As the City of Pittsburgh wound down from Fourth of July celebrations and stormy weather, the South Side neighborhood prepared for the 14th annual SouthSide Works Exposed arts festival from July 6 to 8.
The event was sponsored by City Vets PGH, a new urgent care veterinary practice in the South Side developed in affiliation with the University of Veterinary Specialists, a 24/7 ER specialist facility in Peters Township. The City Vets PGH animal care facility will be the first of its kind in the area.
Local musicians showcased their talents at SouthSide Works Exposed, including bands like The Brighton Boys, No Bad Juju and Kelsey Friday & the Rest of The Week. In addition to music, SouthSide Exposed also hosted a variety of shows including Kierra Darshell’s Drag Show and the fittingly titled Wild World of Animals.
People from all around Pittsburgh came down to the festival — some were veterans of the annual event and others were first-timers.
Audrey Silverman and Christina Lohr were shopping in the South Side when they heard the music and saw artist booths nearby, and the pair was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of attractions.
“I’ve been to events like this before and I’ve always been so impressed,” Lohr said. She saw plenty of cool jewelry and paintings during their rounds, and she was carrying a few bags of purchases already.
Both of them agreed that the art interested them more than the food and the music, and they were eager to see all the rest of the vendors that the SouthSide Works festival had to offer.
“I think I would definitely want to come back next year,” Lohr said.
Denielle DeSantis, a 29-year-old artist from Lawrenceville and the face behind the brand Exhibit D, was one of the artist vendors this year, showcasing live pet portraits and other ready-made prints.
“People will text me a photo of their pet and then it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes per pet to paint right there live on the spot,” DeSantis said.
Prior to the festival, she painted all the canvases in multiple colors so people had something visual to choose from, and she prepared her art prints by matting and packaging them.
“I combine acrylics, watercolors, and just recently I’ve added a lot of spray paint into my artwork to give it a street vibe,” she said.
Local artists like DeSantis apply every year to be involved with the festival. DeSantis explained how it is not only a great way for artists to get their name out there, but personally it is a source of income for her to pursue her other passions, such as traveling.
“People who are artisans, they create things instead of manufacture things,” DeSantis said. “I think that’s really important to value those people and support those types of people.”
DeSantis can normally be found teaching art at Franklin Regional Senior High School during the school year.
“It gives me some value as a teacher as far as an example for my students,” she said. “I’m a living, walking example of creating art in addition to teaching it.”
Apryle Horbal, the head veterinarian for City Vets PGH and Equine Medical Doctor at University Veterinary Specialists, had a similar view on her presence at the SouthSide Works Exposed event. Horbal said she hoped to introduce this new practice to the neighborhood.
“The Exposed event was the perfect place to announce [City Vets] to the community down there, and it’s such a vibrant and growing community in that area,” Horbal said. “So that event was the perfect time for us to announce that we are opening.”
Horbal stressed that there aren’t any other veterinary practices in the South Side area in particular or on the other side of the river.
As sponsors of the event, City Vets PGH presented information about what other resources it offers in the community, including a blood bank, a charitable foundation and telemedicine services.
“We are really moving into what I would call an underserved or an unserved area in the City that a lot of people have moved back into in the last few years, and really repopulated that area of the City that was lagging before,” Horbal said.
Horbal hopes that people can now walk past the building at 79 South 23rd St. and have a better understanding of the innovative and great initiatives happening in the veterinary world behind the scenes.
“I think it went very well and it raised awareness that we were coming to the area,” she said. “I think a lot of people in that area are now excited that they are going to have better access to veterinary care there as well or access in the first place — where people may not have been able to reach a vet before when they needed one.”