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Introducing “Downtown Renown,” a New Public Art Series Highlighting Inspirational Pittsburgh Athletes

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Sports is a serious subject for the Pittsburgh region, with a well-recognized fan base that reaches across the entire country. A long legacy of sports achievement has been well forged into the hearts of every Pittsburgher, and steadfastly remains wherever they may roam. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center, felt that those feelings offered a great opportunity to combine that enduring love of sports with a unique public art experience called Downtown Renown.

“Roberto Clemente” on display at Eighth and Penn

Featuring 14 artworks and stories that celebrate the careers of Pittsburgh sports icons and athletic groundbreakers, you’re invited to explore the new series that features vibrant new designs from acclaimed artist Gavin Benjamin. Athletes featured as part of the series include Mario Lemieux, Franco Harris, Swin Cash, Dan McCoy, and others.

“I am very inspired by the works of Dutch and Italian masters and their use of deep luxurious colors, intense light and dark shadows,” said Gavin Benjamin, the artist who developed the collection. “The juxtaposition of objects and composition of forms that tell a compelling story are something I try to integrate in every piece. This installation offered a great opportunity for me to explore my passion for culture, media, fashion, and design, as well as being able to visually interpret these athletes in a non-traditional way. I believe these pieces are honest and curious and bright and thoughtful – all of the things that made me want to be a professional artist in the first place.”

Downtown Renown continues a long legacy of PDP support for public art, while also introducing a sports theme that really resonates with the community,” said Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the PDP. “Each of these artistic works is visually compelling and unique, and the athletes and stories that they display are similarly compelling. These athletes are so worthy of this kind of recognition given their commitment, endurance, and talents, and their stories are exceptional. We hope that people are inspired by the art, but also learn more about the rich heritage of Pittsburgh sports.”

Besides the dramatic visuals, each window also offers a brief career outline of the athlete, and a QR code to take you to a more detailed bio on the PDP website provided by the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.

“We have been excited to partner with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership on ‘Downtown Renown’ to showcase some of the dynamic athletes who have contributed to Pittsburgh’s identity as the ‘City of Champions’ through the years,” said Anne Madarasz, director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center. “We worked hard to select stories that would demonstrate the relevance of sports to larger issues. These athletes are ground breakers and door openers. They demonstrate dedication to community and their country, or teach us life lessons about hard work, perseverance, and drive. Many fans visit the Sports Museum to relive memories of Pittsburgh’s most legendary sports moments, but they also discover lesser known and almost-forgotten stories of athletes, coaches, and other leaders who made a huge impact on sport and American life. With all we are facing right now, these windows can inspire and unify us, reminding us of the power of sport and individuals to effect positive change.”

Learn more.


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