Commendations for Lifestyles / by Alex Young

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Mainly, these Commendations show gratitude to the productive and progressive communities worldwide. In part, the Commendations coincide with the articles that InTheRough published in 2017, which featured geographic locations AtlantaD.C.Toronto, and Pittsburgh.

Stories about Pittsburgh communities on InTheRough detail the great life that happens in the 'Burgh. Events and creations pop up in the city and people should know about them to support them.

Much like Commendations 2016, the next edition of the review relies on ITR opinion. Although, reader polls this year will add more credibility because the peoples' taste matters.

There are 16 categories, like Best Producer, Most Stylish, Teenie Award (Pittsburgh's best photographer), Best Event, Best Live Performance, Favorite Item, and more, that are part of the Commendations list for 2017. ITR admires folks we've written about in and from the 'Burgh and those people, organizations, and events who carry a buzz so strong throughout the streets and social media. Nominees for Commendations are Pittsburgh natives or Pittsburgh based business and organizations. 

To celebrate the scene and acknowledge those commended, there's a Review Party hosted at Senseless and powered by Jenesis Magazine. The 2017 Commendations winners list will drop the day of January 12, 2018, before the Review Party that night from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m going down at Senseless. Tell the boys to clear the clothing racks for a dance floor. 

Stick with the Year In Review page for an update on more nominees for 'best of' and more types of recognition. See you in the new year.

From pop-up nightlife events to local streetwear, to good photographers, and more in between, people enjoy many aspects of Pittsburgh society. Here commend the best lifestyles of the city.

Favorite Place

Good venues for culture

1. Artists Image Resource (A.I.R.) supports ambitious local artists. Located on the North Side of the 'Burgh, A.I.R. welcomes all-skill printmakers. Learn how to screen print at A.I.R., execute a project at A.I.R. or host an art exhibit at the facility's sizable gallery spaces.


2. Library Collaborative is a sprawling recording studio and independent record label in Pittsburgh's South Hills. Plenty of multi-media recording studios, like a full atmosphere green screen, fill Library Collaborative. The record label hosts events and parties, too. They projected the Mayweather v. McGregor boxing match in their theater room. Further, Library Collaborative sponsors a local rap scene on their label through hardworking word and beatsmiths like Juice and NVSV (NASA).

3. Spirit Lounge features great and consistent night-life programming. Spirit provides a relief to a community that craves contemporary music and room to dance. General Manager and former owner of the legendary East Liberty spot Shadow Lounge, Justin Strong and Ryan Brown, of lifestyle label farESH Brand, have done well at creating fun atmospheres for Pittsburgh twenty-somethings to have fun. The Tilt party showcases a huge light installation by visual artists Ian Brill. Bounce adds supreme excitement. Don't forget about wild Bounce 3 and 4 with hype DJ Christo.

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Favorite Place
Your favorite venue to explore fun and culture

Favorite Event

1. Creatives Drink mixes functions of a networking event and a party. People come out in droves for Creatives Drink. C.D. runs in bars, museums, and more spaces, like the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Partygoers enjoy the event for the free beverages and free entry, as well as rubbing shoulders with likeminded Pittsburghers.

2. Hilltopolis charity event and concert supported education and community improvement. Most interestingly, the concert welcomed Chicago rap headliners The Cool Kids, who performed live in Grandview Park on the 'Burgh's Mount Washington. Local hip-hop contemporaries Pet Zebra and Pk Delay opened up for The Cool Kids. Drinking Partners Podcast featured as the master of ceremonies for Hilltopolis and Creatives Drink threw the afterparty in a warehouse.

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3. TILT celebrates contemporary music and fun. Ryan Brown and Everett Banks Jr. power the party that welcomes youth and entertainment. TILT appears in bars and clubs like Spirit Lounge and Cattivo in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh.

Favorite Event
Favorite social event for merrymaking and musical entertainment

Teenie Award for Best Photographer

This Commendation honors Pittsburgh legend and photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris. Similar to Teenie's thorough documentation of people, local photographers Hannah Altman, Sarah Bader, Sharimar Cruz, Tyler Calpin, Michael Parente, Julian Ranallo, and Xavier Thomas (Art Like Us) capture quality images of a Pittsburgh life.

1. Hannah Altman's photographs show a natural and sensitive female form. Altman's images tell touching stories creating wonderful pieces of art. Her Construct of Viewpoint exhibit in L.A. showed her images on cloth pieces. Altman's work has received praise from popular publications like i-D.

2. Sarah Bader is the lead photographer at the Pittsburgh lifestyle publication Jenesis Magazine. She also held a photography exhibition called "The Top 5 Hottest Women in Streetwear" at Social Status.

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3. Tyler Calpin prefers 35mm film photography. His film photos add a sense of nostalgia and texture through scenes like at the skate park. Calpin shot a Summer lookbook for Pittsburgh lifestyle label Reviving Real and the Senseless clothing shop.

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4. Sharimar Cruz's portraiture and themes compliments fashion well. She captures time periods well with her retro looks. Color adorns her work.

5. Michael Parente's fashion photography helps local clothing companies like Daily Bread. Minimalist tones and shadows elevate Parente's photographs.

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6. Julian Ranallo got credit for fresh designer Aris Tatalovich's lookbook. Ranallo has a keen eye and interesting capture of streetwear culture in Pittsburgh.

7. Xavier Thomas's (Art Like Us) photos are everywhere. He frequents many events and concerts in Pittsburgh (and across the U.S.), which is why he's able to work with rap superstars like Fabolous, Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, and more. Art Like Us has a nose for finding movers and shakers to document their experiences. Additionally, Art Like Us shoots the video for The Burgh Boyz and New Wave Podcast.

Teenie Award for Best Photographer
Honoring a photography legend by commending a good local Pittsburgh photographer

Most Stylish

Pittsburgh's Best Dresser

1. Rieko Copeland is multi-faceted. While looking cool, chic, and comfy, Copeland is a pro model for brands like Modcloth, and a singer-songwriter.

2. Tara Fay's business is streetwear. She manages Social Status' East Liberty, Pittsburgh location and frequently travels for work dealing in fashion and culture, like Art Basel Miami. Her looks often feature a nice pair of slacks and killer sneakers, like her Metallic Gold Nike Air Max 97.

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3. Donovan Green finds work with Wilhelmina Models. She wears clothes well. Proof comes from Don as designer Makayla Wray's muse. Don models new Wray pieces such as the new heavy calf skin motorcycle jacket. Further, Don served looks in designer Aris Tatalovich's spring/summer collection. Don plays part in Pittsburgh's fashion culture modeling for locals Tatalovich and Wray, but her time in New York exposes her to new opportunities. 

4. Geechi P appreciates high fashion "pieces" by designers like Raf Simons. Geechi's T-Shirt collection is not to be messed with. A notable look from Geechi is a red or pink durag on his head.

5. Mathias Rushin floats in mystique. The visual artist, designer, and photographer dresses in interesting outfits with even more interesting, colorful hair.

6. Sarah Vanessa freelance models for companies like Modcloth and Three Pigs Vintage. She makes photographer's images pretty with sleek and fun retro looks. Vanessa, along with Copeland and Green, shines as a prominent cast of models who feature on a lot of people's Instagram's and real work in a competitive field. 

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Most Stylish
Who wears clothes the best

Best Item

1. EW Mag

East West Magazine is an art publication with interviews, tutorials, and stories from a diverse selection of local and popular artists. Only in its first year, EW Mag readies itself to cover the arts and culture landscape in an entertaining way.

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2. ROY G BIV Bag by Aris Tatalovich

This bag's been seen on the shoulders of pop culture heroes like Ian Connor, Playboi CartiPost Malone, and more. The colorful straps and the utility of the bag makes it a great accessory.

3. Shop412 x Pittsburgh Pirates x Majestic Jersey

Two authentic MLB Pittsburgh Pirates Majestic baseball jerseys with 412 embroidery and patchwork hits throughout the garments.

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4. Uptown Florals 2.0 by Makayla Wray

Wray's Uptown Florals 2.0 are extensions of her "Warhol Flower AF1" and "BLK AF1" projects, Nike's iconic Air Force 1 sneaker with flower decorations. The minimalist shoe boasts Wray's skillful craftsmanship.


Best Item
The best product made


Best Exhibit

Interesting Art

1. Don't Do Bad Stuff - GEMS + Jerome Charles (Chu)

This art exhibit showcases graffiti culture, and local 'Burgh art talent as praised taggers GEMS and Chu gave part of their platform to young artists like Anthony Quesen.

2. Flyboy Mural - Hebru Brantley

World renowned Chicago artist Hebru Brantley graced Pittsburgh with Flyboys twice. First, he showed an exhibit at the August Wilson Center called "I Wish I Knew (How It Felt To Be Free)", which displayed statues and paintings of Brantley's iconic boy superhero Flyboy. Second, Brantley painted a Flyboy mural on a building wall in the Wilkinsburg neighborhood. Brantley's art work represents "world class" art in Pittsburgh.

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3. She Lives In My Lap - Robert Hodge

Multidisciplinary artist Robert Hodge's "She Lives In My Lap" celebrated black women in music with prints of heroes like Nina Simone. The exhibit was present at A.I.R. Each print incorporates layers of popular culture down to the print of Columbia Records vinyl cover tagging the bottom of Hodge’s pieces. This year, Hodge also had a gallery called "For the Culture" that opened at the August Wilson Center.

4. Welcome Home - Brendon Hawkins + Kasem Kydd

"Welcome Home" explored gender roles and blackness "as a color, a metaphor, and black under surveillance." The exhibit felt current thanks to the culture in the art, like Allen Iverson's NBA jersey or the house music that played in the gallery room as visitors looked at Hawkins' photos and Kydd's structures with artifacts. Credit the exhibit curator Sean Beauford for selecting the pair of artists to show at Future Tenant gallery in Downtown, Pittsburgh.

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Best Exhibit
Interesting art in interesting spaces

Best Podcast

All of these podcasts or radio shows have local creative and musical talent on tap. Burgh Boyz, Drinking Partners Podcast, and New Wave Podcast offer people platforms to talk about their experiences and chosen crafts. Each show entertains listeners with funny show hosts, and the shows give voice to minority stories in Pittsburgh.

1. The Burgh Boyz with DJ Motormane, DJ Spillz, Portia Foxx, Flack, and Quentin Cuff

2. Drinking Partners Podcast with comedians Ed Bailey and Day Bracey

3. New Wave Podcast with Nigel McDaniel, Brennin Harris, and Taylor Renee Bush

Best Podcast
Interesting conversation with interesting guests

Most Hype In The City

There's a renaissance occurring in Pittsburgh. Creative and entrepreneurial movements have started and gained prominence in the city and nationally. These people commended for Most Hype In The City have carried the city of Pittsburgh with them throughout their work and worldly experiences.

1. Dan Folger has gone from being Wiz Khalifa's personal photographer to being the gold and diamond "it boy." Folger has built a jewelry behemoth called GLD that connects with the most blinged out rappers like Future and the Migos. Folger's GLD brand collaborated with the Taylor Gang hip-hop company for a pop-up shop and house party on Pittsburgh's South Side.

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2. John Geiger created sneakers under his eponymous fashion label, a lifestyle label called Diet Starts Monday with Davin Gentry of Washington, D.C. brand Premium Co, and a bar-restaurant located on D.C.'s 14th Street Northwest. The Pittsburgh native has made a name for himself making Nike Air Force 1s that Nike wish they made themselves. Now, Geiger's personal brand and shoes stack up against the competition. Geiger has been a big deal since his interview on national television for the Desus & Mero show on Viceland, and since his collaboration with telephone service provider Sprint.

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3. Hardo is the class of contemporary hip-hop in Pittsburgh. The trap-star and his Trap Illustrated management moved smart in 2017, signing a record deal with Sony and hitting the national radio waves, such as the L.A. Leakers show on Power 106 or REAL 92.3 in Los Angeles. Hardo also hit the road for tour with rapper Tee Grizzley.

4. Jimmy Wopo had a big 2017. He gained his freedom this year and he's garnered the eye of national media outlets like Complex and The Fader. Wopo brings attention to himself and the city of Pittsburgh. Further, Wopo currently talks to labels to figure out the best deal for him. In the meantime, Wopo performs in front of packed crowds throughout the city.

5. Keep Pittsburgh Dope is like the photographer version of the poet laureate. K.P.D. has the eye for capturing various forms of life in the 'Burgh. His street style images relate to people in the city thanks to familiar faces and familiar settings. K.P.D. executes advertisement campaigns for businesses such as the Carnegie Library and LIFEWTR. Keep Pittsburgh Dope became legend once eyewear company Eyetique gave him an ad.

Most Hype In The City
Which Pittsburgh name is hottest at the moment?