Master Artists and Tradition Bearers Awards

As part of our ongoing efforts to increase awareness of the region’s enduring cultural heritage, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is launching an annual recognition of Master Artists and/or Tradition Bearers in southwestern Pennsylvania.  A reception to honor the awardees will be held on October 29, 2014 at The Bost Building in Homestead, PA for invited guests.

Master Artists are those who have reached a high level of excellence in their art form; who began by learning from people within their community; who are recognized both within and outside of their community; and who are dedicated to sharing their skills with others, sometimes as a professional but always as a way of life.

Tradition Bearers may or may not be artists.  They are individuals who are recognized for their expertise and for their sustained efforts to carry, preserve, and share traditional knowledge.

This year Rivers of Steel is proud to introduce our 2014 Master Artists and Tradition Bearers:

Cathleen Bailey, master artist and tradition bearer in multiple genres including Yoruba sacred and ceremonial beadwork, African American quilting, and writing stories and narrative poems.

George Balerdose, master of the Highland bagpipe, Scottish smallpipes, and uilleann pipes.

Joe Grkman, master accordionist, both button box and piano accordions, in the Slovenian traditional. He performs with his family polka band, "Grkmania."

Mimi Jong, master of the traditional two-string Chinese fiddle called the erhu.

Michael Kapeluck, master of the art of iconography in the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic traditions: the representation in art of Christ, the Virgin Mary, angels, saints, feast days, parables, miracles etc.

Mac Martin, master bluegrass musician and founder of the legendary Dixie Travelers traditional bluegrass band.

David Motak, master creator of szopka (shop-kah), a traditional Polish art that originated as ornate theatrical sets combining rich architectural elements into elaborate constructions of various sizes.

Yuriy Mudrenko, master painter and sculptor whose work includes landscapes, folklore, and historical portraits as well as Russian icons in a variety of media.

Dean Poloka, master choreographer and ethnic researcher of traditional Carpatho-Rusyn music, song and dance.

Charley Rappaport, master player, teacher, and champion of European folk music that features stringed instruments, particularly the mandolin family.

Brett Ridgeway, master musician preserving the musical heritage of the Appalachian people.

Sam Robinson, oral historian of Pittsburgh’s steel heritage.

The awardees will be spotlighted on the Folk Arts Directory section of our website.

The purpose of the FOLKLIFE DIRECTORY is to assist classroom teachers and individuals to identify and locate a MASTER ARTIST or TRADITION BEARER for an educational or entertainment event.

If you believe you are a Master Artist or Tradition Bearer, please contact Mary Briggs to be vetted for inclusion in the Folklife Directory.

Funding for this initiative and tonight’s program has been partially provided by the Folk Arts Infrastructure Initiative in Pennsylvania with funding support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service.


The 45-Inch Mill

The 45-Inch Mill
Constructed in 1942 as part of Homestead's World War II expansion, the 45-inch mill was in operation until the early 1980s.