Janet McCall, executive director of the Society for Contemporary Craft, shares daily highlights from her itinerary for the week of May 19 in NEXT Up.


10 a.m. On my day off I’m working on my costume for a Dream Ball taking place at a conference in June. I know it sounds bizarre but the creative challenge of becoming a character that comes directly from your dreams and then dancing the night away is pretty fantastic. Headed to Construction Junction and Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse in Point Breeze for unusual materials and inspiration.

5 p.m. Tami Dixon of Bricolage Production Company presents a dramatic reading tonight based on interviews about the experiences of women who work in nonprofits. Last year Tami blew me away with her South Side Stories and I can’t wait to see her take on this topic.


10 a.m. I’m meeting music producer Steve Foxbury at 21st Street Coffee on Smallman to finalize details for his new summer concert series, Yellow Couch Live, that will take place this summer. Today he’s releasing a live video premiere from acclaimed singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk’s track From the Fourth.

7 p.m. At SCC tonight where conceptual artist Alexi Morrissey will discuss “Have You Seen Me?” Using handmade porcelain milk bottles that echo the national milk carton campaigns for missing children, Alexi explores an alternate history of missing person advocacy in 18th-century Africa. The limited edition bottles, signed and numbered by Morrissey, will be available for sale.


8:30 a.m. Meeting my small (secret) writers’ group for our weekly session at Crazy Mocha on Butler. A year ago we made a pact to gather for creative conversation, writing, and support for our personal artistic projects. The good news—we are each making progress. The bad news—it’s not a secret any more . . .

6 to 8 p.m. Heading over to the hottest art space I know: Pittsburgh Glass Center, where world-class glass artists Dante Marioni and Janusz Pozniak will kick off PGC’s summer artist lecture series.


Noon: The Strip District! Talk about the best neighborhood ever to work in. I head out on foot to forage, stretch my legs, and recharge my brain, grabbing a take-out Mung bean pancake from a food stand on Penn. Walking back, I revel in the visual rhythm of the seven-block-long Produce Terminal building. Gold-domed St. Stanislaus at one end, 16th Street Bridge at the other, and a view of the downtown skyline. Wow!

6:30 p.m. I’m attending an arts benefit dinner at Casbah on S. Highland Avenue and I just have to give them a shout out. Every month they donate a meal for 50 people and a local nonprofit receives the proceeds. They’re doing great things on behalf of our cultural community.


5 p.m. Looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend and hosting a young Chicago artist who is coming to town to take a jewelry class. I’ll be taking her for cocktails at the Warhol Museum’s spectacularly reinstalled lobby.

8 p.m. Going to see Comfort Zone, a play that explores the aftermath of a shooting and how it impacts a community, at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, downtown. Using the arts to bring community together to work toward violence prevention is powerful and important. I want to be part of this conversation.


7 a.m. What’s a Saturday morning without an estate sale? Out the door early in search of mid-century craft/design objects and vintage garments. Fingers crossed for some good picking.

Breakfast in Millvale, a river neighborhood with a lot of heart. Strawberry hotcakes at Pamela’s P & G Diner or a chocolate croissant at Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery? Decisions, decisions . . .

2 p.m. On to the Children’s Museum on the Northside. Full disclosure, I don’t have kids but you don’t need kids as an excuse to visit this gem with its incredible collection of interactive contemporary art. Today a second generation beekeeper will be there to show off some hives and talk honey. I’ve fantasized about acquiring a hive of my own; maybe this will move me to action.

5:30 p.m. Heading up to Troy Hill, where I’ll stop at Billy’s Bistro for a Pittsburgh-brewed Red Star Kombucha, a fermented green tea beverage made just down the block.

7:30 p.m. Tonight there’s an organ concert at St. Anthony’s Chapel in Troy Hill that I plan to attend. Among the remarkable historic churches in our city, St. Anthony’s is perhaps the quirkiest and most amazing. Dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, known as “The Wonder Worker,” the shrine houses 5,000 relics, said to be the world’s largest public collection of relics and second only to the Vatican.


Noon: Dropping by the Lawrenceville home of Carnegie Mellon art student Daniel Pillis, who is hosting a yard sale and guided tours each Sunday in May. Pillis has decorated his apartment to approximate his grandmother’s house as an art installation for his first-year master’s project that deals with memory.

3 p.m. A few hours in my kayak on North Park Lake to relax and recharge after a busy week. I’ll inspect this season’s blue heron nests, then paddle to Over The Bar Bicycle Café in the old boathouse for a late lunch on the terrace. All in all, a wonderful week.

Photo by Noah Purdy.

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.