A handmade cob bake oven and a huge arrow-shaped picnic table for community gatherings will soon transform a vacant lot on the North Side into a culturally vibrant space. As part of Fallow Grounds, a series of public art projects run by Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, artist Michelle Illuminato will be creating the Tripoli Street bake yard. This will be the first community baking oven in Pittsburgh open to the public.
On the corner of Tripoli and Chestnut Streets in East Deutschtown, the bake yard will be a place where people will have access to an outdoor wood-fired and handcrafted cob oven by joining a bake club. There will be open hours, where the hot oven will be available for bake club members to make a pizza or swap ideas and recipes. Flags will be hung to show when the oven is hot and ready for baking. In addition, bake club members will receive training on fire and oven safety from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire.
“I have always been a baker, pushing yeast off on people, and I have always created large-scale art projects where I have invited the public to participate in some way,” says Illuminato. “So I am interested in helping to start this framework, creating something used by the public and which people can continue to grow afterward.”