Out of the mist and darkness of winter, spring emerges slowly until one day she is in full bloom on a breezy, warm and sunny morning on Main Street. This may not be my usual animal-themed artwork, but a piece near to my heart, inspired by this time of year.
When I was growing up, Carnegie’s Main Street was our “downtown”; we only went to Pittsburgh’s downtown on rare occasions. My parents grew up in Carnegie, walking this Main Street, I attended Catholic grade school not far from here and walked here myself as a child. My first full-time job was at the Isaly’s deli where, in the course of the week, you saw just about everyone who lived in town when they stopped in for lunch, for a chocolate chip Skyscraper ice cream cone or a pound or two of chipped ham for school lunches. When I graduated college and found an apartment on the bus line so I could ride the bus to work instead of buying a car, I walked down Main Street at the end of every day, passing the fruit market, butcher shop, shoe store, drug store, jewelry shop, even the Isaly’s, that had been there when I was a child, some for decades before that.
And so when I painted “Pear Trees on Main Street”, showing the block of Main Street from Broadway down to about Sansbury when the ornamental pear trees are in bloom, both the current day and all those memories, and all the stories my parents told me about Carnegie from their childhoods, worked their way into the painting.
On an April morning in 2003 when I turned my bicycle onto Main Street and saw the pear trees, the sunlight, the bustling nature of a street I remembered even from childhood, I snapped a few photos, started a quick, small pastel sketch, then packed it all away for another time. Later that year I was looking for sketches and paintings to enter into our annual community art exhibit, “Carnegie Painted”, and found the sketch, looked up the photos and finished it in time for the show.
This painting is a favorite locally, and I think in part it’s because a lot of other people who can remember Carnegie ‘way back when’ can see that memorable Carnegie Main Street under the current day image, that small town structure that makes Carnegie such a special place is still there underneath. It’s been a favorite of mine from the moment I finished it, and I think that’s one of the reasons why.
It’s also a favorite of people who have never been here because it simply looks like a friendly and familiar small town Main Street anywhere in the US—or in many other countries, for that matter.
Fidelity Bank in Carnegie purchased this painting for the opening of their new building at 100 Broadway Street, so I get to visit the original when I go to my bank. I still have it available as a print in my online gallery “My Home Town” and as a notecard in a set created from that show featuring a dozen of my favorite sketches and paintings from ten years of “Carnegie Painted”.