By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

The faces tell the story in new South Side Mural: Tell Your Story


Last updated 10/17/2018 at 8:25pm

"Tell Your Story" is the South Side Public Art Project's latest mural. Tucked away on Mary Street, the mural features portraits of South Siders, old and new, and visitors to the community.

South Side used to be a place where a lot of artists came to, a place where they could thrive and create, says Steve Root of South Side Public Art. And he thinks it can be that place again.

South Side Public Art, a project of the all-volunteer South Side Community Council, celebrates the arts and culture, old and new, of the neighborhood. The South Side has a history of welcoming a multitude of people and their cultures and the latest mural, "Tell Your Story," puts it all on display, Mr. Root explains.

Tucked in on Ascend's wall in the 2100 block of Mary Street, the public art mural features dozens of portraits of South Siders, old and new, along with neighborhood stalwarts and stewards and those just passing through.

Artist Kelly Carter adhered the black and white portraits to the exterior wall with a "wallpaper paste." Though not a permanent installation, it's expected the mural will last several years in the elements.

"Everybody has a story to share and connect," Mr. Root said. "The face tells the story."

He was quick to add that it's "our story," but not the whole story.

Ms. Carter posted on-site that, "The collections of pictures portrays the personality of the neighborhood as I discovered it – today, summer 2018. I wanted to capture what it feels like here on a Tuesday afternoon more so than on a Friday night. To get an honest sample, I sound most of the subject by walking around the neighborhood at various times of day without much of a plan."

"Tell Your Story" is the Public Art Project's fifth mural. The first one was completed in 2016 followed by three more on Fox Way.

Support for the mural came from several stakeholders including Ascend, Berger Investment Group and the J. Poli company.

Mr. Root said the Public Art Project has established a relationship with the Berger Investment Group. Berger has allowed the group to place their murals on their properties, including "Tell Your Story."

"They've been supportive, which has been huge for us," he said.

Ascend, tenants in the building with latest mural, has also been supportive including spreading the word and holding a fundraiser that generated $1,200 towards completing the mural.

"Ascend Pittsburgh embraces the South Side Mural Project's mission of connecting artists, spaces, and communities through public art - a sentiment that is reminiscent of our vision where we see ourselves as part of a larger climbing ecosystem within the communities of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, and America," said Paul Guarino from Ascend.

"The Ascend portrait wall artists, Kelly and Evan, transformed an otherwise expansive and blank wall located near our entrance into a colorful showcase of our neighborhood's people and energy. In addition to fulfilling our civic duty by engaging our community to participate in the fundraising efforts, Ascend's members, guests, and employees are now uplifted each time they visit and walk past this very personal mural."

J. Poli contributed the use of scaffolding for the placement of the mural.

Mr. Root says when the portraits fade, they may be replaced with new ones or the mural may be replaced with something entirely different.

Although they have started with murals, he emphasized the South Side Public Art Project isn't just about outdoor murals. They are exploring doing gallery installations and have looked into doing sculptures in the neighborhood.

In the meantime, members of the project are raising money for a possible "permission wall," a place where graffiti artists can legally create their art.

"Instead of painting over graffiti, we need more art in the neighborhood," Mr. Root said.


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