Category Archives: Museum News

Teenie Harris & the Great Appalachian Storm


Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Charles "Teenie" Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris's home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Charles “Teenie” Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris’s home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Much news attention has been given to Snowmageddon and the Polar Vortex, but in 1950, the Great Appalachian Storm dumped over 30 inches of snow during Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh. The city was essentially shut down for days, the Allegheny County coroner warned those over the age of 45 against shoveling snow, and most of the newspapers ceased to print for a day or two. And Teenie Harris (who was used to being everywhere all of the time) was possibly stuck shoveling out as well.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 2606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 7606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

I asked Charles A. Harris, Teenie Harris’s oldest son, what his dad thought of snow:

“I was very young when my father took me aside and talked about people who liked snow because it was so pretty. He really impressed upon me that though it may be pretty to look at from inside, there was always someone trying to go to work; many many accidents are caused by snow for people who don’t have a choice. In addition, there are ambulances that have to travel dangerous streets on their way to the hospital. In a word, he HATED SNOW!”

And it shows—out of over 70,000 negatives that we’ve cataloged so far, there are only around 120 that feature snow. Throughout his career, snow impeded his photojournalistic work…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, "We Protest Kutchman's Appointment", with Kay's Furniture and Areford Brother's Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, “We Protest Kutchman’s Appointment”, with Kay’s Furniture and Areford Brother’s Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

…but also provided subjects for photographs…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund. This one ran in the Pittsburgh Courier on February 15, 1958, with the caption: “Um-m-m-m Valentine! – Pretty Elaine Coles… a fine Valentine Day choice (or a ‘fox in snow’), smiles for the Courier photographer despite February’s icy blasts. Too bad the weather forced Miss Coles to snuggle in her winter coat. She has the figure to match her lovely face…”

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

But though he didn’t like the stuff, it’s no surprise that Harris still managed to capture some joyous images of those who did:

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed "B. Portnoy's Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.," Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed “B. Portnoy’s Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.,” Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund

New Hire: Kelsey Small


Kelsey Blog Photo

What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?
My official title is financial manager. In this role, I’m responsible for compiling budgets for CMOA operating, designated, and restricted funds. I track actual expenses against various project budgets and review accounting and budget activity to ensure adherence to annual budget. I also report on federal, state, and private grant expenditures and serve as a point person for staff regarding financial and administrative policies and procedures.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?
Before joining CMOA, I was completing my Masters in Arts Management degree at Carnegie Mellon University and working as the associate director of operations for Future Tenant, a multidisciplinary visual and performing arts gallery space in downtown Pittsburgh.

What’s your favorite exhibition that you saw this past year (at any museum/event)? Any favorite artist or work?
The 2013 Carnegie InternationalMy favorite piece within the show is Pedro Reyes’s Disarm (Mechanized). His ability to transform destructive weapons into musical instruments is truly inspiring and enlightening. The piece suggests the kind of hopefulness that can emerge from war and misery.

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Pedro Reyes, Disarm (Mechanized), 2012–13, recycled metal, Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London; Photo: Greenhouse Media

If you could steal one artwork from our collection, what would it be?
Dancers, Entrance on Stage, Edgar Degas. 

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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Dancers, Entrance on Stage, c. 1898–1908, pastel on paper, Acquired through the generosity of the Sarah Mellon Scaife Family

Describe Pittsburgh in six words or less.
It’s starting to feel like home.

Favorite hobbies (links, etc.)? Or any other projects you’d like to share?
Attending Pittsburgh arts events, taking ballet classes, baking, and cheering on the Florida Gators and Pittsburgh Pirates!

Teenie in Quilts


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Selection of quilts inspired by Charles “Teenie” Harris’s photograph, “Boy school crossing guard holding back group of children…”

Black and white cloth. Gloves, glasses, and patrol guard belts. Children’s earnest faces. On October 17–20, 2013, the New Hazlett Theater on Pittsburgh’s North Side displayed the Nia Quilt Guild’s unique project, “A Quilter’s View of the Arts.” The event was sponsored by YMWAHA (Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association) and the concept was for the quiltmakers to respond to challenges representing five distinct art disciplines: painting, dance, spoken word, music, and photography. The Charles “Teenie” Harris portrait (below) of a 1949 school patrol guard, on a street with outstretched arms protecting just under a dozen children, was chosen to represent the photographic arts.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Boy school crossing guard holding back group of children, including: Donald Christmas, Joann Collins, Elaine Robinson, Kenneth Holiday, Curtis Andrews, Beverly Myers, and Marlene Brown, on corner of Kirkpatrick and Reed Streets with A. Leo Weil School on left in background, Hill District, 1947, black and white: Kodak Safety Film; Heinz Family Fund

With clever flair, seven quilters captured their personal interpretation of the photo image, sewn in black, gray, and white cloth, mimicking the black and white photography Mr. Harris is best known for. On some of the works, strips of straight lines depicted the crossing guards belt and street patterns, while on others patterned swirls imitated the children’s posture and energy. One quilt even had small gloves and glasses echoing the guard’s attire. I was quite impressed with them all, but was especially drawn to the quilt of the children’s images copied onto cloth and placed in the silhouette of Teenie’s famous Speed Graphic camera, with which the photo was undoubtedly taken. As quilt artist Joyce Broadus gave me a tour of the quilts, she mentioned that using black and white cloth had been particularly challenging to the seamstresses accustomed to using more color and pattern, but that they eventually found it exciting to bring life to the static palette. I chuckled aloud, however, when informed that one quilter, who didn’t like the lack of color, sewed the back of her piece with bright red circles to depict the vitality of children, and aptly titled her creation, “Don’t Make Me Do Black and White Again!”

Photography illustrated through needle and thread is a refreshing appreciation of the Harris collection. Known for being a very down-to-earth gentleman, Teenie certainly would be thrilled that his work was characterized in such unique fashion, and in support of programs benefiting a popular subject of his lens—youngsters of color. Bravo for an exceptional exhibition!

Tezuka Architects: Artist Talk, October 7


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Tezuka Architects design with daily life in mind. In an era when many architects, especially those termed “starchitects,” seem interested in strange form for strange form’s sake, Takaharu and Yui Tezuka are responsible for buildings that provide optimal space for activity with strategic use of material. Their work reinforces progressive ideas of health, community and social gathering.

This year the 2013 Carnegie International includes architecture for the first time. As part of The Playground Project, a key component of the International, Tezuka Architects have designed an installation titled run, run, run in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center. Through cinematic images and sound, the installation evokes the architects’ Fuji Kindergarten in suburban Tokyo. The kindergarten consists of an oval roof deck accessible from an open court used by children year-round. The children run energetically about this deck yet also enjoy moments of quieter play, frequently in the shade of mature zelkova trees.

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Sketch for installation of run, run, run; Courtesy of Tezuka Architects

In addition to Fuji Kindergarten, the Tezukas have recently built kindergartens in Miyagi Prefecture, for communities devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and a medical facility near Kobe for children undergoing chemotherapy. Each project communicates a faith in the possibility of architecture to aid people’s lives.

Join us for an artist talk on Monday, October 7, at Carnegie Lecture Hall, where Takaharu Tezuka will describe the vividly social buildings realized by his practice. Co-sponsored by the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, the lecture is free and takes place at 6:30.

Vote for Teenie!


Teenie Harris’s 16mm film collection has been nominated as one of Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts as part of the Save Pennsylvania’s Past initiative to protect and preserve the state’s cultural collections. Your vote could help the collection earn the People’s Choice Award, and your donation will directly fund the conservation of Teenie Harris’s film. Vote for before November 1, 2013! You can vote, donate, and share as many times as you like.

But you might be wondering—Teenie Harris also made 16mm films in addition to the 80,000+ photographic negatives that he shot? Why haven’t I seen them? Well, we have not been able to show the film due to its fragile condition. In the 1940s, Teenie Harris used to hang a bed sheet on his garage wall to show films to the neighborhood children. These included popular cartoons, boxing matches, and footage that he shot around the neighborhood and during his travels for work and pleasure.

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Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two women in front of George Harris’ confectionery shop at 2121 Wylie Avenue, Hill District, Pittsburgh, c. 1940-1955, Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.FilmK

So far, we’ve only been able to examine the film without projecting it. Some sections of the film are damaged and becoming increasingly brittle. We would like to repair the film, make a copy, and digitize it so that it may be possible to view online and during exhibitions. What we’ve seen so far is very exciting. Some footage compliments subjects in still photos Teenie Harris took, such as a vacation to Atlantic City, scenes outside his studio and his brother’s confectionary store in the Hill, and Negro League baseball games at Forbes Field.

Other footage is unknown and will require research and assistance from you to help identify it. By donating to the Teenie Harris film collection, you will help save this important part of Harris’s work and help make it visible for all to see.