Public Art Along Trails

I have a hard time visiting a city without trying to find its art museums.  I may be no good at drawing or sculpting or anything like that, but I have a strong appreciation for art.  So do many others who find their daily lives and trip experiences enriched by arts and crafts.  Artsy places are a draw for artsy people, and that may not be much different when we’re talking about our trail users.  Murals and statuary and gardens and sculptures make places more interesting and memorable, so among the visitor attraction strategies employed on the Great Allegheny Passage biking trail is to encourage and publicize public art.  There are already examples of the arts in the trail towns that could use more exposure to further nudge the traveling public to come this way.We created a blog-based website that showcases the public art that can be found along the trail, documented in sequence as a virtual ‘tour’ of the art.  Other ideas of how to do this were floated before, such as a call-in audio tour, or a static document linked on the Trail Town Program’s website.  However, we came across the frame of a blog account that was created while these ideas were beginning to be thought up a couple years ago.  It felt like a good idea to build off of this and incorporate not just a static documentation of the art, but also toss in gallery and venue listings, and keep on top of related events.  We also created a rack card to place at visitor centers and other locations on the trail to direct people to the website, and used a QR code so they can do it on their smartphones while on the trail and away from a computer.But, while the groundwork of the rack card and blog were built, the tricky part is getting all the content!  We needed original pictures, and good ones, of the art found along the trail and in trail towns that’s worthy of showing them off, so on days when we had business in our trail towns, we hunted down and took photographs of the murals and paintings and mosaics and sculpture that visitors can see in town.  All in all, adjusting the photographs to do the art justice and getting them to sit right in the website, formatting the blog, and creating the rack card drafts took more photoshop and HTML than I expected or knew how to do, so there was a bit of technological learning there.  And there are lots of venues and galleries on the trail to follow too, so there are lists created for them and linked, and an embedded Google calendar to show all the events.  This took a lot of time at the computer, and will take more as we continue to build up the blog with posts and further event notices.  It will be ongoing, but people need to find out that there’s more interesting things along the trail than they may be aware of.