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simple, yet often forgotten reminders, in the windows as I walked up
Gina Favano is like the cool sister I always dreamed of having ( I grew up with many, many bros). She is a visual artist, badass musician in band called, Come Holy Spirit, and generally one of the most chill people in Pittsburgh.
She offered to take me around the brand new Blumcraft Building and show me her art studio, which is located there. Her husband, woodworker Gerty Dutchoven, made me a piping hot cup of tumeric tea to take along for the second portion of my tour…thank you Gerty!
The main floor is teaming with folks doin’ and makin’ up a storm including Just Seeds, Little Idea (the outpost of Big Idea Bookstore), Glitter Box ( the building’s own theater that features music, yoga and theater such as the 10 minute Play Fest), Accessible Recording, Stone Fruit Community Herbalists, 1 Hood Media, WERK & many more…
Downstairs there is a whole ‘nother level of stuff goin’ on…from a massive woodshop, to a metal-making zone, guitar-instrument repair shop, robot-machine-making area, a paint library & screen printing shop, a bike repair shop…and finally Gina’s little oasis of an art studio…which is tucked away amidst all of that!
Gina & her artwork: She is currently working on a commission for a pet hospital, preparing for a solo show in Braddock, PA this fall, & beginning a series of Rock n Roll icons ( Roky Erikson is pictured here).
Gina’s band, Come Holy Spirit, playing in The Glitter Box and an embroidered sign on her studio door, “that a nun made”. They will be touring this coming fall on the west coast, releasing another album and continuing to rock our worlds!
Also, I had a few questions for Gina…
She casually mentions in her about page; “she converted a school bus to run on used vegetable oil and incorporated teaching coast-to-coast biofuel workshops into her modus vivendi as a touring musician”. I wanted to know more:
Yeah, I used to give workshops on biofuel – actually, my area of expertise was converting diesel engines to run on straight used veggie grease, but I have taught a few workshops on building bio-diesel processors out of old water heaters. My first year in PGH, I taught a series of women-only mechanics classes where we covered basic car maintenance, and an intro to veggie-grease mechanics; that was cool. There were a handful of years (pre-moving to PGH) there where I toured pretty incessantly, and teaching myself about alternative fuels became an important component for me psychologically – to feel like I was doing something to offset the fossil fuel dependency that touring requires. Like, it didn’t make sense to me to be in a punk band singing about social inequity and environmental devastation, and then afterwards just be like, “ok, let’s get in the bus and drive five hours to the next show!” Ultimately, it’s not a sustainable alternative for a variety of technical reasons (that’s straight grease, not biodiesel), but it was still time well spent. There’s something to be said for having to filter by hand every gallon of fuel, and equating that gallon to each mile covered … not to mention challenging traditional gender roles, somehow that’s still a thing … These days I’m more interested in making sure my vehicles get decent gas mileage, and exploring alternatives at home (like solar, rain barrels, etc.).