Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 Pittsburgh II (1/23/2016)

Saturday, January 23, 2016
After a quick breakfast at the Inn on Mexican War Streets, we trudged through about 4 inches of snow in the Allegheny Commons Park across the street from the Inn.
George Washington Memorial (1891)
by Edward Ludwig Albert Pausch
National Aviary
We walked past the bald eagle and condor outdoor cages of the National Aviary, seeing one of each bird. At the entrance we found a sign saying the aviary would not open until noon today due to the weather. Uh-oh, what else was going to close because of the snow?
Bridge over Lake Elizabeth
We made some phone calls and left messages to learn if places would be open today, then decided to drive to the riverfront to see "lumpy" Fred Rogers. Eerily, his voice could be heard gently speaking.
Tribute to Children (2009)
with a sculpture of Mr Rogers by Robert Berks
A view of the Fort Duquesne Bridge and
downtown Pittsburgh across the Allegheny River
Our first destination was the St Nicholas Croatian Roman Catholic Church, which only opens on Saturdays from 11-2 for tours of the Maxo Vanka Murals. As we climbed the hill to the church, we received a phone call saying that someone would be there! This was another recommendation from Juan F, and it would be another winner!
We actually had two docents! Jimmy A did most of the narrative, and Buzz B handled the spotlights and added a few comments. Both had attended the church and its grade school, and were not told about the significance of these murals that decorated their church!
St Nicholas Croatian Church
St Nicholas was built in 1922 after a fire destroyed the 1900 church, with only the altar surviving. In 1934, Father Albert Zagar saw an exhibition of the works of  Croatian-born artist Maxo Vanka. Vanka, who was born in Zagreb and worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts there, fled to the US in 1934 with his American-born wife and daughter. By 1937 Father Zagar decided to call the artist to have him cover the bare walls of the church. Vanka came and in eight weeks during spring, he painted eleven of the murals, so that the church was ready for its re-dedication in June 1937. The murals are full of references and symbols of Croatia, as well as from, obviously, the Old and New Testaments.
The apse of St Nicholas Croatian Church
Vanka returned in 1941 to paint thirteen more murals. He had become a US citizen and had moved to Bucks County, PA, while by that time Croatia had fallen to the Nazis. Now very significantly, and unusual for a church, there were expressions of his passionate beliefs about social justice, injustice, and the horrors of war. Vanka returned once again in 1951 to paint the symbols of Christianity on the choir loft wall, which were more peaceful and accompanied by flowers, birds, and animals.
The sun had come out when we headed for lunch, staying on the North Side of Pittsburgh.
Heinz food processing plant (1890s), now Heinz Lofts;
steam obscures the '57' on the second smokestack
Lunch was at the Penn Brewery, located in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery.
Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Co. (1883), now Penn Brewery
Former Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Co.
Penn Brewery has been in operation since 1986, and moved to this location in 1989.
Kent tried their Penn Pilsner and Brick Biergarten IPA beers, to go with his Penn Pilsner Bratwurst Baguette. I had the Spaetzle with chicken in a wild mushroom cream sauce. Since they seem to like things big in Pittsburgh, these spätzle were the size of gnocchi!
Spaetzle with chicken
We hadn't received any phone calls from St Anthony's Chapel, but since we were close, we drove there, only to find the doors locked. Another time...
We had to drive down a very steep hill, which fortunately was clear of snow, slush, and ice. Most of the streets in this area still had a lot of snow and slush left from the 5-6 inches that had accumulated. We ended up driving through downtown Pittsburgh in order to reach the Carnegie Museums. We passed Dippy the Dinosaur, a fiberglass rendition of Diplodocus carnegii, discovered by Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologists in 1899 in Wyoming.
Dippy the Dinosaur (1999)
We started in the Museum of Natural History:
Mastodon pelvis and smaller bones in the PaleoLab
We touched a piece of Mars
The Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems held an amazing collection of "rocks"!
The Herja mine of Romania had its own display case
Sort of a miniature Bryce Canyon full of hoodoos
Amazing colors in nature (from India)
Septarian concretions contain angular cavities or cracks;
a concretion is a compact mass embedded
within a host rock of a different composition
Looks like contemporary art
This Goethite has an "oily" sheen
Scolecite chia pet
The other highlight of the Museum of Natural History is the Hall of Dinosaurs.
Camarasaurus lentus, the most complete skeleton
of any sauropod dinosaur, displayed still encased in the
sandstone in which it was found in 1919-1920 in Utah
A Ceratosaurus nasicornis preys on a Dryosaurus altus
Apatosaurus louisae, the most complete Apatosaurus
collected to date, found in Utah in 1909
Diplodocus carnegii, the "original"
(Note the stacks of the Carnegie Library behind the windows in the back)
Tyrannosaurus rex
The last three skeletons are holotypes, the specific specimens that serve as the basis for the original description of a species. The Camarasaurus may also be a holotype.
Africa savanna
While the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is spread over three floors of this museum complex, the Carnegie Museum of Art is concentrated in the second floor, with a couple halls on the first floor. The Museum of Art is probably best known for its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and 20th-century art.
Gate of Adobe Church (1929) by Georgia O'Keeffe
The Chariot of Aurora, an Art Deco wall relief
designed for the Grand Salon of the Normandie,the most glamorous ocean liner of the 1930s
Kent and Delaware Crossing (1967) by Frank Stella
Self-Portrait (1986) by Andy Warhol
(since we couldn't take photos in the Andy Warhol Museum!)
Gussied Up (1992) by Mike Kelley
Okay, you know how we often complain that we or our children could create modern art?
Issue (1995) by Robert Ryman
Apparently Robert Ryman's subject is the act of painting, as this is oil on aluminum, and he is interested in how the painting is fastened.
Forever (Stainless Steel Bicycles in Gilding) Duo (2013) by Ai Weiwei
Poster (2004) with art by cartoonist Robert Crumb
This radiator can compete with the contemporary art!
A big surprise was the first floor Hall of Architecture with life-sized plaster re-creations of some of the world’s great historic architecture, including the largest architectural cast ever made: the west portal of the Benedictine abbey of St.-Gilles-du-Gard. It is one of only three remaining collections of architectural and sculptural casts in the world, and the only one still in the space built to house it.
Cast of the façade of the Abbey of St-Gilles-du-Gard
The museum closed at 17:00, so we had to leave.
Passed a lone bell tower on the way to dinner.
Leftover bell tower from the
Bellefield Presbyterian Church (1889)
Oddly colored sunset
We zigzagged across the peninsula to go to the Church Brew Works, a brewery and restaurant in the former St John the Baptist Church (1902), designed by Louis Beezer, Michael Beezer, and John Comes in Northern Italian style, located at 3525 Liberty Avenue.
Church Brew Works
In 1993 the church was de-consecrated, and Church Brew Works opened in 1996. They restored the Douglas fir floorboards and made an effort to keep much of the interior intact.
Church Brew Works interior
(Note that the beer vats are in the holiest of spots!)
Church Brew Works interior with
the bar in the left aisle
Church Brew Works glass motto
Kent had the Church Works Renegade Black IPA and ThunderHop IPA. We shared an appetizer of pierogis (not quite as good as Sokolowski's in Cleveland!) and a nice wood-fired artichoke, spinach, and tomato pizza.
Wood-fired pizza
The pizza oven was built behind the right transept, and its chimney matched the chancel arch pillars.
Again, Juan F was three for three in recommending the Max Vanka Murals, the Carnegie Museums, and the Church Brew Works! Many thanks to Juan, and Fernando F!!
Back to the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.
Next: Pittsburgh III.

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