Tribune Review: by Jacob Tierney

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is ready to show off the redesign of its “Bridging the Gap” public art project that was sent back to the drawing board about six months ago.

The museum will hold a public meeting with Brooklyn artist Janet Zweig at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Greensburg Salem Middle School to show off the project's latest concept.

“I think it is adventurous, exciting and is going to engage the community in a way that is compelling for our region,” said Renee Piechocki, director of public art at the Pittsburgh Arts Council, which helped organize the project.

Zweig first presented her ideas to the public in October 2014. She proposed two sculptures that would be placed on the museum's grounds. Thanks to perspective tricks, these structures would have looked like a haphazard jumble from most angles, only taking a recognizable shape when seen from viewing windows on Greensburg's North Main Street and North Maple Avenue bridges.

However, the grounds aren't clearly visible from the bridges because of trees blocking the view. The museum planned to remove or trim the trees but couldn't get permission from Northern Southern Railway, which owns much of the property around the bridges.

“We were disappointed that the initial idea could not be implemented, because we all liked it. But then we realized it was time to get over it,” Piechocki said.

Zweig's new idea is contained to the North Main Street bridge, so obstructions won't be a problem, said museum Curator Barbara Jones, who is supervising the project.

“Her vision at the beginning was really complex and incorporated all the things we thought would bring the downtown and the museum together,” Jones said.

The new plan is simpler but is still based on some of the same ideas, she said.

Jones said she won't disclose the design until it is publicly revealed Monday. She did give a few hints.

The “Bridging the Gap” project will be a “changing and dynamic” experience that will use both sides of the North Main Street bridge instead of just the viewing windows on one side, she said. It will be comprised partly of “words and community contributions.”

Unlike the original planned sculptures, which had an estimated lifespan of about 15 years, this project doesn't have an expiration date, she said.

“It could be a project now that doesn't have an end. It could live on indefinitely,” she said.

PennDOT has reviewed the project. All that's needed before it can get started is approval from city council, which is expected to vote on it within the next month or two.

The project is scheduled to be completed in October, more than a year after the first projected date.

Despite the delays, it will still cost about $170,000, the same amount that was initially budgeted, Jones said.

The National Endowment for the Arts donated $75,000 to the project. Local organizations contributed as well, with $25,000 in Westmoreland County funds administered by the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and $10,000 from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

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