Shadyside is taking gay pride to the streets — permanently.
Renowned artist Leonardo Moleiro has painted a colorful mural on the street at the intersection of Ellsworth and Maryland avenues.
The abstract piece commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, a series of violent confrontations between police and gay rights activists that erupted on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. These riots sparked the modern gay rights movement in the United States.
A formal unveiling will be held on June 28, but the work was completed in time for Pittsburgh PrideFest events beginning this week.
In addition to its historic significance, the mural is a tribute to Shadyside’s ongoing support of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual or allied (LGBTQIA). Ellsworth Avenue boasts a number of gay-friendly establishments, including Element and 5801 Video Lounge & Bar.
“It’s a very accepting neighborhood,” says Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a North Side-based LGBTQIA advocacy group.
Several years ago, through a special events permit issued by the city, the organization used removable paint to create rainbow crosswalks at the same intersection in honor of Pride Month.
The temporary installation led to talk of a permanent replacement.
City Councilperson Erika Strassburger, who represents Shadyside, worked with Pittsburgh’s Public Art & Civic Design division to commission the mural.
After reviewing nearly a dozen submissions, a jury consisting of representatives from Strassburger’s office and various city departments selected Moleiro’s design proposal.
The 47-year-old, graphic cubist artist, who was born in Venezuela and currently lives in Los Angeles, started the work on May 19 using non-skid, long-lasting paint.
This isn’t Pittsburgh’s only street mural: Last April, local artist Guy Ruff painted a street mural at the intersection of Brownsville Road and Parkfield Street in Carrick.
Officials hope the colorful crosswalks will serve as a point of civic pride and make pedestrians think about the LGBTQIA community’s journey toward equality.