Wood Street Galleries, an exhibition space on the second and third floors of the Wood Street T Station, is the perfect place to while away time waiting for the next train. It’s also a shining example of how the arts helped to transform a once shabby Downtown into an entertainment destination.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust opened the free art space at Wood Street and Sixth Avenue in 1992.
“The opening of Wood Street marked the beginning of the trust’s efforts to revitalize the Liberty and Penn Avenue corridors with gallery and performing arts spaces,” said Murray Horne, curator for all trust-owned galleries, including nearby SPACE and 707 Penn Gallery.
Exhibitions in the large Wood Street rooms range from group shows to gallery-sized installations that pulse with light and sound and invite immersion. Showing through Dec. 31 are a new version of the installation piece “narrow.V3” and the installation “Daydream V.5,” which premieres here. They are by Nonotak Studio, a collaboration between visual artist Noemi Schipfer and architect/musician Takami Nakamoto.
Annual attendance is approximately 22,000.
“The art shown at Wood Street Galleries reflects an emphasis on new media artwork … including digital art, virtual art and interactive art,” Mr. Horne wrote in an e-mail.
A block away at SPACE gallery is the group exhibition “Machine Culture,” which runs through Dec. 9. The show “introduces a group of young artists fascinated by the mechanical,” Mr. Horne said.
“The kinetic qualities of gears in motion and motorized moving parts produce both ironic and amusing results. Operating with varying degrees of autonomy, control, function and dysfunction, these artists orchestrate materials, re-configuring them into ‘objects of fascination.’”
Annual attendance at SPACE is approximately 20,000. Exhibitions are selected to complement those at Wood Street and feature local, regional and national artists. The 11 with work in “Machine Culture” are based in the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, India, Korea, Canada and the U.S.
A world premiere at nearby 707 Penn Gallery is part of the Cultural Trust’s Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The solo exhibition “Antumbra” is the work of Pittsburgher Keny Marshall, a master of kinetic sculpture. He is also included in “Machine Culture.”
“Using found objects and hand-built devices, [Mr. Marshall] constructs mechanisms that are often ridiculous parodies of technology,” the festival’s website says. “Models of natural systems and collections of objects re-combined with transparent inner workings oppose the idea that the things you own should be controlled by someone else,”
The exhibition continues through Dec. 9. Admission is free at all three galleries.
Gateway Center Station
Commuters can’t miss the 60-by-13-foot ceramic tile mural “Pittsburgh Recollections” in the Gateway Center light-rail station Downtown. But most probably don’t know it was made by a famous artist, Romare Bearden.
Among the most important 20th-century African-American artists, Mr. Bearden was born in 1911 in Mecklenburg County, N.C., and died in 1988 in New York City. His maternal grandparents, Carrie and George Banks, owned a boardinghouse in Pittsburgh that he visited frequently, and he is a graduate of Peabody High School.
The work depicts Pittsburgh’s history through bright, abstract forms, from Native Americans and early settlers through mill laborers to a future based in technology, science and education, all set against a flowing background of undulating hills and rivers. It comprises 780 ceramic tiles, each 12 by 12 inches and ¼-inch thick.
When the mural was commissioned in 1984, Mr. Bearden was already a well-established collage artist who had earlier been given a retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The mural was removed and reassembled in 2012 after the Gateway Center Station was moved.
Steel Plaza Station
Another 1984 commission is the late Pittsburgh artist Jane Haskell’s “Rivers of Light,” a 5,000-square-foot installation of painted aluminum, glass block and colored neon lights, recently restored with LED lights.
It’s located on the V-shaped platform level of the Steel Plaza T Station and references Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. The lights are connected to a timer and change from warm colors during the day to cooler colors in the evening. This change in color emphasizes the flow of the rivers from dawn until dusk and provides a new look for commuters at the beginning and end of their days.
Contemporary Craft’s BNY Mellon Satellite Gallery, located in the lobby of the Steel Plaza Station, features changing exhibitions organized by the Strip District art venue.
“Handwork,” which continues through Jan. 5, comprises untraditional “quilts” created with vintage tin and salvaged wood by Pittsburgh artist Kim Fox. Ms. Fox grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania and that informs her aesthetic, subject matter and choice of materials. The pieces reference traditional quilt patterns and the ideas they represent, and the imagery reflects organic themes of birds, bees, and the idea of home and place.
Cultural Trust galleries
- Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown. http://woodstreetgalleries.org or 412-471-5605.
- SPACE, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. www.spacepittsburgh.org or 412-325-7723.
- 707 Penn Gallery, 707 Penn Ave., Downtown. https://trustarts.org/pct_home/visual-arts/galleries/707
Hours for all are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
M. Thomas: email@example.com or 412-263-1925.