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Pop Filter Hot Pick: River of Words inaugurates City of Asylum's Garden-to-Garden Artway


City of Asylum, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that seeks to provide safe haven for writers who are endangered in their own countries, is unfurling their latest community project, The Garden-to-Garden Artway with the help of a trio Venezuelan visitors: writer Israel Centeno, artist Gisela Romero and graphic designer Carolina Arnal.

Centeno, Romero and Arnal are exhibiting the multi-disciplinary work,
A River of Words, with the support of the North Side community by presenting temporary artwork and texts on the actual homes of residents. By stitching itself together across the Mexican War Streets neighborhood, which involved the participation of over 40 residents, the piece concerns itself with the idea of "connection" and the ways in which people connect with one another through conversation, through a community or through art.

"We started with the idea of comparing the function of the brain with the relationships between neighbors," write the three artists in a joint email. "The neurons are the imaginary lines between people´s homes and the synapse is the word in each house. There are different ways of connecting, through the meanings of the words but also through forms, colors, sizes and materials.  At the project's end, in a map, you will see the network; the link between streets, people, ideas and emotions."

A River of Words is the first of five commissioned temporary art pieces that will be installed along with Garden-to-Garden Artway, which connects Alphabet Reading Garden on the 1400 block of Monterey Street to its new Alphabet City Literary Center on the Garden Theater block. The .7 mile walk that is the Artway aims to be a hub of permanent and temporary art, free public music and dance performances, and community workshops that can be aided by a smart-phone led tour.

For Centeno, Romero, and Arnal, A River of Words was their way of exploring the city that received them, and their art, with open arms.

"Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, and the Northside is full of surprises, each street is different," they write. "The people have been very receptive--we have met wonderful and diverse women, men and children who have been enthusiastic and supportive of our project, opening their houses for us. As artists we have made Pittsburgh our own city and we have learned new ways of presenting and sharing our work."

A free opening reception for A River of Words will be held on Fri., July 25 at 6PM at the Alphabet City Tent located at 318 Sampsonia Way. For more information about the event and the Garden-to-Garden Artway, visit City of Asylum's website. (318 Sampsonia Way, North Side, City of Asylum)
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