Created on February 22, 2024
3 Shady Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA

CommUnity Faces (2007-2016)

Murals add splash of color to busway

JULY 17, 2007

Brandon McClester never thought he’d be able to display his artistic skills throughout… Brandon McClester never thought he’d be able to display his artistic skills throughout Pittsburgh this summer, but somehow, the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway Mural Project found him.

“I love art, and my aunt told me about the job opening,” the wide-eyed 16-year-old said while putting finishing touches on his portion of the mural.

The local youth involved in the MLK East Busway Mural Project fall under the guidance of Kyle Holbrook, a local artist with a drive to inspire those around him. Holbrook and other close colleagues developed the project as a way to utilize creativity within the community.

“Growing up in the ‘hood, in Wilkinsburg, I always wanted to find a way to provide for the kids,” said Holbrook.

“We have kids from Wilkinsburg and East Liberty, and we are getting them paid,” he said.

The support for the project comes from various organizations, including YouthWorks Inc., the Heinz Endowments, the Laurel Foundation, the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture, the Multicultural Arts Initiative, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Grabel Foundation and National City Bank.

The applicant pool consisted of 500 kids ages 15 to 18 who expressed a desire to work with visual art. To get the mural project up and running, Holbrook and his team contacted various youth organizations and government officials on both the state and city levels and worked very closely with Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato. The project is to be completed by the end of the summer.

Holbrook simply describes all of the work from beginning to end as “a long process.”

Painting alongside McClester is 20-year-old Hayden Reeves, who said he sees an outlet in painting.

“It’s soothing. It calms the nerves. Sometimes you have to cope with the heat.” Reeves, a Brashear High School student plans on using the knowledge he will gain this summer to fuel future endeavors in art, although right now he is focusing on finishing his portion of the long mural.

The mural stretches along the outside of the MLK busway at the East Liberty stop. The participants also paint across the street, behind the newly re-opened hot dog shop on Broad Street. The mural in its entirety touches the neighborhoods of Edgewood, Wilkinsburg, East Liberty, Shady Side and the Hill District.

“The continuation of this project stems from the gates project in East Liberty,” says Christopher Savido, art director of the MLK East Busway Mural project. The project took place in 2005 when the gates of businesses in East Liberty’s business district were painted.

Savido said the effect is very positive for the kids involved in the project.

“Kids are learning and growing. They are getting the opportunity to be around creative people and get instant feedback from people that walk by,” he said.

To Savido, the mural project is a way to help children in Pittsburgh Public Schools districts with limited resources.

“My parents were very supportive and had me involved in as many programs as possible,” Savido said, though he did admit that none of his extracurricular activities included drawing or painting.

Savido added that any child with a desire and willingness to push will see that hard work pays off.

“A lot of kids don’t understand the work. A lot of kids want instant gratification. We live in a very immediate society. They will see that when you put the work in, the stronger the end result will be,” he said.

Kyle Holbrook—CommUnity Faces (2007-2016)
Added by the artist.
Pictures by Steve Mellon.

Marker details

Marker typeartwork
CountryUnited States