Inaugural Re:NEW Festival Celebrates Reinvention, Reuse And Renewal

Sep 9, 2016

The Drap-Art International Festival of Recycled Art arrives in North America for the first time this month as part of Pittsburgh’s Re:NEW Festival.

The month-long event celebrates creative reuse and sustainability through art with more than 100 exhibitions throughout Downtown. It’s centered around the Drap-Art Festival, which is based out of Barcelona, Spain, but has been structured to include art with local environmentally-relevant themes.

More than 120 artists are slotted to participate. The Drap-Art display can be found at the PPG Wintergarden through Oct. 9.

Jen Saffron, director of communications for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, said the city is uniquely poised to host such a festival.

“Pittsburgh itself has certainly come into a renewal,” Saffron said. “The festival is really meant to shine a spotlight on the creative excellence of our community, as well as the green practices taking place.”

Twenty Pittsburgh-based artists will participate as part of a juried exhibition at 623 Smithfield Street, including artist Bill Miller, whose work reflects his experience watching the decline of the steel industry, according to his biography.

Miller has been working with vintage linoleum for more than 20 years, and according to Saffron, he was instrumental in bringing the international festival to the Steel City.

“He’s an amazing artist, truly exceptional,” Saffron said. “He’s been in four Drap-Art shows, so he’s really familiar with all of the work that’s happening with Barcelona and around the world.”

Joyce Dallal's 'The Other Toy Story' invites visitors to toss toys into the metal structure.
Credit Joyce Dallal

At Two Gateway Center, visitors won’t find Buzz and Woody at Joyce Dallal’s “The Other Toy Story.” The ongoing project investigates toys' effect on society and what happens when they’re outgrown.  

On Sept. 17 at 613 Smithfield Street, the “Art Olympics” encourage creative use of donated Goodwill objects as artists compete for the best design.

The Industrial Arts Co-op will use items leftover from Duquesne Light’s field operations to create a steel arts sculpture.

New York-based artist Jacqueline Metheny is slated to display her fabric-inspired works at 709 Penn Avenue. Metheny weaves thread and yarn to construct her art through detailed, mathematical assembly.

Saffron said the month-long festival features more than just art, but that all involved are under the same thematic umbrella of sustainability, transformation and creative reuse.

“About 30 organizations from various sectors — the business community, the environmental community, the arts and culture sector — are really working together to provide a whole host of programs,” Saffron said.

Puppeteer Felicia Cooper adapts Herman Hesse’s classic “The City” to Pittsburgh in her performance of “Dreaming City” at 1 p.m. Saturday at 623 Smithfield Street. Families are encouraged to bring their children to experience Cooper’s traditional Appalachian storytelling.  

A series of workshops will be held throughout the festival, including one on mobile structure creation and one for families by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

The full calendar of events is available online with information on venues, cost and frequency. Saffron credits the festival’s steering committee with the event’s success so far.

“People coming together for a common cause is something that Pittsburgh is known for,” Saffron said. “That’s really something that makes our city strong.”