Meet the Presenters!


Tony Allgeier

“Journey of a Living Doll”

No matter what form he may take, Tony Allgeier has always lived with the philosophy that a smile can truly change the world. While most may find this to be a cliche, Tony has found it to be the key to spreading happiness. He currently works as an independent mixed media designer with projects ranging from interiors, graphics & upholstery. His alter ego, Alora Chateaux, allures audiences with her unique proclamation of positivity, entertainment, nostalgia, inventiveness, and sovereignty over her loyal subjects. Her 11 year reign continues to inspire and shine light on the queer community by professing the message of acceptance. Both Tony and Alora were selected to compete on HGTV’s Design Star : Next Gen in 2021. Throughout his ongoing journey as a mixed media designer Tony remains true to his studies focused on the psychology behind the built environment and how to better interpret spaces through organization. To discover more please follow him on social media @TonyAllgeier_ and her @AloraChateaux.

This presentation will highlight a drag performer’s exploration of gender with the ultimate goal of becoming a living doll. Discover more as we take a journey straddling the blurred lines between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ through the study of societal norms, the built environment, cinema, toys, and costuming.

John Allison

“Street Wisdom: The Sayings of Discount Newsstand”

John Allison is editor of Shady Ave magazine, a local print quarterly, and a journalist for 40 years.

This presentation features a report on John’s Shady Ave magazine story in progress. Chronicling the signs of upbeat sayings that the owner of Discount Newsstand on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill posts in the front window. Every week, for 19 years. Handmade. Effusive. Impulsive.  The effect on passers-by — the same.



Nick Doichev

“Black Sea Pearls”

Nick is an architect, principal and one of the owners at DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design. He started his journey in architecture in Sofia, Bulgaria and earned a master’s degree from Virginia Tech. Nick has a passion for design and space making. After practicing in studios across the US, he settled in Mt. Lebanon in 2007. Nick has two college age daughters and enjoys traveling with his partner Zenaida, dancing, learning languages, skiing, cooking, and painting.

The presentation: Memories are like a necklace of pearls held together by the invisible string of consciousness. Here is one such necklace strung during a walk through the streets of Nesebar – a tiny island off the Bulgarian Black Sea coast that has been inhabited for over 3 millennia. The original Thracian settlement gave way to a Greek colony that became a Roman outpost and a subsequent Byzantine stronghold. It was conquered by the Bulgarians and then the Ottomans took it over. Eventually an isthmus was constructed to connect the island to the mainland, and a windmill to harness the Black Sea winds. The Persians were there, the Celts, and the Venetians. It has been besieged, ceded, looted, and rebuilt. Nesebar is a UNESCO heritage site in modern day Bulgaria, lovingly referred to as the Pearl of the Black Sea.

John Eastman

“The Interruption of Negative Space”

John Eastman is an abstract painter, wood sculpture-furniture designer, and mixed media installation artist focusing on minimalism and negative space. He currently works in several studios in Pittsburgh. Eastman is a native of South Western Pennsylvania, frequents multiple areas of Europe, and New Mexico. He started as a self taught abstract painter of large works in 2002, and began to exhibit in galleries and museums within 3 years, adding wood sculpture and furniture to his body of work in 2010. In the past five years, his work has evolved into designing and building small buildings wrapped in corrugated sheet metal and framed wood, with art installations residing within, creating an exterior artwork structure, with interior art. The structures blend into the industrial past of western Pennsylvania, while reflecting the current neighborhood surroundings of nature, buildings, lights, and streets.

Eastman’s “The interruption of Negative Space” forthcoming exhibit in March of 2024 at Spinning Plate Gallery in Friendship, will bring focus on negative space, the focus object within it, minimalism, and entanglement theory, a significant new direction in his artist practice.” The exhibit will demonstrate the relationships between negative space, focus objects, and the entanglement that occurs when humans interact.

Mark Houser

“Legacies in Stone and Steel: How Skyscrapers Transformed Our Cities”

Mark Houser is a professional speaker, writer, and tour guide who shares stories of America’s first skyscrapers and the explosion of economic power, technology, and societal disruption their builders unleashed on the world. He is the author of MultiStories: 55 Antique Skyscrapers & the Business Tycoons Who Built Them and a new book with Philadelphia artist Chris Hytha, Highrise Art Deco.

Pittsburgh had two skyscrapers in 1900. Within a decade there were more than a dozen, and our city would never be the same. See dramatic drone photo art that gives a unique new perspective of these landmarks in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, and hear fascinating facts about the men and women who built them. From the Highrises Collection, an art and history project documenting 200 historic tall buildings across the United States.

Amy Kline

“Memes Start Movements: A Story of Music, Creativity & Community in Dormont”

Amy Kline is the founder of Dormont CoronaChoir, Dormont Arts and The Parking Pad. She has years of experience in creating interesting viral projects out of hare-brained ideas and bad jokes. She has 20+ years working in non-profit arts, music, con, and festival ticketing and marketing, and 17+ years in parenting. She lives with her daughter, Allison, and her partner, Stefan, in Dormont.

This presentation will tell the story of creating the Dormont CoronaChoir during the COVID lockdowns of 2020 and how the core group of singers in that project became the founding board of Dormont Arts, and led to a major change in her community that has spawned creativity throughout the neighborhood. Hear about Amy’s music presenting company, The Parking Pad, also born out of a need for live music during COVID, and how she and her partner had a vision to present concerts, and entertained over 1300 people in their backyard, transitioning that into a music presenter producing about one concert per month in multiple venues in Dormont.

Carolina Loyola-Garcia

“Holding Hands”

Carolina Loyola-Garcia is a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and performer from Santiago de Chile. She works primarily in media arts, including documentary films, single-channel video art, video installations, video design for theater, and digital photography & imaging. As a performer she has worked in theater productions, dance ensembles, and as a flamenco artist. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and is Professor of Media Arts at Robert Morris University.

Hands are quite a unique trait of our species. The texture of the skin, the details of the corrugated nature of knuckles, bones showing through the skin, the protruding of pulsating veins, the length of our thumbs in relationship to the fingers, tension, age…  There is tenderness in hands. Hands can hold. Hands build. Make. Cut. Draw. Slice. Carolina has been documenting hands. This presentation will take you on a visual journey through this project… and a couple other things.

Lin Qian

“Journey Through Art: Exploring Landscapes, Identity, and Family”

“Growing up in China, the history of her country has deeply influenced Lin Qian’s worldview, her emotions, and thereby her art. The tragedy of the Cultural Revolution, for instance, became an influence in her work. Many of her early pieces convey that a disaster happened in our cultural history, but the crystal of the spirit and knowledge did not perish.

Another inspiration for her work has been peregrination. Flying high up in the sky, or walking on a foreign street, she often was reminded of a sentiment written down in the book of Hebrews: “”They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth””. In several pieces of art, she tries to express this state of mind; feeling lonely, disconnected, insignificant, floating, and out of time and place.

Patrick Rice

“Turnaround in a Rivertown”

Patrick Rice, Principal at Rice Pegher, is responsible for developing and maintaining company systems and infrastructure platforms that Rice Pegher relies on for daily business operations. He is deeply involved in deal analysis and sourcing, syndication positioning and investor relations, and brand design and marketing for the company. Patrick built his career in technology working for ad agencies and startups in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and brings his unique mix of experience to redevelopment in his new home in Pittsburgh.

The presentation holds witness to the messy process of turning an impossible real estate redevelopment deal into a big win for the community, local government, and our stakeholders.

Greg Victor

“Pittsburgh’s International Marketplace of Ideas”

Greg Victor was a journalist for 35 years. He worked for the Gannett Newspaper / USA Today Network in various locations and retired from the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh. He also served as publications director for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York and East Asia representative for the American Friends Service Committee in Bangkok. Victor started the International Free Expression Project in 2016 at a time of escalating attacks on freedom of expression around the world despite being told that starting a nonprofit organization in no way resembles retirement.

His presentation reveals the initiatives of the International Free Expression Project:

1. The building of a unique museum / theater / cinema / food hall / makerspace / artist studio / event venue in the vast, abandoned pressroom of the former Post-Gazette building at the Point.

2. The building of the world’s first iconic work of public art symbolizing free expression.

3. The development of an integrated physical-online art gallery that helps underrepresented and persecuted artists make a living.