One of last year’s must-see public art installations drew some 10,000 people away from the warmth of their homes to enjoy a dynamic, interactive art experience in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, in the heart of winter.

And thanks to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), come January 2015 Market Square will again be the place to be on a cold winter night.

The PDP was awarded a $35,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant to support Market Square’s Public Arts Program. The money will be put toward a winter art installation in 2015—and another in 2016, both designed just for Market Square.

“Public art in the winter is unique to Pittsburgh,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the PDP. “You don’t see this in northern climates.”

Last year’s art installation, an interactive display called Congregation, was a cool mix of big-screen video, choreographed music and light that responded to thermal dynamics of human movement—so the light moved with each visitor. “Spectators become performers,” wrote Jennifer Baron in NEXTPittsburgh in March of this year.

Congregation was on display as the Polar Vortex swept through the city. “We cut our teeth on a really good year—so bring it on!” Waldrup said of the cold.


“This is a great example of the importance of art and its positive effect on economic development,” he adds.

The $35,000 will help to pay the artists and cover the cost of the installation—but the PDP will raise the additional funds, which total $75,000 for each year.

“We are ecstatic about the work the artists are planning,” says Waldrup. While last year’s show was part of an international traveling exhibit, the installations for 2015 and 2016 are each being “designed specifically for Market Square.”

“We’re ready to blow it out of the park for another year,” says Waldrup.

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.