NEXT Up: Janera Solomon

Janera Solomon

Janera Solomon. Photo by Mark Simpson.

Janera Solomon is the executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) in East Liberty which is in its seventh year of presenting new works in dance, music and film along with educational and cultural programming. An experienced curator, Janera has also worked with the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, the First Voice International Black Performing Arts Festival, the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco), the August Wilson Center, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the National Museum for African American History and Culture (Washington D.C.).

Monday, September 21

In the mornings I wake around 6 a.m. to start the day and get my daughter Mira ready for school. I’ll prepare a healthy breakfast and help her get dressed. She has a unique sense of style but thankfully we chose a school with a uniform! Her school is only about a 15-minute walk so we’ll walk over together. I enjoy the exercise and it’s a great way to spend time together.

Janera and her daughter Mira.

Janera and her daughter Mira.

My meetings usually start around 8:30 or 9 a.m. and I love stopping by Zeke’s Coffee and Commonplace Voluto (it has quickly become my extended office). We’ll meet there or I’ll stop by afterwards and pick up a coffee or pastry before heading to the office. I love running into some of my fav East Liberty folks there – Zack Block, Bobby Zappala, Kit Mueller and Tameka Cage Conley (working on her novel!).

It’s a jam packed day. We will welcome Olivier Tarpaga and his company from Burkina Faso to Pittsburgh (I’ll get to brush up on my French). We will kick off the week with a fun, informal dinner for Pittsburgh artist friends to welcome the company to town with food from Tana (one of my favorites). I’ll stop at KST to greet them before heading over to be part of our Penn Avenue Creative Monday Night Rounds.

Tuesday, September 22

After going over KST’s spring season during our weekly programming meeting this morning, I’ll meet with Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas and Deesha Philyaw to discuss 1839 Magazine, a new digital magazine we are launching that is taking a nuanced look at arts and culture by exploring the intersection of race, politics, the arts, community and culture. It is exciting!

I walk to work most days so I like to eat lunch in the East End. East Liberty has a great diverse offering of restaurants, and it’s not hard to find something delicious at neighborhood gems like Union Pig & Chicken, Pizza Taglio, Casbah and Impressionz.

Wednesday, September 23

There are so many cool things happening in Pittsburgh this week. I’m looking forward to checking out Quantum Theatre’s newest work, The Winter’s Tale, as well as innovative panels and performances at Thrival Festival and Boom Concepts in Garfield this week.

Wednesday is also Yom Kippur. I look forward to spending quality time with my friends and family over a Break Fast dinner in the evening.

Thursday, September 24

Janera with artists Darrell Kinsel and Anqwenique Wingfield.

Janera with artists Darrell Kinsel and Anqwenique Wingfield. Photo by Mark Simpson.

It’s going to be an even busier weekend so I’ll need something stylish to wear. After work, I’m stopping by Kiya Tomlin’s Uptown Sweats in East Liberty, and Pavement or Mid-Atlantic Mercantile in Lawrenceville. Their fall wardrobe lines are a nice mixture of cozy and chic—perfect for me (I like to keep my fashion choices simple).

I’ll head over to the East End Food Co-op after work before making dinner with my family. I like the selection of fresh produce and goods from local businesses; we love to cook.

I just got a new book, Negroland, by Margo Jefferson, so I’ll read a bit of that and then I’m going to bed early tonight since I have a very busy day tomorrow!

Friday, September 25

This morning I’m excited to be part of a panel for Thrival Festival’s Women in Leadership and Innovation event at AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty. The panel focuses on women in leadership and the art of negotiation. I am looking forward to a great conversation with fabulous ladies Hahna Alexander, Dawn Rucker, Audrey Russo and moderator Ilana Diamond.

Paris 66 is open for lunch Friday, so I will head over there in the afternoon to relax a little bit before a busy evening.

This evening is the big unveiling of Brazilian artist Angelica DassHUMANÆ/I AM AUGUST exhibition at the August Wilson Center, a project I helped to produce alongside The Magenta Foundation. I can’t wait to see these beautiful images on the building. Dass will return for the opening, and she’ll be joined by Pittsburgh’s own DJ Carla Leininger of Global Beats who will spin an eclectic mix of world music throughout the evening.

Then, I’m headed back to the East End for the world premiere of Declassified Memory Fragment at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

We usually hang out with artists after the show, either at Kelly’s Bar or The Livermore—or sometimes a late night supper at my place.

Saturday, September 26

I just found Tracy Thorpe Scott’s Zumba class at the Kingsley Association on Saturday mornings. I love to dance, so it’s a fun way to get some exercise in to start the day!

In the evening, I will head over to KST for the second showing of Declassified Memory Fragment before checking out the innovative artists at this year’s VIA Festival.

Sunday, September 27

I willl head to the The Porch in Oakland with my family (it’s our daughter’s favorite so we go nearly every week). When the weather’s nice, we like to walk through Schenley Plaza and Phipps Conservatory or just walk around Oakland.

Before we head home, we’ll stop by Classic Lines, my new favorite bookstore in Squirrel Hill. I believe reading is incredibly important and it’s a great way to unwind before another busy week!