Black Cube unveils a permanent, bronze artwork in Pittsburgh's historic Troy Hill
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Black Cube unveils a permanent, bronze artwork in Pittsburgh's historic Troy Hill
Existing historic plaque on the building façade commemorating Troy Hill Incline. Courtesy of the artists and Black Cube.

DENVER, CO.- The nomadic art museum, Black Cube, announced Historic Site, an 8-foot-tall cast bronze plaque in Pittsburgh, PA by artists Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis. Installed on the façade of a 120-year-old building, the large plaque is a contemporary companion to a small existing bronze plaque on the building’s exterior that commemorates its first use as an incline train station. The plaque will be unveiled on September 18 and will remain on view indefinitely.

During their Sabrina Merage Foundation Artist Fellowship with Black Cube, Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis spent a year researching archives and speaking to experts, including anthropologists, architects, historians, amongst others, to learn of everything that could be documented as having occurred on the site from 600 million years ago, through to the present day and beyond. The resulting information was compiled into a lengthy text that includes moments such as the discovery of a prehistoric amphibian, the site of a large landslide in the early 20th century, and Troy Hill’s first silent movie theater. Taking its visual cues from the existing plaque, the text was cast in bronze by the same foundry who made the original 34 years ago.

"This work examines what history is remembered, how it is told, and by whom. Through our Black Cube project, we’ve set ourselves the challenge of questioning and opening up how a single location within a community is remembered and challenging that narrative by embracing the plurality and complexity of human history. How can we tell a story of a site that begins before the land rose out of the ocean, and extends as far as scientists can predict into the future?" said Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis.

In addition to being the permanent site for the Historic Site plaque, the building also serves as Clayton and Lewis’ artist studio and their new artist-run project space called Gallery Closed. The gallery was conceived by the artists during the pandemic and is designed to be permanently “closed”, yet at the same time continuously open. All exhibitions will be accessible 24-hours a day by peering through two street-facing windows. In conjunction with the unveiling of the plaque, the inaugural exhibition titled Historic Sight will comprise 27 artists invited to visually interpret a different word or phrase from Historic Site. Over the course of a year, the artists will each contribute an image to be exhibited in the window of the gallery space. In this way, 27 unique artworks will slowly rotate through the gallery in changing pairs, chronologically illustrating the historical narrative of the location itself.

The artwork Historic Site and the exhibition Historic Sight are presented by Black Cube and are the culmination of Clayton and Lewis’ Sabrina Merage Foundation Artist Fellowship, a program created by Black Cube to support contemporary artists working at the intersection of inclusivity and diversity. Seed funding for Gallery Closed was provided by Black Cube with additional funding was provided by the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art.

The public opening reception for Historic Site and Historic Sight will take place on Saturday, September 18 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET at Gallery Closed (1733 Lowrie Street, Troy Hill, Pittsburgh, PA 15212). The event will include performances by the Teutonian Männerchor and Damenchor, as well as a ceremonial unveiling of the plaque and a sung recital of the text by artist, John Carson.

Historic Sight Exhibition Artist List

Rosa Barba / Melissa Catanese / Raven Chacon / Cooking Sections / Mark Dion / Michael Dumontier / Jimmie Durham / Jason Fulford / Philip Glass / Jim Goldberg / Ann Hamilton / Pablo Helguera / Taraneh Hemami / Jonathan Horowitz / Maira Kalman / Nina Katchadourian / Micah Lexier / Carlos Motto / Keris Salmon / Ed Panar / Cornelia Parker / Jon Rubin / Alessandra Sanguinetti / Tamara Shopsin / Alec Soth / Kerry Tribe / Deborah Willis

Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis

Lenka Clayton is an interdisciplinary artist whose work considers, exaggerates, and alters the accepted rules of everyday life, extending the familiar into the realms of the poetic and absurd. Recent exhibitions include How We Thought It Would Be and How It Was, Catharine Clark Gallery, SF (2020), Fruit and Other Things (2019) Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Object Temporarily Removed (2017) at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Talking Pictures (2017) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and … circle through New York (2017) at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY. Clayton is also the founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, a self-directed, open-source artist residency program that takes place inside the homes and lives of artists who are also parents. There are currently over 1,200 artists-in-residence in 67 countries. Clayton’s work has been supported by The Warhol Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts. She has received an Art Matters Award, a Carol R. Brown Award for Creative Achievement, and a Creative Development Grant from Heinz/Pittsburgh Foundation. Clayton’s work is held in public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA, The Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Clayton's work is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

Phillip Andrew Lewis is an artist working in a variety of media including photography, video, objects and sound. His creative research often responds to historical events, psychology, and phenomenology. This work consistently examines duration, perceptual limits and attentive observation. Lewis is actively involved in collaboration with artists and various groups. Phillip has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. He received a 2012 Creative Capital Grant in Visual Art for his ongoing long-term project entitled SYNONYM. He has also received generous support for his research from Headlands Center for the Arts, Culture and Animals Foundation, Center for Creative Photography, Foundation for Contemporary Art in New York, Fathomers, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Midway Contemporary Arts Fund, Tennessee Arts Commission, University of Tennessee, Urban Arts Commission, The Heinz Foundation, and The Pittsburgh Foundation. He is a UC Foundation Associate Professor of Art at the University of Tennessee. Phillip Andrew Lewis lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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