Pittsburgh Art Commission Rejects Actress Jane Seymour’s ‘Heart’ Sculpture

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Request from the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation / Pittsburgh Art Commission

The proposed sculpture, as it is in another city.

The Pittsburgh Art Commission on Wednesday unanimously rejected a proposal to place a sculpture of actor Jane Seymour on the Mount Washington Overlook.

The proposal for Seymour’s “Open Hearts” sculpture was made by the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, whose executive director, Gordon Davidson, told commissioners that an anonymous donor would pay to make the work.

Davidson argued that the bronze sculpture – the 7-foot-tall outline of two interlocking stylized hearts – would increase visits to the Overlook, already among the city’s most popular tourist sites.

But the curators said the Overlook is an inappropriate place for any sculpture and noted that the proposed piece replicates an “open hearts” design by “Dr. Actor Quinn’s jewelry line, Medicine Woman.

“The art on this platform is actually the city’s skyline,” said curator Richard Quintanilla. “It’s a place to see the city, not necessarily to host a work of art.”

Commissioners also noted that the sculpture would interfere with informal gatherings and group photos, two frequent activities at the site.

A few curators suggested that the sculpture would be better placed in another location. But others said they would consider the work inappropriate on any Pittsburgh public property for aesthetic reasons.

“As a city, we need to do one-off things, not something that is mass-produced,” Commissioner Sarika Goulatia said.

At the 2019 unveiling of a version of “Open Hearts” in Bradenton, Florida, Seymour said versions were also being performed in public in Akron, Ohio, New Orleans, Calgary and Minnesota.

The proposal to bring the sculpture to Pittsburgh arose suddenly this week, during Monday’s public meeting of the Mount Washington Community Development Center. Davidson told the art commission that Seymour proposed the same sculpture in 2019, but the proposal fell through due to lack of funding.

With the appearance of the anonymous donor offering $125,000 to fabricate the work, the CDC made the proposal public. Davidson told the commission Wednesday that while the CDC follows city guidelines for public participation, the approval and installation timeline has been accelerated because Seymour “must be in Pittsburgh in mid-July for the [HM3] Celebrity Care Fest and for the unveiling of a proposed sculpture.

But as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, many in the community have spoken out against the job. At Wednesday’s art commission meeting, which was held virtually, five members of the public spoke out against the sculpture, and none for it.

In an unusual move, after the five commissioners present criticized the sculpture or its location, Davidson withdrew the proposal. However, the commissioners voted anyway, to formalize their objections.


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