Crawling through the city: Gallery Crawl comes back to Pittsburgh

N_Crawl_Caroline Bourque: David Spriggs' installation, "Gold," was on the Gallery Crawl in January, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Bourque | Assistant News Editor)

For one night every season throughout the year, the streets of downtown Pittsburgh teem with artistic events, music and art fanatics.

A free and public event since 2004, the quarterly Gallery Crawl yields nearly 30,000 visitors annually and showcases art, music and entertainment throughout downtown Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust produces the Crawl, which is held in the Cultural District Downtown and scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 22, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Gallery Crawl spans over 14 blocks and maps out dozens of galleries, stages and storefronts for the public to peruse.

This extensive event only allows those working behind-the-scenes a mere three months to organize and plan the Gallery Crawl in its entirety.

Previous Program Manager and Curator of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Marqui Lyons said preparing for the Crawl is an ongoing process and that the planning never seems to stop.

“There is a Crawl every three months, so once one the Gallery Crawl has ended, the planning for the next one starts right away,” Lyons said.

Every Gallery Crawl includes many venues that take careful planning to coordinate — new visual art exhibits at Wood Street Galleries and SPACE Gallery, live music at Agnes R. Katz Plaza and ballet performances at Trust Arts Education Center.

“[The Crawl] involves planning and coordinating artistic programming for nearly 30 venues,” Lyons said.

From booking the artists in advanced to making sure their designated space will accommodate their needs, Lyons said the preparation takes a lot of work.

And according to Amy Staggs, the curatorial assistant for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, preparation within Wood Street Galleries takes up to two years.

We have a regular gallery schedule that we begin booking years in advance,” Staggs said.  “We select artists that we think the public would appreciate and enjoy and that we know would fit well in our particular gallery spaces.”

The Wood Street Galleries, which sits above the Wood Street “T” stop, will preview four kinetic light installations by the Dutch art collective Macular for this Friday’s Crawl.

Staggs estimates about 2,000 people will attend the gallery for the opening of the Macular installations and as many as 10,000 will visit after the opening to view each exhibit.

“It is an exceptional gallery presenting exhibitions of international caliber that no other gallery in the community presents,” Staggs said.

Sarah Gilmer, program coordinator for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, has been part of the organizational process for this Gallery Crawl since the beginning.

“The Crawl provides a unique look at what’s happening in our city and allows us to come together to influence what it could look like tomorrow,” Gilmer said.

Because each Crawl yields new artists, entertainers and performers — all appealing to diverse interests — Gilmer said to expect to see a side of the city that you haven’t before.

“The hope is that people of Pittsburgh and those visiting will come to the Cultural District and be confronted with unique visual art, music, dance, film, etc., from both local and international artists,” Lyons said.

Lyons said the Crawl is also an opportunity to network and meet new people with similar interests.

“It really is a special night where you can see Downtown transform and the street fill up with so many different people who are interested in the arts and what the Crawl has to offer.”

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