When they needed a name, the members of the music-and-arts collective Monalloh Foundry created a portmanteau of Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio — a good illustration of what the group wants to accomplish. As member Katie Capri puts it, "Pittsburgh is so cool, with its topography, its little pockets." But those pockets have a way of keeping people separated. "Part of what we're doing is bridging the collaborative gap."
The collective first came together last February, in reaction to the fact that — in the words of John Chriest (whose musical project is called Ivory Weeds) — "there were all these little scenes that didn't communicate." Some members were frustrated that talented friends weren't getting much exposure. Others wanted somewhere to turn when they needed a creative push. One member, Ryan Firkel of the band Dewey Marquee, says, "You're always performing for friends and other bands. Playing for the same group is kind of a bummer after a couple months."
Monalloh Foundry, members hope, will unite local musicians, artists, writers and other creative people by putting together inclusive multi-media shows, opening avenues for artistic collaborations — both via the group's Tumblr site and IRL — and providing a support network.
The lineup for its debut event at Garfield Artworks reflects the wide-ranging spirit of the group, and features bands (Legs Like Tree Trunks, Dewey Marquee, Dean Cercone); visual artists (Steph Neary, Maggie Negrete, Chris Mucci); filmmakers (Studio Corrida); as well as other odd treats and surprises. Chriest refers to it as the group's "coming-out party."
There are plenty of ideas in the works for Monalloh Foundry, from podcasts and local music mixes to mini-tours, and it's open to more. "It's not limited to us as a collective," Chriest says. "We're here as musicians and artists to help other musicians and artists. To help the general group because we're part of the general group."
Capri adds, "It's like, two heads are better than one, but we have about 15."