Tristan Surtees and Charles Blanc of Canada-based art collective Sans façon and Pittsburgh resident and collaborator Steve Gurysh have been selected to create a public art piece in the Northside’s Riverview Park.

By Audrey Wells, Communications Specialist – Department of City Planning and Sarah Minnaert, PACD Manager – Department of City Planning

Photo: “H30,” a 2015 projection series co-directed by artists Steve Gurysh and Scott Andrew and featuring Adham Faramawy’s video “Vichy Shower,” is shown from a view underneath the Veteran’s Bridge. Gurysh, in collaboration with Canada-based art collective Sans façon, was selected to create a public art piece in Riverview Park for the 2021 Art in Parks Program. Courtesy of the artists

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 21, 2021) –  The City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning Public Art and Civic Design (PACD) division has selected eight local, national, and international artists and artist teams for the 2021 expansion of the Art in Parks program. Each artist has been selected to create high-impact permanent public art installations in the five Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) parks: Emerald View, Highland, Schenley, Frick, and Riverview.

This program expansion was made possible by a RADical ImPAct Grant, launched in celebration of the RAD’s 25th anniversary. Each funded installation will be bold, forward-looking, creative projects that will have a radical impact on the region.

“The Art in Parks project is exactly the type of idea the RAD Board envisioned when we launched the RADical ImPAct grant program,” said Dusty Elias Kirk, RAD Board Chair. “We wanted our regional assets to dream big about shaping the future of our creative landscape and this project does just that. Having large-scale works of art in our public parks will not only enhance our region’s quality of place, but it will also give our communities the opportunity to engage with art in accessible, everyday ways. We are excited about the dynamic group of artists the City has selected and we look forward to seeing their work come to life in our RAD parks.”

The selected artists will collaborate with the City on site selection, design, and installation. Community engagement will be a critical component of design development. Final concepts will be reviewed and approved by the Art Commission. Sequencing and implementation of each project will be staggered, depending on project complexity and weather constraints, beginning this summer, and wrapping up in late spring 2022, with the project close out anticipated in June 2022.

“This expansion of our Art in Parks program provides an incredible opportunity for Pittsburgh to build upon our existing public art landscape,” said Mayor William Peduto. “We are excited to work with such a diverse group of artists that represent a variety of perspectives and discover how they will use the Art in Parks program to strengthen our communities, add vibrancy to our parks, and humanize our built environment.”

See below to learn more about the artists who will be working in each park:

Emerald View Park: 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. 

Highland Park: 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. 

Schenley Park: 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.  

Frick Park: 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 incorporate 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. 

Riverview Park: Sans façon – 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, a 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. 
For more information, you can contact Audrey Wells at audrey.wells@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-255-2215 or Sarah Minnaert at sarah.minnaert@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-389-8015.

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