Artists have been selected for the City of Pittsburgh's 2021 expansion of its Art in Parks program! These eight local, national, and international artists and artist teams will be implementing high-impact public artworks in the City’s five regional parks: Frick, Schenley, Emerald View, Riverview, and Highland.
This program is made possible by the RADical ImPAct Grant, which was launched in celebration of the Allegheny Regional Asset District’s 25th anniversary with the intention of funding bold, forward-looking, creative projects that will have a radical impact on the region.
Below you can find some information on each park and the artists that will be working in them. Community engagement with the artists will begin this summer. The projects will be designed and installed on a staggered schedule through summer of 2022.
Pittsburgh’s five Regional Asset District Parks together make up around 2,000 acres, accounting for much of the City’s forest and green space. They also provide numerous recreational and cultural amenities, and hold much of the City’s collection of public art and memorials. Maps of each park can be found at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy website.
Schenley Park was created in 1889 with land donated by philanthropist Mary Schenley. A log cabin which sits in the park and was once owned by Schenley is considered to be the oldest home in Pittsburgh. The park is also home to Phipps Conservatory and the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, and sits adjacent to the City’s largest universities.
Schenley Park Artists:
Ginger Brooks Takahashi – With almost 20 years of experience, Ginger Brooks Takahashi is a local artist, well known for her concept-driven work. Her work explores how we might creatively co-exist in our surroundings. She has experience across many mediums with a variety of materials and strives to create installations that fit into their environment using available resources to communicate the value and concepts of her artwork.
Suphitsara Buttra-Coleman – Suphitsara Buttra-Coleman is a spontaneous realism artist who specializes in portraiture with acrylic paint. As a mural artist, she creates pieces that reflect on people within their communities and in society. She plans to create a piece that inspires the Pittsburgh community and also provides them with a safe space within the park.
Emerald View Park is the newest of Pittsburgh’s Regional City Parks, being officially created in 2007. It was made of the consolidation of existing parks, greenways, and parcels of land. It features many trails winding up and down its hillsides, and beautiful scenic overlooks of the City and its rivers.
Emerald View Park Artists:
Ali Ruffner & Ruby Perkins – A Pennsylvania native, Ali Ruffner strives to uphold, expose, and respond with joy to the culture of a place by spending time collecting stories in the community. She’s traditionally trained in sculpture, large scale installations, public art, film, and painting. Ruffner’s collaborator Ruby Perkins is a student at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA with a background in painting. As a community-minded artist, she uses her artwork to push for community action. Together, they plan to create an installation that will safely connect neighbors across the space.
OOA Designs – OOA Designs is a Pittsburgh-based, woman-owned and operated artist collaboration between founders Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata, established in 2018. They create aesthetic and functional public art that embraces color, forms and nature within their collaborative work. Their art also strives to tell the stories of the community and have meaning to those who see it every day, and they look forward to continuing to share the stories of their City.
Riverview Park was created in 1894 in Allegheny City, thirteen years before it was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh. At the time it was a mostly grassy area known as Watson’s Farm. Now, it is mostly made up of dense, hilly woodlands. There are numerous trails for hiking and jogging, and the only equestrian path found in Pittsburgh’s City parks. The most famous site within the park is the Allegheny Observatory, a historic landmark and institute of astronomical research.
Riverview Park Artist:
Sans façon & Steve Gurysh – As a collective, Sans façon shares a commitment to sustained, artistic research and conversation with landscapes, infrastructure, places, and communities in order to create responsive, layered, and experiential artworks. Sans façon (Tristan Surtees and Charles Blanc), a twenty-year collaborative team currently based in Calgary, Canada, and their collaborator Steve Gurysh, an artist and ten-year-long resident of Pittsburgh, are interested in creating a public work that allows people to engage and connect with embedded histories and also changes how we look at, understand, and interact with a landscape.
Highland Park sits on what was once farmland owned by the Negley family. One of its most famous features, the reservoir, was built in 1879, and people soon began gathering in the area around it for recreation. It opened as a City Park in 1893, with many of its key features being built in the following decade, including the entrance gate, Lake Carnegie, and the first picnic shelters. The Highland Park Zoological Gardens (now the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium) also opened at this time, and remains one of the area’s best-known attractions.
Highland Park Artists:
Marlana Adele Vassar – Marlana Adele Vassar is a Pittsburgh artist exploring ways to share her art that will enhance the City. She has 15 years of experience across a variety of mediums and her current focus is on creating distinctive public art with a balance of style and substance. Her artistic philosophy is “art is everywhere, and the ordinary has the potential to be extraordinary.”
The Urban Conga – Based in Brooklyn, NY, The Urban Conga is a multidisciplinary design studio made up of a diverse group of architects, engineers, fabricators, artists and more. Their work is focused on sparking community activity and social interaction through open-ended play. They create inclusive, engaging and site-specific works that spark creativity, exploration and free-choice learning within the built environment.
Frick Park is Pittsburgh’s largest City Park, containing land that Henry Clay Frick, the park’s namesake, bequeathed to the City of Pittsburgh at the time of his death in 1919. The park was officially opened in 1927. In addition to the many trails and recreational features, the park also houses the Frick Environmental Center, and the famous Blue Slide Park.
Frick Park Artist:
Hutabut LLC – Matthew Geller, of Hutabut LLC, uses everyday materials in the outdoor environment to create object-based, site-specific artworks that are integrated with their site. His works incorporates strong visuals and dynamic elements that can be activated by people as well as changes to ambient light and weather. This approach allows Geller to surprise and delight while fostering a sense of community around an unlikely object or site.
Let us know your thoughts on public art in each of these parks using the fields below. Possible areas of input include:
- Types or concepts of public art you would like to see in this park
- Examples of existing public art you particularly enjoy
- Specific locations within the park where you'd like to see new public art
- Needs or areas for improvement within the park that public art could address