Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When art is a luxury, we all become poorer


Call’s cost into the fold of the arena’s $321 million price tag, which enjoyed tons of public subsidies — and we were OK with that.

“We’re going to get there,” said Mary Conturo, executive director of the Sports & Exhibition Authority, who agrees that Mr. Hood’s design is a beautiful thing.

But what are we willing to pay? Fundraisin­g has reached $700,000 — $500,000 from the Penguins and $200,000 committed by the Heinz Endowments. That’s just halfway to constructi­on costs alone.

When we put art on the back burner, whether in schools or in making policy, we deny ourselves uplift, we fail to elevate place-making and we fail artists, who don’t get into their fields to starve.

In March, Zachary Rutter, an art student at Slippery Rock University, visited London with his girlfriend, videograph­er Jess Schreengos­t, a fellow student, to see the great city and to distribute his artwork, scrolled up and tied with a ribbon.

At the British Museum, security absconded with his scroll. In the undergroun­d, Mr. Rutter placed a scroll in the guitar case of a group of buskers. Someone else quickly grabbed the scroll Mr. Rutter leaned against an iconic red telephone booth. And on the Tower of London Bridge, he propped a scroll and then stood at a distance while Ms. Schreengos­t recorded a woman unrolling it and smiling.

“I want this to be a way to connect with people all over the world,” Mr. Rutter said into the camera.

He called his mission selfless, and indeed, from the lively artwork to the topnotch video, which was edited by Peter Moran, a former Slippery Rock art student, all of this creative production was a gift to the public. Of more than 30 scrolls he left, with his contact informatio­n, Mr. Rutter heard from 20 people, “and the feeling I got reading each of the responses was greater than I ever could have imagined,” he said.

Artists give to us, sometimes out of emotional need. We would reward ourselves greatly to give back.

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