The Pitt News

Unblurred blends art, activism and entertainment

By Jack Trainor / Staff Writer

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Laura Jean McLaughlin’s old bookstore-turned-studio is one of the many local treasures on display during this month’s Unblurred, Garfield’s gallery crawl event.

“Today’s his favorite day,” McLaughlin said, referring to her cat who was receiving almost as much attention from visitors as McLaughlin’s zany, cartoonish, critter-themed sculptures and prints. 

One furry collage of a little grey cat sat back in her workshop among jars of clay and paints. 

“That’s real cat hair, you know,” she said, smiling without looking up from her register as she finalized a purchase. 

Artists, activists, musicians and the general public convened April 4 on Penn Avenue in Garfield for Unblurred, which is held on the first Friday of every month. For more than a decade, the gallery crawl has showcased Pittsburgh’s affinity for the arts in an all-night event that features a variety of studio art, free booze and a newly added after-party hosted by Garfield restaurant Verde. 

Gallery crawlers also flocked to see what was inside artist Jason Sauer’s Most Wanted Fine Art studio, which was advertised by a large inflated speech bubble with “OMG!” printed across it, hovering above the old brick studio’s doors. The studio housed a collection of Jason Woolslare’s vibrant pop art prints of robots and superheroes, an acoustic house band playing Bob Marley covers and homemade beer from a friend of Woolslare.Woolslare, who has participated in the Unblurred event for years, was busy chatting up friends and strangers alike from the moment the doors opened. “You have a lot of people that come out for the free beer,” he said two weeks after the event in a phone conversation. “But it’s a fun time too. Artists are accessible, and people come up and talk with you, which is the great part. I hope it carries on this way for a while.” At one point, rain briefly poured over the crawl, causing everyone to find shelter in the nearest gallery. Then, the skies opened up to reveal a rainbow perfectly arched across Penn Avenue that provoked gallerygoers to dance and celebrate in the street. As much of a cultural celebration that it is, Unblurred is more than just an art showcase. Many different activist groups posted up within galleries alongside artists to raise awareness for environmental issues — most prominently fracking. 

Garfield Artworks, an art and performance space, put on an art exhibition entirely for the purpose of raising money to support the group Protect Our Parks, whose mission is to ban fracking in local Pittsburgh parks.  By 9 p.m. at the April crawl, the donation collector at the door had an overflowing cup of bills as the gallery space flooded with thirtysomethings and their dates. 

Mad Science Supply and Surplus, a shop that sells quirky products to satisfy the needs of everyone’s inner mad scientist, also took advantage of Unblurred’s crowds with an informational exhibit.  The Mad Science Supply exhibit stressed clean renewable energy and water conservation with Green Mountain Energy Company, a national energy company that specializes in sustainable solutions that manned a table outside the shop’s door.  

While most of Unblurred’s featured participants have been established in the community for years, the crawl allows new businesses and artists to make names for themselves, too. 

Los Sabrosos Dance Company, a dance organization specializing in a variety of styles of dance lessons and performances, moved to Garfield from Downtown three weeks ago — hardly having time to settle in — but has already found a broad clientele. 

In addition to passing out promotional waivers for its Unblurred debut, Los Sabrosos hosted a jazz dance party. 

The dance studio’s owner, Nicolette Pawlowski, beamed with certainty about the move to Garfield.

“There’s a lot of culture here,” Pawlowski said. “Garfield is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a lot of diversity that makes for great classes.” 

 

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Unblurred blends art, activism and entertainment