Alternate Histories Studio brings monstrous artwork and giveaways to Greenfield
Matthew Buchholz still has zombies in his brain.
The artist, who grew up in Arizona watching old horror and sci-fi movies with his father, has turned his monstrous childhood obsession into a one-of-a-kind business.
To Alternate Histories Studio in Greenfield, he creates and sells fine art prints, greeting cards, books, records, t-shirts, stickers and pins that put a spooky spin on the past.
The weekend retail space, located at 517 Greenfield Ave., will host a party Friday, August 26 from 5-8 p.m. to celebrate the release of East End Brewing Co.’s Greenfield Libation, the latest addition to his You Are Here Neighborhood Beer Series. The Palapa will be there to throw tacos and DJ Mary Tremonte will turn tunes. Rita Johnson of Ex Libris Fiberswho has a workshop in the basement of the building, will sell his hand-dyed yarn.
By October, Buchholz plans to expand its hours and use the facility as a showcase for other local manufacturers.
On the shelves, customers will find landscape paintings and Buchholz-branded cards of sea creatures emerging from the river, flying saucers in the sky, or a Yinzilla attacking Downtown. He edits images online that are in the public domain and frequents garage sales, antique stores and flea markets to find vintage artwork, postcards and travel brochures. All 50 states are represented in his work, but western Pennsylvania is his greatest source of inspiration.
Buchholz came to Steel City in 2008 after attending art school in New York.
“I moved here because of a relationship that didn’t work out, but my relationship with Pittsburgh did,” he says. “Part of the fun of moving to Pittsburgh was learning more about the city’s ties to horror movies and people like George Romero, John Russo and Tom Savini, who still inspire in because of their fierce independence in creating works on their own terms.”
While working at Generic carda Lawrenceville card and gift shop specializing in local arts and crafts, he began Photoshopping his own brand of greeting cards using old Pittsburgh images as a beastly backdrop.
The line’s success led to a one-man, monster-themed art show at the Butler Street store and, ultimately, Buchholz going their separate ways. Independent brewery at Squirrel Hill is a veritable gallery of his work, and many Pittsburgh residents start their day sipping coffee from a Yawn of the Dead mug.
Buchholz operated the business from this Greenfield home for 12 years, fulfilling online orders, preparing his wares for craft shows, and distributing them wholesale to stores across the country. He needed more space to meet the demand.
He signed the lease for Alternate Histories Studio, the former Staghorn Garden Café, in June. The structure also housed a pharmacy for many years, and a mural pays homage to its prescription past on one of the exterior walls.
“I love the way it looks and how it fits into the neighborhood, which looks like a demolition neighbor from Squirrel Hill,” Buchholz says. “There are a lot of people here who really love the community and are invested in seeing it grow and change. People are excited to see something new coming to this space.
He’s busy putting the finishing touches on his 2023 National Parks Monster Calendar, an annual bestseller. Other new projects include a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, Decide-your-Fate books reminiscent of the Choose-your-Own-Adventure novels from his youth, and a vinyl album.
“Music For An Unknown World” is a collection of ’60s space rock and other oddities. It is dedicated to his father, Robert Buchholz, who died last year. Due to licensing of the songs, the release of the record took a year from concept to creation, with only 500 copies available.
It’s already in heavy rotation at the studio, adding to the vibe.
In a digital world, where most people communicate via text, alternate stories offer a wonderfully weird alternative to computer-based greetings.
“Our cultural discourse is driven by social media, but sticker and button sales are more important than ever,” he says. “It’s easy to believe in this idea that everything is online, but there will always be people who want something tangible to share with their friends and family.”