13 January 2016

Octavia by Laura Jean McLaughlin

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In 2006, the Three Rivers Arts Festival installed a seven hole putt–putt golf course in Point State Park. They called the course Lions, and Tigers, and Groundhogs...Oh My! and Octavia was created for one of those holes. This was Laura Jean McLaughlin’s first three dimensional mosaic. The tile pieces are embedded in concrete over a wire mesh form.

When the Arts Festival folks contacted Ms McLaughlin to tell her they could no longer store Octavia, she donated it to a community garden in Bloomfield. An associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University had started a neighborhood garden on a lot that she purchased when an abandoned building burned down. Now when you ride down South Aiken St., you see Octavia anchoring the park–like space, with raised gardens all around her.

Summer or Winter, Octavia is the focal point of this community garden.

Octavia is actually two–faced. This side faces the road.

This side faces the back of the garden.

UPDATE: Stopped by to see what was new in the community garden in early Sept 2013. We discovered a new sculpture in progress. A Sea Serpent at the back end of the garden.

We also decided to add a few photos here showing Octavia in the summer and some other nice touches from around the garden.

Some fun street signs make it hard to miss this little oasis.

Obviously this garden isn’t just for the grown–ups.

When we stopped by in December we found Octavia in the Christmas spirit!

In 2015 there was a successful crowd funding campaign to raise money to restore Octavia. After years of enduring the changing Pittsburgh weather she needed some TLC. Once restoration is completed we'll post some new pictures.

On 11 Sep 2016 the new and improved Octavia returned to the community garden. This time she was made of sturdier stuff. The original sculpture was never intended to be on display outdoors and didn't quite hold up to the ever changing local weather. Her makeover was done with her living conditions considered this time, and we hope to see her last many, many years.

Like the original Octavia, the new and improved version has two sides with different expressions.

There are some hand made tiles incorporated into her on both sides. Here are just a few examples:

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