Pete Spynda, self-styled madman, reaches out to youth with new teen programming at Ryan Arts

Sonja Reis | MRCDC

In just two short months, self-styled madman Pete Spynda has managed to raise the trajectory of the youth arts programming offered at Ryan Arts and Culture Center by several degrees. From images-3outside observation, this upward course path will continue as he pours his heart and soul into expanding course offerings and fostering collaboration with the Sto-Rox School District.

TEEN7One of the first moves Spynda made as the new director of arts and culture was to pinpoint where service was lacking. He says through talking with students at the junior-senior high school he soon realized that area teens would benefit from having a place to gather after school is done for the day.

So starting on March 14, a series of hands-on art classes will provide a place for teens to go while also providing tools to find employment. The 12-week session runs from 2 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday and includes independent workshops with teaching artists, video production, ceramics, printmaking, dance and more. Field trips to Artists Image Resource Print Studios on the North Side and other fun places are in the works, too.

“It makes sense to create a program that would give them a place to go and also give them a place to go outside of school,” says Spynda.

For the past 12 years, Spynda has been hustling as promoter around the city.images-2

Known as DJ “Pandemic Pete” by many, he’s been involved with several well-known events and activities held throughout the city of Pittsburgh including Weather Permitting Pittsburgh,, Pittsburgh Abides, and Pandemic.

While he’s still deeply involved with all of these projects, locally he is focusing on expanding horizons for “self-motivated students who want to learn and explore.”

His after school youth courses are designed to have teenagers realize there are reachable goals for artists and musicians. “To see that you don’t have to be Andy Warhol (link), you can be like Commonwealth Press (link),” he says.

What he means by that is “you don’t have to be a superstar, you can do something you love and still be a success.”

To apply for Studio Sto-Rox youth programming:

Studio programs include:

These free programs are based out of the Ryan Arts Center 420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. Snacks are available every day from 2 to 3 p.m. and PAT Connect Cards are available for all participating students.images-1