Featuring Resident Artists Carlos Mare and Michael Walsh,
joined by local community artists Conor Clarke, Joshua Krajnak, and Jamie Matthews
Industrial Grit and Graffiti
About Industrial Grit and Graffiti
In the decades following the collapse of big steel, the Carrie Blast Furnaces became a laboratory for experimentation—a time on the site when graffiti writers crossed paths with urban explorers, scrappers, and sculptors who recognized the latent creative potential in abandoned mills. Through a variety of arts initiatives, Rivers of Steel celebrates this post-industrial era and its influence on a generation of artists and community leaders who continue the difficult work of channeling that energy into creative solutions for the community. Industrial Grit and Graffiti explores the connections to this era through the unique convergence of graffiti and metal arts at the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark.
Beginning in the summer of 2022, Rivers of Steel will pair two lead artists, New York-based artist Carlos Mare and Pittsburgh native Michael Walsh, with local community artists Conor Clarke, Joshua Krajnak and Jamie Matthews to explore the intersectionality of graffiti and metal arts during a weeklong residency and workshop. The residency’s scope also considers the connections with residents of the adjacent Monongahela Valley communities—communities whose character has been shaped by both their industrial and post-industrial heritage. Mare and Walsh, two pioneers of the graffiti sculpture movement, are scheduled for a public engagement on Friday November 4, 2022 at The Andy Warhol Museum to share their experiences with the residency and reflect on the national graffiti sculpture movement and history.
Lead artists Carlos Mare and Michael Walsh pose for a quick photo in front of one of Mare’s B-Boy sculpture patterns yet to be pulled from its sand mold.
Carlos Mare, né Rodriguez, also known as Mare139, grew up between Upper Manhattan and the war-torn South Bronx; he was part of a group who revolutionized subway graffiti during its peak in the 1970s and 80s. Combining his passion for contemporary art with graffiti style-writing, Mare began creating metal artworks inspired by his unique approach to lettering.
Artist Michael Walsh was born in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1974, and his career as a graffiti artist and sculptor evolved throughout the late 1980s and 90s during the collapse of the American steel industry. He has worked diligently over the past two decades to develop his work and to forward the trajectory of the graffiti sculpture movement.
Images of completed work and process imagery by Carlos Mare and Michael Walsh
Community Learning Series
Coinciding with the artist residency and continuing throughout the summer and fall of 2022, the Community Learning Series includes free public events, skills-building workshops, collaborative murals, educational tours and more for local youth and adults living in communities surrounding the Carrie Blast Furnaces as as the greater Pittsburgh region. Rivers of Steel centers creative learning and collaboration with the community as a foundational part of its mission. Industrial Grit and Graffiti manifests this approach by creating new bridges between artistic mediums and bringing together national and local artists with local communities.
2022 Partner Programs
Art in the Garden
OMA Center for Mind,
Body and Spirit
Rivers of Steel's Graffiti Arts team is leading a six-day workshop series introducing students to a range of design skills from letter making and typography to character design, style-writing, and muralism.
Students participating in BCG's College and Career Readiness Program (CCRP) will work with Rivers Steel on projects that combine metal working with graffiti style-writing while also helping to install a new mural in the community.
Rivers of Steel in partnership with the Steel Valley Enterprise Zone is presenting a series of live music and art events throughout the Summer and Fall of 2022. the August 12 event will have a special focus on street art with live graffiti painting, skate boarding, break dance and more! Follow the whole series here.