under your spell, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from brdonovan’s photostream

Public art not only beautifies our built environment, inspires and educates, it has an economic benefit. A study by ArtServe Michigan found that for every dollar invested in nonprofit arts and cultural groups a return of $51 came back to Michigan’s economy through spending on such items as rent, programs, travel and salaries. Furthermore, an article in The Atlantic Cities found that, dollar-for-dollar, “investments in public art may provide the highest financial returns of any funds committed to an aspect of a transit project.”

Pittsburgh has a rich history of public art. One recent example is “The Two Andys” mural depicted at the top of this post which was just one of many murals commissioned by the nonprofit The Sprout Fund’s public art program. Another, is the dazzling new pedestrian bridge linking Shadyside and East Liberty which was a project of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and East Liberty Development Inc. Pittsburgh-born artist Sheila Klein’s inspiration came from her childhood memories of walking through a whale with a “squishy tongue” at Kennywood. Recently, the massive “The Workers” sculpture made its debut on the South Side. The project was initiated by a commission by the City of Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of sheilaklein.com.

Now, as part of our city’s PLANPGH — a 25-year plan for growth in Pittsburgh — we will be seeing a planning process for public art. ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH are two of the components of PLANPGH. They will be hosting a series of public meetings next week to get community input:

This is your first opportunity to meet the ARTPGH + DESIGNPGH Team in person. Learn about and provide input into the planning process for the City of Pittsburgh’s first ever public art and urban design plans.

At these meetings we’ll ask residents to provide input about the design and function of their neighborhoods. The team will discuss the general character, strengths, and weaknesses of our neighborhoods–from this we can start to craft policies to enhance our built environment. We’ll also present info about the ARTPGH + DESIGNPGH plans, including the process, goals, and projected outcomes of this exciting process.

They’ll kickoff the week of meetings with a lecture by Jon Rubin, a Pittsburgh artist who will be leading outreach for the plan, and Barbara Goldstein, public art consultant of San Jose, CA, who will be advising the city’s public art policy. Rubin recently received a $25,000 grant by The Sprout Fund to help move the Conflict Kitchen to a Downtown location. The lecture is being done in conjunction with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and will be held on Monday, November 12 at 6:00 pm at Doherty Hall (Room 2210) at Carnegie Mellon University. While this event is free, they request that you register for it here.

Conflict Kitchen: Afghan Takeout, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Gentleridevan’s

The public meetings are also free and open to the public, but they also request that you RSVP either through Facebook, the PLANPGH website, or by phone/email (Morton Brown, Public Art Manager, at 412-255-8996 or morton.brown@pittsburghpa.gov ). You can see a flyer for the meetings here.

ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH Public Meetings

Tuesday, November 13th
6 pm to 8 pm

• Brookline Carnegie Library
708 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Public Transportation: Bus 39 and 41, Blue Line (T)

• The Kaufmann Center @ The Hill House
1825 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Public Transportation: Bus 81, 82, and 83

Wednesday, November 14th
6 pm to 8 pm

• The Brashear Association
2005 Sarah Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Public Transportation: Bus: 48, 51, 54, 75, 81 and 83

• Schenley Ice Rink
1 Overlook Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15207

Thursday, November 15th
6 pm to 8 pm

• The Kingsley Association
6435 Frankstown Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Public Transportation: Bus: 74, 77, 82, 86, and 89

• The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Public Transportation: Bus: 1, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 2, 4, 54, 6, 7, and 8