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Posts Tagged ‘pen & ink drawings of Pittsburgh’

I have great memories growing up as a young kid during the 70’s in my hometown located north of Pittsburgh. I recall playing football and hockey out on the street with my brother, Ryan. I can still vision my neighbor sitting out on his front porch tuning into the Pirates game on KDKA or the latest tune of a Jim Croce song. Across the mighty Ohio River from my hometown of Baden, Pennsylvania was the sprawling behemoth giant Jones and Laughlin steel mill. The mill was something that had always been there well before I was born and it was etched into the landscape and rolling hillside. The mill spanned a length of seven miles from the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge up to the small town of West Aliquippa. J&L’s steel mill was so gigantic that it cast a shadow over the small community of West Aliquippa where many of the steelworkers and their families resided as the sun made its way to the west.

This pen and ink illustration titled “West Aliquippa” was the second illustration I created in 1997. Like the “Steelworker Lunchtime” illustration, this drawing just came to me. In reality, this drawing can easily represent any mill town in western Pennsylvania. Homes of steelworkers were usually located within walking distance of the steel mill and everyone knew one another. In the days of my parents and grandparents there definitely was a sense of community among the communities and patchwork of neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. I included things into the illustration to give it the feel of a classic American town. There is the American flag which symbolizes the town’s patriotism and remembrance of its veterans. Cobblestone-lined streets were common in Pittsburgh neighborhoods and can still be found in a few. Family businesses, such as the neighborhood barbershop or the Isaly’s deli gave a town its identity. Not too sure where the antique car came into play, but it gives the illustration an added unique touch. The Jones & Laughlin steel mill no longer casts a shadow on the town as like many mills were dismantled during the decline of the steel industry. Like the steel mills, many of the neighbors who were a part of my childhood have gone too and reminds me of the Jim Croce song which played on my neighbor’s radio,  “Photographs and Memories”.

Click the link below to the Pittsburgh Drawings section of my fine art website to purchase this print and the memories of growing up in Pittsburgh’s steel towns.

Steel City Artist Illustrations

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“Steelworker Lunchtime” was the first pen and ink illustration which I created in the early winter months of 1997. That year I was preparing a series of drawings for Nationality Days which takes place in the town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. It is a 3-day event which celebrates the multi-national heritages and traditions of its town’s residents. I decided to title the illustration series, “A Run of the Mills” and focused on creating many of the steel mills from the Beaver Valley. During its heyday and booming days of the steel industry, Jones and Laughlin (J&L) and American Bridge Co. were the premier steel centers where I grew up. In addition to that there were several other mills and factories lining the railways and riverbanks of the Ohio River.

“Steelworker Lunchtime” came to me envisioning all the generations of Pittsburgh’s steelworkers, iron-workers and laborers in mind. My grandfather, John Filip, a first generation American and steelworker of Polish immigrants worked 45 years as a blast furnace steelworker and foreman at J&L’s Pittsburgh Southside Works. The steelworkers labored intensely through blood, sweat and back-breaking work in thick dust and smoke in all kinds of deplorable weather and working conditions. They understood the true definition of work-ethic and so the mentality of the blue-collar worker was born. The steel, iron and glass that was forged and manufactured in the mills and factories of Pittsburgh built many of our nation’s buildings, bridges, memorials and monuments. The steel industry also vastly contributed to the superiority and dominance of America’s military and this was apparent especially during World War II. Pittsburgh’s steel mills churned, pulsated and pounded day and night to get the steel needed for airplanes, ships, tanks and all that the military needed to achieve success in the European and Pacific Theaters.

Lunchtime was a welcoming moment for the steelworkers and men who labored in  the factories. This was a moment they could look forward to with friends and co-workers whether at the neighborhood deli or diner, along the riverbanks or perched on an I-beam high above the cityscape. The man pictured in this illustration is a steelworker enjoying his 30-minute lunch-break. He is looking across the river at another steel mill and feeling proud of his role as a steelworker. This illustration has more of a free-hand quality and lacks the precision detail of the other illustrations that would follow. However, it has meaning to me being that it was the first one which started it all. A woman who ordered one of my illustrations gave me a unique idea.  Remember the steelworker in your family by having your family name featured on the side of the lunch-pail.

Steel City Artist Illustrations

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