Alert: Sasquatch sightings in Pittsburgh to increase

A larger-than-life mural is coming to Deutschtown.

Rendering courtesy of Jeremy Raymer
Rossilynne Culgan

An elusive 25-foot-tall creature is coming to the North Side.

In just a few weeks, the Deutschtown Sasquatch will make its big-picture debut, spray-painted on the side of a house near the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy — so you’ll finally be able to stop the mysterious creature in its tracks long enough for a photo.

Local artist Jeremy Raymer, who you may remember for his Magneto work in Lawrenceville, will start painting the mural today.

“I do like to paint weird things,” Raymer said. “I thought it’d be funny to do a large Sasquatch around town.”

And then he heard about the Deutschtown Sasquatch Facebook page and chatted with his long-time friend and North Side booster (and also a Who’s Next: Music nominee) Cody Walters about the idea.

They started looking around for a sizable empty wall, spotted a space along James Street and asked the homeowners what they thought.

“We took some time to think about it because at first, we were like, ‘Jeremy Raymer? Yes.’ But then ‘Sasquatch? … Oh,’” said Jennifer White who owns the home with her fiancee Sean Williamson. “At first, I was like, ‘There’s no way we’re doing this,’ but I think in the next few hours, we started thinking about it and we were like, ‘This’ll be really cool.’ … It just faces a parking a lot, so we just figured why not? That space has sort of been an abyss, and we should spruce it up a bit.”

The large exposed wall really is “perfect for a Sasquatch,” Williamson said.

“The initial idea sounded a little crazy,” he said, “but I’ve been a fan of Jeremy Raymer’s for years.”

It’ll be Raymer’s first mural in Deutschtown and his first Sasquatch, though he’s no stranger to painting larger-than-life animals with texture, like bears and birds.

He plans to start work today and have it done for a Nov. 11 bar crawl called “Hunt for the DeutschSquatch.” Walters organizes the bar crawl each year as a just-for-fun get-together.

So what’s the deal with this Deutschtown fascination with all things Squatchy?

A few months ago, one North Side neighbor gave another a Sasquatch action figure, and they started posting pictures on Facebook. Walters helped out by making a Deutschtown Sasquatch page for the creature to chronicle its adventures.

Will the Deutschtown Sasquatch make an appearance for a photo at its namesake mural? We’ll have to wait and see.

“It’s just fun and quirky and weird, just like Deutschtown,” Walters said about the mural. “I think it’s really cool. I think people are going to come from all over and take pictures with this thing, and I don’t mean from just Pittsburgh; I mean people from out of town.”

That’s exactly why they’ll include the neighborhood’s name on the mural — as a way of “advertising this mural and how great and fun and quirky it is,” Williamson said.

A few trees stand near the wall, which will partially obscure the mural from the street.

“It’s almost going to be like the Sasquatch is popping out from the behind the trees,” Walters said.

The mural is being funded through crowd-funding platform IOBY (In Our Backyards) to help cover the costs of materials and a lift, Williamson said. More than $1,000 has been raised toward the $3,200 goal.

“I really hope it works out because if it does, that’s another way that people can fund public art through donations,” Walters said.

For White, who previously lived in Seattle, the mural reminds her of a Pittsburgh version of the Fremont Troll, a beloved piece of Pacific Northwest public art popular for photos.

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll

David Herrera / Flickr

“I really do think of our neighborhood as being where a ton of art is — between Randyland and the Mattress Factory and the Warhol, the Music Festival. Everything that already happens every year, it makes sense to have more art. I hope this inspires other people to think creatively about their house. It can be this sort of canvas. This could be contagious,” she said.

“Instead of just a gray wall, we have this amazing artist who is doing this piece of art on the side of our house that everybody gets to enjoy instead of putting it in a frame in the inside of your house.”