Arlington Recreation Center Mural

Location

The Hilltop entrance to South Side Park is a blank wall on the side of the Arlington Recreation Center with a small sign indicating that there is a trail to enter the park system. This wall attracts graffiti, and most people have no idea there is a 65 acre park hiding behind it.

The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) is working with Friends of South Side Park (FOSSP) to create a mural project on the side of the Arlington Recreation Center on a wall that currently attracts graffiti. The mural will provide a safer, more inviting entrance to South Side Park from the hilltop neighborhood and will help deter future vandalism. The 60+ acre South Side Park is the largest park serving the communities of Arlington and the South Side Slopes. Currently, this park entrance is under-utilized, and we hope to highlight the entrance with creation of the mural.

Artist

Roberto “Max” Maxwell is a tattoo artist and mural artist who has been involved in creating several murals throughout Pittsburgh. He has painted murals on buildings and public spaces throughout the city. His murals are often inspired by local community and culture, adding beauty and vibrancy to the cityscape.

Although he has called the South Side Slopes home for more than 20 years, he grew up in New York where art was all around him. Finding inspiration through his adopted community’s ideas will help inspire Max’s vision for this fun and imaginative mural!

Process

During the beginning of 2023, we held an online survey to gain input on what people wanted to see in the mural.

Mural Designs

Based on the survey results, Max tried to incorporate the themes of community, nature/forest, cityscape and inclines into his whimsical design. He wanted a playful mural to complement the Recreation Center, trails in the park, and nearby Arlington playground and spray park.

The dinosaurs riding an incline were included because this section of the park was formerly known as “Jurassic Valley” due to the invasive vines that made it resemble a prehistoric landscape. Friends of South Side Park has worked tirelessly over the last decade to plant 1,000 trees and reduce invasive species here. There are also views of downtown Pittsburgh throughout the park.

July 2023 – Initial Draft of mural based on community input

Initial feedback requested more animals in the forest to highlight the diversity of the park. You can often see foxes, deer and other fauna in the park. While goats are not native, Friends of South Side Park hosts Pittsburgh’s Goat Fest an annual event which has brought thousands of people to the park since 2017 and showcases the work of the hired goats to eradicate invasive species from the park. Finally, the anthropomorphic fox was the first mascot of South Side Park and was originally created by the artist, Roberto Maxwell. We are intending that corner of the mural to be a “selfie spot” where visitors can take pictures with the fox and share the mural and park on social media platforms.

October 2023 Draft – Includes more animals, more vibrant colors, selfie spot with Park mascot

In the February 2024 draft, more detailed people were added to represent the diverse users of the Recreation Center and park system. Also, Max updated the incline to be more recognizable to the modern Pittsburgh inclines.

February 2024 Draft – Includes more detailed people, more detailed incline,
and a sign to “South Side Park”

Community Input

Overall, we have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the designs after presenting them at the SSSNA Summer Picnic, SSSNA Holiday Party, Online Development Activities Meeting, and social media postings.

Budget/Funding

The estimated cost of the project is $10,000 including artist fees and the materials. We have received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to fund the project.

What Next?

We are currently finalizing the design, and applying to the Public Art & Civic Design Commission (PACD). We hope to paint the mural by the Summer of 2024.

Stay tuned to our e-blastsFacebook page, and this website to see updates about our progress. We hope you can participate in the design and/or implementation process for this new public art project. Have comments? Email us at info@southsideslopes.org or fill out the form below:


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