From the street, 3634 Penn Avenue seems like any other nondescript, underused building. But once inside, beyond the red brick and glass-block windows, the space reveals itself as a haven for visual and performance art.
The building, which Monk McAllister leases, was once a former home brewing supply store. With the help of the building’s owner, Monk transformed the store into a wide-open gallery and performance space comprising the entire first floor, and an upstairs living space.
Monk grew up in Pittsburgh, but left for New York City in 1977. When family drew him back just a few years ago, he wanted to have an impact on the local arts scene. Through his arts venue he began to meet interesting people and a side of Pittsburgh he wasn’t previously aware of.
Monk says developments in Pittsburgh’s art scene, like Penn Avenue Arts District and the monthly Unblurred Art Crawl, are great additions to the city, and he credit’s local nonprofit organizations and the work of individuals for these changes.
“It's almost as if the art scene in Pittsburgh has picked itself up by its own bootstraps,” he says.
But Laurie Trok can attest to the impact Monk himself has made. A Pittsburgh-based artist, Trok says Monk gives local artists ample time and space to develop ideas.
“This is a very different gallery experience than any gallery I’ve ever shown in before,” Trok says. “Monk is willing to work with you and take time to see your vision through, and he has a similar vision with you.”
Trok’s latest show, titled “don’t go back to sleep,” will be on display at 3634 Penn Avenue, from December 10th through January 7th. A reception will be held this Saturday, the 10th, from 7 to 11 p.m. featuring a live music performance at 8 p.m.
Trok says her abstract work is a bit like electronic music, in that she borrows from other things, remixing or reinventing found objects.
“I like the idea of taking things that are nothing to anyone anymore…and making art out of them,” Trok says.
Although the space is sometimes known as Morris Levy Gallery or Monk’s Place, Monk likes to refer to the gallery simply by its address, 3634 Penn Avenue.
For more information: 412-681-0154.
Writer: Andrew More
Source: Monk McAllister, Laurie Trok