News Column

Bridges could become part of Greensburg art piece

June 25, 2014

By Jacob Tierney, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.

June 25--Greensburg'sHistoric & Architectural Review Board recommended the city approve a plan that would turn two downtown bridges into part of a large public art piece.

If all goes according to plan the Westmoreland Museum of American Art's "Bridging the Gap" project will debut alongside the newly renovated museum in summer 2015. The Historic and Architectural Review Board met on Tuesday to hear more about the plan, which would involve the bridges on North Main Street and North Maple Avenue, and agreed to recommend it to city council.

PennDOT owns the North Main Street bridge, and will likely start construction on the project this summer. This involves altering the chain-link fence to include viewing windows that will look out onto the museum.

The city owns the North Maple Avenue bridge, and it will probably be renovated by a private contractor closer to the completion of the project.

Artwork will be created on the museum grounds specifically to be seen from the viewing windows placed along the two bridges.

Exactly what these works will be has not yet been decided, although they may use optical illusions or tricks of perspective so that they can only be viewed properly from the bridges.

"It couldn't exist anywhere else. It's very site-specific," said Renee Piechocki, director of public art at the Pittsburgh Arts Council, who is helping oversee the "Bridging the Gap" project.

Brooklyn artist Janet Zweig has been hired to design the project, and she will likely look for community feedback on what to create.

"She's done a couple projects, and it's not a small group of people she works with, she works with the whole community," Piechocki said. The entire project will cost about $180,000. Half of this cost will be covered by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, awarded to the museum in 2012. The museum will raise the money to cover the other half.

"The idea is to bring public art into the community," said museum chief executive officer and director Judith O'Toole.

Pittsburgh landscape architect Fred Bonci will contribute to the design.

Planters with long grass will be built into both sides of the bridges to beautify the chain-link fences.

The board approved the project with no dissenting votes. Board member Barbara Jones abstained from the vote, as she is chief curator of the museum.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or


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