Sudden Outcry

Peter Calaboyias Silver Grid Wall in Pittsburgh International Airport

Funny, I was in the Pittsburgh airport earlier this month. When I passed by the familiar dinosaur, I was curious about what workers were doing with a panel of aluminum grids. It is now un-illuminated, and some grid panels are gone like funny missing teeth. It had never appeared as art to me before. After all, something shining and hanging on the wall is not impressive in a busy airport where everything else looks clean and shiny.

But the story always follows the same pattern: Some collection or artwork stays in virtual obscurity until it faces its demise. Then, suddenly, we hear the public outcry. And here is the outcry from Pittsburgh, PA.


PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato wants to prevent the removal of artwork from county property following a plan that emerged to replace a sculpture at Pittsburgh International Airport in favor of paid advertising.

Onorato says protecting public art is important.

Earlier this month, he ordered the county airport authority to stop removing Silver Grid Wall, an 8-by-68-foot aluminum sculpture by Peter Calaboyias. The sculpture has been in the same place since the airport opened in 1992, but airport officials wanted to move it.

They hoped to earn between $250,000 and $300,000 a year by leasing the space for ads.

Onorato says he’s creating a committee to decide on a case-by-case basis whether public artwork can be moved.


Should the artwork be saved? Yes. Will it have to stay at the airport? Not necessarily. If the airport wants to display ads in a non-prominent location, then let revenue speak. Most travelers seldom see the artwork once they are on the escalator. The question is whether a new location has been found to better suit the artwork and whether the removal is overseen by an art conservator.

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