Artist James Simon will be unveiling the first installation of his temporary public art project “A Hilltop Waddle” at a community reception in a former vacant lot turned community space, “Lunchtime Lot”, created by artist Jolie Valentine. Roughly 8+ penguins will be installed at the Daily Mart site and 3 penguins will be installed at the “Lunchtime Lot”. The reception will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd at 5:30pm.

The family friendly event will start at the Daily Mart located at 1125 Arlington Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15201, for the first unveiling of James Simon’s penguins. The second part of the event will take place at the “Lunchtime Lot” located at 819 East Warrington Avenue and will include a meet and greet with the artists and project partners, free food, and activities for kids. The reception is free and open to the public, although RSVPs are encouraged via Eventbrite.

“I think all of the partners, artists and residents involved are inspired by the way these projects are supporting each other in such a collaborative way.” says Shad Henderson, Director of Community Partnerships and Investments at Neighborhood Allies, “It’s not every day you get to see and experience the power of organizations and residents working alongside to achieve common goals.”

A Hilltop Waddle is a temporary public art project by artist James Simon in collaboration with the South Hilltop Men’s Group. The project includes various groupings of penguins that will be installed and displayed in selected spots across Hilltop neighborhoods of Allentown, Beltzhoover and Knoxville. The Penguin installations will transform ordinary street corners, bus stops, and green spaces into sensational, fun, sculptural settings. Each penguin is custom made with his or her own unique personality–the Penguins can be holding a fish (its lunch) a newspaper, a purse, a brief case, playing a guitar, or on a cell phone. Other installation sites include the Daily Mart at the intersection of Arlington and Warrington Avenues in Allentown and 618 Gearing Avenue in Beltzhoover.

“The goal of the penguins is to bring joyful, meaningful public art to the neighborhoods.” says artist James Simon, “The penguins represent many beautiful aspects of life and can remind us of our often forgotten connection to nature. Penguins understand the fragility of live and the importance of a healthy environment. Penguins are all about community, sharing, survival, friendship, loyalty, responsibility, discipline, the greater good, dedication, living harmoniously, sacrifice, and grace. Relevant, fun and street cool!”

Lunchtime Lot is a project dreamt up by Allentown residents, Jolie and Bobby Valentine, supported by GTECH and the Hilltop Alliance that took an empty lot, located on the main drag of Allentown, that was overgrown and had became a dumping ground for garbage and repurposed it to create an outdoor area for people to either eat their take-out food from Paisano’s Pizza or Leon’s Caribbean Restaurant, or simply to enjoy some outdoor space while in Allentown.

“Our hope for Lunchtime Lot is for it to become a place where community members feel welcome to gather and enjoy each other’s company or a great meal, while supporting local businesses and adding vibrancy to Warrington Avenue”, says Jolie Valentine.  

A Hilltop Waddle is part of the Temporary Public Art and Placemaking Program, an initiative of Neighborhood Allies and Office of Public Art.  The Temporary Public Art and Placemaking Pilot Program is producing a series of six temporary works of public art in each of Neighborhood Allies’ target neighborhoods. It serves to reduce the challenges of blight, harness creative cultural potential, and help reenergize and reshape how residents imagine their neighborhoods. The projects themselves vary, dependent on the interests, needs, aspirations, and vision of both the artists and communities. The projects are the result of in-depth collaboration between the artists and the community-based organizations (CBOs) selected to participate in this program. The vision, form, location, installation duration, and materials for the projects have been determined through the collaboration of the artists and communities. This program is supported by generous funding from the Hillman Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.

Lunchtime Lot is a project created by Jolie and Bobby Valentine, made possible by GTECH’s ReGen program and the Hilltop Alliance’s Industry on Industry program. The project reclaimed and repurposed a vacant lot as an outdoor seating area for local residents and the patrons of local Allentown businesses. With technical assistance and capacity support from GTECH, the lot has been designed with various landscape features like a bioswale that helps with water run-off.