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Entries in Performance Art (1)


Reasons I love the internet - Google Street View edition. 


So... some people may spend a lazy Sunday afternoon playing fantasy baseball or daydreaming about a lusty encounter while reading Fifty Shades of Grey, but not I, dear readers, not I. I prefer to fantasize about the stuff American dreams are made of... real estate. (Sidenote - there was a pretty hilarious sketch about the book on SNL last Saturday -  watch it here go ahead... I'll wait til you're finished).

Anyways,  I have been known to wile away endless hours traipsing around the internet for fabulous and fantastically impractical places to live. My wireless wanderlust has led me far and wide - but this afternoon it dropped me off in an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. I was trolling around and stumbled upon a little hubbub outside a neighborhood grocery, Doug's Market on Arch Street.

Upon further inspection, it appeared to me that there was an unidentified person-in-costume standing along the street up against a wall. It vaguely looked like a ham. Of course, it must be a ham. Because, you know, hams always hang out smoking in the alleyway. Get it... smoked ham? I snooped around a little further doing a 180º and what piece of poultry popped up in my peripheral view? A big 'ol chicken. Yup, a chicken. A chicken? A ham? A coincidence? Methinks no. 

My in-depth Encylopedia Brown training as a youngster prepared me to spot such suspicious scenarios and equipped me with the specific skills to trace the details on this culinary conundrum. I quickly moved my mouse, opened up a new tab, googled all about it and unearthed the "Street With a View" Project that took place right there on Sampsonia Way. It appears that Doug's Market was part of a staged event purely performed for the amusement of folks like me. Folks with ENTIRELY too much time on their hands. 

In May 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley teamed up with Google Inc. to create the first ever integration of art into Google’s Street View mapping platform. Partnering with the Mattress Factory, a museum of contemporary art on Pittsburgh’s Northside, Hewlett and Kinsley invited local residents to help stage a series of scenes along Sampsonia Way. Over 100 neighbors, and other participants from around the city, gathered to create a parade, a marathon, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more. Street View technicians documented the street with the scenes in action and the project went live last week. Street with a View can be seen on-line by typing “Sampsonia Way + Pittsburgh” into Google Maps and selecting the Street View function. Information about the project can also be found on the artists’ website:

It turns out that the ham is actually artist Michelle Fried in porcine disguise. The chicken is a sculpture by Nicolas Lambert and travelled all the way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That bird has seen a lot of road!  In it's honor, take a few minutes to check out the short documentary below on the street's artistic efforts. Perhaps my lusty land-owning yearnings will be fulfilled one day. When they are, Ihope I find myself living in a neighborhood with this kind of ambition aimed at art for art's sake. I love me some goofy creative people.