Convention Center Public Art


Convention Center
The integration of public art was an important component of the design of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A Public Art Program was created to maximize community involvement and to facilitate the selection of artists. The purpose of the program was to select artists whose work compliments the unique design of the Convention Center, diversifies the public art forum, and reflects the historic role of art and architecture in Pittsburgh.

The total budget for the Public Art Program was $2 million. Local foundations contributed $1 million and the SEA contributed a $1 million match. The following local foundations contributed to this program:
  • Vira L. Heinz Endowment
  • The Hillman Foundation
  • The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Richard King Mellon Foundation
  • Anonymous
Additional information on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center's Art Collection can be found in the Floor-by-Floor Art Guide.

Key Facts

Number of Artists Selected: 23 commissioned & acquisition artists
Total Budget: $2 million


In 1998, the SEA convened a Public Art Committee with eleven members, including one SEA Board member, and Convention Center architect, Rafael Vinoly. That same year, the SEA hired Mark Pally and Carol Goldstein as consultants to coordinate the Public Art Program from conceptual development through implementation. The consultants worked diligently with the Public Art Committee to create a Public Art Plan for artist selection, a reference for concept designs and criteria to evaluate those designs.

In order to select commissioned artwork, the Public Art Committee nominated nine individuals, both local and national, to serve on a Public Art Jury. They used the goals and objectives outlined in the Public Art Plan to select winning commissions. Each work was judged on its ability to:
  • Symbolize the region's renewal and signal the City's strong, vital and creative present
  • Celebrate the future of Pittsburgh and its remarkable tradition of technological achievement and innovation
  • Establish a standard of aesthetics and execution commensurate with the excellence of the architectural design
  • Respond to issues of local context and civic engagement
The Public Art Plan called for a two-tiered program involving both commissioning and acquisition. The plan was intended to serve as a model for future public art programs in the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding region.

Commissioned Artists
Request for Qualifications (RFQs) for major commissions were circulated to an invited list of artists recommended by the Public Art Jury. RFQs for smaller commissions were advertised and distributed to artists living and/or working in the Western Pennsylvania region. The SEA distributed thousands of postcards to artists for participation in the competition for the regional commissions. One hundred eighty-five artists submitted entries which were considered by the Art Jury.

After narrowing the field to 21 finalists, the Public Art Jury assembled to hear proposals. The jury selected five Pittsburgh artists and two national artists for the following list of commissioned works, and the SEA Board formally approved their recommendations.

National Artists Selected
Jenny Holzer For Pittsburgh LED Technology
Tony Tasset Pittsburgh Magnolias Installation

Pittsburgh Artists Selected
Thaddeus Mosley Three Rivers Bench Black Walnut
Angelo Ciotti Pittsburgh, An Industrial Garden Aluminum, steel, periwinkles in planter mix
Ray Gerard You Are Here Lenticular photographs on plastic panels,
steel, fluorescent lights
Anne Lopez RUG Concrete, pigment, stainless steel
Steve O'Hearn River Rail and Viewing Machine Stainless steel and steel

Acquisition Artists
The second aspect of the plan, the Acquisition Program, allocated $125,000 to purchase existing artwork for display in the Convention Center. This piece of the program was reserved for artists working in Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Artwork was selected in an open-call competition, with selections made by a jury of respected arts professionals from the region. The selection process was facilitated by the Andy Warhol Museum.

Felix de la Concha The Last Supper Oil and canvas on board
Jack Wolf 16th Street Bridge

Clemente Bridge

16th Street Bridge, Heinz Stacks
Black and white infrared photography
Derrick Meads Because Interactive steel sculpture
Ayanah Moor A to Z, Like Me Set of 26 prints and 2 portraits, screen print
Charles Biddle We Buy Clean Cars

Caprice Motel

Pavilion Motor Lodge
Gelatin silver print
Burton Morris Heinz Triptych Bottles Acrylic on canvas
Karen Antonelli Heaven's Gate #1

Heaven's Gate #4

Heaven's Gate #5
Charcoal, compressed charcoal, chalk, and pastel on paper
Frances Venardos Gialamas Homage to the Men and the Mills Mixed media assemblage
James Shipman Steel Field on Blue

Spontaneous Synopsis Shadow Caster

Desert Landscape
High fire clay
Michael Hertrich Enter/Exit Photo collage
Jon Schultz The Ghosts of Birmingham Wood and steel
Bill Rizzo Armstrong Cork Building in Strip District Color print
Raymond DeFazio Noon Oil on canvas
Ron Donoughe February Mill Series Six panels, oil on canvas
Jacob Feige Untitled #2.6 Acrylic and gesso on wood panel
Mark Perrott Eliza House Furnace Skyline Black and white archivally processed fiber silver-print
Felix de la Concha At the Foot of the Falls Oil and canvas on board
Various Artists Picturing the City: Downtown Pittsburgh 86 framed photography prints

Subsequent Acquisitions
Subsequent to the completion of the Original Public Art Plan, the SEA reestablished an art committee. The art committee assisted the SEA with the acquisition of two artworks: At the Foot of the Falls by Felix de la Concha, and Picturing the City: Downtown Pittsburgh by Various Artists. These artworks were financed by the Colcom Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, respectively.
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