Francine In Retirement
Seeing Life Through Photography



Located on Hamilton Avenue in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, PA is a home straight out of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood: A woman Vanessa German, paints and sculpts on her front porch, and kids flock to her place as if it were an ice cream stand, so they can paint and dance and laugh.

Last year the Rachel Maddow Show tagged Homewood, “One of America’s Most Violent Neighborhoods.”   Yes, there is violence.  It would break your heart with stories that someone’s sons have been shot and killed, shot and wounded, or shot and in prison. It would break your heart with stories of grief and wailing and street corner memorials.

But to Vanessa German, Homewood is one of the most inspiring places in the world; from the houses to the sound of the buses running up the street. She has seen acts of love and bravery here that would leave you slack-jawed and damp-eyed with awe.

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts named her its 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year.  She’s performed at the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Chautauqua Institution, and her sculptures have been exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum.

The Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation awarded her a $5,750 grant in May to keep the paints and such coming, and the Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp. is setting up temporary space in a vacant house just down the street so she and visiting artists can reach more kids. Her porch and front yard get pretty crowded sometimes.  You can see and hear more of her vision for the neighborhood in the below video.



21 Responses to ““LOVE FRONT PORCH””

  1. Great Piece. Please check my blog out and follow @rdrevilo

  2. Great post, Francine. I got tears in my eyes as I read your post. I would like to give her a big hug. When they studied what helped kids make it who didn’t seem to have a chance, what they found is that there was someone in their life. Maybe it was just someone who gave them cookies after school – or provided a place for them to paint. I love hearing about the rays of hope within the neighborhoods of despair.

  3. Vanessa German is awesome. So are you!!!
    Love button needed for blog instead of like.

  4. Beautiful porch

  5. Thank you sister Francine for the wonderful pictures.. Many Blessings.. Bro pat 🙂

  6. This story brings so much hope. Thank you so much for sharing it 🙂

  7. wow, a wonderful story francine, i love to hear about extraordinary people like this artist, they inspire us to be ourselves more boldly!

  8. She is brilliant, i really hope the funding keeps coming for her to continue, every neighbourhood should have projects like this. Awesome Francine!

  9. What a touching post, Francine…thank you, Love,Linda

  10. What an amazing woman. I love such heartwarming stories, Francine. Those kids must love her to bits. May she continue to make a difference for many years to come. 🙂

  11. I agree with Gilly, every neighborhood should have projects like this. I hope she keeps up the good work. It’s always nice to hear stories about people who make a difference in a positive way.

  12. What a wonderful concept! Inspiring in its simplicity!

  13. Awesome story, Francine!
    God Bless You!

  14. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  15. It is so true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One cannot truly understand a place until immersed in it!

  16. There have been far too many shootings here, too, Francine. We must figure out a way to instill hope in our children. Where there is hope, there are no gangs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: