If you take a walk down Mercer Street, you may notice a little more color than usual inside the parking garage on the corner.
As part of the Arts on the Riverwalk Festival this year, the Mercer Street parking garage stairwell will be getting a bit of a facelift in the form of a mural. The first sketches have already appeared, and over the next few months, a professional public artist will be creating the five-story work of art which will be unveiled at the festival on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.
Hired to complete the project is Pittsburgh native Gregg Valley. In his career, Valley has done countless murals and public art projects around the Pittsburgh area and in California. He found his passion for public art in 2005 when he was chosen by Sprout Public Art to create an 1800-foot mural. Since then, Valley has increased his skills, creating bigger and better murals that speak to the everyday life and history of the places in which he paints.
For an artist with a professional background in illustration, Valley finds public art much more rewarding. Instead of making art alone in a studio, public art is live and interactive, providing the opportunity to meet members of the community and gain instant feedback. The process of creating a mural is almost a performance for him, bringing crowds to the site each day to monitor the progress and provide commentary on the project.
The best part for him is the public’s reaction; he describes how rewarding it is when people will thank him for creating a thing of beauty that will brighten their day each time they see it. Some of his most meaningful works were done in communities that needed a symbol of hope, and his murals provide just that.
Valley has a lot of experience with elaborate public art pieces but the New Castle mural is a first for Valley, as he has never done a project that wraps around a stairwell. Though challenging, he is happy with the design that flows from level to level and creates a seamless illustration of New Castle.
New Castle’s very own mural will represent the elements of this town that are so integral to its history. Community members can expect to recognize symbols like the fish from the Shenango river that runs through town, hot air balloons, Zambelli fireworks and Amish farmland. The mural will be a proud representation of New Castle’s rich history and the bright future that lies ahead.
To see the progress for yourself, head to the Mercer Street parking garage and watch Gregg Valley work. Make sure you visit the Arts on the Riverwalk Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9 for the dedication ceremony and to see the finished project.