I'd missed the past couple of these grassroots extravaganzas, which volunteers stage in big old underused spaces in Lawrenceville. It's only gotten bigger: Last year, something like 10,000 people came to see more than 1,000 artworks, and the turnout must have been similar this year.
Of course, this year the big night, Saturday night, it rained cats and dogs. But it was still pretty packed when I swung by just before midnight. Great party -- I especially loved the hula-hoop pit right next to the indoor stage, where the gyrating people (kids, mostly, but not entirely) were a perfect complement to the garage-rock quartet pounding it out.
The art was the usual, um, democratic mix of fine work -- including stuff by local name artists who've had gallery shows and everything -- and, quite literally, some of the worst art you've probably ever seen. But that's the point, eh?
Still, the most striking visual of my visit was simply the approach to the venue: the old Pittsburgh Brewing Company, a.k.a. Iron City, brewery.
On foot, turning off the Liberty Ave. sidewalk, you plunged down a dimly lit asphalt access road where at least one rusted-out downspout was loudly gushing water while visitors headed downhill, huddled under umbrellas or hunched in the rain. Nicely postindustrial. At the hill's bottom, it opened up into a bigger area, where they'd lined up the porta-potties and a couple bands were playing outside. On the way out, it was even better, with everyone a silhouette in the back-lighting as you approached Liberty. It felt like you were in on a secret with a few thousand temporary friends.