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The perfect date

Taste of University Heights and UH Arts Open make for an ideal outing

By Margie M. Palmer

The 10th annual Taste of University Heights is set to take place Sunday, Nov. 8, and as in past years, attendees can expect to enjoy a wide sampling of delectable delights from prominent local restaurants. Those who live in the area can attest there are many restaurants to be excited about — some of this year’s participants include Park & Rec, S&M: Sausage and Meat, Big Front Door and Flavors of East Africa.

Art Shed Studio and Gallery will participate in the UH Arts Open (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

Art Shed Studio and Gallery will participate in the UH Arts Open (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

Painting by Larry Caveney (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

Painting by Larry Caveney (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

What makes this event unique, however, is its pairing with the UH Arts Open; those who have attended the dual celebration in the past say they go together like fine wine and cheese.

Combining the events was fantastic on both fronts, said Christopher Milnes, director of the University Heights Community Development Corp. (UHCDC). Not only did it help give Taste of UH an added sense of community flair, it also made it easier for attendees to enjoy local art, as exhibits can be found in venues throughout the local business district.

“It definitely changed the feel,” he said. “It’s nice to have everything all in one place.”

Eiffel Tower by Gregory Berg of Enso Photography (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

Eiffel Tower by Gregory Berg of Enso Photography (Courtesy of UH Arts Open)

Participating artists agree, noting that that while there is a $20 advance-ticket cost to attend the Taste of UH, the Arts Open is open to the public.

The one-of-a-kind event was created to celebrate local artists and it features works and talks by painters, sculptors, potters and musicians. Visitors can visit studios, check out exhibitions, chat with the artists and watch performances; the Diversionary Theatre is hosting a live painting exhibition and businesses along Park Boulevard will be hosting a myriad of artist displays.

University Heights artist Mario Torero said one of the more unexpected things about the Arts Open is that attendees are welcomed into the artists’ studios and in some cases, their homes.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.06.33 AM“There is such an interesting and different artist colony in this area that no one really knows about,” Torero said. “When we first decided to put this together, we decided we’d open up our homes and studios and allow people to come in and visit. It’s become a neighborhood thing and each year is like a reunion. I feel like it’s become an important community tradition, and something that I hope will someday be a legacy.”

Victoria Huckins is another local artist who has participated in the Arts Open for the past several years. She feels the Taste of University Heights and the UH Arts Open is one of the area’s hidden gems that more people need to discover.

“This is already a growing area with all the new restaurants that are coming up,” she said. “University Heights is one of those communities that I feel will soon surpass a lot of others. This event seems to have grown significantly in the past few years and it’s something that’s been really wonderful for our community.”

Getting to meet people within the neighborhood in such a unique and intimate setting certainly adds to the day’s flavor, Arts Open organizer and volunteer Judy Riffle said.

“When people come out to the Arts Open they aren’t just seeing stuff that’s displayed out on the street. They’re able to actually go into the artist’s studio, see where they work and get a better understanding of what they do,” she said. “I hope they’re able to take something away from that experience, and can take something away from being able to speak with and interact with local artists in such an intimate setting.”

—Margie M. Palmer can be reached at margiep@alumni.pitt.edu.

One Comments

  1. DJ Starr says:

    I had a wonderful afternoon – loved the Art Shed crew and their lovely sedum gardens, too. I also found some new restaurants to explore more – Parks & Rec, Plumeria, Muzita, many more. It didn’t seem as well-attended as I think it merited, though. I’d also suggest that the restaurants/bars give some kickback coupons to gauge how effective the exposure was. Only the meat store did that. I hope you can get even more galleries and bars and all involved next year! Great job!

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