Busnegie promotes arts access with bus shelter gallery outside CMOA | Blogh
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Friday, October 19, 2018

Busnegie promotes arts access with bus shelter gallery outside CMOA

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge Busnegie party outside the CMOA. - PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
  • Photo: Amanda Waltz
  • Busnegie party outside the CMOA.
Things got loud outside of the Carnegie Museum of Art on Thursday night when Busnegie hosted a public party in the square. Giant puppets by Cheryl Capezzuti swayed as Colonel Eagleburger's Highstepping Goodtime Band energetically blasted pop hits such as “SexyBack.” Some onlookers, many of them dressed up for the special Third Thursday Carnegie International event going on inside, jumped in to dance. 
click to enlarge Giant puppets at the Busnegie party. - PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
  • Photo: Amanda Waltz
  • Giant puppets at the Busnegie party.


Not far from the scene, an orange construction sign bedecked in flower chains announced, with a simple piece of white printer paper, the Busnegie Museum of Art. Started by arts activist, Suzanne Werder, the project replaces ad space in the bus shelters near the CMOA at the intersection of South Craig Street and Forbes Avenue with works by local artists.

Werder came up with the idea to use transit shelters – what she calls “the most egalitarian spaces that exist in Pittsburgh” – to promote public art and, potentially, as a way to boost the careers of local artists by exposing them to art professionals visiting the Carnegie International.

“There is a paradigm that artists should just wait around for their patron in shining armor to come rescue them, but the truth is that no one is coming,” says Werder, who also serves as a teaching artist in residence with ProjectArt at the Knoxville branch of the Carnegie Library. “Instead of expecting audiences to come to us, we need to go to them. Instead of expecting someone to come and give artists opportunities, we need to create our own.”

To make Busnegie happen, Werder obtained grants to buy the ad space in the bus shelters. Now commuters are surrounded by translucent prints (think of the plastic sheets teachers used on school projectors) of works by over 30 area artists. An installation by Patrick Schmidt and a sculpture by Ryder Henry are also on display.
click to enlarge "American Gothic 2018" by Elizabeth Lana in the Busnegie Museum of Art. - PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
  • Photo: Amanda Waltz
  • "American Gothic 2018" by Elizabeth Lana in the Busnegie Museum of Art.
Busnegie even has a theme song: "Art is for everyone, not just a few. Art is for me and art is for you, so look at some art while you're waiting for the bus because experiencing art is for all of us."

Werder hopes Busnegie also raises awareness of little-known programs meant to increase arts access for lower-income patrons, especially for huge events like the Carnegie International, an exhibit that only comes around every three years. One such program allows residents who receive government services and have Pennsylvania ACCESS cards to attend CMOA and bring up to three people for $1 each.

“Because I am an artist, it makes me sad that so many people have never set foot in an art gallery or museum and that art isn't really a part of their lives,” says Werder. “I don't blame them, however. I think that art has marginalized itself by being elitist. People don't feel like they belong. While a $20 entrance fee to a museum is definitely worth it, it can become a financial barrier to people experiencing art. I believe that art shouldn't just be a luxury commodity. I believe that access to art is a justice issue.”

But most of all, she hopes Busnegie will brighten commutes and inspire people.

“Perhaps people will get off their phone for a minute or two, have an enjoyable time at the Busnegie and want to look at more art sometime,” she says.

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