This was my studio at the Brew House, a non-profit artist co-op located on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Below are some photographs of the space from 2003 – 2005. I was creating puppet shows, paintings, drawings and lots of kinetic sculpture at the time. To get to the studio, I had to take an old freight or passenger elevator. (depending on which one was working) The window looked out on a dilapidated wall of rusty pipes in a corridor of the 1890 brewery building. To visitors, I probably seemed like the Sebastian character from Blade Runner, living in an old industrial structure with a bunch of puppets!
This was the “kitchen” area.
Puppets and props.
Below, the spice rack. The yellowed paper on the wall was a list of
Duquesne Brewery employees that I discovered in the room.
My puppet group completed the show Perseus, Medusa and the Magic Frisbee in the space. The hour-long production involving ten puppeteers, four voice actors, two musicians and twenty puppets was featured at the Black Sheep Puppet Festival in 2003.
I constantly thought the place was haunted.
(2010) Puppet made with plastic bottle, glue, wood, paper, glue, nuts, bolts and paint.
When “in doubt” or “down and out” make puppets! I may or may not be on the verge of one, both or neither, but at least I’m having fun. Puppet exhibit will be announced soon.
1999 – Twelve years ago in Pittsburgh. I was as knowledgeable about puppetry as I as was about mechanical engineering. For the first Black Sheep Puppet Festival, I built life-sized puppets out of inch-thick plywood. Music was a mix of Sonic Youth, Pixies, Talking Heads and contemporary jazz samples that I captured with a tape recorder. The only smart move was making the giant snake out of foam core. The plot was ridiculous. (Most likely comparable to an episode of Beverly Hills 90210) The following year, I found help in recording original music. Puppets evolved into lightweight creatures with movable parts. The plots became more complex.
I recently converted my documentation of the show. (from VHS!) Above are a few stills.
Puppets / found materials, papier-mâché, paint, wood / October, 2010
Video from 2nd Black Sheep Puppet Festival, 2000
The Black Sheep Puppet Festival took place from 1999 through 2008 at the Brew House, Pittsburgh. Puppeteers from across the country converged on the South Side during the month of October for performances, workshops, and impromptu happenings. Black Sheep introduced Pittsburgh to puppetry with an activist edge. The collaborative nature of the event made it difficult to compare with anything else in town. Black Sheep offered a critical view of society, without the pretentious layers of the art world. It operated as far as it could be directed from the corporate, commercial world. It was driven by the hard work of organizers, who volunteered hundreds of hours to see it through.
Perhaps the festival will return on a small scale and gradually build up to a city-wide event.
Black Sheep Website
I’m bringing the puppets back for an appearance at the New Hazlett Theater’s Halloween Party (Pittsburgh) on October 22nd, 2010. I’ll be playing a Punch and Judy-style show, plus a show that invites the audience to participate. The event theme is Grand Guignol, Theatre of the Macabre. It should be a great party!
For event details, check out the New Hazlett Website.
Warning! This puppet show is not for children.
Filed under Events, Puppets