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Reorganized Pittsburgh art commission OK's work near Fern Hollow Bridge

An aerial image of a bridge surrounded by houses and trees.
Gene J. Puskar
The rebuilt Fern Hollow Bridge.

The City of Pittsburgh’s newly reorganized Art & Civic Design Commission on Wednesday held its first meeting and took its first vote, approving an artwork to enhance the rebuilt Fern Hollow Bridge.

Members of the Commission’s art committee voted 4-0 to OK a proposal by local artist Carin Mincemoyer for “Trail Meander,” an array of large sculptural stones and trees on either side of the Frick Park trail that runs beneath the bridge.

“The artwork is designed to welcome use as a place of reflection, of meditation, or remembrance,” Mincemoyer told committee members in the online video meeting.

Before voting to approve, commissioners discussed whether the work should include a memorial to those injured or otherwise traumatized by the bridge’s collapse, in January 2022.

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Mincemoyer noted that it was only a few months after the collapse that she began conceptualizing the artwork, and that the project scope did not require an explicit memorial.

Sallyann Kluz, head of the Office of Public Art, which selected Mincemoyer, added that the project — though fast-tracked — had been delayed several times and risked losing its federal funding if it was delayed any further for a redesign. However, Kluz said, OPA is involved in other art projects which could result in memorials on the site.

One factor in that delay was the decision in November by Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration to restructure the city’s longstanding Art Commission as the Art & Civic Design Commission, with separate committees for art and civic design. The city postponed what would have been the commission’s first two scheduled monthly meetings, in January and February, while City Council approved the legislation authorizing the change and then OK’d the mayor’s appointees.

In other business, the commission elected art committee member Mikael Owunna as president and civic design committee member Ariam Ford as vice president.

The old Art Commission was a single body. Now the art committee, which reviews and approves public artworks, and the civic design committee, which oversees changes to publicly owned buildings and landscapes, will meet separately most months. Both committees consist of five volunteers, though only four seats on each are currently occupied.

The civic design committee also held its first meeting Wednesday, approving the redevelopment of East Liberty’s Enright Park and the design of the new Davis Avenue Bridge, in Brighton Heights.

Meeting jointly, commissioners on the two committees also received briefings from the directors of the departments of City Planning, Public Works, and Mobility & Infrastructure.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: