Work has started again, heavy and unceasing. But, I just go. Go to the track and run. Go compete in the weekly video game tournaments. Go climbing, swimming, go walk around the city. I visited the rest of the top attractions in Pittsburgh. Frankly, if someone never gets the chance to visit these attractions, they did not miss out on anything life-changing. But I enjoyed myself.
Andy Warhol Museum
Before I visited the Andy Warhol Museum, my impression of Warhol was that he was overrated, gimmicky, famous only by exploiting the popularity of the celebrities in his silkscreen prints. I learned that he studied art in college, was a successful commercial illustrator, and that even from an early age he was fascinated by movie stars and fame. Each floor was a retrospective of a decade in his life. Warhol appeared to be a hoarder, so the museum had plenty of collections and knickknacks. His famous soup cans and Marilyn Monroe prints are not in this museum, but there is a representative breadth of artwork.
I saw that throughout his life, he was subversive, irreverent. There was a period in his life where he made movies. I had never heard of any of them. When I saw samples, I could see why. There was no judicious editing, no compelling story, message, nor characters. Instead, the camera captured his muses doing everyday activities. In Warhol’s eyes, he believed his “superstars” were so striking that he should just film their natural selves.
I left with a greater appreciation of Warhol’s work, how he pushed boundaries, how he constantly reinvented himself.
I visited the aviary. Most of the visitors are families with small children.
There are habitats where the birds can roam freely. The birds strutted right up to us or flew mere feet away from our heads. The layout was not without its hazards. A Victoria crowned pigeon perched on a branch took a dump on the pedestrian walkway below.
In the rainforest habitat, I fed a golden-breasted starling some mealworms.
There were large birds of prey. But they were trapped in cages with nets so low that they could not even fly. And there were cute African penguin chicks, pudgy with gray down. I wonder if I will get to see even a fraction of these birds in the wild. I enjoyed the aviary, constantly surprised by the colorful, rare, and exotic.
The Mattress Factory is a modern art museum where each art installation takes up a whole room. So the museum is immersive, and quick to get through. Installations include two Yayoi Kusama infinity rooms, an indoor garden, and a room full of creepy dolls. My favorite installations were by James Turrell. In Catso, Red, the light from a projector created the illusion of a tangible object. In Danaë, what looked like a blue screen was actually a rectangular hole in the wall to a blue-lit room. I liked how there were no signs to read, no explanations. We entered the dark rooms, tentatively interacted with the art as we chose, and had our perspectives shifted.
Randyland is the home of an artist named Randy. His house is covered in murals. His yard, open to the public, is full of art, seating, and curios.
Point State Park
Point State Park is where the three rivers meet. Heinz Stadium is right across the water. Since it is winter, the fountain is off. And the concrete near the water’s edge is covered by mud and ice floes.
The Duquesne Incline has a funicular that goes to the top of Mount Washington. The wooden cabin is charming, with an old-fashioned lantern hanging from the top. The incline is run by a non-profit organization and does not receive government funding.
I was hoping there would be a park up top, but there is merely a street of residences and restaurants. There is a panoramic view of Pittsburgh. There’s also a statue of a meeting between George Washington and Seneca chief Guyasuta, where their heads are uncomfortably close and not respecting of personal space, as though they are about to kiss.