Photo of one of the selected artists, Lori Hepner. Photo courtesy of Lori Hepner.

This story was originally published on page 13 of BGC’s The Bulletin.

In February, the owners of Bakery Square unveiled its new community art program. The program coincides with the completion of Bakery Square 3.0, an extension of the complex that includes new offices for Philips and a 12,400-square-foot, two-story building that will house the restaurant incubator Galley Bakery Square.

To ensure that the new developments felt like a part of the community, Walnut Capital worked with the Larimer Consensus Group to find ways to integrate the site with nearby neighborhoods. A main feature of the program is a public art display on the facade of the Galley Bakery Square building. The building will showcase artworks on two exterior panels, totaling approximately 720 square feet.

Walnut Capital put out a public call for artists in February to find an individual artist or team of artists to create the first façade piece. To gain local input on their artwork, the selected artist would complete a residency with community groups and students at the nearby Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Public School’s Lincoln Elementary.

After judging 85 applicants and interviewing 5 finalists/ teams, a committee of Bakery Square team members, Larimer residents, and local art experts chose two artists instead of one – thereby doubling the program budget.

The selected Pittsburgh artists

The selected artists, Janel Young and Lori Hepner, are both Pittsburgh natives. Young will immediately begin her residency with the schools and then install her artwork in May or June. Hepner will begin her residency in the fall of 2021, with plans to install her artwork over the late fall/winter season. Each of the artworks will be on display for six months.

Lori Hepner, one of the selected artists, uses programmable LEDs and digital projections in her work. Photo courtesy of Lori Hepner.
Janel Young will create the first artwork for the program. She is known for her mural work, which often incorporates elements of advocacy and community engagement. Photo courtesy of Janel Young.

In an announcement on its website, Bakery Square shared the reasoning for selecting two artists:

“Our decision was driven by the desire to meet what we perceived as needs expressed by the community and schools while also taking the inaugural pilot project and extending it through one additional, contiguous season. An ongoing, revolving model has been considered from the very beginning, and this allows us to turn that into a reality.”

Young is known for her mural work, which often incorporates elements of advocacy and community engagement. In 2019, she worked with the Beltzhoover community to create Pittsburgh’s first “art basketball court” in Upper McKinley Park – a project she dubbed the “Home Court Advantage.” For this project, Young said that she aims to honor what Larimer is, what it has been, and what it still represents to its residents.

Hepner, who also works as a professor of integrative arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny, uses programmable LEDs and digital projections in her work. Drawing on her background in photography, she hopes to engage with the students through interactive digital workshops. Given the light-based nature of her work, Hepner was selected to install her pieces during the darker fall and winter months.

Bakery Square has not announced any plans for the program beyond these two artists but, according to Morton Brown, public art consultant for the project, his team remains open to ideas.

“This was meant to kick off the new building, and try out some exciting adornments, while connecting to the community. This project and/or other iterations of an art project could continue though, depending on how well this continues to be received, and other factors,” Brown explained. “So far, so good!”

Read more community spotlights.