As RAD celebrates 25 years of impact on our region, we look to the future with 12 exciting projects that will shape the creative and cultural landscape of Allegheny County for the next 25 years.
In 2019, the RAD Board unanimously approved all 12 semifinalist proposals for RADical ImPAct Grants. These projects represent an exciting mix of artistic media, genre, and community engagement and impact. The timelines are all unique, but all 12 will be developing throughout 2020 and complete by the end of 2021.
We will keep you updated on their progress here and in our monthly enewsletters. Click here to sign up!
All Pittsburghers are Poets
Project: All Pittsburghers are Poets celebrates poets of all ages and abilities with a "Poem of the Week" published in its online magazine and with a Poet Laureate program that will name Poet Laureates in four categories.
Progress: After careful consideration by expert judges in four Poet Laureate award categories, City of Asylum is pleased to honor the following poets their outstanding achievements in poetry and civic engagement in our communities: Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County Vincent Folkes, ASL Poet Laureate of Allegheny County Maryjean (Mj) Shahen, Emerging Poet Laureate of Allegheny County Paloma Sierra, and City of Asylum Poet Laureate of Allegheny County Celeste Gainey. City of Asylum will collaborate with the Poets Laureate to create free poetry programming during their terms of service.
Art in Parks
Project: Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh join forces to highlight the symbiotic relationship between art and parks. Their project, Art in Parks, will encourage the public to reimagine the way they interact with and enjoy public art in park spaces. Allegheny County will enhance Hartwood Acres Park through the creation of a sculpture garden near the Hartwood Acres Mansion grounds. The City of Pittsburgh will solicit proposals for monumental signature large-sclae interactive public works of art in each of the five RAD parks within the city.
County Parks: Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, two sculptures at Allegheny County’s Hartwood Acres Park were relocated to new locations in the developing sculpture garden, which is funded in part with a RADical ImPACT grant. The Allegheny County Parks Foundation is partnering with the county on the project design, sculpture conservation and fundraising. Monumental Holistic IV (1980) by Betty Gold was moved to its new base close to the access road to Hartwood Acres Mansion. Hence (1977) by Clement Meadmore sits at a new site behind the mansion. Both sculptures will be conserved by an expert on site when stay-at-home restrictions and weather permit.
City Parks: The City’s Public Art + Civic Design team is in the planning stages of their commissions and will be releasing a Request for Proposals in the near future. Stay tuned!
Artwalk on the Allegheny River
Project: The Artwalk on the Allegheny River project will artistically reimagine two miles of trails, industrial infrastructure, and access points along the Allegheny River from Point State Park throught the Cultural District and up to the Strip District. Commissioned large-scale public artwork and inclusive community spaces will create a riverfront "artwalk" with three new gateways to the Allegheny River - a western gateway under the Fort Duquesne Bridge from Point State Park, a central activation at the Eighth Street block through the Cultural District at Fort Duquesne Boulevard, and an eastern anchor at 28th Street in the Strip District.
Progress: The ArtWalk on the Allegheny project has been moving forward steadily in the planning process with the project partners engaging Clear Story to assist with project management and technical assistance for the first bookend site. Milestones for the Fort Duquesne Bridge portion of the ArtWalk include vetting Future Green Studio's updated design concept with Department of Public Works, PennDOT, Office of Public Art, and receiving these stakeholders' enthusiastic support and constructive feedback.
David Seiter, principal and lead designer at Future Green, flew in from Brooklyn to present the project at the February 26 Pittsburgh Art Commission hearing. The project received Conceptual/Final Approval from the commission, clearing the way for a spring installation. The commissioners encouraged the project partners to continue to explore complementary programming opportunities such as an Earth Day celebration and art activities to engage the community. Future Green has also been in conversation with Powdermill Nature Reserve to discuss the habitat restoration possibilities of the installation.
The second ArtWalk site at 28th Street in the Strip District is in the early planning stages as the project partners formalize agreements with the property owner. An RFQ process will be open for submissions this summer with a new community jury formed to review submissions.
August Wilson: The Writer's Landscape
Project: The Writer’s Landscape will be the first-ever exhibition dedicated to the life and works of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. Opening in fall 2020, the 1,800 square foot permanent exhibition will explore the people and places of Pittsburgh, where Wilson was born and raised, and which had a profound impact on shaping his worldview and inspiring his unprecedented 10-play American Century Cycle. The Writer’s Landscape, which will be free of charge and open daily, expands the AWAACC’s mission to offer programs and resources that advance Wilson’s legacy, celebrate Black culture, and champion future innovators in arts and culture.
Progress: A press release announcing The Writer's Landscape details the exhibition's three sections, or acts:
The Coffee Shop: inspired by Eddie’s, a local eatery in the Hill District, where a young Wilson frequently went to observe the day-to-day interactions of its diners. He scrawled notes on napkins, which subsequently provided the basis for many of his characters and the inspiration for his storytelling;
The Office: a replica of Wilson’s home office that will showcase his working environment and items that he prized, including his writing desk, manuscripts, books and records from his collection, generously donated by the Wilson Estate;
The Street: a recreation of Pittsburgh’s Hill District over the span of Wilson’s life, featuring an interactive map of the neighborhood exploring how it’s evolved through the years. Utilizing video, props, and costumes from notable Broadway productions of his work, this section will provide insight into major themes from each play in the American Century Cycle. Highlighting the universality of his plays, this section will show all current and scheduled productions of his plays across the globe. It will also invite visitors to share how Wilson has been a creative inspiration to them, highlighting how the issues and people he wrote about more than four decades ago continue to be timeless and relevant today.
Building Bridges: A Community-Centered New Work of Immigrant Stories
Partners: Literacy Pittsburgh, All for All, Global Minds, and Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education (ARYSE)
Project: City Theatre's project will culminate in a large-scale, community-centered world premiere production celebrating the narratives of immigrant and refugee populations in Pittsburgh. The play will be developed through a year-long interview and engagement process with imigrant and refugee individuals, supported through partnerships with agencies already working closely with these populations. At its heart, this piece will be an exploration of a quintessentially American story, highlighting how Pittsburgh is a city of immigrants - past, present, and future.
Progress: In December, City Theatre welcomed Michael John Garcés, director, and James McManus, playwright, for their first artist residency. During their visit, Michael and Jim conducted three story circles with participants from City’s partner organizations Literacy Pittsburgh, All for All, Global Minds, and ARYSE; learned to make pierogis at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church; dove headfirst into the Heinz History Center’s Detre Archives; and viewed an exhibit at Pittsburgh Glass Center. These artists will return to Pittsburgh multiple times this Spring, gathering more research and interviewing more Pittsburghers in advance of writing a developing a first draft of a script. The resulting play will receive a full production at City Theatre in 2021.
As part of a large artistic department restructuring, Clare Drobot, who has been a lead on their RADical ImPAct project, has been elevated to Associate Artistic Director and Rebekah Diaz has been hired as a full-time Community Engagement Officer to work closely with Clare and City’s community partners on the development of this play.
Connecting the North Side: The Corridor
Partners: The Andy Warhol Musuem, The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, City of Asylum, The National Aviary, and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Project: The Corridor is a place-making initiative that will better connect Pittsburgh's North Side through continued cultural and economic development and encouraging wayfinding through accessible recreational space. The Corridor will focus on the approximate one-mile passage from the Mattress Factory to the Andy Warhol Museum. Through (1) wayfinding initiatives and public art, (2) collaborative mapping and marketing, and (3) joint programming, including a free day, the Corridor, inclusive of all institutions and the surrounding community, becomes a destinations in and of itself.
Progress: Corridor partners have begun planning for a free day of programs across the North Side! Partners engaged Rachel Klipa with the Office of Public Art and Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to guide discussions around public art activations to connect the partner organizations and explore themes of movement, play and exploration. The Corridor partners have also begun conversation with Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership about permanent and temporary wayfinding solutions.
Curtain Call: Public Art Project
Project: Curtain Call is a community public art project that showcases a dynamic, engaging, and multi-functional artwork in a high-traffic entrance to the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It will create pedestrian pathways and rain gardens surrounded by 20-foot-high sculptural steel "curtains" that will hold approximately 6,000 6-inch x 6-inch images of Hill District-related history, people, and places connected from the community. Curtain Call is designed by Walter Hood, a highly regarded, award-winning artist and landscape architect. Hood was engaged by the SEA through a public call-for-artists process. A 45-second video of the Curtain Call project, prepared by Walter Hood/Hood Design Studio can be viewed here.
Progress: The Penguins and its development partners met with Walter Hood (with SEA in attendance) on February 28 to discuss potential alternative locations for the installation of Curtain Call in the Lower Hill redevelopment site. The site that was identified is the planned green space on Wylie Avenue near Crawford Street. Walter Hood and the development team are now investigating the feasibility and will develop a concept plan for this location. The current schedule, if all goes according to plan, is for the Penguins and Walter Hood to present the new plan to the community in the spring.
Mobile Studio: Clay For All!
Project: Union Project envisions a world where every Allegheny County resident has a piece of handmade pottery on their shelf that they created themselves, and as a result, a deeper appreciation of the process for creating ceramic artwork and objects. The new Mobile Ceramic Studio will bring that dream one step closer to reality. The mobile studio will be house in a vehicle (tentatively nicknamed "Pottery Wheels") equipped with clay, tools, a potter's wheel, a mobile Raku kiln, and trained arts educators who lead participants in hands-on ceramic activities.
Progress: Union Project made the decision to purchase the 2020 Ford Transit-250 Cargo Van Medium Roof Van V-6 cyl as the vehicle for their Mobile Clay Studio and held a public social media contest to help name it. They've narrowed it down to six finalists - stay tuned! They have also been purchasing their equiptment, material, and tools, including this raku kiln and this pottery wheel.
Project: The RAD Pass program will bring cultural literacy and learning to life by connecting community members to Pittsburgh's vast array of cultural resources through their local library. We will accomplish this by creating a flexible online pass-lending platform for cultural amenities to offer free or discounted admission to library cardholders throughout Allegheny County.
Progress: The eiNetwork is working with Quipu and their ePASS software for this project, and are in the beginning stages of integration. CLP will be convening with their pilot partner assets (so far: Carnegie Museums, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, New Hazlett Theater, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Opera, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) in the spring for a demonstration of the test site.
Project: RADcast is a podcast series designed to deeply engage youth with RAD assets and transform these youth and their peers into the assets' advocates, audiences, and supporters of the future. The podcast will be a fast-paced, weekly 15-minute podcast featuring three different assets, and all undertaken by teen reporters.
Progress: SLB Radio Productions has recruited its first cohort of teens for RADcast, a podcast series that will ultimately showcase all assets. Among the first to open its doors to teens for interviews are Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Assemble, Gemini Theater, Tickets for Kids, and New Hazlett Theater. Episodes will begin to appear this spring.
Project: RADical Adventurers will provide opportunities to youth in the Sto-Rox service area, culminating in a RADical Time Capsule. Youth in the service of the Father Ryan Arts Center and Focus on Renewal will attend trips to various RAD assets throughout the region with the goal of writing stories that narrate the impact and importance of RAD assets.
Progress: The RADical Adventurers have been out traveling through the spacetime continuum, so far visiting 3 of their anticipated locations. Their absolute favorite trip so far was to the Andy Warhol Museum, and one of the fascinating highlights that they learned was how artist Jasper Johns "broke the mold in screen printing." The Adventurers are looking forward to the future & can't wait to put together their time capsule!
Singing is RAD!
Project: The Mendelssohn Choir’s RADical ImPAct project, Singing is RAD!, will bring together thousands of Pittsburghers and dozens of community partners to raise their voices together at the 2021 Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Progress: Partnership cultivation and behind-the-scenes work is underway. Stay tuned in the coming months for some exciting announcements!
Top left: RADical Adventurers from Focus on Renewal; Top right: City Theatre Company and All For All with some of their first story circle participants; Bottom left: Jaclyn Harris from Union Project testing out vans for the Mobile Clay Studio; Bottom center: City of Asylum's call for poets; Bottom right: SLB Radio RADcaster Lance Wilhelm (16) interviews Meryl Hellring of Tickets for Kids.