Public Art Bridgeville kicks off activities with outdoor sculpture exhibit
Get ready for some particularly interesting sights around Bridgeville.
Beginning May 1, an outdoor sculpture exhibit will be set up at various locations as the first attempt by a new body that seeks to cultivate creativity in the borough.
Public Art Bridgeville is run by nearly half-century professional sculptor Guy Bellaver and his wife, Elizabeth, who generally goes by the name Bitsy. They had helped found a similar group, the St. Charles (Ill.) Arts Council, while living in suburban Chicago.
Originally from Mount Lebanon and Haute-Sainte-Claire, respectively, Guy and Bitsy decided to move to Bridgeville after his retirement. He soon joined the Pittsburgh-based Society of Sculptors and was accepted into the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, the second oldest artists’ organization in the nation, hoping to continue the Bellavers’ active role in promoting various shows and exhibitions.
It was early 2020.
“I think they both had one thing they did before Covid hit,” Bitsy said. “The rest of the next two years, nothing happened in the art world.”
The couple wanted to change that for the better — in their new hometown, at least — and Bitsy talked to Borough Manager Joe Kauer about some possibilities.
“I was just, by the way, making this comment about, A, my husband is a sculptor, and B, we know about public art,” she said. “So, if ever the borough is interested in it, we would be delighted to talk about it. He said it sounded like a great idea.
Virginia Bott Schneider, a borough council member at the time, agreed and joined in discussions on how to proceed.
“There were about three things that we thought we could do relatively easily, without having a huge infrastructure, without having a ton of money,” Bitsy said. “So we decided to do the first of those, which requires the least amount of infrastructure.”
The sculpture exhibition features works by six artists, including Seward Johnson (1930-2020), best known for his much larger-than-life “Forever Marilyn” depiction of Mrs. Monroe’s skirt and grate scene in ” The Seven” by Billy Wilder. Itch of the year.
“We thought it would be really cool to have an artist of his caliber in the first show,” Bitsy said, and his workshop provided two of his pieces. “Inner World, Outer World” will be displayed in the 600 Washington Avenue block across from the Bridgeville Parking Authority parking lot north of LaBella Bean Coffee House and Eatery, and “Best Seller” in Triangle Park at the intersection of Station and Railroad.
“Follow the Swallow” by Pittsburgh artist Jan Loney will also be on display at Triangle Park, and south of LaBella Bean will be “Bedtime Stories, Volume II” by Moon Township’s Sarah Simmons.
Other sculptures in the exhibit are “Remembering Youth” by Dan Droz of Pittsburgh, 400 block of Washington Avenue across from the Bridgeville Parking Authority parking lot; “Every Piece Has a Place” by Alex Mendez of Decatur, Ind., at Washington Avenue Apartments, 416 Washington Ave.; “Heavy Metal” by Mendez, at JLJI Specialty Contractors, 358 Washington Ave. ; and “Bunny” by Greg Mendez, also from Decatur, at Thomas Dance Studio, 111 Washington Ave.
“The cool thing about a sculpture exhibit is that no matter what the pandemic is, you can still see it,” Bitsy said. “It’s not like we’re doing something that requires a hundred people in a room to watch a play. Maybe all you have to do is sit in your car and stare out the window. You can go up and down the avenue. You can stop at one of the restaurants.
While the sculptures are in place, through March 1, supporters of Public Art Bridgeville are working to develop projects involving other media, such as music and dance, and possibly pop-up galleries.
On the side of the Bellavers, the interest is there.
“We’re glad that, at least so far, it seems like people are saying, hey, that’s a good idea. And I guess we’ll know a bit more after we put the sculptures up and see the kind of public feedback we’ll get,” Bitsy said. “Then hopefully we’ll get enough positive feedback that everyone thinks it’s a good idea and we should keep doing it.”
For more information, visit publicartbridgeville.wordpress.com.
Harry Funk is a news editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Harry at [email protected]