Urbanist is excited to announce our newest contributor, Alex Oliver, who will be digging in to Pittsburgh’s growing art community for us.  When Alex isn’t busy teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, you can find her posting on Words &TC or Pittsburgh Articulate and fortunately for us, Urbanist(!).  With some much happening across the Pittsburgh arts community, Alex will be weighing in on up and coming artists, exhibits (big and small), openings and more.  Kicking off her posting, The Slate Series launch at Salt of the Earth.

By: Alex Oliver

While some restaurants have a chalkboard; Salt of the Earth has an entire chalk wall. For years the wall carried seasonal menus, but recently Salt shifted to the more familiar paper kind, and the wall became a blank slate. Literally. It’s made of slate. For Melissa Horst, General Manager, it was the perfect opportunity for an artist, and the Slate Series was born.

The Slate Series invites artists to cover the wall with an original design for a three-week period, four times a year. The inaugural artist is Stephanie Armbruster, who decorated the dark grey surface with whimsical schematic drawings, scribbles, and quasi-mathematical figures, like the leftovers of an intense physics class from the 1950s. (Today they use whiteboards and markers. Chalk and slate looks way better.) It also reminded me of the famous canvases of Cy Twombly, which resemble the doodles of someone who’s bored in a physics class. Either way, one of the coolest features of Armbruster’s design is how well it integrates with the loopy lines of the small Dee Briggs sculpture set in a low niche in the wall.


Artwork by Stephanie Armbruster. Photographed by Adam Milliron.


Artwork by Stephanie Armbruster. Photographed by Adam Milliron.

The project took Armbruster back to her days as a street artist, which were spent mostly in Cleveland. Today she makes portable (and legal) work—mostly abstractions in oil or encaustic on canvas—but adds, “there’s still a part of me that loves the idea of taking over a whole wall.”

So, if you needed another reason to keep coming back to Salt besides the rotating seasonal menus, there’s now the rotating seasonal art (up through February 2nd with a closing reception that day). And just in case you get attached to any one version, Salt is offering limited edition prints for sale, sized perfectly to hang on a wall without taking up a whole wall.