The 62nd annual celebration of the arts, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is free and open to the public once more. These ten days of free art + music, June 4-13, mark a long-awaited and safe return to in-person arts experiences in the region. Better yet, the 2021 edition is a hybrid experience, offering exciting new virtual opportunities in addition to the highly anticipated in-person Festival.
So, what’s new and different? What are this year’s can’t-miss events? We’ve got everything you need to know before you go! Before we get to the art, though, let’s clear up health and safety expectations.
The safest way for guests to experience the Festival is to be vaccinated or to mask up! All Pittsburgh Cultural Trust staff, artists, crew, sponsors, and other partners will wear masks (regardless of vaccination status) and will complete a health questionnaire before checking in to participate on each day of the Festival. For more details from the Trust, review the Guest Pledge at TrustArts.org/Health, safety protocols at TrustArts.org/Safety, and keep the CDC’s Large Gatherings Guidelines in mind for the best experience.
A cornerstone of the Festival, this year’s Artist Market features 150+ independent artists selling handmade fine art and fine crafts from 12-8 p.m. daily. There are four new locations this year, each with two five-day sessions, meaning that you can discover new artists in the same spot when you visit the Festival a second (or third!) time.
Cultural District locations include the Benedum Lot (Penn Avenue & 7th St.), Trust Oasis (133 7th St.), and Allegheny Overlook Pop-up Park (Ft. Duquesne Blvd. between 6th & 7th Sts.). Approximately 50 artists will appear across these three locations in the first session, June 4-8, with another 50 moving in for June 9-13. The fourth Artist Market location is in Point State Park, which is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Approximately 30 artists will appear during the first session, June 4-6, with another 30 moving in for June 11-13. See it all on a map here.
An additional 200+ artists from around the country are participating in the Virtual Artist Market at TrustArts.org/TRAF, so don’t forget you can shop from home or on the go, too!
This year’s Cultural District footprint expands on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to include Point State Park. The Dollar Bank Main Stage returns to the city-side lawn with six featured music concerts at 7:30 pm: the prodigiously talented Celisse on opening night, Friday, June 4; the soulful and funk-inspired Bassel and the Supernaturals on Saturday, June 5; hard-touring, celebrated songwriter Rayland Baxter on Sunday, June 6; GRAMMY®-nominated American soul blues singer and songwriter Sugaray Rayford on Friday, June 11; the return of Caroline Rose’s cinematic pop stylings on Saturday, June 12; and Son Little closing out the Festival on Sunday, June 13, with old-school soul and R&B blended with gritty instrumental virtuosity.
Can’t make it in person? For the first time in Festival history, you can listen to all six shows on the radio, thanks to the artists and media partner 91.3 WYEP! Catch them live on 91.3 FM, streaming at wyep.org, on WYEP’s smartphone apps, or just tell your smart speaker to “play WYEP.”
An all-new hub of Festival activity this year is the Allegheny Overlook Pop-up Park. Positioned on a partially closed Fort Duquesne Boulevard between Stanwix and 7th Streets, the space is presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. It will be home to the Riverside Stage, which lights up daily with some of the region’s top music and dance talent. Under your feet, you’ll find a splash of color from Pittsburgh native, painter, muralist and community leader Janel Young. Young’s “Pathway to Joy” is a street mural premiering at the Festival. Food offerings and a portion of the Artist Market round out the new space.
This year’s Festival delivers an array of visual arts attractions, including the grand reopening of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust galleries throughout the Cultural District. Transverse: the Juried Visual Art Exhibition, originally curated for the 2020 Festival, appears in-person for the first time; WE ARE THE GLOBAL MAJORITY decolonizing SPACE, curated by #notwhite collective, opens at SPACE; Miguel Chevalier’s Power Pixels 2020 awaits at Wood Street Galleries; And Still… by N.E. Brown enlivens 707 Penn for the first time in more than a year, and Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize® for Women Figurative Realist Painters marks a return to exhibitions at 937 Liberty Ave.
Public art abounds, too, with multiple must-see installations. Stop by EQT Plaza to see five monumental sculptures by renowned Pittsburgh-based, self-taught artist Thaddeus Mosley. The biomorphic forms were crafted from the felled trees of Pittsburgh’s urban canopy and include the premiere of “Union State.” On the Allegheny Riverfront Trail, near the Roberto Clemente Bridge (6th St.), you will find Invisible Ecologies by Future Green Studio, which celebrates wildlife resilience in the urban environment, in collaboration with Clear Story and supported by Riverlife.
For a complete schedule of events, including virtual-only attractions, ten different take-home activities from local organizations in the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone, details on this year’s Anthropology of Motherhood: Feeding Room supported by Allegheny Health Network, and so much more, visit TrustArts.org/TRAF.