My circulation project was, like most other’s, a complicated decision. Public art and the Percent For Art law within Pittsburgh are both shocking unaddressed, and while the law is currently being called for amendment, there is still a long way to go. The main goal of a circulation project is to make an issue’s voice heard, and spread the word to the right ears. When I first discussed the project at my midterm conference meeting, I had a vague idea of trying to utilize both the heart of the issue, public art, and the environment—which, at the time, was covered in a heavy blanket of snow. Graffiti was always in the forefront of my mind when thinking ‘circulation’ (because what is a better way of drawing the eye than art where art shouldn’t be) but I hoped to use it in a safer, less illegal way, obviously. I wanted to stencil out the words onto the snow, a collection of links and twitter handles for students to follow at their leisure, and learn more about the issue as hand on their own terms. The snow would be the perfect canvas, because the words would remain only as long as the weather stayed cold; unfortunately for me, temperatures rose quickly as I was only half way done with my stencil, so I was forced to alter my aim. Instead of graffiti, I hand-painted two canvases with bright green acrylics with the words “ENFORCE % FOR ART LAW—visit @PGH4ART” and stationed myself in front of certain works along Pittsburgh’s guided public art walking tour (Mad Mex MLK Mural on Bates and Atwood Str., 7th Str. and Penn Avenue’s “UNTITLED” Stone Fountain at Agnes R. Katz Plaza, The Carnegie Museum of Art entrance, “CELL PHONE DISCO” LED structure in between Penn and Liberty Ave., Richard Haas’ “UNTITLED (FULTON THEATRE)” between 6th and 7th Str. and Fort Duquesne Blvd.).
From each spot, I set both canvases at my feet or held one in hand while I passed fliers and spoke with people who stopped to admire the artworks. I did this only with people who wanted to discuss the works (which was a surprising amount) and found a much more receptive audience when I stayed in front of the sculptures/murals and talked about the issue with onlookers instead of stopping random passersby. The fliers were simple and succinct; stating a quick summary of the issue, a link to the PGH4ART petition, and various Twitter handles and hashtags to follow (as well as my own #CityArtOfTheWeek which I documented on my Twitter page). This was in an attempt to find my ideal audience: Pittsburgher’s who valued art in their daily experience. I had several people ask for more information about the petition, with intent to sign it, while others just listened and took a flier with them on their walk. Still, I think both the Twitter campaign and the hands-on approach within the designated public art space itself helped to spread word of the issue, in however small a way. I was impressed by the amount of everyday students who already knew about the issue, and was even more impressed with the amount of average city-dwellers who were interested in the cause. Pittsburgh is undeniably a city made for art lovers, and this conclusion only solidifies the need for a new Percent For Art law.