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July 8, 2020

Tiger Brand Paint

A tiger is a powerful, beautiful animal that is easy to remember, which was perhaps the intent behind the striking advertisement designs for Lawrence Tiger Brand paint made in Pittsburgh.

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July 3, 2020

Exploring Images of John Brown

Perhaps more than any other figure connected with abolitionist cause in America, John Brown was a polarizing presence, depicted as demon or martyr depending upon the goals of the artist and the intended audience. An image featured in the new exhibition Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery emphasizes Brown’s resurrected image after the Civil War, when the Union victory confirmed for many the merits of his purpose even if they disapproved of his methods. The print reminds us that portraits are not neutral images. They are artifacts of a certain time and place, shaped by the motives of creators and sitters and geared to the expectations of specific audiences.

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June 16, 2020

Johnny Garneau: Smorgasbords & Sneeze Guards

If you grew up in Western Pennsylvania from the 1950s to ’80s, Johnny Garneau’s Smorgasbords were the name in buffet restaurants. The challenge—then and now—is that customers can be careless with good hygiene around all that food. More than 60 years ago, Garneau took a big step to resolve that when he patented a sneeze guard, the angled plate of glass or plexiglass that shields your food from others’ airborne germs.

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