After growing up in London and spending time all over the world, Justus Cox came to Pittsburgh a year ago on the advice of a colleague who told him it is very livable and worth checking out. He didn’t know what to expect.
But now? “I’m completely impressed by this city,” Cox says. “The people are friendly, you have amazing restaurants here, it’s eco-friendly — it has all of these wonderful dynamics, but you don’t get the stress of a bigger city.”
After a year in Pittsburgh, he’s set to open Cox Contemporary, a 1,500 square-foot private art gallery in the space at 901 Penn Avenue in Downtown, which was built as a bank more than a century ago. The vaulted ceilings and ornate molding still hint at its former status, and a bay of large windows overlooking Penn Avenue provides ample natural light.
Cox extensively researched nearly all of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, but found what he was looking for right in the heart of the Cultural District.
“At the end of last summer, I was over at Nine on Nine having lunch and I saw construction going on over here in this building,” he says. “So I set up an appointment with the landlord and had a look at the space. It’s a wonderful space. It’s full of character.”
In addition to plenty of movable wall space, the building will contain the gallery’s offices and amenities for artists who are visiting or in residency, including a film editing studio. Cox Contemporary will feature all manner of art, from painting and sculpture to short films projected on the gallery wall, installations and live music.
The gallery will hold a soft opening in early May, during which Cox will hang some of his own work. After that, he’s lined a roster of up-and-coming artists from all over the world.
“There’s a great energy in this city and we look forward to adding to that,” he says.