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Homestead Live Fridays—Creating Community Through Creativity

By July 13, 2023Blog
Six eclectic, young white people pose for an image. Some hold sparklers, another has a puppet, one is spinning a plate, and there is a DJ in front of a circus-style bearded mermaid banner.

Members of the Glitterbox Theater collective: (from left) Tree, Anna, Bailey, Amos, Lex, and Chris at their outdoor showcase during June’s Homestead Live Fridays event.

Homestead Live Fridays—Vibrancy Through the Arts

By Gita Michulka

At the heart of Homestead Live Fridays is a celebration of community. Certainly of Homestead itself, with its rich history and long-standing residents—but also of the clusters of venues and businesses who have formed vibrant, interconnected communities centered around the arts, music, and expression within the neighborhood.

The event series, presented by Rivers of Steel and the Steel Valley Accelerator, features local performers and live music within partnering bars and restaurants, along with art exhibitions, workshops, vendors, and activities in Homestead’s Eighth Avenue business district on the final Friday of each month from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. This “community crawl” allows visitors and residents a chance to experience diverse programming while also shopping and grabbing a bite to eat, all while making connections between the Live Fridays partners with similar offerings.

Homestead Live Fridays arts partners include Glitterbox Theater, Eberle Studios and Gallery, Pittsburgh Sound + Image, and KSD & The Radio Room. This eclectic mix has one big thing in common—they all strive to give a wide range of art and artists a platform—and in the process, they have elevated the arts scene in Homestead to captivating levels while revitalizing notable buildings from Homestead’s past.

In front of a red brick building with a sign reading Olds, three people jump rope in the foreground what two other practice juggling in the background.

In June, members of the Glitterbox collective created a welcoming space in the parking lot of the old Oldsmobile building, playfully jumping rope and providing impromptu juggling lessons for visitors.

A Welcoming Addition—Glitterbox Theater

Glitterbox Theater, who recently relocated to Homestead after a successful three-year tenure on Melwood Avenue, is dedicated to giving performances of all kinds “a stage, a platform, a microphone” through affordable and accessible community-based theater rentals, according to Teresa “Tree” Martuccio, a spokesperson for the collective. The group particularly aims to be queer normative, where all types of people can feel welcome and comfortable.

Though their new residence—located at 210 W. Eighth Avenue in the former Oldsmobile building—is currently under construction while they get settled in, that doesn’t stop their members from putting on a good show during Live Fridays. Utilizing their outdoor space for the Friday night festivities, they have plans for large live paintings, circus-themed activities, and music—all of which guests can participate in or can simply observe as they drop by during the event.

Glitterbox is currently in the last push of a capital campaign to raise the funds needed to revitalize their space and complete renovations needed to make it accessible for theater crowds. The architect on the project is John Kudravy, who is located directly across the street from the Oldsmobile building. Required work includes adding more entrances, exits, and restrooms, along with parking lot upgrades for handicap spaces and accessibility. Plus, they’ll be adding in a concessions counter!

In the meantime, the collective is hosting shows at alternative locations around town while working on weaving their village of artists and performers into the community of Homestead. In particular, they hope residents will keep an eye out for their monthly variety show, an open-mic format for performers with any talent they’d like to showcase, open to new and old friends of Glitterbox alike. Tree shared that they look forward to connecting with more Homestead residents this summer as they grow their community in the Mon Valley.

A film projector, draped in a strand of orange lights, projects an abstract image on a screen. In between the projector and the screen about thirty people sit in three rows of chairs viewing the film in near darkness.

Pittsburgh Sound + Image at the Eberle Studios during June’s Homestead Live Fridays. Image courtesy of Steve Felix.

Eberle Studios and Gallery Partner with Pittsburgh Sound + Image

Homestead is also home to Eberle Studios and Gallery, a venue that is so much more than their name implies. The Studios, located at 229 E. Ninth Avenue, contains art spaces including ceramic artist studios, a photography / film studio, and a fashion upcycling incubator.

“Eberle Studios was founded when artist Ed Eberle, a Pittsburgh native, relocated his studio to Homestead in 2012, in the old Elks Lodge,” explains Jonathan Eberle, Ed’s son. “There have always been several artists working in the building, but in 2018 The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference came to Pittsburgh, and we opened our gallery space for the conference. The experience of having so many visitors come to Homestead, to our art studios and gallery—it was such a positive experience that we decided to open up the gallery for more exhibits.”

More than 15 patrons mil around in small groups in a white gallery space with large ceramic vessels on pedestals.

Eberle Studios and Gallery during the NCECA Conference in 2018.

Ed Eberle also has a vision for artists who work in ceramics. “He wanted to create a quality workspace for artists to further their careers,” notes Jonathan. “Ed feels that artists need a good studio where they can do their best work. And that’s what we do.”

Though Eberle Studios has a focus on ceramics, the gallery exhibits a multitude of art mediums, including sculpture and photography.

Jonathan Eberle, who is a filmmaker and a Pittsburgh Filmmakers and University of Pittsburgh Film Studies alum, has woven film into the space’s offerings. A few years ago, he met Steve Felix, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Sound + Image, along with Steven Haines, the organization’s Director of Programming. Now, Eberle Studios serves as the exhibition venue for Sound + Image screenings. The nonprofit has a mission to introduce the region to artists—both global and local— who otherwise do not currently have outlets in Pittsburgh, and they conduct film screenings and preservation as well as operate, which tracks and promotes all organizations hosting film events citywide.

At Eberle Studios, Pittsburgh Sound + Image events include films shown on their original 16mm reels, followed frequently by some form of audience participation such as panel discussions with the film’s artists or Q&A with Haines. The shows have limited seating, and Live Fridays events are very popular.

“I think the hands-on element, the tactile, analog element of what Steven does, his expertise with projection and archiving and the film medium as a physical medium, is very special—very rare, of course, now,” notes Felix. “I think that’s a big part of what people come out for. It is truly unique to be in the room with a projector, to hear that clatter of the reels.”

A lot of the films come from Haines’s personal collection, which he has acquired over the years from flea markets, but he also seeks out films held in collections that are maintained through various co-ops across the country. When Sound + Image borrows a film from a co-op, the rental fees go back to the artists and the cooperatives. Haines is eager to note how much this support matters. “By coming to our screenings, when we’re getting films from these co-ops all over the country, you are supporting this whole film ecosystem. It keeps a lot more human experts in the mix, being an analog film, because you do have to think about borrowing physical things.”

Three figures are seen in silhouette as they view colorful art hung saloon style on the walls.

An art exhibition at KSD during Homestead Live Fridays.

KSD & The Radio Room

Located at 101 E. Eighth Avenue, KSD—Kindness Solidarity Design—was founded on the idea that tattoo studios shouldn’t be scary and intimidating places, and that the space they occupy can be used to showcase art, artists, and music in a communal environment.

“A few years ago, my friend Kyle Rybak and I decided to open up KSD & The Radio Room,” says Doug Lopretto, co-owner of the venue. “I had been tattooing for sixteen or more years, and I was kind of tired of the business the way it was run in other parts of the city, where tattooing is more of an assembly line versus focusing on quality over quantity. I had also worked in shops that were sometimes a little intimidating. I wanted to create a private space where people feel comfortable.”

At KSD, private sessions can be made with the tattoo artists by appointment only, with an emphasis on the meaning and artistry behind each tattoo, what they aptly refer to as “lifelong body art.” Though this idea isn’t solely unique to KSD, the space certainly is—their focus on the arts bleeds over to the gallery and music venue that coexist within the tattoo studio.

A crowd of 20 people watch a band play in a gallery space. The stage has "Radio Room" painted on the back wall.

A performance in the Radio Room helped kick off the 2023 Homestead Live Fridays season.

Their building was once home to the WAMO and WAMO-FM radio stations, with strong ties to the local community. The KSD team dubbed the space “The Radio Room” as a nod to this heritage and are doing their part to continue the tradition of rooting their work in the community. For each gallery show, Lopretto encourages the artist to decide who the band will be when gallery shows are paired with performances. Because of this, the gallery has hosted a wide variety of art formats along with practically every genre of music you can think of, including noise installations, interactive video game art installations, and an oversized Theremin that visitors were encouraged to play.

Revitalized Spaces and an Ecosystem of Artists

This ecosystem of artist collaboration is an integral part of the venues who are rooted in Homestead, along with a belief in the importance of showcasing art and artists who might not typically have the opportunity to be seen. In the process, the partners are working hard to ensure they celebrate the culture of the neighborhood, including revitalizing some of the area’s historic buildings as shared community spaces for residents and visitors alike.

“What strikes me about the artists that work in Homestead these days is how involved they are in the community,” notes Jon Engel, the community and program organizer for Homestead Live Fridays. “Homestead is currently undergoing some seriously renewed energy in the arts, and there’s a lot still coming.”

Homestead Live Fridays continues on July 28th.

– Drop by and visit with new neighbors, The Glitterbox Theater, as they keep the vibes fun and funky, offering up live paintings, circus-themed activities, and music. Learn more.

– Eberle Studios presents series of showcases on local independent filmmakers from the 1960s–90s, including “Essential Pittsburgh: Sheila Chamovitz” on July 28.  Sheila Chamovitz is the Pittsburgh director behind two important but seldom screened 30-minute documentaries. In the 1970s, with Skokie: Rights or Wrong, Sheila examined free speech via the controversial events of the ACLU defending a Nazi march in a Jewish neighborhood. In the 1980s, she made Murray Avenue: A Community in Transition, an elegy for the changing culture of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.  Reserve tickets here.

– This month, KSD & The Radio Room will host a Makers’ Market, complete with local artists, crafters, jewelry makers, candle makers, print makers, illustrators, metal workers, face painting, vintage clothes, hand knit items, and more! View event details.

Amity Harvest Community Garden, The Forge Urban Winery, Golden Age Beer Company, Voodoo Brewing Co. Homestead, Eon Bar and Grill, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, ACORN/ANEW, Retro on 8th and more are also participating in this month’s Live Fridays series.

Running monthly through October, Homestead Live Fridays occurs in multiple venues throughout the area’s Eighth Avenue business district, including gastropub Blue Dust, cafes Dorothy Six and Eon Bar & Grill, and local breweries Voodoo Brewing Co. and Golden Age Brewing Company, among others. Presented by Rivers of Steel and the Steel Valley Accelerator, the event series features local performers, art exhibitions, workshops, vendors, and activities on the final Friday of each month from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Grab a drink or bite to eat and check out some of the region’s best local live music! For details and updates, visit

Gita Michulka is a Pittsburgh-based marketing and communications consultant with over 15 years of experience promoting our region’s arts, recreation, and nonprofit assets.  Read her prior article on 2023 Homestead Live Fridays