Saturday, May 7, 2022
Cityscape #4 by Rhiannon Scheidt, one of the works included in the upcoming Flow from the Furnace exhibition.
A Blue-Collar Bias?

Here at Rivers of Steel you could say we have a blue-collar bias, but not in a negative way. Rather, our slant is in favor of labor. It is the legacy of our region and our organization; we honor the proud men and women whose work ethic endures throughout the region—the workers who made the steel that built the 20th century and their compatriots who labored at home and in supporting industries.

Today, each of our featured stories touch on this theme.

In honor of May Day, the international workers' holiday that occurred last Sunday, resident historian Ryan Henderson penned an essay sharing the origins of the holiday, the battles for workers' rights, and reflections on this legacy for us as an organization.

Normally, scenes of laborers, industrialization, and war are not what you picture when you envision iconic paintings on church ceilings, but that is exactly what make the murals by Maxo Vanka at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale so unique. This week's Community Spotlight story showcases the work of an organization created to preserve these incredibly special artworks that help share the story of labor in our region.

Historically, Homestead was home to many of our region's workers. After the collapse of the steel industry, its main street had some tough times. Today, Eighth Avenue is once again a lively place filled with restaurants, shops, and cultural activities. Join us in celebrating this happening spot during our Homestead Live Fridays this summer. The kick-off event on May 20 also features the opening reception for Flow from the Furnace, a new exhibition at the Bost Building, which is Rivers of Steel's headquarters and the Visitors' Center for the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, located at 623 E. Eighth Avenue.

And scroll down for more events this May with Rivers of Steel, including Arts & Grounds Tours, a Photo Safari, the season's first Iron Garden Walk, and a perennial favorite—the Doodle Bowl Experience workshop!
Local Union 1397 of Homestead on strike. Courtesy of the Rivers of Steel Archives.
May Day & the Legacy of Labor
Also known as International Workers’ Day, the May Day holiday celebrates workers, the working class, and the labor movement. Historian Ryan Henderson took it as a perfect opportunity to reflect on labor's legacy and the importance of preserving and memorializing that history.  
Croatians in America, a mural by Maxo Vanka. Courtesy of The Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka.
The Murals of Maxo Vanka
Immigrant communities, a strong work ethic, and rich cultural traditions are part of our region's legacy as a blue-collar hub, and so it grit—sometimes quite literally. A painstaking process to restore the Maxo Vanka murals began more than a decade ago; the results of which are astounding. Learn more about this hidden gem and how you can get involved!
B-boy style by the mile—breakdancers will be among the highlights during the kickoff of Homestead Live Fridays on May 20, 2022.
Reawakening: Homestead Live Fridays
Rivers of Steel is excited to announce the return of the Homestead Live Fridays performance series beginning May 20, 2022. Located in multiple venues throughout Homestead's Eighth Avenue business district—and at street-side pop-ups along the way, Live Fridays features local performers, art exhibitions, and activities each evening.

Learn more about it in this preview article by Jordan Snowden.
Flow from the Furnace Opening Reception
May 20, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., The Bost Building
Stop by the Bost Building in Homestead on May 20 for the opening reception of the Flow from the Furnace exhibition. Comprised of contemporary works, this group show represents artists who have experienced Carrie as a muse. At the core of this collection are artists who have worked onsite at the furnaces, from past Alloy Pittsburgh residents and graffiti writers to traveling metal arts sculptors and creatives employed by Rivers of Steel—an ever-expanding network influenced by the pull of the blast furnaces’ orbit.
In early 2021, tour-goers learn about the Black on Black Love collaboration that was created in 2020.
The Arts & Grounds Tour of the Carrie Blast Furnaces
Saturdays, May 7 & 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Carrie Blast Furnaces
Discover how creatives, from guerrilla artists and graffiti writers to curators and designers, have been inspired by—and left their mark on—this revered landscape. Highlighting contemporary art installations, graffiti murals, the Iron Garden, and the famous Carrie Deer, the Arts & Grounds Tour invites you to experience this historic landmark from a post-industrial perspective.
Photo Safari
Sunday, May 15, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Carrie Blast Furnaces
The interplay of light and seasonality at the Carrie Furnaces offers endless perspectives of this industrial muse. Take inspiration from the wide vistas or the delicate details at this National Historic Landmark site. Choose your own adventure on this photo safari!
A tour of the Iron Garden at the Carrie Blast Furnaces.
Iron Garden Walk
Sunday, May 15, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Carrie Blast Furnaces
On the eastern edge of the Carrie Furnaces site, there exists a wild garden where nature has reclaimed space scarred by industry. The Iron Garden Walk is more than a path through the lush greenspace; it is a botany-focused tour that shares the story of this unique and resilient landscape.
The Doodle Bowl Experience
Sunday, May 22, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Carrie Blast Furnaces
Not your typical “sip and paint” party, this workshop has quickly become one of Rivers of Steel’s most in-demand programs. With guidance from Rivers of Steel’s metal arts team, you’ll design and carve a bowl that is cast in solid aluminum! Take home your new, functional work of art at the end of the night! No experience is needed—just bring your creativity, a friend, and your own beverage! 
Help preserve our region’s industrial and cultural heritage! Your tax-deductible contribution will help ensure that Rivers of Steel can continue to offer vital, engaging, community-based arts, education, and heritage programs for the residents of southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.