Next up in the transformation of downtown Youngstown into an arts and entertainment oasis is a grass-roots gallery for art, furniture and collectibles.
Grey Land Galleries will open next month in the former site of Wig Warehouse, on the corner of West Boardman and South Phelps streets. It’s on the ground floor of the old parking deck that recently reopened after some much-needed structural repairs.
The gallery will offer paintings, sculpture and other works by regional artists, industrial and mid-20th-century modern furniture, vinyl records, vintage clothes, high-end vintage sound systems and other items. It also will purchase the same.
All of it will have a Youngs-town theme and a post-industrial flair.
Grey Land Galleries — the name reflects the city’s vistas, if not its mindset — is the brainchild of Rocco Sait, who is otherwise known for his free-form and highly-inventive rock band, Modern Life.
A visit to his store last week found Sait painting walls in the spacious room, while a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter songs blared from speakers.
The space is dominated by graceful concrete pillars that dovetail as they near the ceiling. Wide arched windows line the walls, pouring in light from the streetscape outside.
The store was the home of Youngstown Letter Shop for many years before it became Wig Warehouse, and artifacts and signs from its print shop days can still be found.
Starting a business is something the 28-year-old Sait always wanted to do. His father, a Turkish-Cypriot who lives in London, has always run businesses, and Sait said the lifestyle is in his blood.
Sait feels a long connection to the city — his grandfather, Geno Difabio, was a Youngstown police officer for 35 years — and is proud to be part of its renaissance.
He is attracted to the solidly built Art Deco-style industrial furniture that used to be made in the city for use in factories and offices. “It has a weight to it, and it’s from an era when that meant something,” he said.
But the emphasis will be on visual art, with a focus on mid-century Youngstown style. The gallery will show exhibitions and have receptions for local artists.
Sait, along with helpers- advisors Hannah Woodroofe and Melanie Buonavolonta, is in the store daily getting it ready to open.
Expect it to be a unique addition to downtown, with an ear-to-the-ground attitude as far as merchandise goes — and Youngstown prices to boot.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE PABSTOLUTELY FESTIVAL
The craziest moment at Saturday’s fifth annual Pabstolutely Festival, which took place outside at the Royal Oaks bar on the near East Side, came when Daikaiju’s duo of guitar-shredding frontmen jumped into the moshpit and kept blazing away.
Daikaiju, a kabuki-mask-wearing insane-o surf-rock quartet from Alabama, pretty much destroyed everything in its path ... and did it without saying a word. None of the band’s songs has vocals. Each is an instrumental.
And the band members never said a word — in fact, there were no microphones on stage. Instead, they used expressions and gestures to egg on the crowd, not unlike mimes.
The coolest moment would be the release of a couple dozen sky lanterns, which are those miniature hot-air balloons. The fleet of balloons wafted over the East Side toward Pennsylvania, glowing like an alien spaceship reconnaisance squadron.
The balloon launch was a tribute to the late Brother Ed of Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, a favorite Oaks band, as well as other fallen friends of the bar.