John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The first-ever Pyrotopia will introduce Pennsylvanians to everyone's favorite art – the kind that burns.
The borough of Homestead, Penn.,* was once the site of a bloody battle between striking steelworkers and an army of Carnegie Steel's Pinkertons, a milestone in labor history that culminated with an ungodly blaze as the pro-management's barges were burned throughout the night.
On April 28, Homestead will once again play host to a fiery spectacle – although with this one, children are welcome to attend.
A group of artists and tech heads in nearby Pittsburgh have picked the site as the staging ground for the city's first-ever "Pyrotopia," a festival of art in the medium of flame. With its Mad Max trappings of iron sculpture and feral costumery, the event seems like a cross between Burning Man and a Renaissance festival accidentally hit with a napalm bomb. The organizers of Pyrotopia really hope it will grant more legitimacy to practitioners of "fire art," a large number of whom claim Pittsburgh as their hearth:
Pittsburgh has a growing community of artists and performers in all disciplines working with fire as a medium. Pyrotopia was created to give those artists dedicated performance and exhibition opportunities. We aim to inspire the creation of new work; exploration of materials, creative processes and collaborations among artists using fire; and to foster a unique regional brand of fire art related to Pittsburgh’s industrial history and artisan heritage. By producing Pyrotopia as an annual festival, we aim to legitimize and promote fire art and performance and to make these disciplines accessible to a wide audience.
Which is a message that can also be expressed this way:
Attendees to the free, flame-sprouting party will get the chance to play with interactive fire games, such as this devilish version of "Simon Says" (I'm just assuming it's a game, and that woman inside of it isn't in need of real help). There will also be Pyrostomp, a sort of "Dance Dance Revolution" that could set low-flying pigeons ablaze; fire dancing, spinning, hooping and swallowing; workshops on the history and science of fire (Boo! These better involve real fire!) and, randomly, a 6-foot-tall Tesla coil.
No word yet on whether there will be alcohol served at this event.
* Not Braddock, as originally reported. It was originally scheduled there but was later moved.