Behind the legs of the "Liberty Avenue Musicians," James Simon's towering 2003 sculpture of three whimsical men playing instruments, the courtyard of the ToonSeum, Downtown, has become a forest nook.
It is the city's latest Project Pop Up, but it is also the first outward manifestation of the ToonSeum's expansion at 945 Liberty Ave., which coincided with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's interest in creating green spaces in nooks and crannies.
"We talked the idea over with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and they had contact with the ToonSeum," said Judy Wagner, senior director for the community gardens and greenspace program at the conservancy. "This looked like a good test spot for what I hope will be the first in a series, to get people to rethink urban spaces."
The courtyard is the size of a ranch house bedroom with two exposed brick walls now lined with trees including a dawn redwood, a ginkgo, an autumn blaze maple, a black gum, a zelkova and a Wichita blue juniper, all still in their root balls, triple wrapped in cloth and surrounded by mulch. They were donated by the firm Lawn Sense for the three-week duration.
The Sprout Fund granted $7,500 to support the Comic Courtyard and its outdoor lending library and programming, said Mac Howison, public program officer for Sprout.
Representatives of the ToonSeum could not be reached, but in a statement, founder and curator Joe Wos wrote that the museum will provide outdoor chairs, tables and comic books on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ToonSeum is dedicated to the art of cartooning and its history.
Eve Picker -- a developer, architect and founder of the nonprofit CityLab -- owns the building. She said the ToonSeum has control and "just lets me know what they're doing." The pop-up forest is "pretty fabulous," she said. "A wonderful surprise."
Ms. Wagner said the conservancy wants to create more greenery in the city's nooks "to surprise people and play with the concept of urban spaces so that we no longer think it's OK to have things covered in asphalt. We would like to do this in neglected spaces or under-utilized spaces."
Last year, the conservancy turned a parking lot owned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust into a park at 8th Street and Penn Avenue. It was a sample of the conservancy's variety of green projects, including hanging flower baskets and a vegetable garden.
"If we are going to encourage people to live Downtown, this is a very important factor. We owe ourselves, even in the most urban spaces, to have places of respite," Ms. Wagner said.