Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Although they're steps away from each other, I had always had the feeling that the Cultural District and Market Square were somehow very separate; it might have something to do with the triangular layout of Downtown's streets and avenues, which anyone not from around here probably thinks is pretty weird.
Apparently, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership also doesn't think the connection is obvious enough, because it commissioned a new piece of public art by Carin Mincemoyer to draw traffic between the two areas.
In Pittsburgh's early days, Market Square was called the Diamond, because on a north-oriented map the square did in fact look more like a diamond. Back then Forbes Avenue was even called Diamond Street.
With this in mind, Mincemoyer (pictured) picked the diamond shape as the motif of her new piece, titled "Diamonds, Diamonds." Mounted on two light posts on Market Street, between Fifth and the Square, each identical work has a superstructure of steel rods (Pittsburgh will never relinquish steel as its material of choice), which at first glance looks like it's there only to support the illuminated diamonds hanging from the intersections.
In fact, the rods represent the molecular structure of diamonds, a crystalline expression of carbon after intense heat and pressure. The diamonds hanging within the structure are laser-cut acrylic, each lit with an LED day and night.
Market Square seems pretty excited with these new sculptures. On Tuesday, in the short time I stopped over to ogle the art as it was being installed, I saw cameras and cell phones coming out from all directions to capture the occasion. Prantl's Bakery, which sits below one of the sculptures, went so far as to sell special diamond-shaped cookies; Tuesday morning, Mincemoyer was gifting a few of these cookies to the crew of burly city workers who brought out their cherry-picker to install the sculptures.
The Office of Public Art, which along with the City made the installation possible, will host an Artist Lecture and Reception on Thu., July 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is public and free, but it is politely requested you make a reservation with ProArts Tickets.