About the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Visual Arts Program
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is unique in the arts industry for its commitment to providing high-quality, contemporary visual and public art along with a robust performing arts schedule. The Trust owns and operates four galleries, offering arts exhibits that are free and open to the public. In addition, the Trust showcases the visual arts through its popular Gallery Crawls and festival programming as well as through its outdoor parks that feature award-winning public art.
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Galleries
Each Trust gallery is free and open to the public and offers a different curatorial view, from Wood Street Galleries’ focus on technology to 707 Gallery’s commitment to spotlighting mostly Pittsburgh-based arts and artists.
Wood Street Galleries: Through an agreement with the Port Authority of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust leases the upper floors of the former Max Azen Company building above the Wood Street subway station and operates the Wood Street Galleries. Opened in 1992, the galleries feature two floors of exhibition and performance space, and subsidized office space for emerging performing arts organizations throughout Pittsburgh. Wood Street Galleries feature primarily digital media, film, video, robotic, and new media installations.
SPACE: A vital component of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Visual arts programming, SPACE presents four to five exhibitions annually, offering emerging artists an opportunity to advance projects in a supportive setting. While SPACE does not actively commission new works, many artists that exhibit work at SPACE are provided with resources such as labor, technology, guidance, and funding to execute their ideas. By encouraging and facilitating artistic collaboration, SPACE contributes to a robust Cultural District art scene and is helping to build diverse visual arts audiences. SPACE creates a platform for artists to meet like-minded artists from across regional, national, and international borders. Often, events at SPACE attract more than 1,500 people on a single night, ever dedicated to increasing exposure for visual arts in the Cultural District.
707 Penn Gallery: The 707 Gallery, located on a business block street level in the Cultural District, is an intimate and immersive space that often features work from Pittsburgh-based artists. Its large window looking out onto the bustling 8th Street block of Penn Avenue provides a wonderful canvas of all downtown Pittsburgh has to offer with exhibitions that explore the limits of creative expression, presentation, and interpretation of various art forms.
937 Gallery: Newly renovated in 2021, the 937 Gallery is a second floor converted loft warehouse with stunning views of Liberty Avenue and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Offering four to five exhibitions annually, the 937 Gallery often features work from diverse guest curators and visual artists. Featuring a variety of exhibitions and forms from textiles to ceramics, from sculpture to watercolor and more, the 937 Gallery has attracted guests from around the world and around the corner.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust continually leverages opportunities to upgrade the Downtown Cultural District’s physical look, feel, and experience through public outdoor works of art, public parks and plazas, streetscape beautification projects, and building restoration. Through the ongoing outdoor efforts of the Trust, the Cultural District reflects creative urban energy, depth, and charm.
168 Lightbulbs: In 2001, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned Jim Campbell to construct a public art piece to complement his 2001 solo show Time + Data at Wood Street Galleries. What starts off as an abstraction of lights then slowly consolidates into the skull of Claude Shannon, the famous engineer and mathematician lauded as “the father of information theory” built this piece using 168 LED lights. With an aesthetic medium similar to Jim's iconic "low-resolution art," 168 Lightbulbs is a direct homage to Claude, from whom the artist found much inspiration for his own repertoire of information-based works. 168 Lightbulbs can be viewed outside of Wood Street Galleries.
9th & Penn Parklet: Launched in July of 2021, the 9th & Penn Parklet is the newest ‘pop-up’ sculpture park in the Cultural District. Currently on display is James Rosati’s magnificent sculpture entitled Duo. Rosati is perhaps best known for his sculptures in stone from the 1960s and the 1972 stainless steel Ideogram that stood over 23-feet tall on the plaza between Towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center in New York City. He has more than 40 monumental pieces of sculpture located in the United States and around the world.
Agnes R. Katz Plaza: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Agnes R. Katz Plaza is arguably one of the city’s most recognizable and lovely sites. Drawing inspiration from Pittsburgh’s rising topography, the late, famed American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois created the 25-foot bronze fountain centerpiece of this 23,000 square foot public plaza. The sculpture is notable as the largest public art commission by Bourgeois. Agnes R. Katz Plaza was a creative collaboration between Bourgeois, landscape architect Daniel Urban Kiley, Theater Square’s architect Michael Graves, and the Trust. Katz Plaza was named in loving memory of Agnes. R. Katz by her children.
Allegheny Riverfront Park: In the early 1990s, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s plan for the Cultural District called for the creation of a riverfront park to border the northern boundary of the Cultural District. Prior to the Trust’s installation of the upper and lower levels of the Allegheny Riverfront Park, access to the waterfront in the Cultural District was limited. This project has served as a connection between the District and the river, as well as catalyst for creative and artful riverfront development at many sites, including across the Allegheny River on Pittsburgh’s Northside. The Trust commissioned a first-time collaboration between artist Ann Hamilton and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to create the park.
Bike Racks: Since its foundation, the Trust has kept quality aesthetics and design as a guiding principle in the development Pittsburgh's Cultural District. We believe how our environment looks and feels really does contribute greatly to how we look at and shape the world around us. Even a bicycle rack can be transformed into a work of art in a marriage of form and function. With more than 25 artistic bike racks arranged throughout the Cultural District’s 20 city blocks, this series of installations has become a ‘must-do’ walking tour of the downtown core.
Cell Phone Disco: Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Cell Phone Disco is Pittsburgh’s first outdoor, art science interactive installation. Cell Phone Disco visualizes the electromagnetic field of an active mobile phone. A giant, 16 by 16 foot light screen receives electromagnetic data from a receiver that continuously scans cell phone usage through 16 antennas. The data is fed to eight processors that are embedded in the digital display, illuminating 2,034 individually controlled LED lights in an unprecedented pattern.
Flow: Created by digital artist Erwin Redl this light installation contains 40,128 animated red LEDs and is 90 feet tall. Dominating the 7th Street block of Liberty Avenue, Flow is installed on the Port Authority building above the Wood Street subway station.
Haas Mural: In 1993, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust selected the renowned American muralist Richard Haas as the designer of the Haas Mural, which pays homage to Pittsburgh’s steel industry. Richard Haas is best known for architectural murals and his use of the Trompe l'oeil style— an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three-dimensions, instead of actually being a two-dimensional painting. The Haas Mural is painted on the Fort Duquesne Boulevard façade of the Byham Theater. The mural integrates the Byham Theater's doors and windows to create a visual experience. In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview, Mr. Haas called the mural "one of the most complicated façades I've done."
Magnolias for Pittsburgh: The corner of 7th and Penn Avenues was once home to the notorious Doc Johnson’s International House of Love Potions and Marital Aids. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust purchased this property in 1992 and transformed it into the 7th and Penn Parklet. Featuring a rotating showcase of world-class public art curated by the Trust, this park works towards the mission to revitalize Downtown Pittsburgh through the arts with a commitment to distinctive design and high-quality architecture. Past installations at the 7th and Penn Parklet have included Alexandr Brodsky's Palazzo Nudo, James O. Loney and David A. Ludwig's collaboration Labyrinth, and Takamasa Kuniyasu’s Season in Spiral. The current exhibit on display at the 7th and Penn Parklet is Tony Tasset’s Magnolias for Pittsburgh, is a superlative example of the value of public art. Magnolias for Pittsburgh includes two bronze magnolia trees nestled amongst five live magnolias in a landscape design.
Sign of Light: In 1996, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust selected Robert Wilson and Richard Gluckman to develop a comprehensive series of public art projects in the Cultural District. Drawing upon Mr. Gluckman's architectural experience in designing art installations and Mr. Wilson's critically-acclaimed set, sound, lighting design, and performing arts production experience, their decision was to utilize light as a poetic medium, defining the Cultural District in space and time. The resulting Sign of Light is a 20 by 40 foot electronic sign that is composed of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that project a white triangle floating on a blue-gray background. Sign of Light is located atop Penn Avenue Place, facing the Allegheny River, and is visible from the North Side and PNC Park.
Tito Way Billboards: Installed on Tito Way as part of our temporary ‘billboard’ exhibition space, the five Marx@200 posters on display represent a diverse range of perspectives on Marx and his critique of inequality and capitalism, as well as his influence on political movements and regimes.
Trust Oasis: In support of the Trust’s mission to develop and promote Pittsburgh’s vibrant Cultural District, Trust Oasis is a pop-up arts experience featuring four to five temporary installations each year designed to enliven your visit to Downtown and contribute to our city’s tradition of infusing art into everyday living. The Trust is currently in the RFP process to commission a major international artist to create a permanent interactive sculptural installation in the coming years.
Water Cube: The Water Cube is an artist-designed water fountain that dispenses both still and sparkling water. Located at the parklet of the 8th Street block of Penn Avenue, this new installation adds to the functional public artwork presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust throughout the Cultural District. The Water Cube officially opened during the 2016 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival on June 3. With this new permanent public art piece, the Trust hopes to provide a unique amenity for residents, visitors, and District patrons, help reduce the consumption of bottled water, and beautify the 8th Street block of Penn Avenue. The Water Cube parklet, boasting what is believed to be the first public sparkling water fountain in the United States, has become a gathering place that generates conversation and serves as a stop for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Pop Up Galleries and Exhibitions: There is always something new in the Cultural District. Throughout the year, the Trust features unique pop-up visual arts exhibitions and new galleries in empty storefronts throughout the downtown area. Produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust with many neighborhood partners, these projects often allow new voices in the visual arts to serve as guest curators, bringing exciting new artistic collaborations into the District.
202021: a new constellation
Looking towards the hope of the new year and a better future, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust celebrates Black artists through 202021: a new constellation public art installation throughout the Cultural District. This piece, curated by Tereneh Idia, features 12 artists and more than 25 mixed media installations over a four-block radius. The art, the space between and the act of you moving to view the art, creates a new celestial body; a ground constellation; a space for celebration of Black creativity and people.
Pathway to Joy by Janel Young
The Cultural District is getting a splash of color, courtesy of Janel Young! Check out Pathway to Joy on Fort Duquesne Boulevard and enjoy it throughout the summer with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's Allegheny Overlook Pop-up Park.
Janel Young is a Pittsburgh native, painter, muralist, and community leader on a mission to inspire through creativity and play. Her work has been recognized locally and internationally, from New York City – where she resided for six years – to the coast of Sydney, Australia.
Sports is a serious subject for the Pittsburgh region, with a well-recognized fan base that reaches across the entire country. A long legacy of sports achievement has been well forged into the hearts of every Pittsburgher, and steadfastly remains wherever they may roam. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center, felt that those feelings offered a great opportunity to combine that enduring love of sports with a unique public art experience called Downtown Renown.
Featuring 14 artworks and stories that celebrate the careers of Pittsburgh sports icons and athletic groundbreakers, you’re invited to explore the new series that features vibrant new designs from acclaimed artist Gavin Benjamin. Athletes featured as part of the series include Mario Lemieux, Franco Harris, Swin Cash, Dan McCoy, and others.
Invisible Ecologies: Currently, Allegheny Riverfront Park features an additional temporary exhibition from Riverlife entitled Invisible Ecologies. This project seeks to reveal the latent potential for human, plant, and wildlife interaction within the constructed urban environment. This sculpture repositions man-made materials found in the urban environment - objects like concrete, graffiti, and discarded plastic and glass - and aggregates them into a series of structures mounted on steel pedestals. The piece is arranged in a cloud‐like form reminiscent of a flock of birds along a path in Allegheny Riverfront Park. Each “house” is carefully designed with a ventilated wooden interior to provide shelter to native river‐edge bird species like eastern bluebird, house wrens, purple martins, tree swallows, and black‐capped chickadees, among others.
Visual Art Events
Collectively, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's visual arts programs draw hundreds of thousands of people Downtown each year. From works by Pittsburgh's finest artists to exhibitions by world-renown artists, there are programs to inspire Pittsburghers of all ages and backgrounds.
Gallery Crawls: Since 2004, the Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Community Engagement Department, has been a free, one-night-only, multi-venue showcase of Pittsburgh’s dynamic art and entertainment scene. Tens of thousands of visitors have explored this quarterly “open house,” featuring local and international artists in exhibitions, performances, and screenings inside of galleries, storefronts, and restaurants throughout the Cultural District.
Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival: Curated and programed by the Trust’s Festival Director, the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is a celebration of the arts in downtown Pittsburgh unlike any other in the nation. Each of its world-class, multi-disciplinary performing and visual arts attractions is free to attend and open to the public! The Festival begins on the first Friday in June and takes place at the confluence of Pittsburgh’s famed three rivers in Point State Park, throughout picturesque Gateway Center, and in the city’s world-renowned Cultural District.