Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Q & A with Famous Pittsburghers

Name: Toby Atticus Fraley

Company/Organization/Job: Self employed artist

Quick blurb about your company/organization: I make a living as an artist through private commissions for homes and businesses , public art projects and arts festivals around the country. My main areas of focus right now are oil painting, mixed media sculpture and ceramic sculpture.

How long have you been doing what you do: Since 2001

How long have you lived in Pittsburgh: Southwestern PA has always been my home. I was born in Washington PA and lived there until 2009 when I moved to Dormont. This past September, I moved to Bridgeville where I bought a house with my fiance.

1. What is your favorite thing to do in Downtown Pittsburgh? Why?

Music has always been a pretty big part of my life and I try catching as many acts as I can passing through town. Some of my favorite musicians have played in downtown venues over the years. Wilco once played a free show at the Arts festival, the icelandic group Sigur Rós played an unforgettable show at the Byham as did David Byrne (formally of The Talking Heads) who I had the opportunity to meet afterwards. It's great living in a city with so many restored halls for musicians that either could not fill arenas or have musical styles that simply wouldn't fit those venues. 

2. What is your favorite Downtown restaurant? Why? What’s your favorite dish?

Breakfast options downtown are a little harder to come by when compared to lunch and dinner. Bluebird Kitchen has helped fill that void though. I'm a big fan of their stone ground grits topped with bacon, cheddar and a fried egg. The restaurant itself has a nice cleanly designed interior with a handful of places to sit but if the weather is nice I prefer eating out in Market Square, another little gem of downtown. I'm even pretty fond of their little bird logo. The whole place seems fairly well thought out.

3. What is your favorite piece of public art in Downtown? Why?

I really like the Brian Holderman mural, "Yesterday's Tomorrow" on the corner Liberty and Seventh. The retro futuristic theme and slightly vintage feeling color palate are right up my alley. The hopeful future it portrays is a future I would like living in. I also think it works really well with the proportions of that building, far taller than it is wide. I hope it's there for years to come.

4. What is your favorite public space in Downtown? Why?

While it's closed for refurbishments right now, I like walking down to the very tip of Point State Park. It reminds me of standing on the bow of a ship moving down the Ohio River. It's amazing to think of all that has happened on that triangular piece of land from forts to factories to the park it is today.

5. What is the most underappreciated or unexpected aspect of Downtown Pittsburgh? Why?

There are a couple parking garages downtown that have great, interesting views of the city from the top level. You can get more of a panoramic view of the cityscape up there that's not visible from the sidewalk. It's a really unique perspective with no people, traffic etc. cluttering up the scene, it's just a swath of towering buildings. We're often looking for those parking spots as close to ground level as possible but if the weather is nice I'll sometimes park on the top just to have a look around the city.

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