“Walking to the Sky”
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave. (in front of Warner Hall)
Pittsburgh, PA 1521
On Carnegie Mellon’s campus, one of the city’s tallest displays of public art sits in an open field. Titled “Walking to the Sky,” this sculpture depicts men, women and children doing a gravity-defying walk toward the clouds on a silver beam. Artist Jonathan Borofsky, a CMU alum, says the piece portrays humanity’s innate tendency to constantly strive and reach for more throughout life. While you’re gazing up at the statue, you’ll have company: This piece of art has built-in admirers. Statues of people gaze up with you at the base of the silver beam.
“7:11AM 11.20.1979 79º55′W 40º27′N”
Mellon Park Walled Garden
Corner of Fifth and Shady avenues (behind Phipps Garden Center)
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Price: free, donations suggested
The title of this piece is the exact time of birth of Ann Katharine Seamans, the person this piece memorializes and the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of the memorial in Mellon Park’s walled garden. Seamans, only 19 at the time of her death in 1999, was a promising art, dance and academic student from Pittsburgh. Artist Janet Zweig completed the memorial art installation in 2009. Exactly 150 lighted stone markers inlaid in the garden depict stars and planets above Mellon Park and glow beautifully at night.
Related: Best Up and Coming Artists in Pittsburgh
“Fraley’s Robot Repair”
210 6th St.
Pittsburgh, PA 1522
Technically it’s both a store and an art installation — the “store owners” are on permanent vacation — and it is a sight to see. Located in the heart of the Cultural District across from Heinz Hall, this art installation inhabits a vacant store front. The large plate glass windows allow viewers to look in and see the workings of a robot repair shop. Occasionally, the artist slips in and changes the scene slightly to give the impression of life among the robots who have been left to fend for themselves in the store. This installation is proof not all art has to be serious, and that art can serve a purpose. Instead of walkers simply breezing by a vacant store front, now they have something to make them pause during their walk.
“The Liberty Avenue Musicians”
947 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
If you walk through downtown without looking up you might miss these massive sculptures on Liberty Avenue. So big they look like parts of a building when you walk by, “The Liberty Avenue Musicians” is a group of three sculptures of men playing instruments. They stand as a a symbol of Pittsburgh’s importance in jazz music in the 1950s and 1960s and also serve as a functional gateway to the courtyard of the residential building where they stand guard. Cross the street to get your best view of them and see all of the incredible detail.
“PNC’s Living Green Wall”
One PNC Plaza
Corner of Fifth and Wood streets
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
A surprisingly successful blend of corporate advertising and public art, PNC Bank’s Living Green Wall is an art and green space initiative completed in 2009. Located on one of PNC Bank’s buildings downtown, the green wall is the size of a tennis court and planted with greenery that is local to the Pittsburgh region. It is a multipurpose work of public art: It declares PNC as the tenant of the building, dampens street noise, cools the building and reduces the carbon foot-print of the building itself. It requires an amazingly small amount of watering (15 minutes of watering once a week during warmer months 15 minutes of watering once a month during cooler months).