The Unofficial Guide to Wilkinsburg’s Dream City Art

Published On April 1, 2015 | By Zoe Hannah | The Arts

Dream City Amusement Park, 1908-1916

Beginning at noon on April 18, Wilkinsburg is transforming its streets into a free local art festival. Named after an amusement park that once stood in the center of Wilkinsburg, Dream City Art is a day-long festival that highlights local artists in a movement to bring the community together. The 10-site event has a collection of activities to see over a large area, so we’ve compiled a guide to help you decide where to go and in what order.

Starting Points

Free parking lots are located at 1412 Swissvale Ave and 606 South Ave. If you choose to start on Swissvale Ave, you’ll enter the festival at Dee Briggs Studio, an open studio which wilwordballoon_03l feature the work of sculptor Dee Briggs, installation artist John Pena, and Wilkinsburg Girl Scouts Cierra Epps and Mae Knight. Briggs, a CMU professor and artist, uses metal to create minimalist sculptures of all sizes and charcoal to mimic her work on paper. Pena’s work explores “elusive moments that arise from everyday encounters.” Word Balloons (pictured right), explores human speech, and how it is portrayed intellectually and emotionally throughout everyday life.

Located at 606 South Ave, Tip Type will get you started with a project called A Special Made Gong by art collective, The 181. Made up of artists Brandon Boan, Abby Donovan, Tom Hughes, and Jason Rhodes, the group works to create “imperfect approximations of the universe as a whole.” Their piece, A Special Made Gong, will be featured as an ongoing exhibition at Tip Type.

800 Block Penn Ave

Founder of the Pittsburgh Beautification Project Bob Ziller is leading a painting workshop at 815 Penn Ave. Located directly beside his project, A Blues for the Block (pictured below left), the all-ages workshop is free and open to the public. Ziller is a renowned muralist and mosaicist, often collaborating with the Pittsburgh community to create beautiful works of art. Don’t miss out on Ziller’s entertaining and informative workshop, and make sure you stop by to appreciate A Blues for the Block.

Rebecca Ave

After checking out the aforementioned locations, make your way over to Rebecca Ave for an open studio and two featured projects. The James Shipman Studio, located at 744 Rebecca Ave, will feature the work of sculptor James Shipman, painter Ryan Ian McCormick, and painter/collagist/teacher Allison Zapata. Digging the Earth, a collab project between Shipman and children from the Wilkinsburg Youth Project, will be featured at the studio, as well.


“Oakland/Pittsburgh” – McCormick

801 Rebecca Ave will serve as the hub for Entucation – A 16mm Film and Vinyl Music Installation by Jeff Lovett. Lovett is an artist who focuses on illustrating the words of poets. He often pairs his works with poems titled the same way, suggesting that his drawings and paintings are inspired by these writings. Entucation is located just across from the James Shipman Studio on Rebecca Ave.

Pop-up Exhibits

A collection of pop-up exhibits will be open to visitors in addition to the in-house exhibits, located at 1018 Penn Ave (next to Dee Briggs Studio) and 725 Wood Street (next to Tip Type). These locations will offer varying works by some of the 40+ artists in attendance. The pop-up exhibits are a great place to venture to after you check out the works surrounding your entry spot. Some of the artists include Terry Boyd, Charlotte Ka, Carin Mincemoyer, Errel Reynolds, and John Sanders.

Dinner Time!

At 5PM, the daytime events will close, giving artists and attendees a chance to grab a bite before reconvening at 6PM for the festival’s evening portion. During the break, make your way back towards Penn Ave to check out Wilkinsburg’s restaurant scene.

Evening Events

After grabbing a bite to eat, check out the closing events at Percolate and Biddle’s Escape. We’d recommend checking out Biddle’s first, located at 401 Biddle Ave. This venue will host artist Lazae LaSpina’s project, An Experimental Space for Reconnection with the Natural World.

Finish off your night with the day’s closing reception and exhibition, located at Percolate Gallery on 317 S Trenton Ave. Percolate prides itself on being more than just a gallery – it is also an art space, a creative laboratory, and, for the night of Dream City, a reception hall. The reception will celebrate the day, commemorate the artists’ work, and open with Percolate’s Local Brew exhibition. The evening’s events will commence at 6PM and conclude at 9PM.

For those still in need of some guidance upon your arrival to Dream City Art, there will also be plenty of helpful tour guides to help you find your way. Hope to see you there!

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