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Poem's first line kicks off art program on Greensburg bridge

Jacob Tierney
| Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Zach Dlugi (left), and his father, Michael, of Sign Effectz in Milwaukee Wisc.  install a public art piece along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Zach Dlugi (left), and his father, Michael, of Sign Effectz in Milwaukee Wisc. install a public art piece along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017.
Michael Dlugi of Milwaukee-based Sign Effectz installs a public art piece along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Michael Dlugi of Milwaukee-based Sign Effectz installs a public art piece along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017.
An 'analog scroll' is installed along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The words, part of a poem, will be updated twice a month to reveal the entire poem.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
An 'analog scroll' is installed along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The words, part of a poem, will be updated twice a month to reveal the entire poem.
Zach Dlugi of Milwaukee-based Sign Effectz installs a 'analog scroll' along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Zach Dlugi of Milwaukee-based Sign Effectz installs a 'analog scroll' along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017.
The first line of a poem is installed along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. More words to the poem will be installed periodically to create an 'analog scroll' on the bridge.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The first line of a poem is installed along the Main Street bridge in Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. More words to the poem will be installed periodically to create an 'analog scroll' on the bridge.

A short phrase appeared on Greensburg's North Main Street Bridge on Saturday, written with black metal letters mounted on a railing.

“It's not the elm and wild cherry.”

The words are the beginning of a poem, but Greensburg's commuters and pedestrians will have to wait weeks to slowly find out how the rest of it goes.

The letters' appearance marks the beginning of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art's “Bridging the Gap” project, titled “Analog Scroll.”

The installation, designed by Brooklyn artist Janet Zweig, is meant to evoke the kind of scrolling ticker you might see at the bottom of a TV screen.

Every two weeks, museum employees will manually “scroll” the existing stanza of the poem further up the bridge and add a few new words to the end. Eventually, the words will fill both sides of the bridge.

Then, earlier segments of the poem will start to be removed as new words are continually added to the end to maintain the scrolling effect.

“Every two weeks, something new will happen out there,” said museum curator Barbara Jones.

The end of the poem will not be revealed until the end of 2017. It's an original work, written about Greensburg by Pittsburgh poet Jan Beatty, and it will make its debut on the sides of the bridge.

“She came out and stood on the bridge, and just kind of watched what was going on,” Zweig said.

The “Analog Scroll” project is designed to last at least a decade, with a new original piece of writing being displayed each year.

The museum has picked the author of 2018's piece and plans to solicit writers for future works this year.

“I think you're going to have some stellar writers,” Zweig said.

It took a lot of individuals and groups coming together to make the project happen, said Renee Piechock, director of the Office of Public Art, a public-private partnership that works to foster pieces such as “Analog Scroll.”

“As with all public art projects, it's not just one entity,” she said.

The museum spearheaded the project, and the Office of Public Art helped organize it. The city of Greensburg supported it, as did PennDOT, which owns the bridge.

The project cost about $170,000, largely funded through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Westmoreland County.

As the poem on the bridge is gradually revealed, the museum will update its website at thewestmoreland.org/support/bridging-the-gap/ to show what has been displayed so far.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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