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Pop Filter Hot Pick: The Geek Art Green Innovators Festival

The Geek Art Green Innovators Festival will be holding events all weekend from Friday to Sunday. Visit their website to find more details.

Born out of the 2010 World Environment Day, Penn Avenue Arts District’s Geek Art Green Innovators Festival has grown into one of the most organic and unique arts and technology incubators in Pittsburgh. Coupled with Unblurred, the monthly First Friday gallery crawl on Penn Avenue that has become a community institution, GA/GI works as a partnership between the Passports: Arts Diversity Project, the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, and Friendship Development Associates.

Over the years, GA/GI has morphed into a thriving, creative microcosm for all the things the city is repeatedly praised for. It allows innovation in technology, education, arts and culture and economic development to overlap and build off of each other in unforeseen ways through a sprawling constellation of socially conscious art and science exhibitions, eco-friendly fashion shows, TED-style lectures, pop-up storefronts offering all-ages workshops, and many other events. And now, in its fifth year, GA/GI is celebrating both the growth of the event itself--aptly represented by an increased level of collaboration with local universities--and the flourishing of Penn Avenue as a haven for scientific and artistic entrepreneurial creatives.

For GA/GI Director and founder Christine Bethea, who also co-owns Mostly Mod & Artica Gallery on Penn Avenue and acts as Project Director for Passports, witnessing the festival gradually gain recognition over the past few years has been a rewarding experience.

“I think people “get it,” now,” she says with a laugh. “Unblurred was pretty much a staple and what we were able to do was put it on steroids. By collaborating [with Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and Friendship Development Associates] we were able to do more and more. Now the only thing that proves to really be a challenge is finding vacant space on Penn Avenue, because it’s developed so much over the past few years.”

New additions to the this year’s programming include a focus on first responders with the Fire Safety / Family Circle, held at 5025 Penn Avenue in response to last June’s fire which damaged the historic homes on Penn Avenue’s “Brides Row.” They've also collaborated with Future Tenant, the art gallery project spearheaded by Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. For Bethea, these wide ranging projects that put people from wildly different disciplines in close proximity, embody the GA/GI’s mission of putting uniqe perspectives together, to mix, mingle and create.

“What’s been most fulfilling to me [with GA/GI] are the connections that have been made over the past five years,” said Bethea. “That was one of the goals of the festival: to make sure people got together who wouldn’t have gotten together under normal circumstances.” (412-441-6950, Penn Avenue Arts District)
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