The Downtown Blog

The official blog of Downtown Pittsburgh. Read up on what's new, what's happening, and what stories are being told in the neighborhood.


New Public Art Installation Comes to Penn Avenue

Monday, August 24, 2020

A vibrant mural is bringing a new, dynamic visual experience to Downtown Pittsburgh. Artist Jayla Patton’s Colorful Growth/Soft Waves is a 3,500 square foot street mural that tells story through color.

The mural will be the first of several temporary public art activations commissioned by the PDP in 2020 that engages local artists as part of our REFORGE Downtown initiative that invites the community to safely revisit and reengage with Downtown through unique events, activations, and programs.

Photo shows artist Jayla Patton standing in front of a red, orange, and purple painted Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh
Artist Jayla Patton at work on Penn Avenue

“Public art creates highly memorable experiences for our community and Jayla understood that really well,” said Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the PDP. “For several decades, we’ve recognized the impact that artistic expression can have on Downtown and, at this time especially, that these initiatives play a vital role in giving platforms to artists who are creating their first large-scale public artworks, encouraging dialogue in our community, and providing a safe way for people to get out of their homes and experience something unique Downtown.”

A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Jayla’s background as an illustrator, comic artist, animator, and educator made Jayla an ideal choice for the project. We organized a panel comprised of artists, Downtown residents, and stakeholders to review the portfolios of local artists. During the selection interview, Jayla impressed the panel with previous work examples and an enthusiasm for translating studio work into a 3,500 square foot street mural.

“I am excited to explore storytelling through color in Downtown Pittsburgh,” said Jayla, “Color really affects mood, so bringing bright color bursts and a dynamic visual change to the urban landscape will impact people in really interesting ways. You are compelled to slow-down, reexamine, rethink. In the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves, it’s so important that we take some time to reflect.”

The installation was borne out of discussions with stakeholders along the 900 block of Penn Avenue back in July while considering adjusted street layout and design for pedestrians and businesses to accommodate social distancing protocols. The mural will remain in place until November 2.

“Giving Black artists an opportunity to inspire and motivate during this pandemic is incredibly important,” stated Marisa Williams, Head of Community Outreach & Impact for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and a member of the artist selection committee. “Large art installations like this bring life and creativity to Downtown and can be so transformative in sharing messages of hope and racial justice to a community facing adversity.”

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