Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Is Art Home? Two Troy Hill Houses Shelter Artists' Work

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Is Art Home? Two Troy Hill Houses Shelter Artists' Work

Article excerpt

With an inviting swing on the front porch, a three-story yellow-brick house on Rialto Street looks like any other home in Troy Hill.

But cross the threshold and you find otherworldly interiors that are fanciful, playful, spooky and even surreal. In the foyer stands an 8-foot-tall bell made for a television show called "Supah Ninjas."

Welcome to the vivid imagination of Thorsten Brinkmann, who created what he calls La Hutte Royal (The Royal Hut). In the artist's native German, "hutte" can mean country house or a four-sided shelter where hikers take refuge.

A walk through the first floor reveals the infinite ways vintage record album covers and vinyl records can become curtains, decor and furniture. Whether you liked Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, or the crooning of Dean "That's Amore" Martin, you'll feel as if you've arrived just a little late for a memorable party. The turntables are still turning.

From a second-floor bedroom, visitors can crawl through a fireplace and into a knotty-pine paneled room that Alice might have encountered after falling down the rabbit hole. A small table stands ready, but the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Door Mouse are nowhere in sight.

Crawl down a narrow hallway and enter a spooky beauty parlor with old-fashioned hair dryers. This third-floor space doubles as a screening room. Mr. Brinkmann appears on screen wearing a large piece of red velvet, his head covered with a white garbage can. He strikes poses while holding a flag pole.

There's no artist's statement or narrative, which begs the question: What is this?

This is one of two art houses commissioned and financed by Evan Mirapaul, a Troy Hill resident and contemporary art collector. When he bought the abandoned 105-year-old house, it reeked of urine and was filled with vinyl records and junk.

Mr. Mirapaul met Mr. Brinkmann at a Berlin art gallery and began collecting his photographs. He invited the artist to Pittsburgh, and in 2012, Mr. Brinkmann began working on the Troy Hill house. …

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