From the Three Rivers to the Thames

Pittsburgh exhibition showcases city’s artistic talent beside iconic London river

By Kristin Mageras

Published June 7, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins


In addition to the new nonstop flight from Pittsburgh to London Heathrow, there’s something else the two cities have in common: their arts scenes.

While London beats Pittsburgh in terms of sheer number of galleries and museums—approximately 1,500 and growing—Pittsburgh punches way above its weight in terms of talent. In fact, 12 well-known artists from the region were featured last week in a pop-up gallery along the Thames River in London’s Southbank neighborhood, which attracts thousands of art enthusiasts annually.

“I’ve had the chance to do some screen printing while learning there’s a big and ever-so-interesting art scene in Pittsburgh,” said Marisa Mendez, of London, as she toured the exhibition on Saturday.

The exhibition, called Pittsburgh: Art on the Bank, featured original tapestry pieces, digital installations, visual poems on acrylic, canvas oil paintings and archived photography. It was an immersive collection made possible through the work of the Pittsburgh International Travel Cooperative, spearheaded by VisitPittsburgh and Pittsburgh International Airport.

“We want to share with the world Pittsburgh’s impressive arts and culture scene, which truly differentiates us from other cities our size, and some of the bigger ones as well,” said Tom Loftus, chief marketing officer at VisitPITTSBURGH.

In addition to the lead organizations, PITC includes the Butler County Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Visit Washington County, Visit Monroeville, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. The cooperative worked with London travel-marketing agency Black Diamond to help create and promote the installation.

Visitors to the exhibition had the opportunity to win a five-night trip for two to Pittsburgh and admission to some of the city’s top galleries and museums by sharing selfies with their favorite pieces of art on Instagram using the hashtag #PITartonthebank and tagging @visitpittsburgh and @british_airways.

The whole program was overseen and curated by a panel of Pittsburgh arts administrators. Regional artists were identified through a committee comprised of members from the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the Office of Public Art and PIT arts and culture manager Rachel Rearick.

“Flight opens up the world to a myriad of experiences, and Pittsburgh is home to a robust arts and cultural community,” said Rearick. “We are confident that the representative artworks for Art on the Bank will give people in London a flavor of what they can experience when they visit Pittsburgh.”

Other highlights during the weeklong exhibit included a series of free silk-screening sessions that allowed visitors to explore Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol’s signature technique and take away an iconic print of their own. There was also an exclusive “in conversation with” session with one of the artists, as well as Donald Warhola, Warhol’s nephew and board member of The Andy Warhol Foundation.

Warhol’s namesake museum is located in his hometown, featuring seven floors filled with his work.

“Pittsburgh’s arts and cultural offerings are world-class and welcoming to all,” said Mitch Swain, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. “There’s something here for everyone and new experiences to be found at every corner of this city. We’re proud to have Pittsburgh artists elevated to the world stage in London.”

The exhibition features original tapestry pieces, digital installations, visual poems on acrylic, canvas oil paintings and archived photography (Photo credit: Rachel Saul Rearick).

The artists and their works:

Alisha Wormsley – “There Are Black People In The Future,” 2015

Bill Shannon – “The Conversation” – An Excerpt from Bill Shannon’s “Touch Update”

Crystal Latimer – “Untitled with Parrots (The First Voyage),” 2019

Ed Piskor – “Flash on the wheels of steel,” 2013

Felix De La Concha – “At the Foot of the Falls,” 2006

Mia Tarducci – “White Noise,” 2018

Peter Paul Rubens – Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde, c.1609

Teenie Harris – Photograph

Terry Boyd – “A Dreamless Sleep. Forever, and Ever,” 2018

Thad Mosley – Sculptures

Tina Williams Brewer – “Tributaries of Genius”

Yona Harvey – “All. Right. With. Me,” 2019

(Staff writer Rachel Saul Rearick contributed to this story.)

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