Blog Posts for Pennsylvania

Public Art Projects from Concecption to Installation

Posted by Nadine Wasserman, Jun 15, 2013 1 comment

Nadine Wasserman Nadine Wasserman

As part of the Annual 2013 Americans for the Arts National Conference, the Public Art Network (PAN) Preconference, presents the opportunity for public art professionals to explore all aspects of their field from invigorating communities to behind-the-scenes negotiations such as planning, fund raising, and working collaboratively with artists, architects, engineers, fabricators, city planners, and so on.

Like any worthwhile artistic production, good public art requires delicate negotiations, collaborations, and most importantly flexibility and adaptability. One of the many panels at PAN this year took a look at how the end result can often be very different from the initial prospectus. The panel, titled “Between the Lip and the Cup: How Projects Change from Initial Process to Final Installation,” was made up of four different professionals: Cath Brunner, Director, Public Art 4Culture, Seattle, WA; Stacy Levy, artist, Sere, Ltd., Spring Mills, PA; Natalie Plecity, Landscape Architect, Pittsburgh, PA; and Janet Zweig, artist, Brooklyn, NY.

The panel used examples to demonstrate how changes and unpredictable circumstances are inevitable at all phases of a project but they can be successfully managed in order to create the “best” outcomes for all stakeholders.
Ms. Zweig talked about two of her projects. One was for Maplewood, a neighborhood in St. Louis.  Her first proposal to create a digital sign proved cost prohibitive so she revised her plan. In the end her signs were made of recycled materials taken from bungalows that were scheduled for demolition in the neighborhood. One of the signs was intentionally installed backwards so that drivers passing by could read it in their rearview mirrors. Serendipitously, it was this aspect of the project that created a buzz and got the neighborhood the recognition it was seeking.

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Envisioning a City of Artists with “Soulful Stakes”

Posted by Kyle Bostian, May 31, 2013 2 comments

Kyle Bostian Kyle Bostian

Pittsburgh is widely – and deservedly – touted for its transformation from declining industrial center to post-industrial success story, with much attention devoted to the role played by the arts in that (ongoing) process. The site of the 2013 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, downtown’s Cultural District, represents a shining example of how artistic activity can help drive an economic recovery.

But in many neighborhoods the transition isn’t quite as far along; in some, it’s barely begun. And, for me and plenty of other Pittsburgh residents, that raises questions about how artists – often among the “avant-garde” (regardless of the style of their work) in terms of moving into and restoring “blighted” areas – might strive to make the most of the opportunities presented to them there. In my case (and I’m by no means alone in this respect), these questions go beyond the relationship between artistic activity and economic revitalization to encompass broader aspects of community building, accessibility, and social justice.

As a citizen-artist-activist, I appreciate the feeling of community that the arts often generate among participants. I’m particularly interested in and devote some of my own creative energy to projects that address issues (social, economic, political) with direct relevance to local populations. I’m passionate about the work I do along those lines. At the same time, I wonder if there are ways I could use my creativity to engage more deeply with my communities and have a greater impact. That’s why I was struck so powerfully by the words of one panelist at a recent Pittsburgh Emerging Arts Leaders Network forum on “Arts as Urban Renewal.”

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The One Not to Miss

Posted by Mara Walker, May 28, 2013 0 comments

Mara Walker Mara Walker

June seems like convention season in the arts world. There are lots of national arts organizations developing educational and networking programs for their constituents.  If you are an arts discipline organization like a theatre or chorus or a service organization like a local arts agency there is a gathering for you next month.

Why choose the Americans for the Arts convention? Sure, it has workshops like other conferences and we cover topics like finding creative funding sources for your work, getting arts supportive local ballots passed, mapping your cultural ecosystem, serving diverse audiences, working toward equitable funding for the arts and much more. Naturally, it has receptions at amazing venues like The Andy Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory. Yes, it has amazing award winning, game-changing speakers like Jim Messina, Manuel Pastor, Bill Strickland, Paula Kerger, Gary Knell, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Adam Goldman, Matt Arrigo, Tim McClimon and Edgar Smith. And there will be plenty of opportunity to hear from peers, colleagues and decision makers about how they are ensuring the arts are sustained and seen as core to building better communities.

We’ve picked an amazing city, Pittsburgh, for the convention where you can literally see the arts making a difference as you walk down Liberty Avenue. In return, Pittsburgh has the Three River Arts Festival, Gay Pride and baseball games taking place while we are there, June 14-16, so you can have the best of times.

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Treading Art Team Suggests You Keep an Eye on Pittsburgh

Posted by Christine Smith, May 22, 2013 0 comments

Melissa LuVisi and Christine Smith of Treading Art Melissa LuVisi and Christine Smith of Treading Art

Pittsburgh has vastly changed from what once was known as the “smoky city,” covered in smoke and grit, to a city that is open, architecturally diverse, young, and thriving. Pittsburgh has become a leader in the technology, energy and medical fields which has attracted transplants from across the country to work in and live in Western Pennsylvania. It has managed to diversify its economy away from an over reliance on manufacturing while preserving its industrial heritage.

As Pittsburgh continues to implement programs like the Propel Pittsburgh Commission, an initiative developed by the city to give a voice to young careerists living and working in the city, we can expect to see more population growth spurts in the region. Furthering this commitment to growth, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl put forth several efforts to retain college graduates by asking them to ‘pick’ Pittsburgh in 2012. For the last three years the city has been showing a strong number of increases in population. In terms of the arts and culture fields, it cannot be denied that the liveability of the city has more artists moving and settling in Pittsburgh to pursue their craft. Nationally speaking, here at Treading Art, we believe Pittsburgh is a city for America to keep its eye on while it continues to make broad strokes towards the top.

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Wonky In Pittsburgh

Posted by Mr. David B. Pankratz, May 08, 2013 1 comment

David Pankratz David Pankratz

I am new to Pittsburgh, having arrived here from Los Angeles on New Year’s Day 2013 to join the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) as its Research & Policy Director. It’s one of the few such positions in a local arts agency in the U.S., reflecting GPAC’s ongoing commitment to strategically integrating research, policy, and advocacy.

Overall, even though, alas, Pittsburgh’s signature dish (pierogies) is no replacement for Southern California’s fish tacos--sorry!--and Burghers’ sense of direction seems to rely more on landmarks long gone than concepts like east, west, north, and south, I’ve had a very happy landing here, in part, because it’s a dream locale for an arts policy wonk like me.

Pittsburgh is a policy wonk’s paradise for several reasons--its many assets and accomplishments, challenges, and policy windows.

Assets and Accomplishments
--Our state (Pennsylvania) is the birthplace of the Cultural Data Project, thanks in part to Pittsburgh-based foundations, while GPAC is a standing member of the PA CDP task force, which helps give direction to the use of CDP data by arts & culture organizations (and researchers).

--GPAC participates in national arts research initiatives on a regular basis, for example, TRG Arts’ Community Database Network, the Local Arts Index, and AEP IV, for which GPAC created its own customized report--Arts, Culture & Economic Prosperity in Allegheny County. The “Prosperity” report found, among other things, that our county’s arts & culture industry generates $410 million in household income annually which, in turn could be used in many ways--for house payments for 44,000 families or  to buy 505,849,383 pierogies.

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A New Trend: Business Schools & Corporate Art Collections (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by SR Howarth, May 02, 2013 1 comment

"Demon Eye 1," by Steinar Jakobsen, 2005, oil on alucore. From the Schwartz Art Collection of the Harvard Business School. "Demon Eye 1," by Steinar Jakobsen, 2005, oil on alucore. From the Schwartz Art Collection of the Harvard Business School.

In a recent development in the corporate art world, many of the most important business colleges and schools are now collecting art and using it as a learning tool.

As I was updating the information for the new 2013 edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections, I discovered a surprising and unexpected growth sector—business schools and colleges have begun to form art collections as a necessary component to their business curriculum.

During the past 20 years, it has become more recognized and accepted that art in a corporate environment has numerous benefits—for employees, clients, and the company itself. So it is heartening to see that many of the most important business colleges have developed an art program as an adjunct to their more traditional course offerings.

Primarily a North American phenomenon, some of the business schools with important collections include the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, Harvard Business School, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and the Stephen Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

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