Shane Pilster is an artist, muralist, curator, graphic designer, and community advocate. Bridging his expertise in graffiti and urban arts with community involvement, he prides himself in also being an educator, advocate, mentor, and well-rounded creative individual. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Shane has called Pittsburgh his home since 2004 and is a pioneer in bringing awareness and shining a spotlight on urban art and its artistry in ways never done before in the region.
Working with Rivers of Steel since 2012, he created its Graffiti Arts tours and interactive workshop curriculum to showcase the post-industrial history of Carrie Furnaces, alongside its unique canvas for experienced and emerging artists and muralists from around the world. In addition to organizing and curating the legal painting areas of this National Historic Landmark, he has increased the scope and reach of his art programming in schools and communities, as well as organized art components and live demonstrations at events such as Homestead First Fridays, Thrival Festival, and the Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Always looking to expand his passion for giving back, he is also a co-founder of Hemispheric Conversations: Urban Art Project (HCUAP), which brings visiting artists of Latin heritage from Chicago and Mexico to paint murals, lead workshops, give lectures, and interact with communities. Most recently, he curated a pop-up urban art show in Homestead with 10 other artists from Pittsburgh, Chicago, and León, Mexico.
Shane is the founder of 82Concepts, his graphic, web, and art design firm, where he works with businesses and organizations of all sizes including Marriott Hotels, Vitamin Water, Whirl Magazine, Pittsburgh Brewing Company, the ACLU, Rivers of Steel, and Community Forge, among others.
Named one of Pittsburgh’s “Who’s Next: Art” by The Incline, Shane is constantly honing his craft and artistic expression by finding the human component of creating to connect with others and fulfill his desire for self-betterment. He hopes to develop and curate more locations for aerosol and mural artists to paint throughout the Western PA region and abroad, as well as continue to strengthen programs with Rivers of Steel and other organizations and find new ways to connect art with meaningful experiences.
In 2020, Shane was selected as one of ten artists to create a billboard design for the Make Our Differences Our Strengths project. The project was managed by lead artist Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer, with support through The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and various organizations. Shane created a 26’x8’ brightly colored mural on a building owned by Olde Towne Overhaul in New Kensington, a small rust-belt town in Westmoreland County. The final mural was on display on both The Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 30 near the town of Irwin for several months. This project received national coverage in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications.
Max Emiliano Gonzales, also known by their artist name “GEMS”, can be classified as an activist, art educator, muralist, graffiti writer, printmaker, curator, and much more. Originally from the Southwest side of Chicago and raised in Latino communities, Max brings a unique perspective to Pittsburgh as a queer-identifying, Chicano artist.
Max was brought to Pittsburgh in 2012 to attend Carnegie Mellon University’s Fine Art program on a full-ride Scholarship. By 2016 Max had graduated with honors, secured multiple positions with the University, and was arrested as Pittsburgh’s most wanted graffiti artist. Rather than let the notoriety of his graffiti career dwindle, Max has gone on to develop a career from it as a practicing artist, muralist, curator, and art educator.
Max has presented as a guest artist, lectured, and run workshops at locations including: The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Winchester Thurston High School, Youth Places North Side, McKeesport, and Homewood, Assemble Pgh, The Environmental Charter School, The Warhol Museum, and The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Max is also a member of Boom Concepts, Flower House Gallery, Wicked Pittsburgh, Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project, and Pullproof Studios.
Currently, Max works full-time as an artist and art educator, specializing in muralism.
Through their different roles as an artist, Max seeks to give value to underrepresented voices, movements, and art forms to challenge any established socioeconomic barriers, elitism, or bigotry to redefine the role and importance of art.