Peduto promotes Pittsburgh’s artists with office gallery
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s office is for sale. Well, just the parts created by some of the city’s most talented artists.
Peduto has transformed his office into a mini-gallery for artists to display and sell their works. Dozens of pieces line the walls, conference room and offices. The Pittsburgh-themed works range from Warhol to watercolor and include everything from etched glass to oil on canvas. Most are for sale.
Visitors have so far purchased three, including a $40,000 painting by Ohio Township artist Cory Bonnet. Someone bought an oriental rug on loan from a Strip District dealer, Peduto said.
“I really love the history of the city, and I got wrapped up in the idea that this is the mayor’s office,” said Bonnet, 39, who has a gallery in the Strip. “All these decisions over the last 100 years that made Pittsburgh what it is today were made in that office.”
Peduto, an art aficionado, said the work enhances the office.
“Each one of these is a different piece about our city, and when you come in here, you can feel it,” Peduto said. “Plus, it allows the artists to display and sell their artwork.”
Members of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council submitted more than 30 pieces to display. Prices range from $85 for a Sara Beck Sweeney photograph on a wood panel titled “Rachel Carson Bridge” to $18,000 for Ron Donoughe’s painting “Winter Window Flag.”
Works on loan that are not for sale include Andy Warhol’s 1978 “Muhammad Ali,” Burton Morris’ “One Young World” and several pieces owned by Peduto.
Small plaques identify the artist, piece and the price.
Donoughe, 57, of Lawrenceville, who has five pieces in the mayor’s office, said it’s a unique venue.
“You’re showing in an interesting space with other challenging artists, and the works are being seen by a select group of folks who get into the mayor’s chamber,” he said. “It’s an impressive display of the talent in the region. That’s what’s really the best part of it.”
Bonnet, who knows Peduto, said the mayor asked him to create a painting for his office. Bonnet said he chose to depict a view from Spring Hill because it shows old homes, the city’s landmark hills, the Allegheny River and new skyscrapers Downtown.
It took him about eight months to finish “Spring Hill Vision,” done on a panel built from floor beams from a demolished North Side house.
The piece weighs 150 pounds and measures 60 by 72 inches.
He said a man, whom he declined to identify, who saw the painting approached him at an art show and offered to buy it.
Richard Shehady, owner of Shehady’s Carpet & Rugs in the Strip District, said one of his clients bought a hand-spun oriental wool rug that he had on display in Peduto’s office. He couldn’t recall the exact price, but said it was $13,000 to $15,000.
Peduto added his personal touch by donating a portrait of Pittsburgh namesake William Pitt. He commissioned Bellevue artist Bob Huckestein to do the work for $1,500, and paid for it with political campaign funds. The portrait hangs in the mayor’s conference room.
Huckestein, 69, said he discounted the painting by more than 50 percent because it was for the city. He has four paintings on display that are for sale.
“That’s kind of a pretty neat thing because you don’t get that kind of public acknowledgement of your work by public figures,” he said. “It’s difficult to make a living especially here in Pittsburgh as an artist, so every little bit helps. It’s helpful to your career and hopefully helpful to the bottom line.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, email@example.com or via Twitter .