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A community oven rises in Deutschtown

Artist launches Tripoli Street Bake Club

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Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center seeks to build community around re-activated vacant lots in Deutschtown. Michelle Illuminato is an artist who loves to bake and is inspired by the history of communal ovens. Now the metaphorical dough is rising for the Tripoli Street Bake Club, the result of Illuminato’s month-long Fallow Ground residency with Neu Kirche.

As soon as this weekend, Illuminato hopes the cobb oven she and some volunteers built from sand, clay and straw at 855 Tripoli St. will be ready to use. Already about 25 folks, including some neighbors, have expressed interest in the club, which held its first meeting in May. And Neu Kirche is giving out Tripoli Street Wild Yeast, a sourdough strain cultivated on site that it expects will reappear in pizza crust and warm loaves.

Illuminato is a Beaver County native who splits her time between Wilkinsburg and New York state. But she’s hoping that the oven and Bake Club keep bringing people together long after her residency ends. A key component is the 60-foot-long table on site, shaped like an arrow pointing at the oven. “I love the idea of this long table and lots of people sitting at it that was just this space before,” she says.

You can get acquainted with the BakeYard at at a happy hour at 6 p.m. Thu., June 16. And a Tripoli Street bake-off and potluck party are planned for June 26. For details (or to get your jar of yeast), call 412-322-2224 or search “Neu Kirche Contemporary Art” on www.facebook.com.


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