The Last Billboard

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The Last Billboard in 2015 featuring a text by artist Kim Beck.

Coordinates: 40°27′37″N 79°55′31″W / 40.46038°N 79.92516°W / 40.46038; -79.92516The Last Billboard is a public art billboard in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The art piece consists of a 12-feet-by-36-feet steel frame billboard on which letters can be arranged.[1] Each month, artists are solicited to place a message on the billboard. It is curated by Jon Rubin. The billboard is located at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Baum Boulevard in the East Liberty neighborhood, above what was originally the building for Waffle Shop: A Reality Show, a restaurant that was also conceptualized by Jon Rubin.

Schedule of guest artists[edit]

2013[edit]

Months Artist Message
January Packard Jennings these words hold / no power over you
March Michael Crowe intellect versus emotion / intellect wins / emotion starts crying
May Anthony Discenza think game of thrones / meets okcupid meets car / talk meets gertrude stein / meet duran duran
June Maude Liotta questions for my new blog: / who invented tape, / how were feelings discovered, / when did "skinny" become / fashionable.
July Nina Katchadourian the person standing / beside you, pointing at this / billboard, has brought you / here because it was too hard / to say "I am sorry" out loud.
August Marc Horowitz ? / (323) 541 6361
November Joshua Beckman poem 206 427 7792

2014[edit]

Months Author Message
January Matt Shain photo / food / beauty / liquor / rx
April Charlie Humphrey i wonder some days / if facebook isn't a broad / all encompassing / cry for help
May Adam Frelin let's put loudspeakers / on the roofs of hospitals // let's announce births / and deaths as they occur
June Lenka Clayton think about / all the hours / forgotten plays / were rehearsed
September The Janks Archive you're so ugly that / you should be in a / museum of modern art
December Jason Fulford S A T O R / A R E P O / T E N E T / O P E R A / R O T A

2015[edit]

Months Artist Message
January - March Kim Beck today only / last chance! final day! / nothing held back / closing forever!
April Sarah Keeling ford & daughter / used tires / 704-370-3793 (varied by day)
May Pablo Helguera anulala a la luna
June Milena Bonilla the whole town's sleeping
July Paul Ramirez Jonas a i a / sky you sea / cloud crowd brook / hilltop company rivulet / highpoint multitude tributary
August Taylor Shields spry texts keep ducking up / ducking / duck / duck / nevermind
October Jonn Herschend close your eyes / and imagine that / i'm dancing so crazy fast

2016[edit]

Months Artist Message
February Jim Christensen anything / but / this
April Lenka Clayton tragically, / the world's oldest person / keeps dying.
June John Riegert just saw a hipster with / big headphones on top of / a knit cap, wearing a coat / i had worn for 20 years / and gave to goodwill.
July David Horvitz rachel carson / is my hero
October Micah Lexier a. f. k. / b. g. / c. h. / d. i. / e. j.
August Neil Farber and Michael Dumontier you don't have to / open every door. / a door labelled hell, / for instance.

2017[edit]

Months Artist Message
March Jon Rubin a man whose daily work / is rewriting history / tries to rebel / by falling in love
May Eric Gottesman do not react to this.
June Joseph Del Pesco you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows (following Part 1, a poem from Eugen Gomringer's book CONSTELLATIONS)
July Tamara Shopsin a tow truck / pulling / an ambulance
September Brett Yasko . / . / . . / . / . . / . / . / .
November Laure Prouvost ideally everything / will turn quiet / now

2018[edit]

Months Artist Message
March Alisha Wormsley there / are / black people / in the / future

Controversy[edit]

In March 2018, The Last Billboard's landlord, We Do Property, in response to complaints from community members who felt the sign was racist, removed Alisha Wormsley's text from the billboard[2]. Jon Rubin, the billboard's founder and creator, responded in a statement in response to the removal:

I believe in the power, poetry, and relevance of Alisha’s text and see absolutely no reason it should have been taken down. I find it tragically ironic, given East Liberty’s history and recent gentrification, that a text by an African American artist affirming a place in the future for black people is seen as unacceptable in the present.

A public panel discussion about the text and its removal is expected to be hosted by the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in April or May 2018.

Early billboard messages[edit]

From mid-2009 to late 2012, while Waffle Shop was still operating, the billboard included content proposed and submitted by artists and regular people.[1] Unlike the version of the billboard from 2013 onward, this early version switched out messages several times a month. Below is an in-depth, but not comprehensive, list of those messages.[3]

2009[edit]

Months Contributor Message
May Lenka Clayton number of people who have / looked at this sign: / 55 (as it suggest, the number was updated manually when people looked at it)

2010[edit]

Months Contributor Message
February Anonymous community amateur radio / all weekend long / in our bathroom / inquire within / kf7nse
April Anonymous ten-year-old boy people think i'm a ghost. / i don't know, it's really / hard to tell. i'm kind of / like a ghost, and i might be invisible.
July T. Foley the airspace is public / property for the purposes / of sonic transmission.
July Waffle Shop things we need at the waffle shop / 1. a beautiful leafy plant / 2. three talk show hosts / 3. $75,000 / 4. a few 60 watt lightbulbs
August Waffle Shop things we need at the waffle shop / 1. a mostly leafy plant! / 2. one talk show host / $71,743 / 4. a new tv show idea
October Waffle Shop things we need at waffle shop / 1. a magician / 2. one talk show host / 3. animal masks / 4. a zookeeper

2011[edit]

Months Contributor Message
March Steve Lambert it's time to fight! / and / it's time to stop fighting!
March Anonymous is night worth preserving / or is it too much to ask / a void to fill a light / let the vacuum of / a lightbulb answer
May Anonymous global vegan waffle party / be kind / be healthy / redd up our planet n'at
June Anonymous capitalism / is / over! // if you want it
June Anonymous tell me who / your friend is / and i can tell you who / you are not! / ferhat ozgur
July Anonymous i was hoping / you might be interested, / but didn't know how to ask.
July Anonymous bring home the / international / space station
August Anthony Discenza we've tried everything
August Anonymous because we are / playthings of the gods, / playing is the most serious / of our activities
September Anonymous you may leave the 'burgh / but the 'burgh will never / leave you. / farewell justin & kristy!
November Black Male Leadership Development Institute (BMLDI) attention boosters! / athletes are paid to play / but will you pay academics / to learn
November Anonymous pokarekare ana / nga wai o waiapu, / whiti atu koe hine / marino ana e. (lyrics from "Pokarekare Ana", a traditional New Zealand love song)
November Anonymous empty every night.
December Anonymous facebook / hides in plain sight / nick yetsco state, / you cannot understand / unless you are in spy club.
December Anonymous shatter the chariots of kings

2012[edit]

Months Contributor Message
January Anonymous capturing adolf eichmann / is one thing. / freeing people's minds / so there are no more like / him is quite another
February Anonymous contendo ad astra
February Anonymous grow wilder
March Kari Marboe i love you is such an / enormous gift that i need / to house it here for a / week so that we can / use the apartment.
April Lautanen fate / (making connections / where there are / no connections) / you are mine
April Anonymous "like a tragic comedy, the u.s. / gov's actions have actually / helped the iranian gov / hurt the people of iran" / iranian american
May Anonymous love come / save me / may 28 2011
May Anonymous we offer / complete detachment / from all your / material needs
Anonymous nature will regulate us.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Riely, Kaitlynn. "East Liberty's Waffle Shop has the writings on the board". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  2. ^ Rubin, Jon. "Statement on the removal of Alisha Wormsley's text "There are Black People in the Future."". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  3. ^ thewaffleshop. "Billboard," Flickr. Online Album. Retrieved 2 February 2019.

External links[edit]