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Mt. Lebanon business features works of local artists

| Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, 5:03 p.m.
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh owner Kate McGrady (left) and creative director Kate Wagle Hitmar (right) in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015. The first floor has a showroom for artists’ wares and a cafe.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh owner Kate McGrady (left) and creative director Kate Wagle Hitmar (right) in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015. The first floor has a showroom for artists’ wares and a cafe.
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh provides a showcase of artistic talent by local artists in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015. The lower level will be a exhibition gallery.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh provides a showcase of artistic talent by local artists in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015. The lower level will be a exhibition gallery.
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh cafe in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh cafe in the barn-shaped building in Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015.

Audra Azoury sells the jewelry she makes at the Three Rivers Arts Festival and at the Holiday Market in Market Square, Downtown.

Finding similar venues during the year's other 10 months is not easy.

That may be changing after the large barn-like space at McFarland and Beverly roads in Mt. Lebanon reopened last month as The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh. It's part store, part exhibition space and part cafe.

“It is great to have somewhere to sell what you make all year. The South Hills has nothing else like this. You can't get into the big chain stores,” said Azoury, 43, a onetime graphic designer and graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Artsmiths is run by Kate McGrady, longtime owner of Kool Kat Designs on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, a boutique that featured hand-crafted jewelry, accessories and art made by more than 200 local artists.

Artsmiths too will feature works by local artists — just many more of them. It's 10 times the size of Kool Kat.

McGrady, a certified public accountant who has worked in large accounting firms and for a heavy metals company, wants Artsmiths to be part of a broader buy-local movement.

“Let's get back to buying local. People think that's all about the food industry. Buying local is about much more than food,” she said.

Merchandise ranges from expensive scrimshaw — elaborate engravings and etchings — to $15 prints of local landmarks. “The range of prices is important. I want a schoolgirl to be able to come in here and be able to find a gift for her teacher or her mother,” McGrady said.

The store also gives local artists and craftspeople a yearlong place to display and sell their creations, she said.

Each floor of the store is 5,000 square feet. In the next year, Artsmiths plans to open several galleries on its lower level that will feature revolving exhibits and a room for art classes.

For artists, selling at the store is not easy. The application process includes initial and final screenings, a personal statement and a jury review of artworks. The Artsmiths website, artsmithspgh.com, tells potential vendors it will not accept drop-in or phone inquiries.

The barn that houses Artsmiths, just repainted a soft green after years of being red, has a long history.

Opened in the late 1920s, the building was an A&P supermarket during that chain's heyday. From the mid-1950s to 1994, the building housed Rollier's Hardware, now located on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.

Rollier's owners, the Satterfield family, added the barn-like roof to the building in the 1970s, and later, it was a hobby store. The Satterfield family still owns the building and is operating Artsmiths it in partnership with McGrady.

“It gives them more space. It is good the building is being used in this way. It has been a landmark building ever since the barn roof was added,” said Kirk Satterfield, whose family owns Rollier's.

Rick Wills is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7944 or rwills@tribweb.com.

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