who was a butcher across the street at Phil’s House of Meats after Flom’s Market (on Warrington Avenue in Allentown) closed in the 1960s.
Friday, August 29
Eating my way through the day! Coffee meeting at Tazza D’Oro where I can sit outside to greet dogs and bicyclers. I’ll get an award-winning (seriously!) cappuccino, buy a pound of their Bicycle Blend to take home, and give in to temptation for an authentic Italian pastry. Lunch meeting at Legume where the beans and greens with a fried egg on top will put me into ecstasy. So simple, and yet . . . A stop at Silver Eye Center for Photography on Carson Street to pick up my son David Oresick (who just returned to Pittsburgh as their new Executive Director) and get an eyeful of the stunning new exhibit, Anima, featuring work by Charlotte Dumas. Back to Highland Park for a family walk to Park Brugge where I’ll share mussels and frites and sip a Belgian brew on tap. If I need some extra comfort food there is always the Classic Montreal Poutine!
Saturday, August 30
Getting on the road with some Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures board members to experience the Library of Congress National Book Festival—a virtual candy store of acclaimed authors. I want to meet legends Judith Viorst and E.L. Doctorow, Young Adult sensation Kate DiCamillo, and memoirist Ishmael Bey, whose new novel takes us back to war-torn Sierra Leone. Is there time for an early morning stop at Pamela’s? My favorite is the historic Lincoln Pharmacy location in Millvale.
Sunday, August 31
Drive back in time to see Quantum Theater’s Tamara at Rodef Shalom Synagogue where the audience follows the actors through one of architect Henry Hornbostel’s Beaux Arts gems. Listening to Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See on CD checked out from the Main Branch Carnegie Library. Seems like all roads lead me back to Oakland.
Photo by Renee Rosensteel