Public Art Projects To Begin In New Communities

Nov 27, 2015

The Office of Public Art is hoping to curate new public art installations in six of the city's neighborhoods.
Credit Bryan Orr / For 90.5 WESA

The Office of Public Art, is looking for community organizations to help develop new public art installations in six city neighborhoods through the “placemaking” process.

The office, a partnership between the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the Pittsburgh Department of Public Planning, is collaborating with Neighborhood Allies, a community development organization that matches growing neighborhoods with resources.

The partners hope to develop new installations in Allentown, Beltzhoover, the Hill District, Homewood, Knoxville and Larimer in the city as well as in Millvale and Wilkinsburg boroughs.

Placemaking involves collaborative art and cultural projects that revitalize neighborhoods using existing tools, according to Renee Piechocki, the director of the Office of Public Art.

“We’re not bringing in a million new ideas with our perspective of what those neighborhoods should be doing," she said. "We’re looking to partner with organizations that have already done some planning work and have identified public art or the need for artists to collaborate with them.”

These installations are normally in the neighborhoods for one to two years. Market Square is an example of a placemaking success story, according to Piechocki.

“That sight already had a cultural and social identity. It certainly had a physical identity that changed and through a lot of planning efforts, it evolved into what Market Square is now, which is basically like downtown’s piazza,” said Piechocki.

The Office of Public Art is reaching out to community organizations that will collaborate with artists and the placemaking consultants to create a new installation.

“We’re looking for an organization, an artist, that’s willing to be open and collaborate, to maybe come up with an idea that no one ever would have had on their own,” says Piechocki.

The community organizations will be chosen over the next two months and a call for artist will be put out in February, according to Piechocki.

Once an organization is picked to handle the project within the neighborhood, they begin searching for the artist whose work will best reflect their vision. Piechocki says artists already operating in the neighborhood are encouraged to participate, but talent may come from anywhere.

“They’re going to see other artists from Pittsburgh or other artists from Southwestern Pennsylvania, or even other areas, where they’re like, ‘You know what? There’s something about this artist that’s going to connect to our community.’”

The goal of these placemaking projects is to jumpstart public art in the neighborhoods. Piechocki says by the time the installation moves out, the neighborhood should have the tools they need to continue similar art projects themselves.