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Re:NEW Festival to showcase repurposed art

| Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, 12:12 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Artist Suzanne Werder of Millvale wears a dress made of a pizza box, toilet paper rolls, corks and veggie bags.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
A sculpture made of found objects promotes the RE:NEW Festival, a monthlong celebration centered on the themes of creative reuse, sustainability, and transformation.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Russell Howard with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership speaks during a press conference for the RE:NEW Festival downtown Tuesday Aug. 9, 2016. The RE:NEW Festival is a month-long celebration in and around Pittsburgh starting Sept. 9 centered on the themes of creative reuse, sustainability, and transformation. It will feature conventional and alternative space art exhibits, talks, tours and hands-on workshops markets of upcycled goods and thought-provoking films and performances.

Suzanne Werder, an artist from Millvale, fashioned an outfit out of toilet-paper rolls, wine corks, vegetable bags, videotape reels, bubble wrap, mason-jar lids and cardboard pizza boxes.

She plans to wear the homemade garment at the upcoming Re:NEW Festival, a monthlong celebration in and around Pittsburgh centered on the themes of creative re-use, sustainability and transformation.

“I grew up poor, and I loved making art, so I used whatever I could find,” says Werder, who attended the news conference announcing the Re:NEW Festival. “Now I choose to reuse and recycle items. That is one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in this festival. It's what I call a ‘Pittsburgh rising from its industrial ashes, a redemption of sorts.' ”

The event will be from Sept. 9 to Oct. 9 and will feature conventional and alternative space art exhibits, talks, tours, hands-on workshops, markets of upcycled goods and thought-provoking films and performances, it was announced at an Aug. 9 news conference inside the former Gimbels, Barnes & Noble and Office Depot building, 623 Smithfield St., Downtown.

“Because it's a new event is a perfect reason to come and check it out,” says festival manager Carin Mincemoyer, a sculptor and installation artist. “We will have over 100 artists who will show how to reuse and re-create items you may never have thought of, and it will be more than art. It's a monthlong celebration of art, film, markets, performances and workshops.”

More than 20 organizations from the arts, environmental and educational sectors are involved in presenting this event throughout Downtown and at sites around the city.

Visual arts are at the heart of the festival with the North American premiere of Drap-Art (Barcelona) to take center stage at the Wintergarden at PPG Place. This curated exhibit brings together 50-plus international artists who create provocative art from reused materials. Five artists and Drap-Art curator Tanja Grass will be in town for the show's opening. Grass talked about the North American premiere via Skype at the news conference.

She says the Wintergarden's space will showcase the works perfectly.

“I am excited to see what waste Pittsburgh has for us to work with for our workshops,” she says. “Pittsburgh is a city of renewal.”

A juried arts exhibit comprised of 31 works from Western Pennsylvania artists will be showcased at the Smithfield Street location.

Art installations, films, performances and sculpture will be presented throughout the month by about 30 additional artists, both from this region and across the country.

The groups that have joined to present this festival include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Resources Council, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Visit Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

This event is two-plus years in the making, says Mitch Swain, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. It's important because the arts can transform a community, Swain says. This festival is all about collaboration and connecting the arts to community revitalization, the business community, sustainability and the environment, he says.

“We're excited to showcase Pittsburgh as a center of artistic excellence,” Swain says. “We're fortunate to have found so many corporate and community partners to make this a reality.”

“We are looking forward to turning an international spotlight on the creative re-use and sustainability that is occurring throughout our region,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “Showcasing unique Downtown locations as the epicenter of 30 of original, artistic, inspiring programming throughout the city is particularly thrilling to our organization.”

Opening weekend — Sept. 9 to 11 — will feature a VIP reception at the Wintergarden, a showcase of bands at the U.S. Steel Tower Plaza, workshops and talks by artists. Other events during the festival include the Art Olympics on Sept. 17, featuring teams of artists competing to make works from objects donated by Goodwill and workshops on Saturdays by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Assemble, Fiber Arts Guild, Children's Museum and Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

California artist Joyce Dallal will install a massive sculpture in the lobby of Gateway Center 2, featuring the form of a baby ingesting locally donated toys, later to be repurposed.

The news conference also showcased examples of one-of-a-kind artwork made from reusable materials, along with original music performed by Daryl Fleming on an amplified instrument made from a gas can.

Details: renewfestival.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7889 or jharrop@tribweb.com.

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