Rivers of Steel Arts is excited to launch the 2020 Mon Valley Featured Artist Series. Showcasing some of the exciting creative professionals working across the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, this weekly blog highlights multiple artists each month—from a variety of boroughs—to provide a snapshot of the region’s growing cultural vitality.
About Curtis Reaves
It is with great excitement that we close our April 2020 Mon Valley artist features with the passionate work of Curtis Reaves. Few creative professionals have invested more in the Mon Valley than Curtis. Through his work as a documentary filmmaker and fine art photographer, to his dedication to the community of McKeesport, Pennsylvania via C-Clear Empowerment, Curtis exemplifies a brand of true grit and perseverance so often found in artists from the Mon Valley Creative Corridor.
A Message from Curtis
About My Work
My work embodies video documentaries, installations, and fine art photography. My fine art photography and installations have been exhibited at museums and galleries across the United States. My contemporary work concentrates on still life photography, where I utilize organic and repurposed materials and translate pieces for diverse environments and public art. I’m also an arts educator in schools with at-risk youth. In 2009, I co-founded my passion project, C-clear Empowerment, a nonprofit 501(c)3 community and economic corporation, located in the City of McKeesport. C-clear provides youth and adult employment and training programs centered around the arts, technology, and entrepreneurial initiatives.
My Home in the Mon Valley
I was born and raised in the Mon Valley, and I still live and work here. My entire family is from Braddock, and I now reside in the City of Duquesne with my wife and children. Professionally, I work with at-risk youth in schools throughout the Mon Valley, and my non-profit organization is located in the City of McKeesport. The Mon Valley has always been a family oriented and working-class environment, and I valued that as a child while growing up here. The community was tight knit, everyone knew their neighbors, and my parents were entrepreneurs in Braddock.
When the steel mills closed, the community folded and suffered in numerous ways. Families left, jobs were lost, the neighborhoods were no longer vibrant walkable communities, but rather places of blight and decline. As an adult, who lives and works here, my desire it to build upon the legacy that I remembered growing up. When my wife and I co-founded C-clear, we did it with a mission “To empower economically disadvantaged youth and adults by helping them to reach their true potential while serving as a catalyst for economic growth and change in the community.”
Our 6,000 sq. ft building located in the City of McKeesport, is currently under active construction. The space boasts three floors, two storefronts, and an enclosed outdoor rear green space. Upon completion, C-clear will offer community programming in the arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. We will provide co-working space available for lease, and a community gathering space for shows and events. We plan to open a coffee house, named Urban Java that will double as a youth employment and training program. It is our vision to bring back neighborhood vitality and connectivity through arts, culture, and economic opportunities for youth, families, artists, and entrepreneurs within the Mon Valley.
Find Me Online