Last Saturday I got to do something really cool. My friend Emily and I volunteered to help set up for an event at the Braddock Carnegie Library, part of the Carnegie International this year. We set up tables and moved around media displays (my shoulder still hurts) to get the place ready for All You Can Art, the kickoff of the Art Lending Collection, where you can check out pieces of artwork just like a book—you just need your library card. How cool is that?! I had never been there before, so getting to explore the library building was pretty much like Christmas for me. I really recommend reading a little about the history HERE, but basically this library was the very first of all the Carnegie libraries, and it was almost demolished, but some seriously amazing people saved it, and are still in the process of bringing it all back to life.
I love things with a history, and old buildings in particular. I like something with a story, even if the rest of the world has long since cast it aside. I’ve spent hours before on Flickr and Pinterest looking at pictures of urban decay, and marveling at how something so broken can still be unspeakably beautiful.
And every now and then you get people who love the broken thing so much that they are willing to try and put it back together, to give it new purpose. In our wanderings around the building (trying to find where the stash of tables lived) we came upon the auditorium, with rows of patchy velvet cushioned chairs that haven’t seen a proper audience in years. There, working after hours by himself, was awesome library guy. I feel terrible, I forget his name, but he’s amazing—working to replace the tiered floor that had been too damaged to support new seating. He said they originally just intended to reupholster the chairs, but as they took them out they found that the chairs were pretty much the only thing holding up the floor. This looks to be a huge undertaking, and I wish I had carpentry skills so that I could help them… I just felt an overwhelming love for that building and that room. When it’s done I’m going to the first performance, I don’t care what it is.
|Balcony and new floors.|
Awesome Library Guy also makes picture frames out of the old pieces of wood, and I just happened to have cash with me (which never happens) so I picked out a nice frame to bring home with me. They also sell the frames behind the checkout desk, and he takes orders, so go buy some history.
|New chair prototype using the original ironworks.|
Here's a really good article about the Art Lending Collection and the people who put it together: CLICK ME
Also, sorry the pictures aren't the best. All I had was my craptacular phone... if I had known the building was going to be a photographic treasure trove I would have brought the good camera. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back!