Public Art

A Giant Cheeseburger And The Fight Against Blight

Sep 28, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

  What’s the best way to call attention to the issue of vacant lots in a community? An arts group in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of East Deutschtown has one idea: Build a giant cheeseburger sculpture on one.

Matt Rourke / AP


Look around any Rust Belt city and you can see the effects of urban decay. There's aging infrastructure, blighted buildings and abandoned homes. Even as cities begin to see a resurgence, it can be hard to shake the physical legacy of decades of decline.

But if you think post-industrial decay is hard to overcome, try something even more traumatic, like a dictatorship or, say, World War II. Some European cities have found a way to revive public spaces and re-engage the community in civic life, all while remediating the physical toll left by history.

Office of Public Art

Four resident artists will pair with local organizations that work with immigrant populations to create public art installations. 

It’s part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Our Town” initiative, which supports programs where artists engage with the community. The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Office of Public Art received a $200,000 grant from the NEA for the resident artists program.

Welcoming Pittsburgh and the Department of City Planning will help place the artists with the host organizations.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Chase McBryde grinds metal in the corner of a big room cluttered with odds and ends collected from all over the city – old furniture, pallets, even the seat of a car. It was junk to its former owners, but McBryde views it all as potential source material.

His creations fill tabletops and dot the floor, from the full-sized model of a futuristic gun from the Fallout video game series to a cow skull replica. Even the warehouse studio’s coffin-shaped doorway is custom-made. Punk music plays on the stereo.

credit: D.S. Kinsell

The arrest of Max Gonzales, a 22-year-old Carnegie Mellon University student identified by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Graffiti Squad as "number one on the Squad's list of most wanted offenders," has sparked sometimes contentious discussions about vandalism, art and community identity in a changing city.

Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The murals in the United States Post Office and Courthouse on Grant Street are pretty hard to get to. There’s security, now, unlike when the Department of Treasury’s Section of Painting and Sculpture commissioned the three works in 1934.

Two of the octogenerian paintings survive on the 8th floor; one disappeared. That’s the thing about murals, said Sylvia Rhor, associate professor of art history at Carlow University. They’re large, but they’re not immune to time’s vagaries. They can go missing, be discarded or painted over.

courtesy Andy Warhol Museum

Pittsbugh's Andy Warhol Museum is raising funds to commission a series of print-based exhibits with a political bent.


90.5 WESA’s Josh Raulerson spoke about the project with Curator of Education Tresa Varner.

Toby Atticus Fraley

The robots are taking over — starting with Pittsburgh International Airport.

If Pittsburgh artist Toby Fraley gets his way, Southwest Airlines passengers arriving at gate 15 in the airport’s A Concourse will be among the first to meet them.

Pittsburgh’s Market Square is going to get brighter with the help of an interactive light, video and sound art installation.

The piece, entitled “Congregation,” will be in the city Feb. 21–March 16 and is part of the Market Square Public Art Program.

Created by Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler, the installation will be played on a 50 ft. projection screen and will run on a 25-minute loop. Lights will shine on the Market Square courtyard and visitors will be able to interact and manipulate the show simply by walking through it.

One Pittsburgh group is trying to bring a little more life to the downtown area during the winter months.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh, will begin a three-year project to bring temporary public art to the city’s Market Square.

Artists are being asked to submit proposals for existing works of art to be displayed in the public plaza, or submit their qualifications to create new works.