And recently, the city tapped a local arts leader to move the program forward.
Casey Droege — a noted Pittsburgh artist, curator, and consultant — was chosen to serve as the project coordinator for a 2021 expansion of Art in Parks. A press release says Droege will take on the overall program management, including documenting the creation of each new artwork and coordinating with artists to ensure they have the resources to complete their projects in a timely manner.
“This coordinator position provides us with an opportunity to document these artworks in a way that gives voice to our community to tell the history of our city, artists, and public art landscape,” says Sarah Minnaert, manager of the city's Public Art and Civic Design division. “We are confident that Casey and her team will tell the story of each of these new artworks in a way that broadens the life cycles of our public spaces and centers public art in our public history.”
Art in Parks was made possible by a RADical ImPAct Grant, launched in celebration of RAD’s 25th anniversary. A description on the RAD website described the $500,000 grant as funding “exciting, large-scale projects” that will “shape the creative and cultural landscape of Allegheny County for the next 25 years.”
According to the Art In Parks webpage, eight individual artists or artist teams are now on board to create works in the five city parks.
The announcement comes not long after Droege sold her artist market retail space Small Mall in May, a move that followed the March closure of her Wilkinsburg-based CDCP Project Space gallery. She still runs her artist-run, woman-owned business Casey Droege Cultural Productions, a venture focused on creating a sustainable arts economy in Pittsburgh.
In June, Droege, a Pittsburgh native with an extensive background in the local arts scene, told the Pittsburgh City Paper that she planned to “focus her efforts with CDCP to continue providing community programming and offering art consulting services.”
The Department of City Planning Public Art and Civic Design also cites Droege’s experience with managing large-scale projects, including the commission of 32 local artists to create original artworks in more than 100 rooms and spaces in the Tryp Hotel in Lawrenceville, as another reason she was chosen.