The Office for Public Art (OPA) is pleased to announce a new series of artist-designed walking tours during the late summer and early fall of 2023. OPA maintains a long-standing history of hosting and organizing walking tours for the public. To further expand this programmatic offering, OPA commissioned four Pittsburgh Creative Corps artists to design and experiment with how tour-goers experience the region’s public realm. The artists for the tours are: Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Erin Mallea, Jason McKoy, and Monica McElwain.
Each tour in the series was conceptualized by the artists and focuses on engaging audience members through artistic practices, participant observations, listening, physical activity, and games.
Artist Erin Mallea, in collaboration with artist Monica Cervone McElwain, will lead two related kayak tours. Each tour focuses on the Allegheny River and its coves and islands.
Artist Erin Mallea will take participants by kayak to Sycamore Island for a listening walk. Managed by the Allegheny Land Trust, Sycamore Island is one of the few undeveloped islands in Allegheny County. The island hosts a unique floodplain hardwood forest and presents an opportunity for the public to visit and experience a wild, natural island within an urban environment.
Participants will be led on island walking trails with a series of listening prompts focused on layers of human intervention and natural cycles. Participants will practice redirecting attention, practicing close listening to distant, subtle and shifting sounds, and increasing awareness of our larger sonic environment.
Erin Mallea is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. Her practice explores the past and present of particular microcosms as entry points into larger environmental, social, and political conditions. Often public and collaborative in nature, her work manifests in a range of media including installation, video, photography, writing, and participatory projects. She has exhibited at galleries, museums and DIY art spaces nationally and internationally, sent vibrations from a giant fungus throughout the atmosphere, and currently publishes Tree News, a newsletter about trees, people and places. Erin holds a MFA from Carnegie Mellon University (2019) and is an Assistant Professor of Art at the Pennsylvania State University School of Visual Arts.
Participants should be dressed appropriately for kayaking to, and spending time on, Sycamore Island. Please wear comfortable, quick drying/active clothing that can get wet. A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are recommended. Wear walking sandals or shoes that are comfortable and able to get wet, and safe for walking on trails and uneven terrain. The trails at Sycamore Island are cleared and maintained, however, there can be poison ivy off trail. Socks can be helpful for this if you’re wearing sandals. Optional: dry bag/waterproof bag for a phone and wallet (10.7 Marina has some available with rental).
Artist Erin Mallea will bring materials that are needed for participation in this tour; participants are prohibited from bringing any disposable or non-recyclable items. Sycamore Island is a Leave No Trace island.
Public restrooms are available at 10.7 Marina.
Please note, kayakers should be skilled enough to launch their own kayaks and be able to get back on shore without assistance. Attendees are required to wear life vests, must participate in a short kayak safety training, and sign a waiver before the tour begins.
Participants may bring their own kayak or rent one on-site at a discounted rate.
Tour goers will meet at 10.7 Marina located at 314 Arch St, Verona, PA 15147. Please plan to arrive on time for a group briefing on safety and kayak procedures and to ensure that the tour will start on time.
Parking is available at 10.7 Marina.
There are no accessibility accommodations available for this tour.
The artist designed tours will occur rain or shine. In the event of cancellation due to severe weather, registrants will be notified via email up to three hours in advance of the event’s start time. Registrants will be reimbursed for tours that are canceled due to inclement weather. All other tour sales are final.
There are two ticket types available for this tour: $20.00 with a kayak rental or $15.00 if bringing your own kayak. The button below will redirect you to Eventbrite where you will make your ticket selection and complete your registration.Registration