make way for the artists
After almost two years of careful planning, the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh is now open for business.
The Artsmiths, 1635 McFarland Road had its soft opening yesterday, August 24. The space is a collaborative effort between Kate McGrady, owner of the former Koolkat Designs, Koolkat’s creative director, Kate Wagle Hitmar, and Bob, Chuck and Doug Satterfield, owners of Rollier’s Hardware.
The center is located in what used to be the old red barn where Rollier’s was located from 1953 to 1994. The space serves as an indoor marketplace where people can purchase and admire pieces created by Pittsburgh-local artists. The old red barn is now a new green color and completed with a 200-pound iron Artsmiths of Pittsburgh sign, created by local artist John Walter. The windows lining the front and sides of the building fill the area with light that reflects off the many paintings, jewelry and pottery. Handmade trinkets, clothing and accessories also fill the store’s space.
McGrady—pictured at center, greeting visitors and answering customers’ questions—says she’s planning a grand opening sometime in September. “People have been coming in to watch the staff training for weeks and coming up to the door to look in for months,” she says.
Between Koolkat Designs and the new Artsmiths, the two businesses have featured the works of more than 280 artists over the years, a number that continues to grow. “It’s a special experience because people know that the work here is done by actual people who they can meet and get to know and ask why that person is inspired to do what they do,” McGrady says.
The Artsmiths accepts new artists to feature their work on a rotating basis. Artists can apply for a spot at the location online, but depending on how full the Artsmiths are, artists may have to wait before their applications can be processed.
The shop is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.
The center also includes a coffee shop, the Koolkat Cafe, where they serve hot and cold beverages from La Prima Espresso Company and artisan foods and baked goods from Larry Lagattuta’s Strip District-based Enrico Biscotti. The Cafe hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
In the coming months, the Artsmith’s team plans to complete Phase II of the project, which will include a creative space for artists to teach lessons and meet with patrons in the building’s lower level. McGrady says she would like for Phase II to be complete by the holidays but with so much happening in the big green barn right now, the schedule is tentative.
“I’d like to see this as an artistic and cultural center,” she says. “Where artists and community members are meeting and collaborating and experiencing art in a meaningful way.”