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The Jewel on the Hill

building on hill at dusk
building on hill at dusk

The Jewel on the Hill, Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall

So we call this treasure in our town so named for its builder, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. This is actually an older photo but with a story, plus I recently installed an exhibit of photos of this facility at this facility, which is also one of my favorite places to go and which is also one of my regular customers for freelance design work. Quite a lot of connections.

Anyway, this photo is one we’ve used repeatedly as the signature image for the facility, and was a real stroke of luck and timing. I was walking home on a clear, warm spring dusk in late April, 2005, April 24 to be exact, and arrived at the bottom of Library Hill at just this moment. The sky was fading from brilliant turquoise to cobalt, the still-bare trees were etched against it in silhouette, and the grand building itself stood partially lit by the sunset but with all interior and exterior lights on, solid and stately, serving its public in its 104th year. By the time I had snapped a half dozen or so shots the light had changed completely and the moment was gone. That was part of the timing, the other part that they had only temporarily installed the foundation lighting but never used it again, and this was part of what gave the building that lovely definition against the dark hilltop. A few minutes earlier or later, the previous or following week, and this photo would never have existed. And it was taken with my first little point-and-shoot 2MP digital camera—I don’t know how it came out as clearly as it did!

Read about the exhibit and see a brief slideshow of the images at “What’s New in Bernadette’s Studio?” or just visit the slideshow on my website.

A little background on the names…in 1894 the leaders of two small communities on either side of Chartiers Creek, Mansfield and Chartiers, decided to merge in order to provide better services as one community instead of two individual administrations. Andrew Carnegie, who had owned a mill in Carnegie, had by then sold off his mills and begun spending off his worldly wealth by building libraries. These town leaders had a proposal, that he build a library and a high school for the new community and they’d name it after him. He did build the library but said they were on their own with the high school; nonetheless our town is named “Carnegie” in his honor.

He also set up the Library itself a little differently from the others he’d had built. Where others are named “(name of town) Carnegie Library” or “Carnegie Library of (name of town)” and were built with his expense but maintained by the community, this Library bears his full name and given an endowment for its maintenance. Also, more than just the Library space, a Music Hall was incorporated into the design along with a gymnasium in the full basement.

You can read all about this unique facility on its website at www.carnegiecarnegie.org. I’ll also mention that the website design is mine, and you’ll see many more of my images in the photo album.


Tashlich, 2010

photo of tashlich ceremony
photo of tashlich ceremony

Congregation Ahavath Achim in Carnegie, PA, Tashlich

Members of Congregation Ahavath Achim in Carnegie, PA toss bread off the bridge at Tashlich at the Chestnut Street Bridge over Chartiers Creek, as they have for apparently many years on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I was honored to observe and photograph the event, albeit from afar to make sure I could get the entire shot.

If you look closely you can see little blurred specks of white against the greenery in the background.

For as much as I know about my home town, Carnegie, and as much as I know about my home creek, Chartiers Creek, I never knew they performed this ceremony here in Carnegie, on this bridge over the creek.  I know the president of the Shul, Rick D’Loss, and when he sent out the notice about events during the High Holidays at the Shul I noticed this and asked about it. Even though it was the first night of our festival I wanted to photograph it if I would be permitted. Rick welcomed me to do so.

Rick is also a photographer, and while I usually try to get a few photos of our community festival I’m usually pretty busy, so as soon as his holiday events are under control he’ll be photographing our festival, this Saturday afternoon and evening.

You can find many resources to read about Tashlich on the internet, but maybe I’ll see if I can get Rick to write something eventually about the ceremony at our local congregation. You can read about the Carnegie Shul on the site that Rick maintains.


Sunset on the River: 2010

evening on river

Evening on the River

A storm late in the day often breaks out into a lovely colorful sunset as the layers of clouds all capture a different color and the sun itself glows red.

On the river, with shadows and reflections and ripples in the water, it’s even more beautiful. I equally like the view of the distance, the city still awake, the clouds parting, and the closeup area of the water, gently lapping against the dock.

I was on the Empress Party Liner docked on the Monongahela River recently, and just captured this quiet view up river.


Gone Fishin’: 2010

silhouette of someone fishing
silhouette of someone fishing

Gone Fishin.

A young man fishes in the shade under the Mansfield Bridge on Chartiers Creek in Carnegie on a hot afternoon.

This creek was so polluted by industry when I was growing up that it was a different color each day, sometimes with wisps of unknown steam rising from its surface. Nothing lived in its waters, and it flooded the low-lying areas, like Carnegie which is on a floodplain, each spring. Perhaps unwisely, none of this kept me out of the water.

Now, after a flood control project widened and deepened the channel and decades of the Clean Water Act stopped dumping in its waters, at least 30 species of fish and myriad other species live in its waters. In addition, annual creek cleanups have pulled tons of used tires, appliances, old furniture and other debris out of the channel. I’ve canoed the 22 miles of the Lower Chartiers numerous times and have seen schools of 12 to 14 inch carp glistening along just under the surface. It’s a testament to the revival of a natural resource, and I still enjoy wading around in it and canoeing when I can, plus it’s been a regular subject for photography and painting.

I don’t know that he caught anything this particular day, but he just enjoyed casting his line and seeing what might come up.


And Your Little Dog, Too!

tattooed woman with dog
tattooed woman with dog

And Your Little Dog, Too

I was quite amazed by the detail of this woman’s tattoos, not to mention the pink tips on her blonde dreadlocks.

She was unconcerned about the opinion of the dour woman sitting on her doorstep carefully studying the tattoos and hair as she worked on her plaster house number at the Polish Hill Art What You Got Festival in 2010.

That looks like Medea on her left leg right above her Boston terrier’s back, and on her right leg is that Alice after she’s drunk the potion that makes her larger? Not sure, but this woman seems to have myths and stories all over her skin.

The neighborhood, one of the oldest in Pittsburgh as you could guess by its name, is a big mix of old and new, traditional and avant garde, babushka and punk. Not everyone who lives there is Polish, though that’s a relatively new innovation, letting in outsiders. Many college students live there because it’s much less expensive than living near the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University, Chatham University and Carlow University, all within walking distance if you’ve got a little time.

It was a very interesting place to spend an afternoon, and I’m going to have to go back to visit the coffee houses when I’m not in a festival.


Happy 100th, Woody Guthrie

factory windows
factory windows

Blue and Gold

Even the steel rolling mill is beautiful in a golden hot summer sunset, the windows reminding me of both simple church windows and an old-fashioned door with stained glass rectangles around the outside.

They are working in there in this heat, and all the air conditioning in the world will not keep a steel mill cool in the summer. We still have a few around, just small specialty mills; this is Union Electric Steel in Carnegie, where my mother’s father worked from the time he arrived in Carnegie after 1912.

The contrast of the turquoise and gold is stunning, and the paned windows, open at various angles, reminds me of being in church on a hot summer morning in the long-ago days before air conditioning. This in turn reminds me of attending Catholic grade school and attending mass twice weekly where I paid more attention to the sun through the windows than I did to the Latin recitation of the service by a very old priest who mumbled.

It’s all wrapped up together in the experience of a lot of Americans like me, and those of us from blue-collar families and industrial towns and cities everywhere—the industries, the factories, the people, the schools, churches, homes, neighborhoods, music, food and all that culture parts of the whole that comes back in one photo like this one.

And while many sang about the things we grew up with, there’s one artist who set the standard and made a life of it. No doubt you’ve sung one or more of his songs. Happy birthday, Woody Guthrie, and visit this link to listen to a “sidestream” of his music: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.folkalley.com%2Fsidestream.asx&h=UAQG9e3LK


A Day In the Woods: 2011

girl in stream water
girl in stream water

Looking Forward

I enjoyed this day so much last year, and this photo has become one of my favorites of all time for so many reasons: the literal and metaphorical meanings behind my great-niece standing in shallow water, looking upstream, the ripples rolling out from her, she is growing up; the colors and spatters of sun on the water, and how much she reminded me of myself at that age, going barefoot and carrying my shoes, which I still do as I was standing barefoot in the water behind her with my camera, and the practicality of a bathing suit she can grow into, tied in a knot in the back because it was a little too big for her right then. I have a large print of this in my home to enjoy and wonder how I caught such a moment.

I spent Sunday afternoon in the woods along the Panhandle Trail with my great-niece and and great-nephew, 9 and 11, just to run around, explore, be outdoors and make up our own activities with whatever was there—paths up and down hills, wildflowers, trees, a stream (Robinson Run), a trail made from an ex-train track (rail-to-trail), and an absolutely perfect day.

And we did. We did everything. I was so happy to have someone to play with, a few sun-warmed black raspberries and muck on our feet. Above is one of my favorite photos for the light, the color, the composition and the memories; that might have been me forty-odd years ago wading in a stream barefoot, carrying my shoes. It’s my great-niece Cassidy, just as fearless as I was then, and we were joined by her brother Kyler. We enjoyed exploring the woods, but we liked being in the water best. They live in Savannah, GA now, 88 degrees “is kind of like what it’s like in the spring,” but their streams happen to have alligators so they can’t go swimming like you can here.

And the rope swing…there is nothing like swinging on a rope swing, even if you don’t go too high it’s just that feeling of freedom, letting go, waving your feet around—the things that usually carry you around are off the ground!

Yes, their great-aunt was right there in the woods and the water and the rope swing with them, who do you think showed the way and was the first in the water and the first on the swing? But I had the camera so there were no photos of me.

I was also scouting places to paint and this year I’m determined to get out there. One little casualty was that I slipped sideways and my little Lumix digital went underwater in my pocket. It was out of order until I could take it apart and things could dry out a little and I got some action from it; I put it in my gas oven with the warm pilot light overnight and today it works but I need to replace the battery pack. I looked at the waterproof cameras for a reason, but they just didn’t take good photos. The other casualty from the same little slip-up, and more serious, was my 70-300 zoom lens for my Pentax K10D. I think it may come back too, but I am awfully fond of that lens. My camera bag is breaking down and took on water where it never used to.

Click here to see last year’s post for a brief slideshow of some of our events.


Main Street, July 4

vintage-looking photo of Main Street Carnegie
vintage-looking photo of Main Street Carnegie

Main Street, Carnegie, July 4, 2012

Just another in my series of sun-and-heat-drenched photos of my town done in a sort of vintage look.

post card of Main Street Carnegie

The Penny Post Card, not certain of the year.

I always associate Independence Day with small towns and parks and such. Carnegie’s Main Street looks much as it did when I was growing up, and that much like it did when my parents were growing up.

Below is a “penny post card” of Main Street from an unknown year and a slightly different angle, but you’ll recognize the image. See other photos of Main Street, Carnegie.


Recycling Is Beautiful: 2011

recycled materials
recycled materials

Recycling is Beautiful

Continuing my celebration of Earth Day (a day late on this blog!), this is one of my favorite photos.

From a distance it looks like an abstract expressionist painting, perhaps a collage of images cut from printed materials.

Look a little more closely at the actual objects.

Yes, bottle caps, plastic water bottles, plastic containers, green glass, amber glass, cans, lids, pull-tabs, little bits and pieces of the refuse of our lives.

I stopped at the recycling drop-off on a sunny August Sunday morning, and the pile of mixed recyclable metal, glass and plastic that had been crushed was in an outdoor processing area, as big as my house, glittering and colorful as a pile of gemstones in the morning sunlight.


Blessings: 2011

tibetan prayer flags in window

Blessings

As proclaimed from a third-story apartment window on Main Street in Carnegie.

Thank you.


Carpicorn Watches over Main Street

black and white photo of building detail

Capricorn

This is a decorative element on the face of the Masonic Hall on Main Street in Carnegie. When clear evening sun hits it the facial detail is evident, but the sun wasn’t at the right angle yet this year. Still, I like the effect in black and white.


Old Allegheny City: 2011

photo of north side pittsburgh

Old Allegheny City

A section of Old Allegheny City, Pittsburgh’s North Side, the rooftops, dormers and windows keeping watch for more than a century.

This neighborhood is one of the oldest in Pittsburgh, and was at one time a separate municipality from Pittsburgh named Allegheny, laid out in 1788 and incorporated in 1828, featuring orderly brick streets and a mix of Victorian-era row houses, middle-class family homes and stately mansions softened by street trees.

Originally, lots and homes were awarded to Revolutionary War veterans. As the century wore on, this sophisticated and attractive urban metropolis became the first home to Pittsburgh’s millionaire industrialists. After the Mexican War, General William Robinson subdivided his plot of land and named all the streets after battles in the Mexican War, attracting even more wealthy homeowners; this photo is a section of the Mexican War Streets, sections of which are on the National Record of Historic Places.

Along with many other industries that found a home along the Allegheny River near the Point in Pittsburgh, the original H. J. Heinz factory built its home in Allegheny and employed generations of people in creating the “Heinz 57” varieties of pickled vegetables, relishes and chutneys, and many other condiments.

And who grew up in Allegheny City, or North Side? Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein, Martha Graham, Kate Harrington, George Washington Harris, John Pitcairn and Art Rooney, to name a few. And who else lived there? Mary Roberts Rinehart, Henry Phipps, H.J. Heinz, Andrew Carnegie, Henry O Tanner, Colonel James Anderson, William Thaw, Jr., Lois Weber and William Penn Snyder. And, of course, Andrew Carnegie built a library here. It must have been a hotbed of creative talent in those early days to have nurtured the likes of those people and attracted so many others. And lots of money.

It merged with the City of Pittsburgh in 1907 but maintained its small-town feel until “urban renewal” in the 1960s took out the original town center and replaced it with a mall and hotel, another portion was removed for highways and overpasses, and “old” sections of neighborhoods were removed because they were “old” and replaced with “new” multi-story modern style brick buildings, removing just enough of various neighborhoods to destroy their cohesion. The mansions of Millionaire’s Row on Ridge Avenue were largely incorporated into Community College of Allegheny County.

But you’ve got to call it the “Nor’side” now, even if it is becoming quite gentrified.

I actually took this photo with my inexpensive little digital point-and-shoot out of a window on the 11th floor of Allegheny General Hospital, so I didn’t have my better DSLR with me. Darn!


Main Street: 2011

photo of main street in carnegie

Main Street, Carnegie, PA

Main Street in Carnegie in the late afternoon, late winter light.

I like the rainbow.


A Small Group of People…2010

group of people standing in snow

A Small Group of People © B. E. Kazmarski

…making a difference reclaiming an old slag heap.

In this case landscapers, Boy Scouts, construction engineers, grass roots leaders and individuals are planning The Liberty Tree Grove.

I rolled in a little late for a meeting with these people as we were to gather to work out the actual landscaping and signage, making sure it met ADA requirements. I am designing the signs, including a large interpretive sign at the entrance and several smaller signs.

The concept is to plant seven saplings from historic trees, each one honoring a branch of military service, and providing a way for individuals to read about and observe each of these trees and enjoy the hilltop views from the new park. The seedlings you see in the photo are two of the seven, which were planted last fall.

Trees have often been given significance through history as meeting points, property markers and commemorative points. The Liberty Tree concept is derived from the Revolutionary-era elm tree in Boston Common where the patriots met and proclamations against King George were given; many towns in the colonies adopted the same practice designating a tree in their own town under which to meet and plan the revolution.

The trees in this grove are grown from seed or cutting from trees that marked historic events or places or were planted in honor of a person or event. For instance, a honey locust grew near the speakers’ platform at the site of the Gettysburg Address, and the Gettysburg Address Honey Locust in the grove was grown from its seed, while the Patrick Henry Osage Orange is grown from a cutting of a 400 year old tree that is the focal point of Red Hill, Patrick Henry’s estate and resting place in Virginia.

The site was a strip mine, now reclaimed by the mining company to remove any hazardous waste, grade the land and add topsoil so that it can be safely reused. A grade school is on one portion of the land, and the park comprises several ball fields for different age groups, a playground, concession stand and this little triangle of a grove, right at the entrance.

I love working on projects like this. I’ve learned about Liberty Trees, met some interesting people with whom I may work again in the future and been able to share knowledge, skill and connections I’ve gathered from previous projects.

And not only to see the signs when they are installed, but I’ll also be going back with my binoculars to watch for birds. As we met at dusk birds were swirling and singing, and many migrants aren’t back yet. I can’t wait to see what shows up out there on that hilltop surrounded by tree-covered slopes.

The quote is Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

The sign is complete and was installed in May 2010.


Antiques at Night: 2010

neon sign in an antique shop at night

It was well after dark as I went to check the front door, and the front room looked magical in the reddish light of the neon sign in the upper windows. Lots of glass in the room, and crystals on the chandelier, all catching the deep glow against the saturated darkness made things look as if they were floating.

The shop is really not antiques but neat old stuff, more vintage in nature, excellent craftsmanship, interesting design, a lot of tacky but all of it illustrating its era of origin. This move is something we’ve talked about for years as we’ve built her website and promoted her shop along with her growing estate sale and appraisal business. I’m thrilled to have a little space there because I don’t have to be there all the time, I can share the time with others, and people will still get to see my things even when I’m not there.

I’ve written about and featured Carnegie Antiques in paintings, photos and stories here on Today, see more.


Public Library: 2011

two people using a computer

Public Library

The public computers in the public library provide just as much an opportunity as the books on the shelves ever did. Decades ago, my grandparents learned to read at this library along with other immigrants and then used the library in the midst of all the other dozens of nationalities residents in Carnegie. Now generations of people are still visiting the library, still representing the variety of people in our community, still taking advantage of what it offers, free to the people.


Taking the Measure of a Tree: 2010

    The Red Oak Tree lifts its craggy old arms to a gray winter sky.

The Red Oak Tree lifts its craggy old arms to a gray winter sky.

Of course there was no February 29 in 2010, but because the extra day is about time, I’m reposting two posts that are, more or less, about time.

So this tree may have been a sapling during the Revolutionary War, and witnessed the Whiskey Rebellion on one of the battlefields of that little uprising.

The trouble with trees is that they can’t talk, though they’ve seen so much where they stand when we humans think they can’t understand what we are saying; even a younger tree has stories to tell, I’m sure, but those elders can talk about centuries.

This particular Red Oak tree is on the Scott Conservancy’s Kane’s Woods property which was once part of the estate of John Neville, aide to President Washington and on the government’s side in the Whiskey Rebellion. Neville’s mansion, Bower Hill, located about a quarter mile from where this tree stands, was burned during the uprising by soldier-farmers who disagreed with the government.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Whiskey Rebellion, aside from Shay’s rebellion it was the first major civil, then martial, action by the citizens and government of the new country. In order to to pay off the national debt incurred by the Revolutionary War, President Washington and his Treasurer Alexander Hamilton decided to impose a tax in 1791, choosing carriages and alcohol.

While I’m sure many an individual enjoyed a glass at the end of the day, and alcohol was also used for many medicinal purposes from medicine to extracting oils and essences from fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and for preserving foodstuffs for winter consumption, grain alcohol was also made as the most convenient way to use up, store and ship extra grain produced on the farm. Alcohol was the most marketable item a farmer produced since selling produce and fresh meat was nearly impossible considering the isolation and difficulty of traveling in those days, and preserved foods and meats could only be sold in one season. Nearly every farm produced some alcohol to be used in home remedies and food preservation, and because actual cash was a scarce commodity in those early days it was also used for barter, and it could also be shipped and sold at any time of the year.

I’m not sure about the carriages tax, but the whiskey tax was on the makers of whiskey based on their volume, 9 cents on the gallon for small makers and 6 cents for large distillers or a flat tax based on their previous year’s volume, which clearly favored the larger distillers; incidentally, President Washington was a large distiller. Because most small farmers made it for personal use and barter this was a hardship since no money changed hands for a portion of the whiskey they produced, and for the other portion it was often the only income to a small farmer for an entire year.

By 1794 farmers had gone from civil disobedience to armed conflict numbering almost 13,000 and began terrorizing the tax collectors, judges and federal officials, including major landowners known to be friendly with President Washington. Neville was one of these, but he had two houses and simply sent his family down the hill to “Woodville” when the protesters arrived.

BACK TO THE TREE…one of Scott Conservancy’s members had estimated the tree at about 170 years by using an equation of the tree’s circumference and its height, but an accurate height couldn’t be obtained, and the closest guess was about 70 feet.

They called in the DCNR and the forestry expert measured the tree’s diameter, 52″ and circumference, 14′, more accurately, and later used an instrument to triangulate the tree’s height at about 82 feet.

The core sampling was difficult to obtain in a tight-grained Red Oak, partly because most trees that old have lost their heartwood to rot or inhabitants, as this one did. But the 8 inches that did come out showed about five inches of tight grain, and while it’s difficult to tell when the wood is fresh and wet, apparently about 56 years could be counted just in that little sample. The age guess has increased to about 225 years.

Red Oak trees are naturally occurring in this part of Pennsylvania, but they are also the sort of tree people would plant as a permanent marker—a property border, for instance, or to mark the spot of a momentous occasion. This was no doubt cleared farmland when this distinguished tree began reaching its young limbs toward the sky from the rocky soil of this steep slope, and perhaps it marked the corner of a pasture, or the edge of a piece of land someday deeded to a son, or perhaps to commemorate the survival of a young union of states.

As for the Whiskey Tax, it was abolished in 1802, never having been adequately collected, but it also had the effect of pushing the production of whiskey outside the union of 13 states into Kentucky and Tennessee, whose residents also discovered that excess corn was probably better for making whiskey, and the rest is history of another sort.

You can read more about the Scott Conservancy and find links to information about the Whiskey Rebellion on the Scott Conservancy’s website.


Dancing Drops

water drops in dark water

Dancing Drops

In the January thaw, everything is dripping, like a celebration!


New Year’s Eve at 3rd Street Gallery

three musicians in a gallery

Haywood and Friends entertain for New Year's Eve at 3rd Street Gallery.

Just a small gathering of friends as we listened to more friends, Haywood and Friends, play their brand of jazz at the 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie, PA. From left is Phil Salvato, painter and bassist, all the paintings on the walls are his; Ron Bossetti, saxophones and clarinets and other such instruments, former high school music teacher and regular at 3rd Street; and Haywood Vincent, jazz pianist and arranger.

wall of paintings

A Wall of Paintings

photo of musicians

Ron, Haywood and Swami Shantanand smiling on approvingly.

photo of piano player

Haywood happy at his piano.

photo of gallery with piano

3rd Street Gallery, Phil's piano and paintings.

black and white photo of musician through piano

Haywood in the piano, desaturated color with film grain filter added (since photos were grainy already).

filtered photo of musicians

And because it's a gallery, a Photoshop dry brush filter of the trio.

Happy New Year!


Reflecting

stone reflecting on water

Reflecting

A Christmas Day walk on the Panhandle Trail was a time for reflecting, for both myself and that came near the many water sources.

A highwall of limestone from an old part of the McShane Quarry reflects on the pond beneath, catching the water that endlessly seeps from the limestone.

The persistent gentleness of water softens the solidity of stone.


The Light Within

photo of church window

The Light Within

The sunlight shone not only through the windows of this tiny historic church, but through the church itself, silhouetting the profile of someone waiting for the service to begin.

This is Old St. Luke’s Church in Scott Township, PA, the oldest Presbyterian church in America west of the Allegheny Mountains. Set on a bluff over Chartiers Creek, the setting sun shines through the west windows and right through the sanctuary to the east windows, very plain yet colorful and elegant stained glass in a traditional diamond shape.


Two Photo Exhibits

library building on hill

The Jewel on the Hill, Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall

I’ll take a break from my regularly-scheduled photo today to tell you about my two exhibits of local photography. “Of Harps and Fig Leaves” and “Carnegie Photographed”, are once again on display in the Reception Hall at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. Stop by to peruse them and read the notes on the photos, or if you aren’t local, I have provided links to slide shows of each of the exhibits. Photos are for sale, and each sale benefits the ACFL&MH Capital Campaign.

Of Harps and Fig Leaves, an Exhibit of Photographs

This exhibit of sixteen of my color photographs of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall includes a variety of views, from grand and distant to detailed and intimate. The exhibit opened for the 2010 benefit event on October 2, Marianne Cornetti Returns, and will hang in the Reception Hall as a permanent exhibit between other shows and exhibits. The Reception Hall is open during regular hours; please visit www.carnegiecarnegie.org for more information and directions. I have also included a list of the included images, below, with a link to a brief slideshow of the images.

The genesis of the show

detail of furniture

"Clawfoot", detail of the original organ bench and replica carpet in the Espy Post.

When I bought my first camera, a Pentax K-1000, one of my first subjects was Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. I lived two doors down, I was practicing with black and white film, and the massive, elegant building surrounded by tall trees was a feast for my eyes.

I’ve been visiting this place for books since before I can remember, but even today looking at the shelves of books interspersed with the tall Corinthian-topped pillars I can still remember feeling very small standing in the quiet of the big room and thinking it was the grandest place that could ever exist.

As an adult, when I began to return again for books, I also began wandering into as many rooms as I could gain access to, enjoying what is now the Reception Hall on a sunny winter afternoon, peeking into the darkness of the Music Hall, imagining myself on the stage.

As renovations began and I was spending more and more time here, all the memories combined with all the activity and inspired an exploration of the space recorded in photos using my new Pentax camera a digital SLR K10D.

library entrance

"Grand Entrance", those limestone pillars and doorway have stood the test of time.

About the Photos

The photos include “The Jewel on the Hill” shown above, one we’ve used repeatedly as the signature image for the facility. Each photo has a story of its own genesis, but this one in particular was a real stroke of luck and timing. I was walking home on a clear, warm spring dusk in late April, 2005, April 24 to be exact, and arrived at the bottom of Library Hill at just this moment. The sky was fading from brilliant turquoise to cobalt, the still-bare trees were etched against it in silhouette, and the grand building itself stood partially lit by the sunset but with all interior and exterior lights on, solid and stately, serving its public in its 104th year. By the time I had snapped a half dozen or so shots the light had changed completely and the moment was gone. That was part of the timing, the other part that they had only temporarily installed the foundation lighting but never used it again,a nd this was part of what gave the building that lovely definition against the dark hilltop. A few minutes earlier or later, the previous or following week, and this photo would never have existed. And it was taken with my first little point-and-shoot 2MP digital camera, I don’t know how it came out as clearly as it did!

Here is a list of the names of the photos in the show, and you can view a quick little slideshow of them here. But you’ll have to visit the Reception Hall to really see them and know the rest of the stories.

1. Grand Entrance, 2003
2. The Jewel on the Hill, 2005
3. Welcoming on a Winter Night, 2008
4. Familiar View, 2007
5. Overarching, 2008
6. Clawfoot, 2010
7. Of harps and Fig Leaves, 2006
8. Hats, 2009
9. Autumn Expectations, 2009
10. Party on the Stage
11. Cubbage Hill, 2009
12. Champagne Reception, 2008
13. Book Stacks, 2005
14. View of Carnegie, 2008
15. The New Seats, 2009
16. Classic Curve, 2007

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carnegie photographed logo

“Carnegie Photographed” Photo Exhibit

main street carnegie pa

Spring Dusk on Main Street

This exhibit includes fourteen of my photographs of the town of Carnegie in all seasons, from details to distant views. The exhibit will hang in the Reception Hall as a permanent exhibit between other shows and exhibits along with “Of Harps and Fig Leaves, images of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall”.

Two Shows in One Room

gallery with musicians

The Night Gallery, 3rd Street Gallery exhibit and jazz

Once we had “Of Harps and Fig Leaves” hung in the room, ACFL&MH executive director Maggie Forbes suggested this show to fill the other walls of the room. The 3rd Street Gallery hosts a show entitled “Carnegie Painted” each year, and as a central point in the community, the Reception Hall of ACFL&MH has been host to paintings from that show through the years. I certainly have enough photos of Carnegie to fill a few rooms, and, as with Harps and Fig Leaves, I had a difficult time choosing only 14 images.

All the photos are 11″ x 14″ framed with white mats and black 16″ x 20″ frames and the consistency of the exhibits in the big room, all photos, same mats and frames, is very appealing.

About the Show

snow falling in cemetery

Softly Falling Snow, Ross Colonial Cemetery on Library Avenue

A camera of some sort goes with me everywhere, and by living and working here in Carnegie, plus a good bit of walking and bicycling the subject of my photos is often my little town.

From local newspapers to Carnegie’s website and map, my photos have often been used to illustrate Carnegie, capturing Main Street at dusk or the Memorial Day Parade, a detail of everyday life gone unnoticed, or a hidden treasure I’ve found while exploring.

A news photo, those used for publicity, is different from an art photo. While many of the photos I have on f ile are perfect for a quick glance in print or web they’re not always the best subjects for permanently-placed enlargement to be seen and studied in detail.

It’s truly been my pleasure to browse six years of photos and choose 14 which I hope will illustrate the familiar beauty of the streets we travel every day.

photo of carnegie from above

Good Night Little Town, a view of Carnegie from a nearby hill

About the Images

The image at the top, “Spring Dusk on Main Street”, is one of my favorites and I think shows the quaint appeal and openness of Carnegie’s Main Street. The decorate street lights are on sensors and come on automatically at dusk, but each of them comes on at a different time. I wanted to catch that pure turquoise sky with enough light to see its color, but not all the lights were on when the sky was best. I had to stake this one out, and returned to Main Street three times during this week to make sure I got the one photo where all the lights are on and the sky is perfect.

Here is a list of the names of the photos in the show, and you can view a quick little slideshow of them here. But you’ll have to visit the Reception Hall to really see them and know the rest of the stories.

Amid the Gold
Banners and Flowers
Good Night Little Town
Icy Berries
Last Day of the Year
Memorial Day
Ornaments
Softly Falling Snow
Spring Dusk on Main Street
Superior
Sycamore Sentinels
Tangled Shadows
The Night Gallery
Welcome

Hours for the exhibit

The Reception Hall is open during regular hours; please visit www.carnegiecarnegie.org for more information, directions and contact information. Remember that these exhibits hang between other exhibits and events at ACFL&MH, so please contact me or call Library to be certain the exhibits are up.

Framed prints size and availability

Each image is 11″ x 14″ matted with a plain white mat in a 16″ x 20″ matte-finish black frame. The photos on display are the property of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, but you can purchase a framed print. Prints are for sale at $75.00 each, and a portion of every sale supports the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.

Canvas prints size and availability

These images are a full 16″ x 20″ printed on quality canvas and gallery-wrapped on canvas stretchers (the canvas wraps around the stretchers and is printed all the way around) for a clean, modern look. Canvas prints are not on display, but you can purchase one by specifying you’d like the canvas print. Canvas prints are also for sale at $75.00 each, and a portion of every sale supports the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.

You can purchase them directly through the Library & Music Hall or contact me with your interest.

Again, the slideshows…

Of Harps and Fig Leaves

You can view a quick little slideshow of them here.

Carnegie Photographed

You can view a quick little slideshow of them here.


Gargoyles Await Your Entrance

gargoyles

Gargoyles Guarding

These gargoyles guard the entrance of the Outlet Barn garden and gift shop. They are friendly with people and animals but can detect any evil spirit seen or unseen. I’ll soon have merchandise there and I’m sure no evil spirits will enter the building while my goods are there.

PhotoShop desaturate and diffuse glow applied.


When I Am Gone

stone marker

A stone tablet with words in an old cemetery.

I will go blocks out of my way to avoid a traffic light, or miles out of my way to avoid potential heavy traffic, but the truth of it is take shortcuts because I see really neat things on back streets and less-traveled roads.

I took a shortcut over Library Hill in Carnegie, passing by Ross Colonial Cemetery, named so for the Ross family of settlers around the time of the Revolutionary War and it contains graves and headstones that date from that time as well as more recent ones. I pass this tiny cemetery all the time, and have read or taken rubbings of all the weathered markers.

But in addition to this being a family cemetery, this very spot at the top of a cliff over an oxbow in Chartiers Creek where it winds through Carnegie was a lookout for millennia, for all the people who lived in the area or passed through. My mother told me her brothers and others found arrowheads and even older artifacts in the soil. I can feel history under my feet as I stand, and voices in the wind brushing past me to other eras.

detail of stone

Detail of Stone

So it was that I passed it on a starkly sunny November day and saw this stone leaning against a tree trunk. I knew I’d never seen it before—I would certainly have noticed a stone tablet with writing on it leaning against a tree. Errand be damned, I went around the block, parked and went to investigate.

I could see another portion of a stone nearby which looked fairly smooth but with a trace of writing which matched the angled dark area on the stone leaning against the tree. Under that portion of stone on the ground I also saw a rectangular patch of rather bare earth with grass pulled up around the edges. This stone, thin and fragile, had broken and laid in two pieces in that spot for perhaps years, until the trough grass and native ground cover grew completely over it. The portion of the stone against the tree had been preserved by the section which had lain on top of it; that section had been worn nearly smooth, and no amount of rubbing with tissue and pencil, charcoal or anything brought the text forward.

Even on the preserved stone the text was nearly impossible to read. I picked out a few lines, did a rubbing to get a few more, but decided to forgo the ancient magic of pencil rubbings for the modern magic of PhotoShop, making sure I had several good images in which I could adjust contrast and color.

At home, using both the rubbings and photo, I searched for one fragment after another until I found a portion of the book on Google books, but the text had been digitized without proofreading and page numbers and line markers were mixed in with text, which frequently had odd letters as if the optical character reader didn’t recognize the letter in that place. However, from that, I found the name of the book in which the piece appeared:

Revival and Camp Meeting Minstrel.
containing the best hymns and spiritual songs, original and selected.

I searched for that title and found a listing for it in the New York Public Library, and saw that it also had a page on OpenLibrary.org

And there it was: published in Philadelphia: Perkinpine & Higgins, 56 N. Fourth Street. “C. 1867” was handwritten under the publisher’s address. On the copyright page a stamp showed it had been entered into the collection at the New York Public Library in 1939 and that it had indeed been entered into the Library of  Congress in 1867.

The purpose of the book was to collect hymns “such as are not found in the Church Hymn Book—the compilers being careful to give those which are more desirable for social and prayer-meetings.”

And, finally, the lyrics to the song which I hoped might tell me something about the person whose resting place had been guarded by this stone.
[Song number 399, beginning on page 387]

MY Christian friends, weep not for me,
  When I am gone ;
And when my lowly grave you see.
  Oh, do not mourn ;
But praise the Lord, I’m freed from pain
  And life’s rough storm ;
And pray that we may meet again
  When I am gone.

2 Plant ye some wild-flowers on my tomb,
  When I am gone ;
That they may there in silence bloom,
  O’er your loved one ;
Entwine a chaplet round my head,
  And often come
And view where sleep the early dead,
  When I am gone.

3 And oft, my friends, in after years,
  When I am gone,
When memory opes the fount of tears,
  Sing ye this song ;
And know that though I mouldering lie,
  ‘Twill not be long
Till we shall meet in yonder sky,
  When I am gone.

In all of this I found no name, no date, no age or cause of death or other indication of who this might have been. I pictured a young person, a single man—a woman would have been buried with either her parents or her husband—possibly a Civil War veteran, this being only two years after the cessation of hostilities.

Perhaps some day I’ll pursue the records of this little cemetery and find out more about this person and others buried here. For now I prefer visiting them as if I’m walking through their neighborhood, a glance, a nod, a polite comment or simply a smile, then the assurance of their privacy.


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