Portrait of Casey Droege at SIX x ATE. Photo by Njaimeh Njie.

As a cultural producer and artist, Casey Droege is dedicated to building a stronger arts community in Pittsburgh. She is the founder of  innovative projects such as SIX x ATE and CSA PGH, and curated the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial. She teaches at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon.

Monday June 6

I start every morning like the CEO that I am—by scrolling through pictures of cats on Instagram in bed. Eventually, my own cats Harry and Sally begin gnawing on my toes and the day must begin.

Casey and Johanna working in the kitchen.
Casey and Johanna working in the kitchen.

Most days include a large chunk of time spent on my computer emailing way too many people—coordinating artists, working on proposals, drumming up money. I won’t bore you with that info, but I do want you to know that it happens . . . a lot. This day’s computer time starts off with the lovely Johanna Lasner, who meets me in my kitchen every Monday to work on whatever project is taking over my life. This week we’re focused on a small show I’m curating with Radiant Hall in its Energy Innovation Center space. We’ll work through some layout options, before running over to the space to meet with Ryan Lammie and artist Njaimeh Njie.

Last meeting of the day is with Divya Rao Heffley, senior program manager of the Hillman Photography Initiative at the CMOA. Our strict agenda includes delicious food from Conflict Kitchen, soaking up sunlight, and talking art.

Tuesday, June 7

Those cute cats and my guilt after seeing my partner Raf leave for work get me up and on my feet again. After a few phone meetings and that pesky computer time, I hop on the bus to meet with Amy Staggs and Murray Horn at Wood Street Galleries. We’re working on a top secret project for the fall (shhh!). Afterward, I’ll take a little time to explore the Three Rivers Arts Festival and surrounding art shows—sooo many to see—from Vanessa German to Scott Turri to the new collage show curated by Mundania Horvath and Sonja Sweterlitsch.

Before I leave downtown I will undoubtedly stop into Madonna’s Mediterranean on Smithfield—they are so lovely and their roasted chicken and loubieh is my FAAAAVORITE.

If I’m not too wiped, I’ll try to head over to the Moth Storyslam at the Rex. I dream of telling a story at The Moth one day—but contrary to popular belief, I get nervous when speaking publicly. So instead I listen to the podcast endlessly and try to catch the events in town.

Photo by Linda Wallen.
Photo by Linda Wallen.

Wednesday, June 8

After years of working full-time plus part-time plus art time, I’ve realized that my body is suffering. So I’m working with UPMC’s pain clinic in amazing ways to learn to pace and better ways of functioning (Thanks, guys!). I’ll spend half the day with them and before hopping on the bus home, I’ll stop at Zeke’s for tea with a young woman from City Charter High School. She’s interested in interviewing me to learn about my career. I will certainly try to pass on the advice my mother tried to give to me—“go into computers.”

If Raf and I are too tired to cook, we’ll grab some takeout from Pussadee’s Garden or knock on his mom’s door (Chez Lilly—very exclusive).

Thursday, June 9

Thursday morning Raf and I will go swim at the Kingsley Association before I drop him at work and head back to my UPMC friends. After another day of learning how to take care of myself, we’ll cross over to the Northside and knock on my mom’s door for dinner. My mom has slowly been turning Spring Hill into a little Barcelona, with mosaic murals everywhere. If you take a little drive up there, you’ll see her pink house with a bridge to the neighboring blue house, both covered in mosaics. And then you’ll notice the mosaics have spread up and down the street, and over several blocks—definitely a fun sightseeing trip!

Portrait of Harry and Sally by Casey.
Portrait of Harry and Sally by Casey.

Since I’ll be on the Northside, I’ll roll down the hill to see slowdanger’s Memory 4, a performance for the New Hazlett’s CSA series. Then back across the river to bed!

Friday, June 10

Friday starts off nice and slow. I’ll have a short meeting with Evan Mirapaul, my co-director of the PGH Photo Fair at Pear and the Pickle in Troy Hill before heading down to check out Bunker Project’s Performance Art Festival at SPACE Gallery. The festival features artists from around the world, and it’s free.

That night, I also have my quarterly ladies night. Some of my fiercest lady friends in and out of the arts come together to support each other, share best practices of being professional women, and eat a lot of cheese. Since life is so busy, this rare moment doesn’t come often, but it is much needed and always appreciated.

Saturday, June 11

The weekend has arrived!? But what is a weekend if not an opportunity to do more work?! This is something I’m trying to ween myself from, so I only have one brief meeting with Christina Lee, to work on the first SIX x ATE of the season (theme: Glitter) in July. We’re ironing out the details and finishing up the catalog from last year’s events.

SIX x ATE: Glitter logo by Christina Lee.
SIX x ATE: Glitter logo by Christina Lee.

That afternoon, after we attempt some kind of cleaning of our house, Raf and I will stop down at the Roots Pride potluck and water balloon fight in Schenley Park.

Saturday night has so much happening, we’ll have to pick and choose. But I’m torn between seeing Patricia Bellan-Gillen’s opening at CMU’s Miller Gallery or the Neu Kirche Artist Meetup with Jennifer Nagle Myers, John Pena, and Lizzee Solomon.

After one of those, I’ll head to the Carnegie International’s Tam O’Shanter Drawing Session with Liz Park at the Allegheny Observatory.

Sunday, June 12

Sunday means taking a long walk—which might involve a pastry pit stop at La Gourmandine or a snack at B52. If our energy is up, we’ll stop back downtown to take in the crowds as PrideFest and the Three Rivers Arts Festival merge.

Sunday evening is reserved for a serious amount of binge watching. Not sure exactly what it will be—but I’m open to suggestions, so send me your recs!

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.