Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

David Conrad Hearts Art

This hometown Hollywood star, who keeps a loft in the Strip District and supports the local arts scene, will serve as Honorary Centennial Chair for the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's 100th year.



Photos by Cami Mesa

With an impressive and idiosyncratic array of paintings and photographs by local talent that sprawls through his Strip District loft, his former prep school and a Los Angeles apartment, David Conrad is a real-life rare character: a collector whose passion is for the Pittsburgh region rather than for the paintings.

"The arts thing is actually small. I don't spend much money on art," says the Swissvale-born screen, stage and television actor, whose credits most recently include CBS' Emmy award-winning "Ghost Whisperer."

"I want to make sure young artists can pay the rent and stay here. My interest is in the city itself. The arts are the colors of that."

That's why Conrad is as passionate about the region's efforts to preserve its history as he is about the contemporary arts scene. He's a board member for Rivers of Steel, which is the effort to interpret the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio river valleys' steelmaking past, and also sits on the board at the Mattress Factory, the North Side's out-there museum of contemporary art installations.

He's also the Honorary Chairman for the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's Centennial Exhibition. Conrad, who will serve as the AAP ambassador for the year, earned the nod after winning a majority of votes from AAP committee members, who were forced to narrow down a lengthy list of candidates. But the choice was easy, seeing as though Conrad has displayed a "long-running support" for the organization.

"It's his humanity, his down-to-earth attitude, his genuineness," says Susan Sparks, AAP vice president and Centennial co-chairwoman. "He genuinely cares about arts in the region."

david conrad

In his Strip District loft, David Conrad showcases a small portion of his art collection. Conrad is the honorary centennial chairman of the Association Artists of Pittsburgh 100th anniversary celebration.

This celebration of the region's arts history is a natural extension of those interests. "It's like getting to know [topography]," he says. "You bike around; you see where the water flows. I get a feel for the cultural landscape."

Among the local artists Conrad collects are such acknowledged masters as Robert Qualters, along with newcomers like Ben Matthews, whose carefully distressed canvases resemble surreal advertising posters.

Conrad admires the landscapes of Bedford's Kevin Kutz as well as the gritty industrial still lifes of 29-year-old Colin Noonan. He's particularly intrigued with the work of Stowe Township's Fabrizio Gerbino, a Florence-trained painter whose works have been exhibited locally.

A particular favorite of Conrad's is Charlee Brodsky, the documentary photographer who shared his fascination with the region's industrial history.

During his college years at Brown University and The Julliard School, Conrad worked with volunteers assessing early efforts to evaluate the remnants of Big Steel in the Mon Valley. "I remember going into J&L and walking around. It was as if [the steelworkers] left yesterday—shoes were there; lockers were open," he recalls.

"The artifacts represented the history of a people that got wiped out, and I was fascinated with how that got recorded," he goes on to say. So he began to collect Brodsky's photos and later met her through Qualters.

Conrad refuses allegiance to a particular artistic aesthetic. "I like sculpture, painting, painterly photography. I like AC/DC and Stravinsky," he says. "I have catholic tastes," he says. "That's the advantage and the drawback of being an actor—I empathize."

When Conrad's collection grew beyond the confines of his home, his thoughts turned to the walls of the Kiski School. A 1985 graduate of the Westmoreland County boys academy, Conrad returns often and serves on the school's board of trustees. The Saltsburg school's broad lawns and public spaces sparked an idea: Donate the works to a place where they could inspire a new generation.

Now, that collection of 151 works, valued at $300,000, is exhibited throughout the campus: A 1,500-year-old Hindu bust peers from a second-story sunroom, while oversized quilts and paintings brighten building stairwells. "I don't care if [the students] think it's wallpaper," he laughs. "I want it to be part of their daily life. That's my only goal."

Back in the Strip District, in a loft he calls "a box of light," Conrad is surrounded by frescos and framed paintings (including a bathroom full of nudes).

A glass mosaic by Edgewood's Daviea Davis flows from the living space to a balcony, flanked by an 8-foot-tall screen of ornamental ironwork. Conrad designed the motif for the screen, which was executed by the city's Red Star Ironworks.

More framed works clutter tabletops and floors, but that doesn't mean the actor is putting the brakes on his local collection. He happily points to a handful of small pieces he's just picked up at Art All Night, the annual Lawrenceville art show. "If what I get [from acting work] can support others' work, that's great," he says. 


For more about AAP centennial exhibits and events, visit aapgh.org.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

The Italian-born star died surrounded by family in his adopted home of Pittsburgh.

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

The City of Pittsburgh has finalized its street paving plan for 2018. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Three Rivers Champion: James S. Perry

Perry combined his love for athletics and volunteerism to create a youth athletic association that at its height provided organized softball and baseball to more than 350 boys and girls.

Three Rivers Art Festival Brings Music and New Art For 59th Summer

Point State Park, Gateway Center and sites across the Cultural District will host free, world-class art and events during this year’s 10-day festival.

Sound of Silence: Century III to be Sold at Sheriff's Sale

The nearly 40-year-old mall encounters foreclosure once again. Will this sale be the end of the line?

Pittsburgh Riverlife President & CEO Vivien Li Resigns

Li is returning to Boston to be with family members who are in declining health.

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

The 6 Most Common Traffic Jams in Pittsburgh

Bad road layouts coupled with inconsiderate drivers and poorly timed stop lights cause traffic headaches all over the city. We sought an expert's opinion for the worst of the worst.

Watch: Snoop Dogg Schools Viewers about The Stanley Cup

The rapper is appearing in a series of videos in which he explains the rules and traditions of the Stanley Cup. We particularly like his shout out to Sidney Crosby.

Despite The Rock, Rampage Is a Wild Misfire

A review of "Rampage," plus an update on the former Friends of the Hollywood Theater and other local movie news.

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Sidney Crosby's Support of Humboldt Broncos is Personal

The Penguins captain took the time to write individual messages to each of the survivors and sent a personalized jersey to the team.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

The Italian-born star died surrounded by family in his adopted home of Pittsburgh.

Comments

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

The City of Pittsburgh has finalized its street paving plan for 2018. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley will rotate its third class of chef/owners this June … but this time there’s a twist.

Comments

A New Restaurant is Coming from big Burrito Restaurant Group

A New Restaurant is Coming from big Burrito Restaurant Group

The owners of Casbah, Eleven, Soba, Kaya, Umi and Mad Mex will open their first new concept in more than a decade.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Comments

Vote for the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

Vote for the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

The finalists have been selected now you get to vote. Where is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Who is the best local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to select your local favorites in multiple categories.

Comments


Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

Comments

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Comments

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

Penguins Seeking 3-Peat With The Swagger of a Champion

The power play, star power and goaltending are among the primary weapons the Penguins have at their disposal in their quest for another championship. But so, too, is an unshakable belief they can hoist Lord Stanley's Cup three times in a row.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Despite The Rock, Rampage Is a Wild Misfire

Despite The Rock, Rampage Is a Wild Misfire

A review of "Rampage," plus an update on the former Friends of the Hollywood Theater and other local movie news.

Comments

Wes Anderson's Act Wears Thin in Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson's Act Wears Thin in Isle of Dogs

Reviews of "Isle of Dogs" and "Blockers," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

Comments

How Lucky Socks Played a Key Role in Couple’s Wedding

How Lucky Socks Played a Key Role in Couple’s Wedding

A pair of puffin socks played a big role in this Pittsburgh couple’s relationship — and, in a surprise move by their pastor, their wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Toll Gate Revival Gearing Up for New Location, New Experience

Toll Gate Revival Gearing Up for New Location, New Experience

The vintage décor and reclaimed materials business owned by Seth Hunter will open in a larger Lawrenceville warehouse next month.

Comments

Take a Sneak Peek at Our 2018 Ultimate House

Take a Sneak Peek at Our 2018 Ultimate House

Tours of Empire on Liberty, a one-time furniture and carpet warehouse in Bloomfield turned into a mixed-use structure, take place this month. The tour includes a look at the penthouse and two condos.

Comments