Sharpsburg's Ketchup City Creative more than an art gallery
Ketchup is more than a favorite condiment of Fox Chapel Area Dorseyville Middle School art teacher Nanci Goldberg. It's a metaphor for the Borough of Sharpsburg.
“Heinz started here in Sharpsburg,” Goldberg said. “When I think of Heinz I think of ketchup, so Sharpsburg to me is Ketchup City.”
It was an unofficial title she gave the town last year as she sketched the name and logo on a disposable napkin for a creative art space that she would open on Sharpsburg's Main Street. Nine months later, Ketchup City Creative is open for business.
“Once I get my mind set on something, I'm going to make it happen,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg, with her husband Christian Kahle, opened the 600-square-foot space in April with the goal of bringing more opportunity for art and creative expression to the community.
Using art as a neighborhood connection, Ketchup City Creative offers gallery space and art shows as well as workshops.
“Our goal is really to try and get as many people in here trying as many different things as possible,” Goldberg said. “It's also a part of getting a little bit more foot traffic happening in Sharpsburg.”
The space can be used for anything from photography, sketching and mosaic workshops to yoga classes and podcast tapings. Since its opening, Ketchup City has hosted live music performances, an art show for the Fox Chapel Area High School advanced placement students and a meeting space for community groups.
Giving back is a large part of Ketchup City's mission too, Goldberg said, donating space for charitable causes such as the Twilight Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization granting wishes to senior citizens who may not financially have had the opportunity otherwise.
In May, senior citizen Ardelle Robinson of Pittsburgh received her wish of hosting a show of her photographs.
“To be able to honor that for her and provide a real gallery space for her, that's the kind of work we want to do,” Goldberg said.
Jessie Uhlig, Wish coordinator of the Twilight Allegheny chapter, said this facility was perfect to accommodate community members.
“I saw that this space opened up at the same time as Ardelle's wish came through to us, and it couldn't have been a better place to hold it,” Uhlig said.
Goldberg said the nine months of work that went into fixing the building before opening day was an art project in itself.
During renovations of the space that sat vacant for more than 10 years, Goldberg and Kahle found the original tin ceiling underneath a drop ceiling and restored it to become one of the building's key features.
There isn't an inch of the space, Goldberg said, that hasn't been retouched or updated. But the revitalization doesn't stop at aesthetics, as long-term goals foreshadow growth between neighboring communities.
Goldberg is working to coordinate sustainable development-based art projects with studios in Millvale and Etna.
The three Allegheny River towns constitute the Triboro Ecodistrict, an initiative promoting environmental development and growth.
“Honestly, the fun part is it's all up to us what we want to do with this space, letting it define itself as we grow,” Goldberg said.
Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.