Public Art Bridgeville launches activities with outdoor sculpture exhibition
Apr 19, 2022
Get ready for some particularly interesting sights around Bridgeville. As of May 1, an outdoor sculpture exhibition will be in place at various locations as the first endeavor of a new organization that looks to cultivate creativity in the borough. Public Art Bridgeville is spearheaded by nearly half-century professional sculptor Guy Bellaver and his wife, Elizabeth, who generally goes by Bitsy. They had helped found a similar group, the St. Charles (Ill.) Arts Council, while living in suburban Chicago. Natives of Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, respectively, Guy and Bitsy decided to move to Bridgeville after she retired. He promptly joined the Pittsburgh-based Society of Sculptors and was accepted into the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, the second-oldest artist membership organization in the country, hoping to continue the Bellavers’ active role in promoting various shows and exhibitions. That was in early 2020. “I think both of them had one thing that they did before covid hit,” Bitsy said. “The rest of the next two years, there was nothing going on in the world of art.”
The couple wanted to change that for the better — in their new hometown, at least — and Bitsy spoke with borough manger Joe Kauer about some possibilities. “I had just, in passing, made this comment about, A, my husband is a sculptor, and B, we know about public art,” she said. “So if the borough was ever interested in that, we’d love to talk about it. He said that sounded like a great idea.”
Virginia Bott Schneider, a member of borough council at the time, agreed and joined in discussions regarding how to proceed. “There were about three things that we thought we could do relatively easily, without having a huge infrastructure, without having a ton of money,” Bitsy said. “So we decided to do the first of those, which requires the least infrastructure.”
The sculpture exhibition features work by six artists, including Seward Johnson (1930-2020), best known for his much-larger-than-life “Forever Marilyn” depiction of Ms. Monroe’s skirt-and-grate scene in Billy Wilder’s “The Seven Year Itch.”
“We thought it would be really cool to have an artist of his caliber in the first show,” Bitsy said, and his atelier provided two pieces of his. “Inner World, Outer World” will be displayed in the 600 block Washington Avenue, in front of Bridgeville Parking Authority lot north of LaBella Bean Coffee House and Eatery, and “Best Seller” at Triangle Park, intersection of Station and Railroad streets. Also to be on display at Triangle Park is “Follow the Swallow” by Pittsburgh artist Jan Loney, and to the south of LaBella Bean will be “Bedtime Stories, Volume II” by Sarah Simmons of Moon Township. Other sculptures in the exhibition are “Remembering Youth” by Dan Droz of Pittsburgh, 400 block of Washington Avenue in front of the Bridgeville Parking Authority lot; “Every Piece Has a Place” by Alex Mendez of Decatur, Ind., at Washington Avenue Apartments, 416 Washington Ave.; Mendez’s “Heavy Metal,” at JLJI Specialty Contractors, 358 Washington Ave.; and “Bunny” by Greg Mendez, also of Decatur, at Thomas Dance Studio, 111 Washington Ave.
“The cool thing about a sculpture exhibition is that, regardless of the pandemic, you can still see it,” Bitsy said. “It’s not like we’re doing something that requires a hundred people in a room watching a play. All you have to do is maybe sit in your car and look out the window. You can walk up and down the avenue. You can stop in one of the restaurants.”
While the sculptures are in place, through next March 1, supporters of Public Art Bridgeville are working on developing projects that involve other media, such as music and dance, and possibly pop-up galleries. As far as the Bellavers are concerned, the interest is there. “We’re happy that, at least so far, it appears that people are saying, hey, this is a good idea. And I guess we’ll know a little more after we get the sculptures up and see what kind of public comment we get,” Bitsy said. “Then hopefully, we’ll get enough positive feedback that everybody will think this is a cool idea and we should keep doing this.”
For more information, visit publicartbridgeville.wordpress.com . Harry Funk is a Tribune-Review news editor. You can contact Harry at firstname.lastname@example.org . Support Local Journalism and help us continue covering the stories that matter to you and your community.