Forward and Murray
30 Aug 2016
I went to my location, Forward and Murray Avenue around 3:20pm. The first thing I noticed when I got off the bus stop was a huge building that seemed to be abandoned. The building looked like a huge warehouse or perhaps a factory with a chimney. The building was apparently not in use, considering that there was a “For Sale” sign in front of it. It was strange because this abandoned building was just sitting at the intersection where many cars were passing by. The building was so static without any interaction with humans and it also indicated that this neighborhood has a stagnant economy.
There were not many people on the crossroads, maybe five or six people total. They were mostly the people waiting for the bus at the bus stop. It was interesting how there were shops and restaurants at the forward avenue, but just across the street at the Pocusset street, there was a row of houses. Thus, the crossroads of Forward and Murray mark the separation of residential area and commercial area. Although there were some shops, the area didn’t have a vibrant, lively vibe. There were not many visitors outside of the neighbourhood and it looked like only the residents frequent the restaurants and shops.
It was very interesting to look at the shops, especially the signs. They all looked like they were from the 90’s. The street definitely had a nostalgic feeling. The signs were all in flashy colors with cheap decorations. There were surprisingly a lot of shops that are related to immigrants cultures, such as the Asian grocery store and the Chinese restaurants with the signs written in Chinese characters. Although I didn’t see that many Asians along the street, I assumed that there are some Asian population in the neighborhood. Also, I figured that Jewish people live there a lot when I saw jewish men by their office. The demographic was very diverse and the age range was also big.
The most interesting aspect of the location was definitely the abandoned, brownish-red bricked building. On top of the wildly grown grasses, so many trashes were lying. Nobody was responsible to pick up the trashes and the ground was filled with spray and graffiti. I wondered what kind of people would hang out at this huge abandoned playground where there is nothing but dumpsters. I thought it wouldn’t be very safe to come back here at night.
The location was uncanny because there were so many shops that look like they will go out of business sooner or later. Also, one of the newest building in the area was an office and the office rooms were on sale. It was weird to see an office in such area and I could see why it was out for rent. There was also a theater named Squirrel Hill, which is the name of the town.It apparently went out of business because the building literally looked so dead without any lights or titles of the films on the show. The theater evoked 80’s vibe to me, with the pastel blue paint almost worn away.
I also found a very interesting sign on the crossroads. I saw a sign “Poli since 1921”. The sign was sitting there without any information about what a Poli is. It turns out to be that Poli was a restaurant that opened in 1921 and closed a decade ago due to a huge fire. This fire unfortunately burned the restaurant and the neighborhood. Poli used to be a seafood restaurant loved by the people of Pittsburgh but it is long gone now. However, the sign that still remains on the crossroad evokes nostalgia and embodies the history of Squirrel hill.
31 Aug 2016
I visited my place again around 8:30pm to observe the streets. It was dark and since noone was there on the streets, I decided to quickly observe the street and leave. I noticed that the gas station “GetGo”was packed with cars, but that was the only human activity that I could witness.
I would have loved to stay longer, but the place was quite sketchy and not very much light was on the streets. The air felt different since it was raining. People were back home and most of the shops were closed.
Although I didn’t explore the whole Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the trip was enough to learn about the history and demographics of the neighborhood. The forward and murray is definitely a very interesting area with abandoned buildings and immigrants’ culture. It is questionable if the project to do redevelop the shuttered area would ever resume. I would like to witness the growth of the town sometime but this area is filled with nostalgic 80’s.
2 Sep 2016
I went back to my intersection again to capture my place with a better camera. I finally got a good shot that captures the abandoned building. Although there were some interesting shops and signs, the building and chimney captivated me.
I picked up some bristol papers at the art store. I started my cutting with tracing the building.I noticed that there are three main building in my drawing, so I started cutting those three. I noticed a shadow dropping on the building on the left, so I cut another layer to thicken the darker side. I also wanted to accentuate the darker side of the pillar, so I added some layers under it.
I added some details such as the leaves of the tree and windows and the trash cans in front of the building. I used both cutting and scoring methods to elaborate the details of shadows and express different facades of the building.
I finally assembled all the pieces and glued them on a bristol paper.
8 Sep 2016
After the discussion, I once again thought about the importance of the composition. having thick layers to give emphasis to certain aspects of the cut out is also helpful. Also, whether you have a central focus or not doesn’t matter very much. I should add few more details such as the frames of the windows..etc. Communicating the vibe of the area is quite important.
10 Sep 2016
I also realized that scoring is not the best method to show the details. Giving layers is the way to delineate each detail.
However, with grayscale papers, I realized that stack of layers is not necessary. Flat surface with different tones actually work better to show the depth and layers.
I got a feedback about the clouds that they are not very visible, thus I made a modification to it and added another color to give emphasis to the cloud. I initially wanted to depict the clouds in a subtle way as it is a background. However, I learned that using more colors is better than putting them on a stack.
I thought about what color to use for the colored piece. I decided to use the greyish blue one as it represent the atmosphere of the area the best. It is a very sketchy color that evokes the texture of steel.
I used it as a background to illustrate the gloomy vibe of the area. Without very much human contact, the buildings looked lonely. I replaced the darker light brown with the greyish blue. I also tried hard to depict the shadow on the chimney with the blue color.
19 Sep 2016
I added another layer of blue on the major building to emphasize the 90degree angle on the building. I also added shite strips on the surface on the building to give more details to it. Because I thought I’m using too much blue, I used white on the chimney instead of the blue. I also added some trees below it to cover up some blue background. With the presence of the white trees, the right lower part of the cutout looks more complete and stable.
Finally, I finished the piece as I mounted them on the black mat board. I like the color piece the most because it represents the sketchiness of the intersection the best. I learned a lot from the process of cutting out and using various tools such as x-acto knife, scissor and numerous rulers. I feel more confident using those tools now. I would be content if someone could tell the location based on looking at my cutout piece. It is hard to identify locations when what we see is too simplified. However, by mindfully placing shades of grey and the blu, it was possible to communicate with the viewers.