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The Trail Town Program invited artists from the Southwestern Pennsylvania area to help communities create large-scale, site-specific artwork. These permanent works were installed in six towns along the Great Allegheny Passage.

arrowThis project was nominated for a Partnership Award as part of the 2010 National Trails Awards, announced at the 20th National Trails Symposium in Chatanooga, TN.

arrow Download the "PUBLIC ART PROGRAM ABOUT COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS" summary with more photos (pdf 545 kb)

 

Trail Town Program funds art along Great Allegheny Passage

From The Trail Town Program

 

photo of artistic archway over trail

Trail Town Outreach Corps, Adam Flett, Elisa Mayes, Lara Nagle,
and Stephanie Campbell, at Connellsville Arch, by Steven Fiscus

In 2008, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh region’s 250th anniversary celebration, the Trail Town Program worked with local committees and area artists to create and install 14 pieces of public art along in towns along the GAP. The art included murals, sculptures, and carvings that paid tribute to each town’s heritage.

The Trail Town’s Public Art Program is a grant-funded project that seeks to commission Public Artwork through a community dialogue in six Western Pennsylvania Trail Towns: West Newton, Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Confluence, Rockwood and Meyersdale. The commissioned works will be selected via an interactive process with local residents in each community.

The theme for the artwork is "Cycle of Renewal" to reflect the evolution of the Trail Towns along the Great Allegheny Passage. Cycle of Renewal speaks to the inherent changes in nature/ecology that both destroy and recreate the landscapes whose natural resources gave rise to the national industrial center of the Pittsburgh region.

Cycle of Renewal also references the economic shift in the region from heavy industry to recreation and models the creation of the Great Allegheny Passage as a reflection of that cultural shift. The rail trail, by its own creation, first envisioned by a few local citizens, then by local clubs and government officials grew organically out of the remains of the regional industry’s blood-line, the railroad. This theme speaks to the intrinsic presence of and celebration of the region’s historic past and vibrant future.

 

PUBLIC ART PROGRAM ABOUT COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

By AMY CAMP, Trail Town Program, from ATA Trail News, September 2008

Mural artist Carolyn Quinn fell in love with Meyersdale this summer. And how couldn't she have? Pit Stop Kremery brought her ice cream on hot days. Residents packed her lunches. Several community members and trail users stopped to talk with her about her work and to offer local insight.

photo of art on building

artist Carolyn Quinn with her Meyersdale mural project

In speaking about the public art project, Main Street Manager Kathy Koscianski said, "It was more than we ever expected. Every day, residents and visitors watched and waited as the mural progressed. Dozens of individuals from all walks of life provided Carolyn with input and suggestions that helped to shape the final design. What emerged is the integrated product of extraordinary artist talent and community engagement."

Not only did the Meyersdale community engage in the project and come to view it as a source of pride, but the local design committee and building owner leveraged the project to improve the building's facade. A Main Street Program facade grant was used to replace a garage door and paint the front of the building in accordance with the mural's color scheme. The building, owned and utilized by Maple City Tire, is now a welcoming beacon into the town of Meyersdale.

Quinn was one of 12 artists selected this summer to participate in the Trail Town Public Art Program, managed by Cathy McCollom and Christina Lee. The program was one of 12 Regional Connections projects selected from a field of 235 applicants by Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections and The Sprout Fund. In total, 14 works of public art have been added to seven communities along the Great Allegheny Passage.

The Meyersdale art project exemplifies "community connections" at its best. The intent of the regional program was to connect communities to the Great Allegheny Passage and to each other. An unexpected and most delightful outcome was the way that the communities connected with the artists and how residents came together to see the project completed.

photo of big trailhead signboard and map

Unveiling the informational kiosk at West Newton, funded by a grant
from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania

Meyersdale is not the only town with stories of community resolve and engagement:

In Rockwood, neighbors Gene and Betty Kelly welcomed artist Diane Adams in for dinner and coffee every day at 4:30 p.m. Diane said that their daily call for dinner was how she tracked time left in the work day. Also in Rockwood, Scott Hostettler, owner of 4:13 Industries, and Bill Gurzenda, owner of Rockwood Manufacturing, collaborated to create a second piece of art, a metal sculpture of a steam locomotive the incorporates used bike and train parts. The sculpture was completed as a donation to Somerset County.

In Confluence, the committee wouldn't settle for just one piece of art. Instead, it stretched its resources and worked to install six pieces, including a stone etched with a design by local school teacher Mack Beal. In Ohiopyle, the committee assisted artist Laura DeFazio in placing a four-piece sandstone sculpture in the town park. To further take advantage of local resources, the committee sought Ohiopyle artist Colby Love to paint a mural depicting the silhouettes of bikers and hikers on a bridge abutment near the town's entrance.

In Connellsville, city employees worked through the night on the eve of the dedication to help artist Steve Fiscus to install a stone and glass arch across the trail near the town's northern entrance. On the other end of town, a mural on the silos of Youghiogheny Glass Factory incorporates factory glass pieces.

In West Newton, a six foot sculpture made entirely of railroad spikes was unloaded last week under cover to the intense curiosity of dozens of community residents. Public Art Chair Ben Markle personally trucked in three loads of dirt and together with local landscaper Joanne Hall created a lovely garden and rock pedestal for West Newton's newest addition, a pioneer representing the town's original settlers.

The Trail Town Program is thrilled with the end result of the Public Art Program and is grateful to all who helped make it possible. May the community connections and public engagement continue in each of the towns! And speaking of connections, we'd like to offer a very special thanks to Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Not only did we dedicate public art along the trail on Celebration Saturday, but we also installed informational kiosks in West Newton, Connellsville and Meyersdale. The kiosks include maps, business directories, and information on nearby points of interest and were made possible through a generous grant from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Their interest in taking part in Celebration Saturday and Pittsburgh 250 has resulted in lasting product to inform trail users and direct traffic to local businesses.

About the Trail Town Public Art Program:

The Trail Town Public Art Program is supported in part by Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections, The Sprout Fund, Community Foundation of Fayette County, and PA Partners in the Arts. The Informational Kiosks in Connellsville, West Newton, and Meyersdale were made possible through a grant by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania / NiSource Foundation.

About the Trail Town Program:

The Trail Town Program envisions a corridor of revitalized trailside communities along the Great Allegheny Passage that reap the economic benefits of trail-based tourism and recreation as part of a larger, coordinated approach to regional economic development. The long-term economic viability of participating communities is to be achieved through concentrated business development efforts that capitalize on the trail user market. Additional information on the vision and goals of the Trail Town program can be found at www.trailtowns.org.

arrow Download the "PUBLIC ART PROGRAM ABOUT COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS" summary with more photos (pdf 545 kb)

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