My Best of the ‘Burgh: What Are Artist Fran Ledonio Flaherty’s Favorites?

“It’s a beautiful site coming out of the tunnels … just nutty.”

In FranArtist Fran Ledonio Flaherty has been a part of the local cultural scene for nearly three decades. She’s the force behind the Anthropology of Motherhood, an ongoing curation of maternal art that has been a part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival since 2016; she’s also a member of the #notwhite collective and is on the advisory committee for the Office of Public Art. As a Deaf artist and a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, Flaherty focuses her work on issues surrounding migrant family relations and assimilation, maternal feminism, disability aesthetics and social work. We wanted to know: What is Fran Flaherty’s Best of the ’Burgh?

What’s your Pittsburgh “hidden gem,” a place that you love that doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
“I’d have to say the [McKees Rocks] mounds, the Native American burial mounds. Sometimes when I’m having issues, social justice problems or if I’m feeling the effects of politics and things like that, I go to the mounds and I actually just sit there and remember Native Americans buried there and acknowledge that we’re not doing enough. It’s a hidden gem in terms of it’s a sacred place, so it’s a hidden sacred gem, and the juxtaposition of that mounds with the industrial architecture around it … it’s a good reminder of what we need to work towards.”

If you could only eat one local meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Corned beef hash at Pamela’s Diner

If Pittsburgh had a theme song, what would it be?
“Isn’t there a theme song already called ‘You Can’t Get There from Here?’ Somebody wrote a folk song about Pittsburgh, and it’s called ‘You Can’t Get There from Here.’”

What’s the annual tradition that you wait for every year?
 The Three Rivers Arts Festival (and Gallery Crawls)

Favorite Pittsburgh appearance in a movie or on television?
 “This Is Us.” “All of the nostalgic scenery that they have in Pittsburgh … it’s really cool to see that.”

What’s your unpopular Pittsburgh opinion? What is something you think about the city (or a famous aspect of it) that won’t win you any friends?
“Coming out of the tubes from the airport, what are there, seven or eight different exits? And you have to pick the right one within 20 feet! There’s a good part and a bad part. The good part is when you come out and it’s the night, you see the city and the lights and the cityscape and it’s really beautiful, and you literally have half a second to admire it. It’s a beautiful site coming out of the tunnels … just nutty.”

Where’s the first place you take out-of-town guests?
Church Brew Works

You get one Incline ride with any Pittsburgher, living or dead. Who is it?
“Definitely Mr. Fred Rogers. My guess is he would just ask questions about me, and in his questions I would find out more about myself and more about how I should treat myself, be nice to myself.”

If you could bring back one Pittsburgh place or restaurant that’s no longer there, which would you pick?
The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern. “My husband and I went toward the tail end of it when they were about to close and wanted to try everything they had, the traditional Polish food. I love it.”

Categories: Best of the ‘Burgh