|The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Building.|
When Visit Pittsburgh invited me to come and see the city's private and public art collections as part of a media group recently, I jumped at the chance. My expectations were skyhigh but even then they were exceeded many times over.
Yes, the Warhol. Seven storeys of work by one of the 20th century's most influential artists, including something you're not going to see anywhere else: an entire floor devoted to his films and television shows. Yes, the gorgeous Victorian Frick estate. The Carnegie, where we attended the opening of the 100th annual exhibition of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and had a roundtable with none other than Philip Pearlstein and got to hear firsthand of his early experiences (which included being a roommate of fellow Pittsburgher Andy Warhol for awhile) in the New York art scene.
Even more impressive than these institutions, however, was the city itself: clean and green, its interesting mix of old and new architecture (I snapped the cathedral-like Pittsburgh Plate Glass building from the 22nd floor of the Fairmont Pittsburgh) enlivened by sculpture installed just about everywhere. The city has made a definite commitment to the arts and it shows...beautifully.
A special perk to being part of the media group was that we were welcomed into several private homes to see their personal art collections; thanks so much to Damian Soffer, the Fishers, Hillmans and Hornells. Pittsburghers on the whole struck me as friendly and community-minded, perhaps not surprising since they live in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood!
Our five-day art tour ended in the Laurel Highlands where we visited the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and two masterworks by architect Frank Lloyd Wright: Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. I really have to rate Fallingwater as a highlight of my travelling career. Simply stunning.
As was Pittsburgh. I can't wait to go back.