ARTIST KYLE HOLBROOK, LEFT, WITH DANA MORRIS. (PHOTOS BY J.L. MARTELLO)
Artist Kyle Holbrook is committed to making art make an impact in the Hill District.
The “Pittsburgh Art Park CommUnity Mural” has finished its first stage along Centre Avenue near the old Shop ‘N Save, which will soon be the home of Salem’s Market and Grill. The first stage, on July 17, allowed residents of the community to contribute messages of peace and hope, in orange paint. Orange represents gun violence awareness and the demand for the violence to stop.
SHINA BIBB (PHOTOS BY J.L. MARTELLO)
Holbrook is currently working on painting iconic images of those who were so instrumental to Pittsburgh and the Hill’s culture, like Art Blakey, Gus Greenlee, Josh Gibson and Lena Horne. For the new generation, Holbrook told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, July 26, that he’ll be painting former Schenley High School and Pitt basketball standout DeJuan Blair on the mural. He’s also painting some iconic landmarks of the Hill, like the old Granada Theater.
When it’s all said and done, Holbrook said the CommUnity Mural will be the largest mural in the City of Pittsburgh, because there will be artists from all over coming to help paint the remaining sides of the huge Salem’s Market and Grill building along Heldman Street.
“I’ve seen art change a community without gentrifying it, but to bring it up,” Holbrook said. “This could be a landmark for the whole city and have it right in the Hill District.”
Much of Holbrook’s family is from the Hill District. He can see this mural, once it’s complete by the end of October, being a destination spot for locals and tourists to visit year-round, which could stimulate the Hill District ecosystem.
“It can bring an entire arts hub back to the Hill,” Holbrook said.