By Nick Eustis
Pittsburgh Current Contributor
Bakery Square in Larimer is growing. The mixed use complex home to Google Pittsburgh and UPMC offices, among other tenants, will be unveiling a new 12,400-square-foot, two-story building to be home to the Galley Bakery Square restaurant incubator.
As part of this project, a call for artists was put out to create an artist residency through the Larimer Consensus Group, Lincoln PreK-5 School and Urban Academy to create large scale works of art to adorn the new structure. No limitations were placed in the call, so artists of any media, from across the world, were welcomed to submit.
“Consequently, we received a very diverse pool of artists, from performance, digital, sculptors, painters, filmmakers,” said Morton Brown, consultant to the project. “We were very pleased to see such a breadth of amazing artists willing to work with us.”
On March 16, Walnut Capital announced that two artists would be awarded the residency, Janel Young and Lori Hepner, both Pittsburgh natives. Young will install her work in the space, two 10’ by 18’ outdoor panels, in May and June this year, and it will be on display for six months. Hepner’s work will be displayed in Fall/Winter.
For the residency, each artist will work with Larimer school children and members of the community to inspire the work and what it will contain.
“The goal is to work with the Larimer Consensus Group, Lincoln [PreK-5 School] and Urban Academy to do a short residency program involving the teachers, students and community members, and then creating artwork based on the inspiration from that residency,” said Young. “They can contribute anything from the color palette, to an abstract design, to symbolism, to themes and quotes that they bring up in our time together.”
Young works primarily in large scale public pieces like murals, and many of her projects emphasize community engagement. In 2019, she returned to her home neighborhood of Beltzhoover and collaborated with multiple generations of residents to create Pittsburgh’s first art basketball court, called “Home Court Advantage.” Young is excited to be working with the Larimer community and Bakery Square on this project, as she acknowledges that members of the community were displaced when Bakery Square went up.
“For Bakery Square to have been built, it pushed people out of the area, people who had lived there for many years, people who have built that community up,” said Young. “I want the artwork and the residency in general to be able to relieve some of that tension that might exist,” said Young.
After Young’s six month display, artist Lori Hepner will display her own residency work. An associate professor of integrative arts at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny campus, Hepner specializes in teaching students how to create art through a technology-driven process.
“Lori Hepner works in light. She captures film and video from the movement of LED light sticks on a sort of long exposure, creating these wonderful, abstract still images and also moving videos from this process that are very unique and stunning,” said Brown.
The light-focused nature of Hepner’s work makes it a natural fit for the lower light of Pittsburgh late year seasons. While there aren’t yet plans for further projects after Hepner, Brown is encouraged and hopeful that the success of this first round will lead to more opportunities for local artists to display their craft and tighten the bonds of their communities.
“Bakery Square has not yet decided if it will continue the program in this iteration into the future, but they are very excited about what we’ve accomplished thus far, and are very open to seeing where things go from here,” said Brown.
For more information on the call, site, and residency, visit https://bakery-square.com/art/.