17 April 2016

Bienvenidos Mural by Brashear High School Students

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This mural was created out of love and hate, and represents the spirit of not only this neighborhood, but the whole city. A small carniceria, or Mexican grocery store, (known for it's excellent tacos) was vandalized by haters. The graffiti left on the garage door behind the store was cruel and racist. When news got out about it, the community rallied behind the business owners. People from all over the city headed to Brookline to buy a taco or just to tell the owners that the sentiments left on their door were not shared by everyone, and that they were in fact very welcome in this community. Students from Brashear High School designed a mural to cover the graffiti. A simple but heartfelt message of welcome.

Sad to say, but the haters returned and vandalized the mural. At that time the owners said that they would be moving - not because of the vandalism, but because of an increase in rent at that location. We thought that would be it for the mural and fully expected that it would just get painted over but we were wrong. We were pleasantly surprised to hear that once again, the community stepped up and they repaired the mural. They may not ever change the hearts of the vandals, but they have said loud and clear that the haters do not speak for the rest of us.

We had no luck getting good photos of the mural once it was completed. Each time we attempted there was a vehicle parked in front of it. After it was repaired we tried again without luck and decided to just take the picture with the vehicle anyway. We'll update this if we can get a clear shot at a later date.

Perfect Imperfections by Baron Batch

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Last year Thick Bikes expanded their shop and moved the entrance to the side along 15th St. It was a nice improvement on the layout for the store, but even with the bright, new entrance and clever use of plants in front it was easily swallowed up in the drab atmosphere of the narrow one way street. The old warehouse across from them with it's broken, boarded up windows and dreary tan facade overwhelmed the street with blah. This year the corridor was transformed. 15th Street is no longer just another narrow, brown and grey passage way with nothing to set it apart. This year it has art! Lots of art. Artist Baron Batch created a colorful, bright, exuberant corridor with his series of four elephants on the side of that old warehouse. There is no way you can travel down this road now and not notice them. The colors leap out and grab your attention immediately.
Baron likes elephants for several reasons and uses them often to represent community in his artwork.
Between the elephants, there are some words of wisdom and encouragement. So much of Mr Batch's art include uplifting elements and this series is no exception.

Update: Apr 2017

This mural is gone.  Baron Batch replaced this with a mural of butterflies.

16 April 2016

Resurection by Paul T Granlund

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For the hour is coming, when all that are in the tomb will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life. John 5:28B–29A

You’ll find Resurrection on the sidewalk outside the First Lutheran Church in downtown. Its sculptor, Paul T. Granlund, was the son of a Lutheran minister and he said that all of his sculptures were religious. We found a quote in the MetroLutheran from 2003 that described another of his pieces (Birth of Freedom) by saying The miracle of life emerges from the cosmos, a tetrahedron. The organic emerges from the inorganic, God’s spontaneous gift of resurrection from sin and death. The description seemed to fit this piece as well, and the sculptures have a lot in common.

Mr Granlund also did a piece titled Resurrection II, which also has a lot of similarities with this piece.

The First Lutheran Church commissioned this sculpture and it was installed in 1985. According to Pittsburgh’s Art in Public Places, its theme is spiritual awakening, to celebrate man’s ability to renew himself and his surroundings.

10 April 2016

Law Enforcement Officers Memorial of Allegheny County

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Pittsburgh has several war memorials including the nearby Korean War, Vietnam War, and World War II memorials. This monument remembers the heroes of a different kind of war. This war is one that never ends and hits very close to home. At this memorial we remember and honor the law enforcement officers who have given their lives to protect us right here, in this state, this county, this city. This is the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial of Allegheny County.

First dedicated in 1996, it was relocated to it’s present location when the new stadiums were constructed, and rededicated in 2003.

A row of seven flags provide a backdrop to the monument. The bronze statue of an officer looks toward the city with Ever Watchful inscribed on his pedestal. The inscription is also the title of this sculpture by Susan Wagner. In a Post Gazette article by Paula Reed Ward, Ms Wagner said The theme is that the spirit of the fallen police officers are still watching over our city.

On a black granite wall at the base of the American flag are the names of local, state and federal law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty who lived in Allegheny County. The list of names goes back as far as 1885.

Perhaps the simplest thing at this monument is also the most poignant. A red call box sits off to the side with the words Last Call.

We found a Facebook, page for the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial of Allegheny County. On it, they place an entry on the anniversary of each officer's death with their photograph. It seems an integral part of this memorial.

The poem inscribed on the granite wall is titled "A Part of America Died" by retired Detective Harry Koch, MCSO.

Somebody killed a policeman today, and a part of America died.
A piece of our country he swore to protect, will be buried with him at his side.
The suspect who shot him will stand up in court, with counsel demanding his rights,
While a young widowed mother must work for her kids, and spend alone many long nights.
The beat that he walked was a battlefield, too, just as if he'd gone off to war.
Though the flag of our nation won't fly at half mast, to his name they will add a gold star.
Yes, somebody killed a policeman today, it happened in your town or mine.
While we slept in comfort behind our locked doors, a cop put his life on the line.
Now, his ghost walks a beat on a dark city street, and he stands at each new rookie's side.
He answered the call and gave us his all, and a part of America died.

After the loss of K9 officer Rocco in the line of duty, it was decided that it was only right that our four-legged officers also be remembered here. In 2014 artist Susan Wagner volunteered to create the K9 addition to this memorial. She used a K9 named Bandit as her model and in 2015 the bronze sculpture took it's rightful place, watching over our city.