Riverview High School art project gets state funding boost
An artistic vision of the historic Hulton Bridge is one step closer to fruition.
The Riverview Educational Foundation was recently awarded a $30,000 grant through the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Those funds, coupled with a $25,000 grant received in May from the same agency, will be used to pay for a Riverview High School art project to be installed at the school’s Hulton Road entrance.
It’s a five-piece sculpture mimicking the arches of the 107-year-old bridge that was demolished in January 2016.
“I think this is a perfect opportunity for the school district and the foundation to work collaboratively on a STEAM project,” foundation Vice President Carrie DelRosso said. “We’re grateful to get the funding from the state that supports our public schools.”
DelRosso said state Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, assisted with the second round of funding.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The proposed sculpture will be 56 feet long with individual pieces eight feet wide and between eight and 10 feet tall.
Its bases will feature fragments of the stone piers that held up the real bridge.
Saxonburg-based Brayman Construction handled the bridge demolition and its $66 million PennDOT replacement project.
Its replacement, which links Harmar to Oakmont, was fully opened in May 2016.
The art project started as an idea three years ago when a student proposed using bridge parts to make jewelry.
Former Riverview art teacher Glenn Garrison said he was able to get materials from Brayman Construction, but the jewelry was never made due to rusting and other potential health concerns.
Specifications and engineering designs were done by HHSDR Architects of Pittsburgh.
Students had input on the design and grant applications, but are not expected to be involved in its construction.
Garrison said students would photograph and document the project, as well as learn about making sculptures public and the governmental approval process.
“There’s a lot of things the kids can do academically to help us out,” Garrison said. “Anywhere we feel like they could be safely helping is how they’ll be involved.”
Multi Metals of Greensburg will fabricate the replica beams and cut polished aluminum for the arches.
A wave pattern would be cut into its tops so a shadow would appear like a rippling river under the sculpture.
Garrison said Mark Franz of HHSDR Architects of Pittsburgh donated his services to craft specifications and engineering designs, and plans are in the process of being modified to address contractor concerns of stone stability. So far, two companies bid on the project.
The district and Oakmont council already approved the project, but more borough permits may need to be issued before construction.
DelRosso, who also serves on council, said she would check with Solicitor Kate Diersen to see if she could vote on the permits.
DelRosso said the foundation plans to award the project “as soon as possible.”
Construction is expected to take place in the spring and could be completed by the end of the school year, weather permitting.
Garrison served as a Riverview art teacher for three years before being furloughed at the end of last school year. He works as a long-term substitute at Plum High School.
He said not teaching at Riverview has not deterred his desire to see the project through.
“I’m an artist first and foremost, and I’m an educator as well,” he said. “What type of lesson would I be teaching kids if this was something I wanted to do, and since I lost my job I’m not going to do it. It’s bigger than just my job.”
Riverview Educational Foundation is a nonprofit designed to provide students opportunities to research, discover, create, communicate and enhance learning. More information is available at rivervieweducationalfoundation.org.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.