Public Art Review issue 57 - 2018

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with these exciting upcoming projects and congratulates Forecast Public Art on 40 years of service Thank You!

Issue 57 • What Will Monuments Honor? • RedCan Graffiti Jam • Theaster Gates • Seitu Jones • 40 Years of Public Art

Vicki Scuri SiteWorks celebrates 32 years

Public Art Review Issue 57 • 2018 •

What Will Monuments Honor Now? Controversial monuments are coming down. Here’s what could be next.

RedCan Graffiti Jam How a street art fest is changing lives on a Lakota reservation Cities As If People Mattered Artist Theaster Gates on ethical redevelopment

A new Minnesota mural highlights Native resistance, p. 24

57 206 930 1769

$30.00 USD



Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project - Washington Metro Silverline, Tyson East Station, Fairfax, Virginia - Airbrushing and sandblasting on saftey glass. - Artist: Martin Donlin, UK

Martin Donlin in collaboration with

PETERS STUDIOS Further Information:


GLASMALEREI PETERS GmbH Am Hilligenbusch 23 - 25 D - 33098 Paderborn phone: 011 - 49 - 52 51 - 160 97 - 0 fax: 011 - 49 - 52 51 - 160 97 99

United States:

PETER KAUFMANN 3618 SE 69th Ave. Portland, OR 97206 phone: 503.781.7223 E-mail:




Eagle Rock

Through the eyes of artist William Acedo Early Spanish settlers called the area Jardin de las Rocas (Garden of Rocks), and this golden contemporary landscape, featuring industry, a popular bicycle path and park, captures the City of Irwindale’s heritage in charming detail.

Through the eyes of artist Alexis Disselkoen It >rst appears that every street sign is the same, but closer inspection reveals a subtle survey of the history of the community. Each sign, like each street, is unique and a vital part of this urban village’s small town persona.

15-0125eb ©2014 LACMTA

16-0571eh ©2015 LACMTA

Visit and Go Metro to Eagle Rock. Visit and Go Metro to Irwindale.


Through the eyes of artist Edith Waddell

Visit and Go Metro to Glendale.

15-0127eb ©2014 LACMTA

Local heritage, from the Brand Library to the Doctor’s House Museum, is artfully interlaced with elements of the city’s rich culture and vibrant history .

Metro celebrates 15 years of the award-winning Through the Eyes of Artists poster series Metro Neighborhood Poster Series Affirming that art can make the transit experience more inviting and meaningful for public life, Metro commissions artists for a wide array of projects throughout Los Angeles County. To view the full poster series or to add your name to our Artist Opportunities email list, visit

18-0941ps ©2017 lacmta

Clockwise from top left: William Acedo, Alexis Disselkoen, Edith Waddell, Aaron Rivera (4 of 43 total)

Public Art Review Issue 57 • 2018 • Volume 29


Monumental Changes What will we choose to honor now?


Wildstyle on the High Plains Cheyenne River Youth Project’s RedCan graffiti jam


60 Seitu Jones: From the Neighborhood to the World A passion for community, politics, nature—and food


68 Cities As If People Mattered Theaster Gates and ethical redevelopment


74 Destination: Transformation Public art and placemaking leaders on the future


82 Talk About an Evolution Looking back at 40 years of Forecast Public Art


ON THE COVER In collaboration with Honor the Earth, Mayan artist Votan Ik, assistants Derek Brown (Diné) and Leah Lewis (Pueblo), and 40 volunteers painted a mural titled Ganawenjige Onigam at the American Indian Community Housing Organization’s new Dr. Robert Powless Community Center, in Duluth, Minnesota. Learn more on page 24. Photo by Ivy Vainio.

THIS PAGE This Robert E. Lee statue in New Orleans was dedicated in 1884 and removed on May 19, 2017. As when other confederate monuments were removed this year, crowds gathered to cheer—or protest. Some protests, like the one in Charlottesville, turned violent. Learn more on page 40. Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans /Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

Delos Van Earl

James Hill

2 0 1 7 / 2 0 1 8



John Neumann


Bringing together artwork from emerging and renowned artists, the 2017/2018 El Paseo Exhibition delights and inspires! The collection of 18 sculptures installed along Palm Desert, California’s world-class shopping thoroughfare is on display through 2018. Enjoy docent guided tours September through May and upon request. For more information call 760 346-0611, email or download the El Paseo Exhibition app by Otocast at the Apple or Google Play store. Visit Palm Desert


Tim Shockley

Steven Rieman

Michael Anderson

Susan Rankin

Stephen Fairfield

Michael Dunton

Public Art Review Issue 57 • 2018 • Volume 29



11 EDITOR’S NOTE Light in Dark Times


12 PROJECTS WE LOVE Select recent works



Washington, D.C.: The Walkway

14 Pine Ridge, South Dakota: Rolling Rez Arts

TOP: Photo courtesy the artist, MIDDLE: Photo courtesy Mona Smith. BOTTOM: Photo by Emily Baxter.

16 Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Hot Lunch 18

18 Springfield, Missouri: Cloud House

20 Brooklyn, New York: Sidewalk Kintsukuroi

21 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Amiskwacîw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin 22

New York City: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


Duluth, Minnesota: Ganawenjige Onigam

26 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 47 Stories 28 Seoul, South Korea: Skygarden 30 IN THE FIELD News, views, and ideas 36

30 Trend and Response: Critical global issues


32 Queering Urbanism: LGBTQ design perspectives



Public Art Possibilities: Harvesting ideas in Fargo



Five Prepositions for Communities Working with Artists



PlaceMAKING?: Or is it placetaking?



Become a Better Placemaker: 2018 workshops


86 ON LOCATION Global reports


86 A RARE Opportunity in a Twin Cities Suburb


90 A Workable Plan for Arts Access in Los Angeles


92 BOOKS New publications


96 LAST PAGE Luxury to Forget: A We Are All Criminals project


Public Art Review ISSUE 57 • 2018 • VOLUME 29

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The Next 40 Years As Forecast Public Art celebrates its 40th anniversary, we are committed to a more engaged, diverse, and equitable approach to public art and placemaking



“Cities As If People Matter.” That headline in this issue cuts to the heart of what Forecast Public Art, the organization that publishes Public Art Review, has set its sights on fostering long into the future. As we celebrate our 40 th anniversary in 2018, Forecast is deeply committed to continuing to design, find, and/or fund opportunities for hundreds of artists to create ground-breaking, thought-provoking new works in public space. This commitment has always been in the DNA of Forecast since Jack Becker founded it in 1978 (learn more on page 82), and we remain one of the only organizations in the world providing grants, training, and coaching directly to public artists. Between our matchmaking services, which bring together artists and cities, and our direct re-granting programs, we have delivered millions of dollars directly to artists, who have created meaningful projects that connect people to each other and their communities. In Minnesota and across the country you can see public art made possible by the thoughtful expertise and guidance of Forecast staff. In fact, more than 250 pieces of public art—both temporary and permanent—have been completed by hundreds of artists over the past four decades through Forecast’s services, support, and grants. As we set our sights on the next four decades, we seek to be an even more active and intentional part of people-oriented placemaking that is ethical and equitable, that ensures better lives for all people. How is this people-oriented focus showing up in our work? You will first see it here in our magazine as we engage you, our readers and supporters, in deeper conversations about the trends, best practices, and innovative new work in public art, community-engaged design, and transformative placemaking. You will hear from people whose voices are often marginalized in more conventional public art conversations. On January 1, we will launch a newly designed website that puts project ideas, support, and inspiration at your fingertips. This empowering content will

be organized according to current issues—from affordable housing and people-oriented urban planning to racial equity and community resilience—that matter now and will continue to influence our creative work in the public realm. On the ground, you will see us working across the country, bringing our expertise to the tables where decisions are made about our shared public places, working with planners, designers, engineers, architects, city managers, mayors, and other key decision-makers. As we develop and test more tools and trainings, we will inform you about how to access these opportunities. You will see us walking the talk about equity and inclusion in our own organization, by bringing more voices and diverse experiences to the table. In 2018, we will be training the next generation of public art and placemaking consultants, with a focus on training people of color and from indigenous communities, so we can ensure a more diverse community of professionals and leaders in the field. Finally, we will take a proactive approach in building a roster of artists who represent diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and perspectives—a roster that cities across the country can draw from. This will include taking our training program, Making It Public, on the road. We are already kicking this off by training 25 artists in Honolulu this fall, and we hope to bring our experience and best practices to more communities in 2018. In all of these new developments, we’re remaining true to our original ambition: to be the leading organization and publication in our field, inspiring people, activating networks, and promoting proven practices—all in order to advance the transformational power of the arts in public life. We welcome your voice and your thoughts as we embark on our next 40 years!

THERESA SWEETLAND is executive director of Forecast Public Art.

Photo by Dan Marshall.



Light in Dark Times When nearly all the news is bad, it’s important to remember that creative people are bucking the negative trends

To say that our experience of the world has become intense lately is to make a major understatement. From environmental disasters to escalating political chaos and culture clashes, 2017 has brought one crisis after another. In such a time, it’s easy to get caught in a relentless and negative cycle of “breaking news.” While it’s important to know what’s going wrong, it’s also important to keep an eye on what’s right. Welcome to Public Art Review, your creative reframe. Think of reading this issue as a respite. Not a numbed-out, head-in-thesand retreat, but rather a reading experience that’s informed, forward thinking, and inspiring. In these pages you’ll see how creative people are responding—not merely reacting—to our world. You’ll see how they’re coming together across disciplines and differences to create healthier places in which we

can live and to foster cultural resilience. When creating this issue, we sought perpectives from visionary thinkers in the fields of placemaking and public art, including Candy Chang, Theaster Gates, Seitu Jones, James Rojas, Mona Smith, and Erik Takeshita. Given their responses, it’s clear that dedicated people are acting on the premise that art can make an impact for good. In January, Forecast Public Art is unveiling its new website. There you’ll find stories from this magazine reorganized into an exciting Inspiration section. We hope you’ll check it out for more ideas, innovations, and insights. Continuing to evolve our work is one of the ways Forecast continues to serve as it celebrates its 40th anniversary and looks toward the future.


Photo by Dan Marshall.



is editor in chief of Public Art Review.

public art resource center An online portal for professionals and artists to find information and tools tailored for your role in the public art field.

w w w. A m e r i c A n s F o r T h e A r T s . o r g / PA r c

“Inverted Landscapes” by Elena Manferdini. Commissioned by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. | “Beneath the Surface” by Mary Carothers. Commissioned by the Louisville Metro Government Commission on Public Art.

PROJECTS WE LOVE Select recent works

WASHINGTON, D.C. THE WALKWAY, BY MARSHALL MOYA DESIGN The grey-and-hot-pink aboveground tunnel at the corner of 14th and U Streets in Washington, D.C., is a public art installation—one focused on the relationship between pedestrian safety and street harassment. Created by the architectural firm Marshall Moya Design, The Walkway is a 32-foot-long, 11-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall structure that lets those who walk through it experience a simulation of a busy street. Motion-sensor-triggered audio of city sounds and conversations accompanies faces displayed

on the tunnel walls. Real, anonymous stories of pedestrian experiences that range from positive to negative, harmless to disturbing, are heard. They range from “I get an awesome feeling when I get greeted by a stranger and they look me in the eyes, smile, and ask how my day is going!” to “When I walk or ride my bike through some parts of the city I get catcalls—‘hey, baby’ and other comments that I feel demean me as a woman—just because I am walking or riding alone at the moment.”

PROJECTS WE LOVE The works covered in Projects We Love were selected by Public Art Review editorial staff. Research and writing by editorial assistant Jen Dolen and senior editor Jon Spayde.



Photos by John Keith Photography.


As the tunnel lowers and narrows toward the middle, the audio grows more intense and the experience becomes threatening—before transitioning back to openness and harmlessness at the end. Research has shown that street harassment can endanger those receiving it—causing them to alter their routes suddenly, perhaps crossing a street without looking, or in other ways putting themselves in harm’s way. The Walkway, which opened to the public on January 10, 2017, is part of the D.C. Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, which involves community groups, government

agencies, and area residents, and aims to eliminate all vehicle-caused fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists by 2024. It’s funded by Vision Zero, the Mayor’s office, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Age-Friendly DC. Visitors are encouraged to provide feedback through a website and Instagram; responses are analyzed, visualized, and shared at One of the designers, Zarela Mosquera, points out that the project has a broader purpose, too. She notes that the reflections of visitors to the work prompt the question: “What is the right way to talk to each other in a public space?”






The vehicle is impossible to miss: a big truck adorned with stylized buffalo in bright colors. It crisscrosses the Connecticut-size Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, connecting Native artists with one another while helping them ratchet up their artistic and financial skills. Launched in late 2015, Rolling Rez Arts is in its second season of operation. The project was set in motion by a study, undertaken by First Peoples Fund, Artspace, and other collaborators, that produced a startling discovery: on Pine Ridge, more than half of Native households are involved in home-based businesses, and a whopping 79 percent of those businesses are in the arts. At the same time, 61 percent of emerging artists have annual incomes of $10,000 or less. In other words: art is a vital part of Lakota culture, the vast reservation is teeming with artists, and they could use some help and support. Rolling Rez Arts can be configured as a classroom, an exhibition space, or a computer lab. Established Native artists like filmmaker Razelle Benally and painter Wade Patton have brought classes to far-flung corners of the reservation. Business building and financial literacy are also on the menu; the truck brings buyers from the reservation’s most important art-sales center, the gift shop at The Heritage Center gallery at Red Cloud Indian School, out to artists’ homes. Rolling Rez Arts also contains a banking area where artists have access to Lakota Funds’s credit union. “It provides a space, it provides access to capital, it provides these resources, and it connects people in the community with mentors, with culture bearers, at the same time,” Brandie McDonald of First Peoples Fund told South Dakota Public Broadcasting. “Which is beautiful to think about.”


Photos by First People’s Fund staff.








Hung from the north atrium of the Mall of America (MOA), nearly 25 yards across, and composed of 13,000 strands of yarn in 103 colors—and weighing in at 721 pounds—the latest work by internationally acclaimed Minneapolis yarn artist HOTTEA is his largest to date. HOTTEA, whose site-specific yarn pieces aim to work harmoniously within existing infrastructure, installs worldwide. Most recently he’s created colorful pieces in London, Berlin, New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, São Paulo, Taiwan, and Sydney. The name of the new installation, Hot Lunch, was inspired by one of the artist’s assistants, Lin, who also works as a school

lunch aide. Lin’s tireless work ethic reminded HOTTEA, aka Eric Rieger, of his own school days, and of those who make a difference in others’ lives. “This piece is about the people who, their whole lives, are kind, genuine, just good people,” the artist told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s just me thanking them for being who they are, for them just saying a few words to someone who may be feeling like they don’t fit in, or going through something in their life.” Forecast Public Art worked with MOA and HOTTEA to facilitate the planning and installation of the temporary piece as part of the mall’s 25th anniversary celebration. It was on view from August to October 2017.




Photos by Mike Madison.





In Farmers Park—Springfield, Missouri’s largest farmer’s market—a permanent, fluffy-looking white cloud made of resin appears to float above Cloud House, an open-sided one-room structure created by artist Matthew Mazzotta. Even on sunny, dry days, “rain” from the cloud falls on the tin roof of the Cloud House—unless it hasn’t rained for a while. The wooden room is a meditative space, and part of a self-contained ecosystem. When real rain falls on its tin roof, it’s collected in gutters and directed into a subterranean storage tank. Sit in one of the two rocking chairs in the room and you trigger a pump that brings water from the tank up into the resin cloud—which re-releases it onto the structure, creating gentle rainfall even on a cloudless day. The water funnels through the tops of the windows, gently watering edible plants on the windowsills. If the levels of real precipitation are low, the tank goes empty and the sculptural cloud does too. Cloud House’s simple re-creation of the water cycle illustrates our dependence on such systems, and its interior space is designed to encourage reflection on our connection with food and weather and our ability to address climate stability. “For years, grocery stores have provided food that relies on large agro-conglomerates with unsustainable farming practices, international food distributors, and chemical companies,” says Mazzotta. “Many people have demanded that we have another relationship with our food that focuses on personal health, the health of the planet, and supporting local community. Farmers’ markets, like the one at Farmers Park, give the option to know by whom and how our food is made. However, the changing climate has brought a new threat of increased instability to our food systems by creating unpredictable weather patterns, which we are seeing as more drought in some locations and more floods in other locations. This makes it harder and harder to grow food. It is becoming increasingly important that we have a clear understanding of how closely we are tied to ecological systems like the water cycle. Cloud House offers a moment to sit in a rocking chair and listen to the rain on the tin roof to reflect upon the fragile dance we are in with nature and our own survival.”

Photos courtesy the artist,








The Japanese practice of applying golden pigment to cracks in ceramic objects—known as kintsukuroi (golden repair) or kintsugi (golden joinery)—finds beauty in the broken, celebrating rather than disguising flaws, calling attention to the value of an object’s passage through time. The technique uses lacquer and powdered gold, silver, or platinum to fill the cracks. Brooklyn artist Rachel Sussman applies this method of aesthetic repair to broken surfaces that are much larger in her Sidewalk Kinstukuroi series. Sussman mends city pavements using tree-sap-based resin dusted with bronze and 23.5-carat gold. She also hand-paints enamel and metal repairs onto photographs of fissures in New York City streets. And in February 2017 she applied resin treated with gold dust to cracks in a marble floor in Iowa’s Des Moines Art Center. Sussman’s painstaking process of gilding can take weeks, and the repairs themselves are fleeting. Says the artist, “They will be walked on and scuffed, and eventually overwritten with something else. Such is the transient nature of everything in the universe. All the more reason to value the time we have.”

Photos by Rachel Sussman.





Photos by Shirley Tse, Girl Named Shirl Photography.


One hundred fifty-two copper birds fly over a painted forest on the surface of this massive (63-by-27-foot) gateway mural connecting Beaver Hills House Park to Michael Phair Park in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The Cree words Amiskwacîw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin soar over their English translation: Beaver Hills House Park. Watching a massive, swooping flock of Bohemian waxwings during a road trip to Beaver Hills prompted artist Destiny Swiderski to include birds in the design. (The forest was painted by Edmonton aerosol artist AJA Louden.) According to Swiderski, who is Métis, her “awareness of Edmonton’s historic role as a gathering place for indigenous peoples” was fundamental to the project as well. A close look at the birds reveals that they’re depicted in ten different postures of flight—and each one bears a message. At the beginning of the project, Swiderski met with indigenous focus groups and elders, then organized workshops in which participants were invited to share their individual stories by drawing inside one of her ten bird-silhouette templates. “All I said to the participants was, ‘Tell me your story,’” says Swiderski, who saw her role as that of a facilitator. “This is what public art should be,” she says, “a place where people can come together and say something important and meaningful about their experience.



Photo by Ai Weiwei Studio, courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio/Frahm & Frahm, and courtesy Public Art Fund, NY.






Photo by Jason Wyche, courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio/Frahm & Frahm, courtesy Public Art Fund, NY.


NEW YORK CITY GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS, BY AI WEIWEI As border relationships remain tense globally, Ai Weiwei’s new multi-site installations across New York—the city famous for that beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty—use metal wire security fencing to stand for both the real and the conceptual walls we raise. Commissioned for the 40th anniversary of the Public Art Fund and open October 12, 2017, through February 11, 2018, Ai’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors comprises more than 100 fences throughout the city. Sites include the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, Cooper Union, Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza (pictured left), JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn, Flushing Mead-

ows–Corona Park in Queens, and Washington Square Park (pictured above). Ai, who lived in New York in the 1980s, often makes work reflective of the plight of immigrants and refugees. His 2016 Reframe (see issue 56 of Public Art Review) covered two facades of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence with 22 rubber dinghies used by Syrian refugees to cross the Mediterranean. Referring to Good Fences, the artist told the New York Times, “We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.” His powerful new project, whose title references Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” challenges us all to be better neighbors.




The American Indian Community Housing Organization’s (AICHO) new Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, in downtown Duluth, Minnesota, now has a vibrant new mural by Mayan artist Votan Ik, who is based in Los Angeles (pictured far right on right-hand photo). Ganawenjige Onigam, which roughly means “S/he takes care of Duluth,” was painted by Ik with his assistants Derek Brown (Diné, pictured left) and Leah Lewis (Pueblo, pictured center) and completed in collaboration with the Native environ-

mental-advocacy organization Honor the Earth and with the help of more than 40 community members, including AICHO staffer Cheryl Stone. It was unveiled on September 23. Funded through a grant AICHO received from Enterprise Community Partners, the mural depicts an Ojibwe woman wearing a traditional jingle dress, with a colorful bandana over her mouth. She is simultaneously a “water protector” (Dakota Access pipeline protesters wore bandanas against tear gas), a symbol of the plight of missing, murdered, and abused Native American women, and a reminder that indigenous voices often go unheard. The image acts as a peaceful

Photo by Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune.






Photo by Ivy Vainio.


protest, delivering a powerful message in favor of renewable energy, education, and gender equity. Ik’s image is rooted in stories he heard about the plight of indigenous women in North Dakota’s Bakken oil field. “Women and children in our communities are being abducted, sold, raped, and murdered for the pleasure of workers in [the oil] industry,” he says. The issue is volatile, but, he adds, “if we address the problem, we can create solutions.” The figure is intended to refer to the general silencing of women as well, particularly in the current political climate. “We felt that women have been or were disrespected by the

commander-in-chief, the person who is supposed to represent the country and the people,” Ik says, “so we felt like we also needed to address that.” The image also evokes the face-covering bandanas worn by members of the Mexican Zapatista movement, which opposes globalization’s threats to indigenous community land rights and seeks collective change. Ik, who has worked with Honor the Earth for several years, says oil issues have been a common theme. “Public art is crucial because it sparks dialogue, especially on issues that are dismissed by mainstream media.”



Photos by Steve Weinik, courtesy Mural Arts Philadelphia.






Photo by Laura Deutch.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 47 STORIES, BY LAURA DEUTCH AND SHIRA WALINSKY Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority Route 47 runs for ten miles, connecting north and south Philadelphia. It’s the longest bus route in Philadelphia County, carrying 17,000 passengers daily through a medley of immigrant and ethnic communities. Riders include people born in the U.S., Korea, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Haiti, Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Mexico, and Vietnam. In the fall of 2016, artists Laura Deutch and Shira Walinsky emblazoned a single 47 bus with the message “We Are All Migrating Together,” and wrapped it—inside and out— with quotes from riders and images of landmarks and businesses along the route, including a Cambodian restaurant, a Mexican bakery, and an African hair-braiding salon. 47 Stories introduces passengers to Philadelphia while revealing the normally unspoken parallel experiences of those who quietly travel together daily. The bus-borne stories weave

together lives, languages, and cultures: a bus driver who helped a blind passenger, a young person who yielded a seat to a senior, an artist whose sculptures enliven a stop on the route. Newcomers share their anxiety about how to ride the bus; one rider revealed to Deutch that he often overpaid because he didn’t know the fare and didn’t want to cause trouble. The idea behind 47 Stories, say the artists, is to break down neighborhood barriers and reveal not only which places along the route are important to the participants, but also what they love and value about their community. Cosponsored by Mural Arts Philadelphia and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, and supported by foundation grants, the project also includes a series of short audio interviews with riders, and songs gleaned from them—a Route 47 playlist. All of the content can be accessed at



Photos © Ossip van Duivenbode.



Skygarden, by Dutch architects MVRDV, is a newly opened “linear park” in Seoul, reviving a disused elevated highway near the city’s central railway station by outfitting it with cafés, a market, performance spaces—and 24,000 plants. It’s a notable example of urban innovation in a city that’s doing its best to beautify itself under the guidance of an activist mayor, Park Won-soon. The original highway’s concrete was strengthened, and escalators, stairs, and elevators were added to create groundlevel access points. Businesses in adjoining buildings were required to pay for bridges connecting them to the walkway, affirming the value of the rejuvenation. The greenery along the length of Skygarden is a veritable encyclopedia of indigenous plants, arranged by name according to the Korean alphabet. Lit nightly by artificial blue light that is said to help the plants thrive, the walkway answers a need for pedestrian-friendly space within a congested city, according to Young Joon Kim, Seoul’s second official city architect and coordinator of Skygarden. “When you look at things over a longer period it’s clear that citizens have to have car-free zones,” he told the Guardian. “It’s not a kind of taste, it’s the way to go, like [in] many other cities.”


Artists and design team partners creating vibrant, permanent, large scale mosaics in civic and rural environments. Botanica Seat Walls for Patton Park in Echo Park, Los Angeles is a joint effort by Wick Alexander of Brailsford Public Art and Mia Lehrer Landscape Architects, commissioned by and for The Trust for Public Land. Visit or our Facebook page. Contact us at for more information.

IN THE FIELD News, Views, and Ideas

Trend and Response The critical issues facing our world—and what public art is doing about them BY BETSY MCDERMOTT ALTHEIMER



$2.34 Trillion

(Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans)

BLACK AMERICANS (16 million households)

LATINO AMERICANS (15 million households)

$1.56 Trillion $1.82 Trillion

Source: Institute for Policy Studies.

Public Art’s Response: Holding space for cultural resilience Public art is a critical tool for telling and retelling our stories. It is a practice that can help us dream, uncover, challenge, and witness through public narratives. Artists have significant roles to play as culture bearers, healers, and facilitators. Urban and rural communities are quickly creating policies and practices to address these changes—employing art and design to achieve their goals of talent retention, healthier regional populations, strong intercultural relationships, and economic growth. Philanthropic institutions are including art and culture in their investment strategies for

INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION Number of people on the move worldwide


TREND #1: The world is experiencing major population shifts Our communities will look very different by 2050. Within three decades, if current patterns continue, the number of people over age 60 will double globally from 962 million to 2.1 billion. This will have major implications for how communities address health, accessibility, and housing. Also by 2050, the racial and ethnic makeup of our communities will have altered. In the United States, more than 50 percent of the population will be made up of people of color and the already growing wealth divide between white families and black and Latinx families will have doubled. Large migrations continue around the globe—three times as many people now as 45 years ago are on the move. Systemic inequity and inequality persist.





Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

comprehensive community development. Communities are leveraging art as they navigate complex histories, confront gentrification, and address rampant divisiveness. TREND #2: Environmental extremes are intensifying Extraordinary weather events, erratic temperature fluctuations, and the impacts of industry on water, soil, and air quality are all issues that affect our health and other aspects of our daily lives. Scientists anticipate that the global average temperature will increase 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit




are affecting our communities—changes and problems that call for intelligent response. Artists and transformational placemakers are uniquely positioned to respond with imagination to these unprecedented shifts. MASSIVE CHANGES OCCURRING IN THE WORLD




59°– 68°




Source: Earth Policy Institute, National Centers for Environmental Information, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

IN THE FIELD democratic societies. Large systems and networks are drawing on the skill sets of artists and designers to advance solutions to emerging problems. Design thinking, rapid prototyping, iteration, and innovation are being harnessed across industries and other spheres of activity. Public art is harnessing and humanizing data and technology and encouraging discourse across cultures, communities, and disciplinary “silos.”

Public Art’s Response: Nurturing environmental resilience Public art has the potential to make our environments more present to us, more visible and alive. Artists and designers are reimagining the way we interact with living systems, harnessing new technologies, helping prepare for ongoing climate instability, and reweaving human connections to the planet. They’re making invisible infrastructure visible, more beautiful, and more functional. Public art can be used as a tool to measure change, bring awareness to issues, mitigate environmental challenges, and imagine possible adaptations.

This is an important moment for creative and collaborative public art and placemaking leadership—individuals skilled in composing built and cultural environments are needed now more than ever. Equally important is the cooperation that characterizes successful public projects, which are often made through interdisciplinary processes and generative relationships. Finally, public art roots our stories to our place—which is the very thing we need to build strong, thriving communities and a healthy planet.

Public Art’s Response: Art and design practices are merging and permeating public life Distinctions among art, design, urbanism, planning, and placemaking are dissolving. The Project for Public Spaces declared 2016 the year when placemaking “went global” because in that year it became clear as never before that the very idea of public is intrinsically linked to what it means to build and live in

SARAH MORRIS Centro de Formação,2017 Custom Made Ceramic Tile Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Terminal 1

% URBAN 34

% URBAN 54

% URBAN 66











Source: World Health Organization and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

BETSY MCDERMOTT ALTHEIMER is a writer, visual artist, and stra-

tegic advisor at the coaching and consulting firm Table Fort. Her practice holds space for transformational change in individuals and nurtures vital, responsive, healthy organizations, networks, and communities. Altheimer has raised over $20 million for art, design, health, and education organizations.


TREND #3: Public issues are becoming more complex As cities worldwide grow more diverse and populous, needs increase: for transportation, safety, food justice, sanitation, and a host of other vital elements of urban life. The complicated relationship between public and private spheres grows more problematic as living costs rise and cities struggle to serve their entire populations. As distrust about the effectiveness and honesty of government grows across the globe, democratic participation and civic engagement is spiking and transforming.



in the next few decades. This change alone affects water quantity and quality, population health, the predictability of agriculture, and the intensity of storms. During major recent weather events our storm-water, transportation, electric, and communications systems have been taxed and tested. Local governments are advancing strategies to prepare for, manage, and prevent future catastrophes.




Incorporating LGBTQ perspectives in urban design is an idea whose time has come BY JAMES ROJAS

I have a strong sense, rooted in my own life and my knowledge of queer lives in general, that queers experience urban space differently from others—and from this awareness I created Queer Community Visioning Workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. The workshops allowed participants to explore their visual, spatial, and emotional experience of the city through storytelling, objects, art-making, and play. The goal: to have queers reflect on their difference as a foundation for shaping (and healing) their communities. Among the lessons learned: urban design needs to give queers a seat at the planning table. The hour-long workshop I created takes participants on a journey of self-discovery that begins with personal memories. First comes a ten-minute icebreaker. Participants are asked to use objects to recreate a particularly powerful childhood memory: a moment when they felt or realized that they were different. Manipulating the objects allows participants to loosen up by “thinking” physically and spatially, beyond words. The memory they are recreating may be painful, but since age and knowledge gives queers a new perspective from which

to reflect on it, the recollected moment now becomes an opportunity for learning and bonding. Once they have completed these physical models of their memories, each person gives their name, tells where they live, and shares their memory for one minute, using the models. Soon, even the shyest people are taking part in the discussion. For many in the group, it’s the first time they’ve shared this personal memory publicly. Common activities, locations, and shared emotional experiences begin to emerge from the stories. As each story contributes to a group narrative, empathy grows and queers of different ages, races, and incomes come to understand and bond with one another. The memories reveal LGBTQ people’s struggle, confusion, and perseverance from childhood on—including how they developed a “sixth sense” for how to understand and navigate the heteronormative physical and social world, and to LEFT: James Rojas has led over 400 urban planning workshops, including LGBTQ planning workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. RIGHT: LGBTQ members of the Latino Urban Forum, founded in Los Angeles by James Rojas to raise awareness of design issues facing low-income Latinos, imagine what a hate-free neighborhood would look like.

LEFT: Photo by Tim Adams. RIGHT: Photo by James Rojas.


Queering Urbanism

IN THE FIELD community. This is what has inspired me to advocate a healing-based planning process that takes a deep, holistic approach aimed at restoring all aspects of the environment, from human relationships to nature. To bring queer perspectives into planning is going to take an outreach process. Creating a safe space for queers to be both forthright and comfortable discussing their experiences of difference, which may be painful, is key in that process and to any effective, meaningful engagement with the LGBTQ community. Also important is a comprehensive process of information-gathering and learning about queer values and cultural needs. Queers can make an important contribution to a new vision of planning that begins with the lessons of difference and the experience of emotion (including personal pain) and moves forward to find planning solutions that address the whole human being and the whole human community. Queer difference can make a difference—if we make room for it. is an urban planner, community activist, educator, and artist who developed Place IT!, a new communication tool that uses storytelling, objects, art production, and play for meaningful and authentic community engagement. JAMES ROJAS


find spaces that welcomed them. This “sense” allowed them to coexist with others and understand the complexities of the people and places around them. Ultimately, the icebreaker validates and equalizes everyone’s lived experiences. Participants realize that everyone will have something to offer as the workshop goes forward. At this point, teams are formed and a collaborative process begins. The teams are asked to spend the next 15 minutes using objects again, this time to design queer-friendly spaces in response to prompts. The prompts might ask participants to “create a Queer-utopia” or to make a queer-friendly park, housing development, streetscape, transportation pattern, health facility—any urban issue, large or small, is fair game. The prompts are deliberately left open-ended to promote the teams’ imagination and sense of agency. Ideally, everyone is now comfortable with the process and equipped with newfound knowledge of one another. It’s important that everyone understand that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions generated by the prompts and collaborations. The session is not a competition to prove some ideas better than others. Instead, the participants learn that planning is about how our ideas impact each other. Participants communicate and negotiate with each other, testing their visual and spatial concepts and building from each others’ insights to find common values and common solutions. New ideas emerge. When the time is up, each team is asked to present its response to the prompt. Teams walk the rest of the participants through their gay-friendly designs, and the members of the other teams can ask questions. This leads to the final reflection and discussion: What did all of the teams have in common? And what did we learn about the LGBTQ community? What emerges from the process? Well, in the three workshops I facilitated, many of the designs embodied themes that are crucial for the queer community: inclusion, equity, nonjudgment, gender safety, openness, access, beauty, comfort, and living harmoniously with nature. But perhaps the most powerful lesson of the workshops is a simple one: the needs and values of queers should become part of the discourse of urban planning and design. Most planners uphold the status quo, making decisions every day based on mainstream, heteronormative values. Often those values include a strictly objective approach that rules out emotion, and a “siloed” process: issues like transportation, housing, and sustainability are addressed in isolation from each other and from wider contexts. Queer planning, as I experienced it in the workshops and understand it in my own work, begins with embracing and celebrating difference—and for queers that difference is inevitably connected with powerful emotions. The confusion, hurt, and perseverance that have been a part of our lives have given many of us a desire to create a healing



A new tool for harvesting ideas from creative communities emerged in Fargo and is already bearing fruit BY JEN KRAVA


The Fargo, North Dakota, area abounds in public artworks and a deep, diverse pool of creative talent. North Dakota State University offers architecture and landscape architecture programs that produce skilled designers and other creatives. The Plains Art Museum is a well-established institution, producing and supporting a variety of arts and cultural programming. The Arts Partnership provides grant opportunities to artists and produces community programming. The Fargo Project, which is repurposing storm-water runoff basins, has engaged neighborhoods, artists, creatives, and local organizations in its design and creation. The small-business-development nonprofit Folkways is awakening little-used spaces throughout the city, providing access to fresh food, and creating a cohort of creative professionals. But one thing Fargo hasn’t had is a civic public art and placemaking plan—so it lacks formal opportunities for artists and creatives to get involved in the planning and development of civic spaces across the city. In the fall of 2016, Forecast Public Art was hired by the City of Fargo to create just such a plan, a comprehensive scheme to guide creative city building and foster public arts development in the city. In the course of the preparatory research for the plan —which included focus groups, city tours, meetings with stakeholders, and more—it became clear to Forecast just how rich the Fargo creative community was, and how much interest there was in doing public work. That realization was the genesis of Public Art Possibilities, a tool Forecast developed for Fargo that can also help other communities tap into local talent. Most public art initiatives, formal or informal, begin with specific projects or locations that the city itself identifies, but Public Art Possibilities starts by harvesting ideas from all stakeholders—from artists to planners,

architects to makers. In Fargo, Forecast held an information session open to community builders and organizers, cultural leaders, filmmakers, historians, musicians, neighborhood stakeholders, painters, photographers, placemakers, poets, potters, writers—anyone interested and invested in art in the public realm and common life in the city. Project applications were solicited, with the understanding that the ones judged to be the best and most feasible would be included in the public art plan, which Forecast is developing collaboratively with the City of Fargo and its Arts and Culture Commission, and which will be released by the end of 2017. Of the 26 applications received, 10 were selected to receive a stipend of $500, along with technical assistance from Forecast Public Art to further develop their ideas. While the inclusion of the 10 winning entries in the public art plan was intended mainly for reference, to provide examples of possible directions that public work could take, two of the projects so impressed the Fargo Arts and Culture Commission that it decided to fund them for actual installation. Public Art Possibilities’ success in Fargo has led Forecast to further develop it as a tool that can be used in any city where there’s a need to garner public art and placemaking ideas from the creative and stakeholder communities —whether there’s a public art plan in place or not.

is Creative Services Manager at Forecast. She manages Forecast’s grant program and works with clients to connect with artists, create arts master plans, and produce workshops about public art and placemaking. For more information on Public Art Possibilities, contact her at jenk or 651-641-1128 x111. JEN KRAVA

TOP: Photo courtesy Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division / Wikimedia Commons. BOTTOM: Photo by Dan Marshall.



Public Art Possibilities

Five Prepositions for Communities Working with Artists The little words that can make a big difference in a community art project

Photo by Bruce Silcox.


When a community wants to engage an artist to work in the public sphere, one of the most important questions they must answer is: What is our intention? Artists have many unique and important skills and can do a number of pretty amazing things. They are not, however, magical unicorns that can solve all of a community’s problems. Instead, each artist has a set of specific and limited skills. Being exquisitely clear about why a community wants to work with an artist and what you want her/him/them to do is critical. In thinking about this, five prepositions are important. You should decide whether the community wants the artist’s work to be done:

• To the community: Art designed and created by the artist and bestowed upon a community; for example, a sculpture by a wonderful artist that is an incredible piece of work, but could be installed anywhere. • In the community: Art produced via the artist’s own “muse” but created in relationship to a particular place, which serves as the context or background for the work— perhaps site-specific installation. • For the community: Art that is intended to bring some kind of benefit to the community but is still centered in the artist’s own experience and preferences, such as a mural where an artist tells a story about the neighborhood, a pop-up shop or restaurant, imaginative playground equipment, or a meditation space. • With the community: Art co-created by the artist and the community. The work is about the community and


CONGRATULATIONS to Jack Becker and the Forecast Public Art Team for 40 years serving the community.

nity, and help train actors, musicians, set designers, and others to be the star of the production. Community members are ultimately responsible for the final design and execution of the project.

PRINTCRAFT.COM | (651) 633-8122 | 315 5TH AVE NW, NEW BRIGHTON, MN 55112

designed to benefit it. An example might be a collaborative mural, where an artist works closely with community members to design and execute the piece.


• By the community: Art centered in and created by the community; the artist’s role is to help the community do it themselves. In this mode, an artist helps a community “tell its own story.” She/he/they might help host story circles to collect stories from neighborhood residents, help them write and develop a play about their commu-

To be clear, this is not about making a “good” or “bad” choice, but about communities being clear about their intention and desired outcome. Because many artists are adept at working all along this continuum, it is critical for communities to clearly communicate what they expect from the artist. Everyone needs to agree on the role the artist will play in the project in question, what the standards of practice are for that role, to whom they are accountable, and for what. If the artist is primarily interested in developing his or her own vision, while the community hopes for a collaborative process, the result could be frustrating and unsatisfying for all involved. When, however, they can agree, the outcome can be magical. is the community creativity portfolio director for the Bush Foundation and principal of the Takeshita Group. ERIK TAKESHITA


PlaceMAKING? From a Dakota perspective, the term placemaking sounds more like placetaking, reflecting a hierarchical dominion over approach BY MONA SMITH

The dominant worldview sees the world, the universe, as a resource, something for humans to have power over, with the resultant belief that places can be made. The popular term placemaking (coined here in Minnesota, by the way) seems quintessentially colonialist. Native folks often react to the term with a shake of the head, eyes down, saying (or thinking), “Sounds a lot like place-taking to me.” Definitions of placemaking from a non-Native viewpoint often talk about humans providing meaning to a location, thus “making” the “place.” In theory, placemaking seems to reflect this hierarchical point of view in which people take dominion over the earth—an assumption so deeply ingrained in Western thought that it often goes unexamined and unchallenged. In practice, placemaking requires human expertise, at the top of a supposed hierarchy of

beings, to bestow this meaning, perhaps in consultation with some of the other humans who live there. But universe-as-hierarchy is not an indigenous way of looking at things. A central tenet of Dakota thinking is mitakuye oyasin, often translated as “all my relations.” Mitakuye oyasin goes beyond holding hands and feeling kindly toward other two-leggeds. We are related to the animals, to the trees, to the sky, to the hills, to the rivers and lakes, and to the energies and powers around us all. This sense of relatedness is not poetic; it is not a metaphor. We are taught that to be Dakota is to be not just connected, in some abstract sense, but literally related, as in a family, to all that exists. Choices that members of a family make have profound effects on other members of the family. We carry responsibilities to this family.

Photo courtesy Mona Smith.

All of this helps explain why dominion over is not a Dakota concept, and why placemaking is a problem from our point of view. We are always in relationship to a place. Relationship, in Dakota ways, is centered on reciprocity and respect. Our respect feeds a place, as it feeds us. Disrespect brings damage to place and to people. Dakota people recognize and honor the energies and history of a place as they exist in relationship with us, and as they existed long before us. Making a place seems like disrespect—in fact, it seems like the height of human arrogance. MONA SMITH ,

Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, multimedia artist, and educator, is trying to figure out how to navigate in this new world. She stands with Standing Rock. She goes to too many meetings and is trying to get back to doing more art.


Become a Better Placemaker These 2018 conferences and workshops offer professional education in a burgeoning field BY ANNA RENKEN



CREATIVE PLACEMAKING describes a variety of approaches to developing livable, sustainable places through design and the arts.

It’s a rapidly developing field that’s beginning to offer academic credentials. Pratt Institute, for example, awards an Urban Placemaking and Management master’s degree, while the New Hampshire Institute of Art offers a Certificate in Creative Placemaking in partnership with the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, and the University of Minnesota offers a Master of the Arts and Cultural Leadership, with specializations including Culture, Place, and Community Leadership. If a full-on placemaking degree isn’t for you, plenty of other learning opportunities—including the conferences and workshops below—are available. March 12–13 / Austin, Texas CITIES SUMMIT at South by Southwest (SXSW) The summit invites civic leaders, urbanists, and ordinary citizens to collaborate and develop strategies for equitable, resilient, and livable cities through experimental programming. Additional arts, design, and technology events will occur throughout SXSW from March 9 to18.


March 26–28 / Kansas City, Missouri 2018 MAIN STREET NOW CONFERENCE by Main Street America /educationandtraining/mainstreetnow/callforproposals The conference brings revitalization professionals together for educational programming on the Main Street Approach®, which focuses on economic development. The themes for 2018 are historic preservation, arts and placemaking, and entrepreneurship. April 21–24 / New Orleans, Louisiana by American Planning Association | NATIONAL PLANNING CONFERENCE (NPC18)

Highlighted by peer-reviewed sessions with planning experts as well as mobile workshops in New Orleans, this large conference will address topics such as creative placemaking, cultural planning, and public art under its Urban Design and Preservation track. May 15–17 / Milwaukee, Wisconsin RECLAIMING VACANT PROPERTIES CONFERENCE, “GROUND-

by Center for Community Progress | SWELL: RISING TO THE CHALLENGE”

Under the heading “Groundswell: Rising to the Challenge,”

this gathering will advance practical strategies to revitalize vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties in distressed communities. Sessions will cover arts, placemaking, culture, and other topics. May 16–19 / Savannah, Georgia CNU 26 by Congress for the New Urbanism Savannah, known for its vibrant culture and its heritage of design, is nevertheless facing challenges in the areas of preservation, inequality, and climate change. The twenty-sixth annual Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) will explore the city and discuss solutions. May 17–19 / Athens, Ohio TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE, “SURVIVING AND THRIVING: GENDER, JUSTICE, POWER, AND PLACE MAKING” by Rural Women’s Studies Association | /institutes-associations/rwsa/2018-conference/call-papers.cfm

Hosted by Ohio University, the conference will consider the impact of gender and racial identity on personal power, individual choice, and community development. June 1–10 / Portland, Oregon by City Repair


Through mid-January, City Repair accepts proposals for ecologically oriented projects focused on community building, permaculture, creative placemaking, and urban design. Following a training program in the spring, the projects will be implemented in a ten-day “barnraiser,” the Village Building Convergence. A design course, presentations, and other events will occur in the evenings.


Seattle public art is on


Engine 32½ by Sean Orlando, Fire Station 32.

FIRE -community-design-conference/ Hosted by the Neighborhood Design Center, the conference will engage practitioners and the broader design community in conversations on community design, racial equity, and environmental justice, all aimed toward effecting structural change. September 16–19 / New Orleans, Louisiana WALK/BIKE/PLACES by Project for Public Spaces

Photo by Sean Orlando

City planners, transportation engineers, public health professionals, elected officials, community leaders, and walking and bicycling advocates will gather in New Orleans for the twentieth outing of this conference, featuring panel discussions, breakout sessions, and mobile workshops. 2018 / various locations CREATIVE PLACEMAKING LEADERSHIP SUMMITS AND KNOW-

by the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking | LEDGE EXCHANGES

Barbara Grygutis Kansas City, Missouri

Firefighters Memorial Kansas City, Missouri

Issue 53 • Norway • Museums Go Public • The Arch at 50 • Arabian Artscape

Fabrication: TROCO Photography: John Mutrux

T: 520.882.5572 M: 520.907.9443


Public Art Review

Issue 53 • Fall/Winter 2015 •


Issue 55 • The Geniuses • Sicilian Land Art • Los Angeles Biennial • Jencks’s Cosmic Landscapes • Atlas of Tomorrow

Aluminum, native limestone, integrated lighting Commissioned by: KCMO Park Planning and Design and Municipal Art Commission Kansas City, Missouri


Public Art Review Norway invests in art addressing violence, climate change, forgiveness, and compassion


March 15–16 / Southeast: Chattanooga, Tennessee Theme: Creative placemaking in small towns and rural areas Grygutis KC Firefighters FINAL.indd 1

April 6–7 / Southwest and Rocky Mountains: Denver, Colo. Theme: Entrepreneurship and equity May 3–4 / Northeast Corridor: Newark, New Jersey Theme: Gentrification, making space for creativity, sports, and arts June 22–23 / Appalachian: Charleston, West Virginia Theme: Local economic development and community wellness Oct. 5–6 or 19–20 / Capital Region: College Park, Maryland Theme: Protecting and developing historic, cultural, and environmental assets

Public Art Review

Public Art Review

The five regional Leadership Summits listed below will connect placemaking experts with public office holders, developers, foundation representatives, community and economic development professionals, urban planners and designers, leaders of cultural organizations, and artists.

Jasmeen Patheja: Interview | Jennifer Wen Ma: Profile | Marina Abramovic: Project

Kinetic Skyline Computerized LED Light Sculpture Bill FitzGibbons San Antonio, Texas

Issue 56 • Spring/Summer 2017 •

THE GENIUSES Public artists who have won MacArthur Awards



Resistance and reclamation



$16.00 USD


Public Art Review

Issue 55 • Fall/Winter 2016 •

$16.00 USD


$16.00 USD


10/1/15 3:50 PM

Public Art Review Your essential guide to

public art and placemaking


Public Art Review Issue 52 • Spring/Summer 2015 •

is a researcher and writer interested in the intersections of art and architecture. Originally from the Twin Cities, she has participated in a variety of curatorial projects and is currently studying architecture in the New York area. ANNA RENKEN





MONUM CHANGES New thinking about historical monuments is embracing inclusivity—and ambiguity BY JON SPAYDE


public places was set off by Dylann Roof’s terroristic murder of black churchgoers in June 2015, and controversy hit fever pitch in August 2017, when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove Confederate monuments. Other monuments have been challenged, including a statue of Christopher Columbus in New York and one of Philadelphia’s former mayor Frank Rizzo (widely resented in the black and gay communities)—while cities ponder renaming streets and other facilities bearing the names of slaveowners or racists. Behind the headlines are wider questions: Who gets commemorated? Who decides? Who’s been left out? Should the materials and forms of monuments somehow show that historical perspectives are multiple and shift with time? “We’re increasingly aware that monuments and memorials have a lot of power; they are significant forces that shape and direct ideas about, you name it, race, class, geography, region, history,” says Erika Doss, professor of American studies at Notre Dame and author of Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America. “I think we’ve always known that, but now there’s so much press being given to them—and it’s a different kind of press. One hundred fifty years ago there were lots of articles in the papers about new monuments: here’s one to Lincoln, here’s one to Washington. But what wasn’t in that press coverage was, here’s how people feel about that.” Today, says Doss, public response is an integral part of the stories that are told about monuments, memorials, and public commemoration generally. The most ambitious recent result of this shift is probably the Monument Lab project—the brainchild of a Canadian’s encounter with Philadelphia.

Dedicated in 1884, the Robert E. Lee statue stood atop a tall column at the center of Lee Circle in New Orleans for 133 years. Here, workers secure straps prior to its removal on May 19, 2017. It was the last of four Confederate-era figures removed from the city.

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia / Creative Commons.

IN AMERICA, MONUMENTS HAVE BEEN COMING DOWN. A movement to remove Confederate statues from



“How can monuments reveal complexity, humility, and resolution? How can they reveal the fact that we are still forming who we are?” —Karyn Olivier, artist

Photo by Michael Reali for Mural Arts Philadelphia.

To create The Battle Is Joined for Monument Lab, Karyn Olivier encased a historic memorial to the Battle of Germantown—in which Americans fought for their freedom from the British in 1777—in a temporary acrylic mirror. The new memorial reflects the viewers, leaving them to question who, now, are the protectors of freedom. All of the photographs in the following pages of this story are also from Monument Lab.


Vancouver-born artist Kenneth Lum came to the cradle of American independence five years ago to teach at the University of Pennsylvania. He wandered the city looking at its many monuments and wondering, as he puts it, “why there was a statue of department-store founder John Wanamaker on the grounds of City Hall but only a plaque on the house where Billie Holiday grew up.” He began thinking about what he calls the “negative history” of Philadelphia— the people and events that aren’t commemorated, or are commemorated inadequately. “I wondered if we could do some kind of ‘negative history festival,’” he says. Lum was told that he should get in touch with Paul Farber, an historian and curator at Haverford College, who has been exploring many of the same issues. “Ken and I realized we were both interested in what was present and what was missing in the cultural landscape,” says Farber. And beyond that, they shared a desire to democratize the role of the monument in determining the nature and future of the city. As Farber puts it, “We wanted to put the power of historical reflection into the hands of the public.” The result was a very ambitious and long-term version of Lum’s “festival” concept. Under the sponsorship of Mural Arts Philadelphia, Monument Lab unfolded in two phases. In the spring of 2015, a sculpture by the late Philadelphia artist Terry Adkins was erected on the City Hall grounds, as a focus for harvesting ideas from the public. Some 35,000 people visited the site, and 455 filled out forms answering the question, “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” Public conversations took place all over the city as well. In September 2017, temporary public works by Mel Chin, Tyree Guyton, Hans Haacke, and 19 other local, national, and international artists, curated by Farber and Lum, were unveiled in Philadelphia squares and parks—each intended as a catalyst for thought and response. During the project’s nine-week run through November 19, the public was invited to write and draw more ideas for monuments at pop-up labs at the various sites, while numerous public events, from discussions to street parties, took place throughout Philly. All the proposals will be scanned and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and data from them will be analyzed and incorporated into a catalogue and an official report to the city.


Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, cites a colleague who calls the Lab “a remix of the monument.” Golden hopes that that remix “will help people think about the city’s future—and that they’ll make a very tangible link between their thinking and the art. That they will feel the art-making was catalytic.”

“A LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION” The first batch of ideas from the public was full of surprises for the organizers. Farber notes that some of them “pulled the rug out from under us in terms of what a monument has to be.” One respondent, he says, proposed a monument to abolitionist and suffragist Lucretia Mott. “‘Raise the money,’ it said, ‘then never build it; Mott wouldn’t want a monument. Give the money to progressive, feminist, and anti-racist causes.’ That was the level of sophistication we found.” The 21 artists in the second phase of the project challenged the bronze-statue-on-a-plinth paradigm in multiple ways. Mel Chin’s work, Two Me, consisted of two statueless plinths about 20 feet apart, accessible by ramps. Any passerby could mount the ramps and stand on the plinths, “celebrating themselves,” in Walt Whitman’s words, as living monuments. “But if you looked to the side,” says Chin, “you saw the other plinth, with the other person on it.” It’s Chin’s way of engaging a great American paradox: our founding document, the Declaration of Independence,

begins with “We the people,” while at the same time we honor rugged individualism. “When you were up there, you had the choice of celebrating yourself or feeling the we,” says Chin. By the simple act of covering a familiar war monument in a park in the Germantown neighborhood with reflective material, Philadelphia artist Karyn Olivier made it, in a sense, disappear—“absorbing and reflecting everything around it,” she says. For Olivier, that reflectivity not only made the park and its visitors the point of the monument; it threw the responsibility of commemoration back on the viewer. The original monument commemorates the Battle of Germantown, in which George Washington’s army tried to take Philadelphia back from the British during the Revolutionary War. “I hope I could make people ask, ‘What was that monument under the mirrors?’ while at the same time the mirroring made them realize that the struggle for freedom continues today,” says Olivier, who is African-American. “I, the viewer, become the monument; I become the protector of our freedom.” Olivier asks: “How can monuments reveal complexity, humility, and resolution? How can they reveal the fact that we are still forming who we are? Maybe they could always be ephemeral. Maybe there could be thousands of them. Maybe they could simply never be finished.”

Photos by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia.

ABOVE: Sharon Hayes’s If They Should Ask starts with the words “On this site there could be a statue to...” followed by a list of notable Philadelphia women. OPPOSITE: Mel Chin’s Two Me invites visitors to become living monuments in a play on “We the people.”


An important part of telling less-known stories, says Mobley, was not replicating the city’s tourist-focused mainstream narrative of colorful exceptionalism—the idea, as she puts it, “that New Orleans is unlike any other city, is disconnected from the main threads of American history.” The Paper Monuments stories deliberately link the city’s history with wider currents like the slave system and the civil rights movement. One poster, for example, tells the story of the 1954 boycott of festivities honoring one of the founders of the city’s segregated school system; another recalls the outpouring of grief at the funeral of André Cailloux, an African-American Union Army officer who died in an assault on a Confederate fort upriver from New Orleans.

NATIVE PRESENCE Scaffold, Sam Durant’s ambiguous allusion to judicial hangings in American history, was erected by the Walker Art Center in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in May 2017, and taken down in June after a firestorm of objections. One of the hangings Durant’s work alluded to was the execution of 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1862, still a painful subject in the Minnesota Dakota community. Because Durant had failed to consult with that community,


In New Orleans, the Paper Monuments project is actualizing Olivier’s vision of ephemeral, multiple, ongoing monument-making that engages with current struggles for justice. Led by community organizer and researcher Suzanne-Juliette Mobley and architect/graphic designer Bryan Lee Jr., the project is connecting scholars and activists with artists to create posters and flyers that tell untold stories from the city’s three centuries. The paper monuments are then distributed to many locations around the city. Paper Monuments was born when Mobley, Lee, and others involved in the movement to take down Confederate statues in the city asked themselves what was going to replace them. “One thing we knew was that we didn’t want another old white man on a pedestal,” says Lee. Inspired in part by Monument Lab, “we started to develop an idea that would sort of de-lionize individuals and diffuse memory throughout the neighborhoods.” They developed their ideas further at the Banff Centre in Canada. In New Orleans, it turned out, people in city government were asking some of the same questions, and Mobley, Lee, and colleagues were invited to present their plan to the city, garnering enthusiastic support.


Tania Bruguera created multiple, identical, unfired clay statues for Monument to New Immigrants in Philadelphia. As one sculpture representing an unidentified immigrant child deteriorated and disappeared with the weather, it was replaced with another.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia.

A THIRD WAY? “I think most people assume a sort of permanence for monuments and memorials,” says Erika Doss. “And yet we live in such an impermanent, transitory world—values, expectations, and understandings of the world are constantly changing.” Among these thinkers, then, it seems that a double purpose has emerged for the monument: to clearly repre-


the work became a symbol of how easy it can be for even well-intended non-Natives to ignore contemporary Native sensibilities when representing Native history. Making certain that Native voices are heard not only in the creation of monuments, but in the shaping of North American cities, is the goal of the Indigenous Place Making Council (IPMC), a Canadian group that first took shape in the offices of Brook McIlroy, an architectural firm with a conscience. It’s an alliance of designers, activists, scholars, artists, and businesspeople that consults on placemaking projects Canada-wide, making sure that authentic Native traditions are respected and contemporary Native voices are heard. Brook McIlroy has been involved in designing a number of structures that embody the legacy and continuing presence of Natives in Canada, including the Gathering Circle, a public space on the Lake Superior waterfront of Thunder Bay, Ontario, that alludes to traditions of council, inclusivity, and peaceful coexistence. The space is sheltered by a canopy constructed in line with Native traditions of bentwood basket-making. Ryan Gorrie, an architect in the firm’s Winnipeg office, a member of the IPMC, and a member of Sand Point Anishinaabek First Nation, led the Gathering Circle team, which was careful to consult with tribal members in the area in developing the design. For Gorrie, the issue of how to remind Canadians of the Native presence is all about the avoidance of cliché. “Most of the familiar bronze monuments to Natives are statues of scouts helping non-indigenous explorers and traders,” he says. “It’s crucial to stay away from stereotypes like that and really engage Native communities to bring out the ideas they want to embody.” Gorrie uses a word fully in line with new thinking about monument-making. “Ambiguity in the design is important,” he says, “so that the image of what is indigenous is not distilled down to a caricature or a one-liner but is something that has deeper, multiple interpretations.” Does ambiguity make for confusion about the meaning of monuments? Not for Gorrie; instead, he says, it can, and should, create curiosity and a desire on the viewer’s part to explore the monument. As if echoing Karyn Olivier and her complex sense of reflection, he adds: “I like public art that is layered, experiential. Instead of being viewers, people become experiencers; they become a part of the art, the landscape, the architecture.”


sent and celebrate formerly ignored or undervalued people and communities—and yet, at the same time, to avoid the old paradigm of monumentalizing, which presents single, permanent images of heroic figures. Why is that approach a problem? Mel Chin has a ready answer. “Sometimes monuments are answers that cover up questions,” he says. In other words, a bronze statue of a heroic African American can create the false impression that we’re finally done with racial issues. “We remove the statue of the white slavemaster,” Chin says, “but what are we still enslaved by?” The new thinking about monuments is opting instead for open-endedness, complexity, ambiguity, discussion, involvement—and impermanence—in an atmosphere in which, as Doss noted, the public is ready and willing to express its varied opinions about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of monument ideas. While both Kenneth Lum and Paul Farber emphasize the strength and wisdom of many of the suggestions from the public that Monument Lab gathered, Doss warns of the artistic dangers of too much populism—not only because of the current climate of angry divisiveness in public discourse, but because of the kitsch factor. “Many of the public suggestions

for the memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, for example, were just kitschy, schlocky. A giant teddy bear,” she says. “But the memorial ended up being a very good one because representatives of public art, architecture, and landscape design were on the committee with the people representing the public. And they had a conversation.” It’s unclear how the relationship between monument and audience will evolve, but Paul Farber, for one, thinks that the “conversation” involved in the Monument Lab model— temporary installations by artists combined with plenty of opportunity for public input and comment—could be one continuing way forward for the making of monuments. “We’ve traditionally had two ways of treating monuments,” he says. “Either they are meant to stay forever, elevated; or they are to be torn down. I understand the importance of both approaches, but we’re trying to envisage a third way: to open up the possibility of other forms of public history. “In some cases, a substitution is needed; there is something or someone missing that should be present. But in most cases, it’s something else: an invitation to ask questions about the landscape, and the country, all around you.” JON SPAYDE

is the senior editor of Public Art Review.

Photos by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Sited across from Philadelphia’s City Hall, Hank Willis Thomas’s All Power to All People is an 800-pound, eight-foot-tall afro pick. The monument is intended “to highlight community, strength, perseverence, comradeship, and resistance to oppression,” says the artist.

THE MONUMENTS PHILADELPHIANS WANT: BEYOND MARBLE trying to figure out the right way to categorize.... In the final week, I found myself with a theme that had risen to the top: human interaction. In one way or another, every person who submitted to the Monument Lab wanted people to interact with their piece.… People no longer wanted their monuments to just be marble statues, but to go beyond the stone and make their ideas accessible to the city.” Topics most favored by the citizen-designers included neighborhoods, the arts, unity, social justice, and love. The proposals will continue to be used by scholars, curators, artists, and students as they plan future installations. Below are statistics about the kinds of proposals that were received.

Topics (in 30 or more proposed monuments)

Monument Types (in 10 or more proposed monuments)

Neighborhoods 104 Art and Culture 102 City Infrastructure 86 Unity 71 Social Justice 71 Love 54 Green Space/Nature 54 Youth 52 Class/Economic Inequality 52 Civic Engagement 52 Education 47 Race/Ethnicity 45 Sustainability 43 Technology 36 Public Safety 35 Community 33 Sports 32 Food 32 Violence 31 Dialogue 30

Statue/Sculpture 186 Conceptual 132 Interactive 64 Park 27 Mural 26 Community Resource Center 22 Digital Project 19 Garden 15 Song/Sound 15 Memorial 13 Tree 13 Arch 13 Image 10

During Monument Lab’s 2015 pilot phase, 455 Philadelphia residents —ranging in age from 3 to 76 years— submitted proposals for city monuments, including proposed locations. Monument Lab will continue to use the proposals for research, publications, and planning future installations.


During Monument Lab’s research phase in 2015, the project’s team offered the public the opportunity to propose monuments in answer to this question: What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? Public participants—at City Hall—contributed 455 monument proposals (you can see them by searching for “Speculative Monuments for Philadelphia” at www. The proposals were analyzed by high school students who served as Monument Lab research interns. “During the past four weeks,” wrote one research intern, Melissa, in her final report, “my classmate and I have analyzed submissions to the Monument Lab of Philadelphia in search of a common purpose. We were



“Scape” Martinez, a California graffiti artist, activist, and educator, paints an abandoned shipping container just off Main Street in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. He counts artist Wassily Kandinsky as a major influence.

Photo by Justin Chotikul.




The RedCan graffiti jam connects kids on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation with major street artists—and their own traditions BY JUSTIN CHOTIKUL AS YOU DRIVE DOWN A CERTAIN DESOLATE STRETCH of U.S. Route 212 in South Dakota, you eventually come to a town with a weather-beaten water tower, a single woebegone grocery, and a sign for Main Street. Turn onto this one-mile thoroughfare and the built environment soon transforms from drab to dramatic. In place of the squat, nondescript buildings that dotted the horizon earlier you see structures awash in brilliant tones of red, yellow, and white. Painted animals ten feet high dash, swim, and swoop. In the center of the business district, a colossal eagle greets passersby, next to the bold proclamation, in graceful graffiti lettering, “Wičháȟpi Oyate: The People of the Stars.”

ABOVE: “Rehst” is a Rapid City, South Dakota–based graffiti artist and Oglala Sioux tribe member. Here he stockpiles his art supplies on the eve of RedCan’s official opening. RIGHT: Eagle Butte schoolchildren walk past a RedCan mural by Hawaii-based artist “Estria” and Switzerland-based artist “Serval” next to the town’s business district. The eagle, Estria’s contribution, is one of several sacred animals in Lakota culture. Next to it, in Serval’s stylized graffiti tagging, is the phrase Wičháȟpi Oyate, which roughly translates as “The People of the Stars.” OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Scape Martinez considers himself more of an educator and activist than a graffiti artist. His holistic, bottom-up approach to arts education is one of the reasons he was selected to participate in RedCan.

Welcome to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, population 1,318, the tribal seat of the Cheyenne River Reservation, heart of the Lakota nation, and—for the past three years—the home of RedCan: an annual event melding graffiti culture with tribal renewal. RedCan is a “graffiti jam” spearheaded by the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), a local, grassroots nonprofit with a mission to provide indigenous youth “access to a vibrant and secure future,” as the group’s website puts it. RedCan is also the proving ground for one of the most recent experiments in creative placemaking, a burgeoning discipline examining how arts and culture can help communities thrive, especially when artists are embedded in the planning process. I visited RedCan on behalf of ArtPlace America, one of three organizations—along with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)—that had provided CRYP with placemaking grants. For several days each summer since 2015, CRYP has brought together internationally renowned artists—from as far away as Hawaii and Sweden—to work with local youth

in beautifying numerous locations throughout town, from derelict trailers to official government buildings to CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi art park, where art classes, ceremonies, and other events are held during RedCan. CRYP has also used the occasion to highlight Lakota song, dance, and regalia; and it cohosts several skateboard-painting workshops with First Peoples Fund, a Rapid City–based nonprofit supporting Native artists nationwide. “The idea is fantastic...and crazy,” says “Scape” Martinez, an artist-activist from California and one of more than a dozen artists, educators, evaluators, and Native culture bearers participating in this year’s RedCan. We’re standing off a side road as he and a local intern from CRYP transform an abandoned storage container from a drab gray oblong into a writhing explosion of bold reds and deep purples. On this vibrant palette is line work that evokes the playful canvases of Wassily Kandinsky. The bold splotches coalesce into squiggly “wildstyle” lettering that spells out wakanyeja, Lakota for “sacred little ones”—an homage to CRYP’s mission and graffiti’s inherently youthful spirit.



Photos by Justin Chotikul.

Mirror Shield Project: Inspired by women in the Ukraine who held mirrors up to riot police in 2014, Cannupa Hanska Luger —a Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara/Lakota artist from Fort Yates, North Dakota—designed mirror shields to reflect back to the police their own images at the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Pictured here at Standing Rock are some of 500 shields made at a Twin Cities workshop offered by artists Rory Wakemup and Christopher Lutter-Gardella. Intended for a December 5 standoff with the police, the shields were used in a performance but not on the front line because the pipeline was blocked on December 4.

GRAFFITI JAM MEETS TRIBAL POW-WOW Graffiti jams are essentially showcase events for the movement’s stars and strivers, centered on “battles” that allude to the art form’s roots in the hip-hop “style wars” of the early 1980s. According to Scape—and most of the other participants I spoke with—many jams are ego-driven vehicles for self-promotion, in which throngs of onlookers join hyper-competitive upstart artists eager to establish a name for themselves. RedCan, in contrast, is intimate and collaborative, focused more on the broader Lakota community than on individuals. This isn’t a natural fit for most of the medium’s practitioners: “You have to leave your ego at the door…and for graffiti artists [ego is] often the fuel that fires you,” says Scape. The term pow-wow has been trivialized—today it can stand for any informal gathering—but RedCan participants quickly grasp its true meaning: a sacred occasion filled with ceremonies that honor American Indian traditions. Artists arrive several days early to attend orientation sessions on Lakota culture, interacting with residents, visiting buffalo ranches, and discussing appropriate ways to incorporate

Native beliefs into their art pieces. The days are bookended by healing circles, with drummers, chanting, and smudging ceremonies—complete with burning cedar and tobacco offerings—to give thanks and foster connection. “I’ve been to a number of street festivals and graffiti jams,” says Rebecca Chan, a program officer and evaluator for LISC, “and what blew me away about RedCan is how thoughtful and deep their orientation process is for visiting artists, which sets the tone for the whole event. We talk a lot about process and product in creative placemaking…the leadership at [CRYP] does such a fantastic job of digging into that process to ensure that the results—in this case the murals and art park—are responsive to and really capture the spirit of Lakota culture.” Both Chan and Scape single out the visionary leadership of Julie Garreau, CRYP’s founder and executive director, in steering this process. CHANGING THE TRAJECTORY One of the first things you notice about Garreau, aside from her violet-tipped hair and embroidered accessories, is her expansive smile. Whether she’s announcing the day’s activities in the morning drum circle or gifting visitors with wasna—a Lakota snack of buffalo meat, cranberries, and grains—there’s a brightness in her eyes that suggests good

news to come. For nearly three decades, she’s shared that spirited optimism with an entire generation of Cheyenne River’s youth, guiding CRYP’s transformation from an afterschool “safe space” to a pioneering nonprofit, recognized with numerous awards, including the Presidential Points of Light Award and the South Dakota Coalition for Children’s “Champion for Children” honor. These commendations are hard-earned, and a reflection of the efforts of the organization’s small but passionate staff. Many of the people who help with CRYP’s summer programing are volunteers, some of whom travel across the country each year, and nearly all credit Garreau with engendering a family-like atmosphere. Garreau herself spent her first 12 years at CRYP as a volunteer, and she’s quick to dismiss this praise as par for the tribe, just one aspect of tiospaye—the Lakota notion of extended family. “We’re changing the game, changing the trajectory of our children’s lives,” she says. “Everything CRYP has done is about planting seeds.” That planting began in a converted bar off Main Street, as the organization established itself as one of the few places offering support services for Cheyenne River’s many struggling families. Garreau credits that period as being integral to CRYP’s “organizational DNA,” instilling the importance



OPPOSITE TOP LEFT: A local Eagle Butte youth in traditional Lakota regalia stands in front of a mural by Kansas-based Scribe in Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park. ABOVE: In another mural at RedCan, Scribe painted the Lakota guardian spirits—buffalo and turtle—and referenced the struggle to protect water at Sacred Stone Camp, the ad hoc headquarters for the “No Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)” movement, a two-hour drive from Eagle Butte. INSET LEFT: The mural was painted on the side of a building in Eagle Butte.

Photos by Justin Chotikul.

of engaging all stakeholders—kids, allies, and donors—and granting them the dignity befitting kin. RECONCILING WITH THE PAST, READYING FOR THE FUTURE The Lakota are certainly no strangers to large-scale indignities. Their story is just one episode in an ongoing litany of historic injustices, from the erosion of treaty rights in the nineteenth century to catastrophic damming projects along the Missouri River in the twentieth to the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in the twenty-first. (The DAPL resisters’ Sacred Stone Camp, on the neighboring Standing Rock Reservation, is just a two-hour drive from Eagle Butte.) Garreau has seen the lasting impact of these struggles firsthand. Cheyenne River is the country’s fourth-largest reservation—with a land area roughly equivalent to the state of Connecticut—and it encompasses Dewey and Ziebach Counties, where the poverty rate consistently tops 60 percent. Some households lack functioning infrastructure for basic utilities like water, and the community only gained access to a modern hospital within the last five years.

Some of the locals who took part in RedCan’s daily drum circles shared wrenching personal accounts of their experiences in government-operated boarding schools, where any expression of Native culture—from language to haircuts—was strictly forbidden. The educational philosophy of these schools was encapsulated in the phrase “kill the Indian, save the man.” This is still a raw wound in the Lakota collective memory, and on the Cheyenne River reservation, this intergenerational trauma is evident in rates of suicide and substance abuse dramatically higher than the national norm. In 2005, the Cheyenne River Tribal Council formulated a strategic plan to address the underlying causes of poverty in the region, an effort that involved multiple agencies and organizations on the reservation, including CRYP. The plan included a renewed focus on preserving cultural values, strengthening families, and promoting learning—all issues that fell squarely within CRYP’s mission. By that point the organization had grown from a one-room space in that abandoned bar to a site with separate buildings for youth and teens, a recreation center, a commercial kitchen, an outdoor garden, a basketball gymnasium,

ABOVE: During RedCan, any local resident can create graffiti murals at the multi-acre Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, located in the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s backyard. Here, on day three of RedCan in 2017, the park begins to pop with color. OPPOSITE TOP: Tyler “Siamese” Read from Rapid City, South Dakota, finishes a mural in the park. OPPOSITE BOTTOM: A local Eagle Butte youth rests between dance performances at one of RedCan’s many cultural exhibitions. The mural behind him is by Miami-based “Kazilla.”

a library, a “farm-to-table” café, a gift shop, and—most recently—the graffiti art park. In other words, CRYP finally had a space commensurate with its role in the community. The walls of CRYP’s new center are full of local artwork, historical commemorations, and Native testimonials. “We will never love our history,” Garreau acknowledges, “but we can embrace it for what it is, then find the power to overcome it. We’re trying to create confident and empowered kids so we can have a healthier generation going forward.” REDCAN RISING: FROM TAGS TO RICHES In 2014, Garreau took part in a committee reviewing fellowship applications, one of which was from a candidate who

wanted to introduce graffiti to rural areas. The idea wasn’t framed with a tribal reservation in mind, but Garreau thought it held promise for Cheyenne River. She was particularly intrigued by the medium’s capacity to engage youth in a new way, though the broader possibilities didn’t sink in until she began researching graffiti jams. Slowly she started to draw connections between graffiti and Lakota culture. The graffiti movement traces its origin to the urban margins—the subways beneath New York City and the ghettos of Washington Heights and the Bronx. Like hip-hop, its musical counterpart, graffiti epitomized a youthful spirit of public defiance. Its emergence in places of blight and decay offered—in bright, bold lettering—a

Photos by Justin Chotikul.



SUSTAINING SUCCESS In its brief lifespan, RedCan’s rapid growth has expanded the possibilities of graffiti jams and forced CRYP to be intentional about its future. Garreau and her staff have fine-tuned the event with each passing year, even hiring a consulting firm to drill down on where the program is succeeding and where it has room to improve. Rebecca Chan of LISC praises CRYP’s resourcefulness; she’s convinced that Garreau and her colleagues would find ways to achieve success “on a $400 or $4,000 budget.” Fortunately they

ABOVE: Julie Garreau, the founder and executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project. OPPOSITE: “East” (short for “Extremely Advanced Spraycan Techniques”) Foster has long been renowned in the graffiti community. Here he splashes paint on a mural of wild horses.

have many more resources at their disposal, with ArtPlace’s $325,000 grant arriving just as they’re strategizing ways to sustain RedCan’s success for the long haul. Garreau is also quick to emphasize that an invitational graffiti jam isn’t CRYP’s end goal. “RedCan is just a way to get [our participating youth] to bring what they’ve learned year-round.… It’s an opportunity to energize the community and bring them together.” Estria is a strong proponent of this approach. “You can leverage that enthusiasm to segue into life lessons they need to cope with in their struggle.… At the end it’s not the art— it’s just an excuse to have a positive influence on them.” Creative placemakers often discuss the tricky balance involved in leveraging the skills of visiting artists in order to portray local narratives. CRYP has approached this challenge through its extensive orientation process for the visitors; but they’re also working to train local artists to tell their own stories, and the ArtPlace award will enable them to deepen and formalize programming for their Lakota Youth Arts Institute, which will do just that. Cultivating artists capable of painting massive murals is a long-term process, but while CRYP’s other plans go forward, RedCan is providing local talent with ongoing opportunities to train alongside graffiti’s best-in-class, giving them plenty of chances, in Estria’s words, “to tell the stories of this place.” JUSTIN CHOTIKUL is a freelance writer and photographer based in the Bay Area, where he explores and uncovers stories of creativity and community renewal. An avid traveler and former Marine, Justin discovered art’s healing energy through veterans’ writing workshops.

Photos by Justin Chotikul.



brash challenge to the status quo, and proclaimed a confident and assertive identity for the urban poor. CRYP’s early graffiti workshops and the first RedCan, funded by the NEA, finally convinced Garreau that this artistic expression had resonance for South Dakota’s neglected underclass, and the potential to strengthen Lakota values. Crude graffiti tags were already prevalent in much of downtown Eagle Butte—but now there was an opportunity to turn those eyesores into assets. “The government tried to take away what made us Lakota,” Garreau says, but “it’s still here, it’s still present, and our kids experience it.” The enormous eagle mural in the downtown business district is the work of artist “Estria” Miyashiro, born and based in Hawaii and now an elder statesman of the graffiti movement. If you want to capture the imagination of disaffected youth, he suggests, take to the streets. He argues that “young people gravitate towards art in public [spaces] because it’s what they see. Galleries are dead [and] museums are a thing of the past.” In this framework, graffiti art is more than just an expression of youthful rebellion—it’s an opportunity for healing and catharsis. For Scape, “graffiti is elastic”: it was pioneered by artists who literally colored outside the lines, so it can be employed as a potent educational tool in different communities. “Wildstyle” graffiti, for example, employs arrows in its lettering, and arrows carry all manner of symbolic meaning for Native Americans. Likewise, the early graffiti artists often had to apprentice under an experienced tagger, a training method, rooted in oral tradition, that closely resembles CRYP’s own approach to mentorship. Though Garreau had initially expected RedCan to be a one-off event, its popularity with the participating artists convinced her otherwise. By year two the local residents’ curiosity blossomed into quiet pride, and in year three they were genuinely upset when some of the murals were painted over—to make blank canvases for new ones. At that point Garreau recognized the power of transforming thousands of square feet into colorful mirrors of Lakota identity. “We have spirits who guide us and make us strong, and that’s what we’re building on,” she says. “We might be impoverished, but we’re rich in culture.”

Lessons for Other Placemakers In running the RedCan graffiti jam, Julie Garreau and her colleagues at the Cheyenne River Youth Project have learned some important lessons that can serve as takeaways for other aspiring placemakers:

• I terate and adjust, but have a long-term vision and a broader strategy that allows flexibility. Calculated gambles should only be one facet of that strategy. CRYP’s programming includes everything from physical education to sustainable agriculture, with the end goal of empowering youth by strengthening their connection to their heritage and traditional values. Rebecca Chan of LISC, which provides technical assistance to placemaking organizations around the country, urges planners to “have the trust and patience to grow it over time.… When embarking on a big, community-facing project, it’s important to stick to your values and your vision, but also make sure you’re able to be flexible in the moment.” • Choose strong, reliable partners. CRYP gained the backing of their tribal council, advancing goals in line with the council’s strategic poverty alleviation plan, and they work closely

• R ecruit outside artists with care, and orient them. Creative placemaking is more than well-executed murals in commercial corridors, and artists, however skillful, who don’t or won’t share your wider vision are probably not for you. Choose artists with the right attitude, on the other hand, and you will connect them powerfully to your community’s goals. (As Scape says: “RedCan sharpened my sword [for] social justice.”) CRYP’s placemaking is designed to reinforce Lakota identity, and their robust orientation process for the artists they invite also helps them achieve that goal. • Acknowledge problems, but don’t wallow in fatalism. Creative placemaking projects often arise in struggling places under the most desperate of circumstances, but they usually succeed when spearheaded by visionary leaders whose hope and optimism outweigh their anger and sadness. • Recognize the power of art. The positive, healing energy of creative approaches can have cathartic benefits, especially for marginalized and alienated groups. Julie Garreau: “We’re remembering where we come from: our roots, our ancestors, even the sad things that happen—the massacres and battles.… We’re finding power through art.” —J.C.


• First, experiment. Originally, Garreau wasn’t convinced that graffiti was the best way to engage youth; after all, it’s associated by many with crime and blight. But the early results look promising, and RedCan nearly doubles in size year to year. Innovative approaches arise from unorthodox thinking.

with the solidly established and forward-thinking First Peoples Fund. The Fund’s Rolling Rez Arts workshops help bring in youth from outside Eagle Butte and contribute to CRYP’s goal of empowering a whole new generation of Native artists.



From the Neighborhood to the World

The story behind the lauded St. Paul, Minnesota, artist’s passion to understand community, politics, nature—and food BY CAMILLE LEFEVRE WHEN 2,000 PEOPLE TOOK THEIR SEATS at the half-mile-long table down Victoria Street in St.

Paul on September 14, 2014, the occasion was CREATE: The Community Meal, a project initiated by St. Paul artist Seitu Jones. For two years, Jones knocked on doors in the Frogtown neighborhood around Victoria Street, getting his neighbors’ approval to close the street for the event and distributing tickets for the meal. He organized listening tours that engaged St. Paul residents in conversations about their food traditions, attitudes, rituals, and access. He assembled an army of volunteers, chefs, farmers, artists, and residents to participate. He received a Joyce Award for CREATE and found a producing partner in Public Art Saint Paul. He immersed himself in issues around food production, business, and regulations, as well as small-scale farming. None of this was new to him. A self-described “real-deal city boy” and fourth-generation Minnesotan (he grew up in South Minneapolis), Jones is best known as an artist who has created more than 30 large-scale public art works. But Jones was “born into a family that treasured being outdoors,” he says. He studied plants—an aunt nicknamed him “Little George Washington Carver.”

Photo by Soyini Guyton, courtesy the artist.




As we were going to press, Seitu Jones was awarded the $200,000 grand prize for his 2017 project Heartside Community Meal at ArtPrize Nine: Cultivate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here, Jones is at home in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Frogtown neighborhood.

Jones’s Collard Green Installation was shown in the fall of 2017 at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art as part of ArtPrize Nine: Cultivate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

An evaluation of the event revealed incremental changes in how people view and purchase food. But the biggest outcome was one nobody expected. “Every now and then,” Jones says, “I run into someone who says, ‘Hey! You’re the guy that closed the street!’ People go on and on! Because the political act of closing the street, for this community, was a powerful symbol to folks. It served as an example of what we can do collectively—in the middle of this neighborhood—and over a celebration, not a crisis.”

ART AND AGRICULTURE While organizing CREATE, Jones was also collaborating with his wife, Soyini Guyton (a poet and master gardener), and their neighbors Anthony Schmitz (a novelist and kayak builder) and Patricia Ohmans (a master gardener and writer) on getting another project up and running: Frogtown Park and Farm. Founded in 2013 in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, the City of St. Paul, and the Wilder Foundation, the 13-acre park encompasses fields, woods, and an oak savanna on the city’s third-highest point—in the middle of its poorest and most ethnically diverse neighborhood. The certified-organic urban demonstration farm (and event-rich destination) inside the park is a place where neighbors can learn farming techniques while celebrating community. Jones and Guyton moved into their renovated Frogtown storefront, where they live and work, “at the tail end of the crack epidemic in the mid-’90s,” he says, “and when predatory lenders were at work in the neighborhood.” In addition to becoming stalwart residents and instigating CREATE and Frogtown Park and Farm, Jones has made a commitment to the neighborhood in other ways. A study done by the St. Paul Forestry Department and the University of Minnesota found that Frogtown had a deficit of more than 10,000 trees, which, if they existed, could provide shade that lowers utility bills and a green canopy that beautifies while cleaning the air of pollutants. Inspired by those findings, by artist Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Oaks urban forestry project, and by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Green Belt Movement founder Wangari Maathai’s initiative to plant more than 51 million trees in Kenya, Jones helped create a nursery in Frogtown that hands out fruit trees to residents every year. “The nursery was a

Photo by Seitu Jones.

“Every one of these art projects requires layers of logistics, regulations, education, experience, and other stuff to get it accomplished. Learning all that and orchestrating it all is part of how my projects are created and curated. It’s all part of making my art.” —Seitu Jones


“My father, crazy uncles, and grandfather had us out in boats all the time,” he adds. From the University of Minnesota, Jones received a B.S. in landscape design and a graduate degree in environmental history. He’s been a Senior Fellow in Agricultural Systems in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Science Resources. That layering of experiences, he says, informed CREATE. But his food background was academic. Creating CREATE, Jones says, “was my opportunity to learn firsthand and educate myself about food systems. So while I organized and curated the event, it really was all about me.” Jones laughs at his self-referential insistence. But he’s also quite serious. CREATE, he explains, “was based around this big learning I wanted to do, in my neighborhood, in the region, and in the world as an artist.” While such terms as placemaking, social sculpture, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary have been used to describe what he does, Jones says his work truly is “me. It’s all in the same head, mine. It’s my attempt to blend art and nature. It’s what my passions are at that point in time.” Go ahead and Google all the reasons for CREATE, Jones says. They included educating neighbors about healthy food choices: the community-based, urban-agricultural organization Jones is part of, Afro-Eco, found Frogtown residents had a high percentage of such food-related illnesses as obesity and Type 2 diabetes due to poor food choices. The study also found that Frogtown residents are intimidated about making healthy food choices. Jones noted, in several interviews, how he’d watch his neighbors walk back and forth from the local convenience store, where fresh food is a rarity. CREATE, in part, was organized to show Frogtown residents how the food system works and dispel myths about food production by putting them in contact with local farmers and chefs. But for Jones, CREATE was simply “what I wanted to do. It was also the right thing to do. It’s a moral imperative, changing the food system. Racism, class, homophobia—I have tried, personally and collectively with like-minded folks, to change these things in some way. And I’ve come to the realization that you can make, as an individual, incremental change, but not fundamental change. So I’ve been working with systems instead. CREATE revealed how food systems work to other folks.”


TOP: Photo by Carbon Stories, courtesy the artist and Urban Institute for Contemporary Art. BOTTOM: Photo courtesy the artist. OPPOSITE: Photo by Andy King, courtesy the artist and Public Art St. Paul.



OPPOSITE: Hundreds of people gathered in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood for Jones’s CREATE: The Community Meal on September 14, 2014. TOP: Seitu Jones at his ArtPrize Nine award-winning Heartside Community Meal in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September 23, 2017. BOTTOM: Diners sit down together at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art for Heartside Community Meal.



ARTISTIC GESTURES, LARGE AND SMALL Throughout his decades of art-making, Jones has also collaborated with another St. Paul artist, Ta-coumba Aiken. The two men have been re-embedding their seven bronze pieces, Shadows of Spirit, into the sidewalks of the new Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. They’re collaborating on another set of shadows for the sidewalks in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which will be installed in 2018. “And I still do work that’s very literal, that’s political,” Jones says, including a series of “self-portraits of myself in threatening positions for African-American men.” Among them are Jones in a hoodie. Another is of Jones lying in the street, surrounded by the feet of people looking down on him. “Every piece of work you see is an expression of the artist’s worldview,” he says. “Everything I’ve chosen to do is an attempt to expose systems, to work on system and policy change, framed through an artist’s eye.” In particular, such “large gesture” pieces as CREATE, he says. Or the endeavor he’s currently launching: the ArtArk, a floating laboratory and art project on the Mississippi River. For nine years, Jones has been on the Board of Managers for the Capitol Region Watershed District, helping to oversee the process of managing storm water in St. Paul. An avid boat builder, he was a founding board member of Urban Boatbuilders in St. Paul. Recently, he retired from his position as a faculty adviser in Goddard College’s Master of Fine

Photo by Marc Hosmer, courtesy Seitu Jones and Urban Boatbuilders.

way I could do an artistic intervention that accompanies what Beuys and Maathai did in some way,” he explains. “It was a way to ‘greenline’ the neighborhood, which has been redlined in so many ways.” Along with being a real-deal city boy, Jones says, “I’m a child of the ’60s, and was really influenced by the Black Arts Movement, where I learned the philosophical tenets of different ideas. One that stayed with me is leaving your community more beautiful than when you found it.” He also cites Beuys and his concept of social sculpture as an influence, as well as musicians Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, writer Amiri Baraka, and artist Rick Lowe, who took over two dozen derelict shotgun houses in Houston’s Third Ward and transformed them into Project Row Houses, a cultural center that’s become an important symbol of urban transformation without obliterating a community’s roots. Today, Jones finds himself chatting with longtime neighborhood organizer Johnny Howard “about boulevard plants instead of shootings, foreclosures, and crack houses,” Jones says with a laugh. But once again, he’s serious about the changes Frogtown has experienced—for the better. “To be as passionate about trees, plants, and healthy food as we were about really immediate life-and-death matters, and to have done CREATE together, which was so amazing for longtime Frogtown residents, shows us both just how far the neighborhood has come.”

Photo by Marc Hosmer, courtesy Seitu Jones and Urban Boatbuilders.

ABOVE: Seitu Jones was a founding board member of Urban Boatbuilders in 1995. Over the last few years, students from this youth development organization and from the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center helped Jones design ArtArk, which he describes as a platform for artistic and scientific experiences that foster a greater understanding of the Mississippi River watershed and the importance of environmental stewardship. Jones was awarded a 2015 McKnight Project Grant for Mid-Career Artists through Forecast Public Art for this project. OPPOSITE: Jones takes the partially completed ArtArk out for a float test on St. Paul’s Lake Phalen in June 2017.

Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts program in Port Townsend, Washington, where he and his students built a rowboat from which he did much of his advising. Connect the dots, or all his experiences, right back to hanging out with his crazy uncles in boats, and, Jones says with exuberance, “I’ve turned into a water geek.” In 2015, Jones received a McKnight Project Grant for Mid-Career Artists from Forecast Public Art for ArtArk. Students from Urban Boatbuilders and the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center helped Jones design and construct the vessel. Working with the Capitol Region Watershed District, students on ArtArk will interpret and present, through writing, visual art, and performance, scientific data collected along the 13-mile-long Mississippi River watershed segment in St. Paul. “My neighbors in Frogtown, as well as people throughout the Twin Cities, travel across the river multiple times a day,” Jones says, “and most of us only see it from the bridges above. ArtArk is about introducing more folks to the river and creating engagement with it.” Once again, Jones says, “When I say a project is about me, this is what it’s about. Every one of these art projects requires layers of logistics, regulations, education, experience, and other stuff to get it accomplished.... Learning all that and orchestrating it all is part of how my projects are created and curated. It’s all part of making my art.”

For navigating the worlds of environment, art, agriculture, and water, Jones recently received the 2017 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, which recognizes a Minnesota artist’s lifelong commitment to creating incisive art that is locally, regionally, and/or nationally significant, while encapsulating their distinctive and extraordinary perspectives. Jones’s art is indeed wide-ranging, but with a focus nearly always trained on his Frogtown neighborhood. Recently, he received a Pastry and Baking Certificate from St. Paul College. Say what? Frogtown Park and Farm, he explains, was awarded a grant from the NFL, which is bringing the Super Bowl to Minneapolis next year, to build an outdoor kitchen that includes a small bakehouse. The project will carry on where CREATE left off, Jones says, by providing a community location for cooking and baking demonstrations. “I spent the last year learning the science of baking, and the fundamentals of pastry and artisan baking,” he says, “and we just had the first meeting for the new baking group, whose members will be baking for people in the neighborhood. We baked bread in the small portable pizza oven the farm has now. It was fantastic!” Next summer, Jones will sculpt a new, larger baking oven for the farm. “It’s my new passion,” he says, “and I’ve been so blessed to be able to follow my passions.” CAMILLE LEFEVRE

is a St. Paul–based arts journalist.

Cities As If



People Mattered Inspired and led by visionary Theaster Gates, Place Lab aims at nothing less than a transformation of how we talk about, and carry out, urban redevelopment BY LAINE BERGESON

“ETHICAL REDEVELOPMENT” IS URBANISM FOCUSED ON EQUITY, AND EQUITY IS AN AMERICAN TRADITION. At our best, we strive for equal access to public education, impartiality in hiring, and fairness in housing, to name just a few areas of concern (and struggle, in the current political climate). Ethical redevelopment happens when public artists, architects, designers, urban planners, and other thought leaders engage in thoughtful city building—in particular, when they use this mind-set to breathe new life into neighborhoods that have been overlooked. One of the most significant voices in ethical redevelopment today is Chicago-based conceptual artist Theaster Gates. Gates takes abandoned buildings and forgotten spaces on Chicago’s South Side and infuses them with new vibrancy. His pièce de résistance is Stony Island Arts Bank, a neglected neoclassical building that he bought from the city for one dollar and transformed into a center for arts, culture, and community. That work, and other similar projects, brought him fame and influence in the art world. In 2013, ArtReview ranked him the 40th most powerful person (out of 100) in the arts worldwide.

Soon, placemakers from other cities approached Gates for help in their own communities, and he realized that the best gift he could give them was to distill, and then broadcast, the insights he’d gained from his own urban redevelopment practice. “People were asking me about replicating what I was doing in Chicago in other cities,” says Gates. “My response was: I can’t replicate the Listening House or the Black Cinema House [two of his projects in Chicago]. I can’t replicate myself. But I felt like there were consistent values that guided those works and that they had to do with learning and sharing ideas.”

CREATING A SHARED LANGUAGE So Gates created Place Lab, an idea incubator at the University of Chicago that observed and documented his existing projects. From those observations—and from public convenings and by-invitation workshops with artists and change-makers from other cities—the Place Lab team outlined nine principles of ethical redevelopment.

TOP: Photo by Brandon Fields. BOTTOM: Photo courtesy Place Lab..

TOP: Breakout conversations among community developers, urban planners, educators, artists, residents, architects, city officials, foundation managers, entrepreneurs, and scholars from 14 U.S. cities took place at Place Lab’s yearlong Salon Sessions. RIGHT: Artist Theaster Gates, creator and director of Place Lab.



Place Lab’s ethical redevelopment framework doesn’t differ all that much from other thoughtful, community-minded approaches to placemaking—it focuses on gathering neighborhood input on how spaces are redesigned, promoting and celebrating the advancement of culture, and fostering organic relationships between neighbors. What makes it unique is that it’s trying to create a shared language to express and realize the values, process, and aims of contemporary urban redevelopment. In other words, Place Lab aims to get a wide variety of change-makers on the same page and speaking the same language. At the core of that shared vocabulary is the idea of mindfulness: keeping in mind human values in the creation of place-based projects. Mindful city building, for example, rejects traditional profit-driven development and franchis-

ing. Instead, it argues that urban spaces should be developed with the input of the people who live in them, and that true neighborhood vibrancy is built with spaces that celebrate and advance culture and feed the soul of a community. Seeking input from the people who are actually affected by placemaking is crucial to ethical redevelopment, according to Gates, because the approach recognizes that houses and other properties are more than commodities— they’re holders of emotion, memory, and identity. Where developers see profit opportunities, neighbors see home. “The person who buys a property may have more skills, and more resources, and more access, and more networks, than the people who live there,” he says, “but [even] the empty lot next door is personal to the person who grew up there.”

Photo by Becca Waterloo.

TOP: The 9 Principles of Ethical Redevelopment, created by Place Lab fellows, were premiered at one of two public convenings in Chicago. The principles are a set of values that consider the process of mindful city building. OPPOSITE: Artist Arthur Wright describes what principle 6, place over time, means to him at the June 22, 2016, public convening.

Photo by Becca Waterloo.

A NATIONAL GATHERING In June of 2016, Place Lab’s yearlong Salon Sessions began bringing together on-the-ground community development practitioners, including artists, advocates, public space experts, developers, designers, funders, civic officials, and others, to help learn from Gates’s successes and codify the language of ethical redevelopment. The gatherings functioned as a way to advance knowledge for both the Place Lab team and the participants—because, says Gates, for anyone who is going to wrestle with the built environment, “the more you know, the better.” Knowledge matters, he explains, because redevelopment of any kind has so many moving parts. “The truth about changing neighborhoods is that the process isn’t [mediated] by one office or one city department,” says Gates. “It’s a

[combination] of things, and I’m simply making the case, as a person who believes in creativity, that those systems can be hacked and that the people who’ve been on the outside can be on the inside.” The concept of ethical redevelopment is still evolving, but the artists and others who participated in the workshops have started to incorporate this way of thinking into their work. “We’re a long way from being able to use the principles in our marketing language,” says Joan Vorderbruggen, one of the Salon participants and the director of public art and placemaking at the Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis. “But being able to articulate a way of working using these principles is valuable.” The workshops also helped place-based change-makers, who are steeped in the challenges of their own neighbor-

THE 9 PRINCIPLES OF ETHICAL REDEVELOPMENT The Place Lab team created a framework for ethical redevelopment (downloadable at -redevelopment/), articulating principles drawn from Gates’s neighborhood-based projects in Chicago and refined through yearlong workshops. Summarized here, these points can offer inspiration and guidance to place-based change-makers nationwide.





REPURPOSE AND RE-PROPOSE This principle suggests that ethical redevelopers make use of discarded and overlooked items. It also encourages them to deeply engage with those items so that they can be used in new and originally unintended ways. In 2008, Gates bought a small bungalow on Chicago’s South Side, gutted it, and used the scraps to build bookshelves for his 14,000-plus book collection. “Repurposing is an act of redemption,” the framework states. “Artistry is alchemy—it allows one thing to become another. Be an alchemist in your community. In new hands, there is renewed possibility for the discarded and overlooked.”


ENGAGED PARTICIPATION This principle is about collaborating with the people who believe in the place and approaching participants authentically—as you would approach a neighbor. It’s about offering participants multiple access points to the project and varied opportunities to participate, from attending planning meetings to participating in the creation of the spaces themselves. This doesn’t mean simply keeping neighbors informed (a one-way street used in many development projects), but encouraging the willing investment of participants’ time, talent, and resources.

PEDAGOGICAL MOMENTS Every step in the ethical redevelopment process should be instructive; teaching and learning are inherent parts of mindful placemaking. And this knowledge transfer can go both ways, from the community and the neighbors to the placemakers and from the placemakers to the neighbors. Opportunities for knowledge transfer can also be both formal and informal. For example, a master gardener designing a community garden can lead by example or formalize a mentorship program with would-be community gardeners.


THE INDETERMINATE Ethical redevelopment argues that “resource inequity can be reduced with imagination,” so mindful city builders are urged to embrace uncertainty, accept ambiguity, and ask questions in the face of “problems” in certain neighborhoods. For example, a dearth of funding via traditional routes may lead placemakers to forge new partnerships. Ethically redeveloped projects have a vision, but they remain open and flexible about how to reach the final objective. “Believe in your project but resist believing there is only one path to achieve it,” the Place Lab fellows write.

DESIGN Good design matters because it offers beauty as well as functionality. “Beauty is a basic service often not extended to ‘forgotten parts’ of the city,” write the Place Lab fellows—and that should change. “Beauty has magnetism. It defines character. It promotes reverence,” they write. “Design ignites and gets people reinvested in a place.”


Ethical redevelopers know that fostering renewed vibrancy in neighborhoods doesn’t happen overnight. Placemaking takes time, just as neglect and divestment occur gradually. “Placebased work is about the aggregation of years of activity and organic development of relationships. When it works, people visit and return in response to offerings that are authentic to the spirit of the place.”

8 9

Ethical redevelopers are encouraged to believe in themselves and to have something at stake in the project, even if it’s just sweat equity. “Projects like these require belief and motivation more than they require funding,” says the framework. “Making change requires conviction and commitment utilizing belief, brainpower, energy, time, and dogged perseverance.” Such commitment allows redevelopers to leverage early, smaller successes into later wins and gain access to bigger and better resources. And the group suggests “stacking” and “bundling” various resource streams rather than depending on single sources.

CONSTELLATIONS Ethical redevelopment needs both strong leaders and strong teams, along with a constellation of different forms of expertise. Projects require a “vibrant…ecosystem” of “visionaries, believers, implementers, collaborators, and evaluators.”

PLATFORMS Mindful city-building requires platforms: opportunities for people to gather and commune. A platform is a literal or metaphorical space (a park or a chat room, for example) in which people feel comfortable hanging out, having deep conversations, connecting. It’s a space that encourages “new friendships, and, ultimately, a community of people who want to be part of a transformative work in the neighborhood.” The fellows note that “a just city is required to facilitate platforms that engage those who are not fully tapped into their power and feel cheated out of the right to publicly demonstrate their power.”

LOOKING AHEAD Place Lab operates on a three-year grant that comes to an end this year, but Gates already has visions for Place Lab 2.0. He sees the next stage of this work as even more pointedly educational—and not just in equipping ethical placemakers with the technical know-how to navigate the competing needs of various city offices and other stakeholders. He wants to teach his students at the University of Chicago, as well as other placemakers, how to have the “courage, independent agency, critical thinking, and enthusiasm” required for ethical redevelopment. “If we’re going to be successful at creating balanced and equitable cities, we need skills that are different than the skills we have now,” he concludes. “We need to bring both heart and skill to these projects.” is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor. One of her favorite public artists is Richard Serra, for his works’ amazing blend of enormity and fragility. Her least favorite artist of all time is Luca Della Robbia, who was tragically ahead of his time when it came to kitsch. LAINE BERGESON




hoods and cities, see that they’re not alone. “Having an opportunity to step out of the local things I’m fighting in Detroit and see the national things people are facing in neighborhoods across the country helped give me context,” says James Feagin, a strategic consultant in Detroit. “It helped me understand the scale of the challenges and how to think about solutions.” One of the challenges facing ethical redevelopers that became clear during the sessions was the traditional, profit-driven system that drives most urbanism. “This process is still about Miss Jenkins on the corner and the couple who want to buy a house in the neighborhood they grew up in, but it’s also about really big, marketdriven [development forces],” says Feagin. “No one person can fight on his or her own. We have to become strategic in finding the power we do have.” Vorderbruggen agrees: “When you’re working with —and against—long-standing systems to improve areas in a way that embraces a whole community, that is extremely challenging, because the systems are in place to do the opposite.” She adds that having “the support of other passionate people built my confidence.”



Leaders in public art and creative placemaking on how their disciplines will help shape—and even transform—our future WHAT IS THE TRANSFORMATIVE POTENTIAL of public art and public artists for our future?

That’s the broad question Public Art Review posed to public art administrators, directors, artists, critics, curators, academics, and researchers before they met up in Honolulu for The Future History of Public Art, the 17th symposium organized by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). This year’s symposium was organized in collaboration with Forecast Public Art and the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and held just after we went to press: November 5 to 7, 2017. The goals of the symposium? For participants to consider the future of the field, survey growing trends and challenges, and propose ways the field might develop to create a richer and more sustainable long-term presence. In the next few pages you’ll read the freewheeling responses of this group of deeply talented professionals to our question about public art’s transformative potential. We were moved by all the ways they talked about how public art can help create a more humane world. —The Editors

Shifting Perceptions “Public art has the ability to completely transform the fabric of communities. The simple act of putting paint on walls can brighten up public spaces and change negative perceptions.” —JASPER WONG, Honolulu–based artist, illustrator, curator, art director, and founder and lead director of the POW! WOW! street-art festival

Photo © Dorothy Hong Photography, courtesy Jasper Wong.




Translating Visions

—MAILE MEYER, principal of Ho‘omaika‘i, a contemporary art curation and management organization based in Honolulu, and executive director of Pu‘uhonua Society, a nonprofit that supports Native Hawaiian and Hawai‘ibased artists and cultural practitioners.

TOP: Photo by Mark Ramelb. MIDDLE: Photo by Nick Strauss. BOTTOM: Photo by Lori Goldstein.

What Transformation Really Means “Transformation is a process that comes from within (whether that’s within an individual or within a complex municipality)—and we shouldn’t confuse it with simple change. Public art can change the view of a landscape/cityscape and open up the possibility of seeing a different perspective on it, but transformation only comes when people are willing to see differently what they may have been looking at every day. So, whether we’re talking about our present or our future, that willingness to be transformed must be present for public art and/or public artists to have any impact.” —CAMERON CARTIERE, co-editor, Public Art Dialogue and associate professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, British Columbia

Creating Emotional Connections “Public art and artists play a transformative role in revealing the invisible and unseen systems within our city and creating an emotional connection between people and their environment. Embedding artists and their creative processes within the city allows for deep and meaningful collaboration and an ongoing exchange of ideas and perspectives.” —HEATHER AITKEN, manager of the Public Art Program in Calgary, Alberta


“Public art and the people who make it are translators of community needs, visions, and futures. If there’s a possibility that the public can participate in art-making alongside an artist, that deepens the connection among art, people, and place, and that connectivity is transformational.”


“Secular Spirituality”

—CANDY CHANG, New Orleans–based artist, designer, and urban planner

If Creativity Was Nurtured… “To meet the increasingly complex challenges facing humanity and our planet, our value system in America needs an overhaul. Our educational system doesn’t prioritize creativity, innovation, empathy, or compassion. We each have the innate ability to create, from the moment we’re born. If this ability was nurtured at an early age, and valued through our adulthood, just imagine how different the world would be! And just imagine if young people seeking training as artists were given opportunities to learn firsthand about the broad and impactful, empowering world of public art— beyond the making of objects to sell—what wondrous, aweinspiring, and transformative work they would create, and how much better off we’d be!” —JACK BECKER, founder, lead consultant, and director of community services at Forecast Public Art, St. Paul, Minnesota

TOP: Photo by Cary Norton. BOTTOM: Photo by Dan Marshall.



“Among the many factors that determine our overall health, emotional wellness is often neglected; discussing it is taboo. Public art can play a transformative role in emotional communion—not only to cultivate our mental health, but to foster the sense of kinship that’s necessary for civic collaboration. As fewer people belong to a particular faith, the opportunity is big to expand what secular spirituality can look like, and how communities can better serve the psychological well-being of their citizens.”

Artists Shaping the Public Realm

—CYNTHIA NIKITIN, senior vice president and director of the public art and creative placemaking programs for the Project for Public Spaces, New York, New York


Spectacle and Platform

TOP: Photo by Lui Jeh-Hong. MIDDLE: Photo by Brad Larrison. BOTTOM: Photo by Frederic Bernas.


“Public artists were at the forefront of what is now considered standard operating procedure or best practice: soliciting the input of the current or potential beneficiaries of investment in the public realm, at all phases of a project’s development. This approach has already transformed environmental and transportation planning, public space design, private mixed-use development, and the creation of new public facilities. Commitment to hosting an ongoing dialogue between artist and audience; the consideration of projects in the context of the places they occupy; adopting inventive platforms for participation and knowledge exchange; and educating the public and private stakeholders who profoundly impact the development of the policies, regulations, and legal frameworks that impact public art initiatives— all these practices speak to the transformative power and potential of public art and artists.”

“Public art can rise to its transformative potential when it functions as both spectacle and a platform for expression. An appropriate piece of public art must register ambivalences about the self in society and mark the lines of division embedded within cities.” —PAUL FARBER, artistic director of Monument Lab, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Artivism in the Streets “As public art becomes increasingly connected with our streets and entrenched in important social issues, we will have a massive transformational weapon. We need more public artivism!” —THIAGO MUNDANO, Brazilian street artist and activist

Private Enclosure and Public Good

—DR. LEON TAN, art and culture historian, critic, artist, educator, psychotherapist, and research leader in Creative Industries at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, and member of the International Association of Art Critics and Auckland Council’s Advisory Panel for Art in Public Places

Life As Collaboration “All public art is a conversation. Great public art generates and sustains a stronger community through sharing creative visions. I am constantly inspired, motivated, and challenged by what emerging and established artists, people from industry, patrons, supporters, school students, and the interested public bring to the planning table. Life is not a solo act—it’s a huge collaboration in which we can all participate and make a difference.” —DEBORAH MCCORMICK, executive director, SCAPE Public Art, Christchurch, New Zealand

TOP: Photo by Amanda Miller. BOTTOM: Photo by Dan Marshall.



“More than the members of any other profession, it is artists, particularly public or socially engaged artists, who may be found working to counter this erosion of the public sphere and commons in our neoliberal world, whether through the critical urbanism of Lab.Pro.Fab in Caracas, the feminist activism of Blank Noise in Bangalore or New Delhi, or the social work and sustainability advocacy of Thiago Mundano in São Paulo (three winners of the International Award for Public Art). “The transformative potential of public art and public artists lies in realizing a future in which we strike a new balance between private enclosure and public good, favorable to the preservation and protection of all that is common for the world’s publics.”

Active Participation in the Built World

—JEN LEWIN, New York–based light and interactive sculptor


“I believe that public art, like so much of our built world (including our changing infrastructure, politics, communication, and technology), has the potential to directly engage and inspire interaction and participation. In doing so, public art can enable and inspire future generations who will believe that taking an active part in the built world is an important part of living and participating in the wider world. This is ultimately about the democratization of art: the community having a direct, participatory voice within the art itself.”

TOP: Photo by Chip Kalback, courtesy Jen Lewin Studio. BOTTOM: Photo by Ray Tanaka.


A Shifting Future “Public art provides access to the arts and gives voice to artists who bring social issues to the forefront. Public interest in the arts, as we know it today, will shift and change. So how the field of public art engages in education and embraces technology will determine its future relevance/impact.” —JONATHAN JOHNSON, executive director of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

Collective Quality of Life “I see the greatest opportunity for public art and artists, moving forward, to be in engaging artists in cross-sector conversations about our collective quality of life. Projects and initiatives popping up across the country that embed artists in civic and bureaucratic structures represent a critical way to have more thoughtful and innovative conversations about our public spaces, services, and shared experiences. We should value how artists ask different kinds of questions and approach problems differently—and how they can positively impact solutions and opportunities in our cities.” —LAUREN KENNEDY, executive director, UrbanArt Commission, Memphis, Tennessee

“One of the things I love about public art is that it tells the story of a city; through it we express our dreams and aspirations; it challenges where we are going and why we’re going there. And sometimes it just provides visual or physical delight. The future of public art will be a lot like its past, except that it will look, sound, feel, and probably smell different—just as tomorrow we will be different from who we are today.” —RICHARD MCCOY, director of Landmark Columbus in Columbus, Indiana

TOP: Photo by Jamie Harmon with Amurica. BOTTOM: Photo by Adam Reynolds.

To Tell City Stories—and Provide Delight

“I believe that the transformative potential of public art for our future in the United States is tremendous. The established and rapidly growing appreciation that Americans have for the humanization of communal spaces which integrate public art supports an incredibly wide range of public art programs and strategies throughout the country. “The creation of public art projects specifically informed by, and designed to meet and address, local needs and local cultures and aspirations will, I hope, prevail—along with the right of our fellow citizens, ‘the public,’ to participate in the development of their environment. Of course, none of this is possible without the knowledge, vision, and creativity of public artists and public art administrators working with elected officials, bureaucrats, business leaders, and our ‘public.’” —LARRY BAZA, chair of the city of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture and member of the California Arts Council


Photo by Dana Springs.

The Humanization of Communal Spaces


Proud partner with WESTAF and Forecast Public Art in the recent symposium

The Future History of Public Art



TALK ABOUT AN EVOLUTION Looking back at 40 years of Forecast Public Art—and the changing field to which it belongs

IN 1976, I EARNED A BFA from the Minneapolis College of

Art and Design and, unlike many art graduates then and now, got a great job right away. I was hired by a CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) program, a one-year federal jobs program run by the visionary artist Melisande Charles that put 60 artists to work in communities. My job was to think of the city as a gallery and organize temporary exhibitions featuring CETA artists in public spaces like libraries, parks, and government buildings. My new gig was an official development of what was going on informally in those days: the alternative art-space movement was in full swing across the United States, including here in the Twin Cities. Pioneering artists were taking over abandoned warehouses, producing independent exhibits, installations, and events that crossed boundaries and challenged audiences. With my CETA job, I was able to foster this

spirit by connecting artists and art with public spaces and the public. I didn’t realize it then, but I’d found my calling. In 1978, when CETA funds ran dry, my commitment to public art went to a whole new level when a handful of colleagues and I started the nonprofit Forecast Public Art. We were one of the only groups in the country programming on streetscapes, in the open air, nurturing what you might call “free-range” artists. In those days, it was easy to install sculptures in a city park. The St. Paul Parks Department, I recall, didn’t have any rules. The only document I had to fill out was a picnic permit. “Just clean up after you’re done,” I was told. The field of contemporary public art was young and artists were eager to experiment, yet it was mostly about simply placing artworks in public places. Then along came conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, who coined the term social sculpture in the 1980s to signify his understanding of art’s potential

Photo courtesy Forecast Public Art.

BY JACK BECKER / Dedicated to my mentor, Melisande Charles

One year after Jack Becker (front, center) founded Forecast Public Art in 1978, Forecast members gathered for a group photo. From left, Bill Felker, Julie Worthing, Julie Beignet, Jack Becker, Nancy Reynolds, Dennis Sponsor, Sage Felker, John Schwartz, Anna Edwards, Andrew Shea, and Jannell Schwartz-Felker.

to transform society. Since those days, public artists have proven that art can have many functions, serve many needs. So it’s no surprise that today people want public art to do something in the world, not just be in the world. (In fact, public art is now sought as a Band-Aid for many of today’s built-environment blunders and social ills.) At the same time, public art has become more democratized, diversified, and technologized. As I reflect on the past 40 years and consider hundreds of artists, projects, places, forums, Public Art Review stories, consulting gigs, and conversations, a few trends stand out for me. Here are three that I think are worth sharing.

The Public Art Archive™ is a growing database of completed public artworks. Contribute and explore at no cost. Upcoming features include: • Public art-speciic collection management tool • Updated PAA Mobile for nding art on the go • Public portals for increased engagement

CLAIMING AND PROTECTING PUBLIC SPACES I used to think that public spaces were created for us; that they weren’t something the public needed, or ought, to have any say in. Today the door to community-engaged design has been flung open wide, and we all have the option to participate in the process. There’s a commons movement underway. This growing social and political tendency believes that the commons— shared public goods, including public spaces like libraries and parks—represents a crucial sector of the economy and society. Conversely, the privatization of public space has grown at a rapid rate. These days, you often can’t tell if you’re in a public or private space until you cross the line between what’s allowed and what isn’t. There may be better security and maintenance in a pseudo-public zone like a shopping mall, but there are more rules too, along with surveillance cameras. Whether our public realm is truly public or privately owned, it’s time to increase community participation in the planning and programming of that realm, and to ensure that artists are brought into the process. And while we’re at it, let’s make sure artists get the kind of education and professional training they need for this kind of work.

WESTAF connects art, technology and leadership to engage cultural communities in positive transformation. WESTAF is an experienced technology developer with projects that beneet the public art eld through the Public Art Archive and CaFÉ.

ART AND CREATIVITY EVERYWHERE Emerging public artists in the 1970s, like the rag-tag club that helped Forecast get its start, were pioneers who tested concepts of art in public spaces. The work of Dennis Oppenheim, Ana Mendieta, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Alan Kaprow, to name a few, was mostly ephemeral, but the results influenced generations of independent creators to come. Their efforts stood in stark contrast with top-down, large-scale, commissioned art by blue-chip artists like Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Nevelson, and Isamu Noguchi. Over the decades, public art, whether top-down or bottom-up, evolved into a profession, accompanied by

CaFÉ™ is the leading online application and adjudication system for managing calls for entry. Beneets and features include: • Dedicated percent for art program pricing • Paperless streamlined selection panel review • Reach over 4,000 national public artists

PLANNING, PROGRAMMING, FUNDING: GROWTH AND LIMITATIONS Forecast was lucky to be founded in the philanthropically inclined Twin Cities, where giving back is a given. Funders viewed our work as a way to remove barriers to access to the arts, especially among those who didn’t—or couldn’t afford to—attend museums and theaters. We were bringing art

to the people, on a project-by-project basis. Eventually we developed annualized programs, Public Art Review, Artist Services, and Creative Consulting. In the 1980s, art critic Grace Glueck referred to public art as “the fastest-growing industry in the United States,” and it’s still booming. Tens of millions of dollars are spent annually on public art in the U.S., mostly from private sources. There’s a growing list of public and private funders supporting public art, including the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtPlace, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and others, including Kickstarter. Alternative funding models are emerging, including billboard taxes, license plate fees, gambling proceeds, microgrants, percent for private development, graffiti abatement funds, corporate sponsorships, and bartering, among others. Percent-for-art programs have grown from about 25 in 1980 to more than 350 today. But the picture is far from perfect. Many programs are facing severe financial problems; they may have funds for art but are losing staff, or they have staff but their art funds have dried up. Public art collections are aging and maintenance budgets are inadequate. And it’s still easier to get project support than general operating funding. Aside from an occasional windfall grant, the nonprofit arts life is a hand-to-mouth existence. It’s a mission-driven life fueled by passion and difference-making. It’s time to reinvent the percent-for-art model and to broaden support for the range of creative work that’s being done—and that’s needed. Cities need to work more collaboratively with businesses, foundations, nonprofits, educational institutions, grassroots initiatives, and artists, to redefine what a vital, meaningful, impactful public art program can be. The power of public art for communities can’t be denied. Neither can the opportunities it offers artists to be change agents. What’s most meaningful for me is that public art is an energy and a philosophy as well as a practice. It produces iconic cultural symbols, tells stories, honors people and events, surfaces truths, and gives voice. I’m encouraged by the rise of the citizen artist, dedicated to advancing equality and justice. I admire outspoken activism. I’ve also learned to value taking risks and to use failure as a learning strategy. I’m striving to make the most of my creativity during my brief time on the planet, and as Forecast’s next four decades get under way, I invite and challenge others to do the same. JACK BECKER is the founder of Forecast Public Art and director of its Creative Consulting program.

Photo by Dan Marshall.



thicker contracts, recommended best practices, and even a sprinkling of university degree programs. (Yet we still lack standards, licensure, job descriptions, and proven methods to build a profitable career in the public art field. Indeed, we’re still in the R&D phase of our profession.) Since the early 1980s, women and artists of color have found footholds in the public art realm; in fact, they’ve outpaced their white male counterparts, bringing fresh voices and a social-justice orientation that’s eager to confront the status quo. Equity is the hot buzzword today, as it should be, given the growing imbalances evident in American culture. Thankfully there’s a growing number of artists wanting to work in the trenches to daylight the truth, bridge divisions, and spark meaningful dialogues. Placemaking, social-practice art, and community-engaged design have brought community art, born in the ’70s, from the margins to the center of our culture. Millennials and Gen Xers are taking our decades-old hip-hop subculture mainstream, embracing dance, music, street art, and social media as join-in-and-help, DIY projects, part of a growing trend that’s been dubbed participatory culture. While this highly democratic kind of public art used to be best exemplified by, say, the customized ghosts or Santa Clauses in front yards during Halloween or Christmas, today you can experience a flash mob, some yarn bombing, or Pokémon Go anywhere, on any day. Since the turn of the new century, cities have promoted painted plastic animals as civic mascots, starting with Cows on Parade in Chicago in 1999. Urban sculpture parks are cropping up in many places. We have a handful of biennales and nuit blanche (all-night) festivals, dozens of artist-in-residence programs, a Public Art Network (PAN), an online Public Art Archivetm, an international public art film festival, and an International Award for Public Art. The ever-present role of artists and creativity in our daily lives today is the result of the groundwork laid during the past 40 years. By paying closer attention to the trajectory of artists’ evolving role in our society we can begin to see, and to forecast, the value shift taking place in America—the recognition of the importance of equitable, people-oriented place development, designing experiences for healthful daily life, and collective community leadership.

We’re proud to add our voices to so many others : Happy 40th birthday Forecast Public Art. Congratulations to Jack Becker and Theresa Sweetland and the whole board and staff at Forecast and Public Art Review. When we think of Forecast’s contributions over four decades we think: leadership, genius, service, and the most exciting and meaningful publication in public art. We celebrate: empowerment, creative connection, community. As Jack reports, public art is the common thread that binds our hearts together. With growing interest in public art worldwide, and increased demand for Forecast’s knowledge and expertise, it’s easy to imagine another 40 years of tangible inspiration. Public Art Review, Forecast’s consulting services, grants to artists, trainings, next generation leadership development, and commitment to the field — this is exactly what we need now.






Jill Manton

Greg Esser, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University

Lisa and Adam Mauer Elliott, Outside the Box Designs

Hervey Evans, Erazmus Inc. Publishing Consultants

Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz, Works of Art for Public Spaces Ltd.

Tom Fisher, MN Design Center, Univ. of Minnesota Amelia Foster Gretchen Freeman, Gretchen Freeman and Company

Karen Olson, Editor in Chief, Public Art Review

Philip Pregill, Landscape Architecture faculty, California State University, Pomona

Karen Griffiths

Print Craft, proud printer of Public Art Review

Stacey Holland

Colleen Sheehy and Public Art Saint Paul

Seth Hoyt

Abby Suckle, cultureNOW

Elizabeth Keithline, Wheel Arts Administration / RI State Council On the Arts

Rebecca Sterner, Magazine Publishing Consultant

Suzanne Lacy, Roski School of Art and Design, Univ. of Southern California

Max Stevenson, Norway House, Minneapolis, MN

ON LOCATION Global Reports

A RARE Opportunity in a Twin Cities Suburb The Richfield Artist Resident Engagement project (RARE) explored new ways for the arts and real estate to work together—and lessons were learned


is a for-profit real estate developer with nonprofit values. The company builds concern for the surrounding community into its projects, from creating community gardens to providing affordable units in otherwise market-rate apartment complexes. And in a partnership with Forecast Public Art (the organization that publishes Public Art Review), they’ve been exploring how alliances with artists can further their goal of good neighborhood citizenship—while the artists have been learning how to cooperate with a developer in ways that go well beyond, say, plopping a sculpture in a plaza. Together, they’ve learned important lessons about how to work together successfully. RICHFIELD, MINNESOTA,


It all started in 2014, when the city of Richfield approached Cornerstone to develop a town center. The developer held

listening sessions to find out what citizens wanted the center to be. The answer, says Cornerstone founder and CEO Colleen Carey, was “a gathering place where arts and cultural events could happen.” Cornerstone bought the site of the long-defunct Lyndale Garden Center, adjacent to Richfield Lake Park. Plans for the complex included rental units and retail, but also amenities like walking trails on the lakeshore, a public pizza oven, and an amphitheater for arts and cultural events. It was Cornerstone’s next move that began to widen Carey’s perspective on how the arts could contribute to what was dubbed the Lyndale Gardens project. Cornerstone contacted St. Paul–based Springboard for the Arts, which connects artists with community-development projects. Springboard was placing “artist organizers” in various organizations around town, bringing artistic thinking and practice to bear on the organizations’ issues. Performance artist Molly Van Avery worked with Cornerstone,

Photo by Elena Stanton.


ON LOCATION When both Van Avery and Childs left their posts, a new pair took over supervision of RARE: Forecast’s Artist Services director, Kristin Wiegmann, and Andrew Gaylord, who started out as a Springboard artist organizer and then was hired by Cornerstone. After a couple of false starts, including a plan for a skateboard park that turned out to be too difficult to insure, Siasoco created mural-size portraits of three well-known neighborhood residents. He also interviewed many Richfielders about their hopes for the city and compiled the results on Instagram. Johnson involved local people in an ongoing quilting project in which residents were encouraged to express their hopes and dreams on cloth squares. While Siasoco and Johnson met regularly with both Forecast and Cornerstone and garnered a good deal of input from the community, Carey wanted an artist-involved project that was more directly linked to the Lyndale Gardens site. A second Arts Board grant set up RARE 2, with three artists: muralist Greta McLain and spoken word artists Shā Cage and E. G. Bailey. Cage and Bailey hosted poetry workshops in Richfield, while McLain set up a mosaic-mural-making center on the Gardens site, along with hosting a number of workshops in the community. RARE 2 was indeed centered on the development—the mosaic sections that McLain and local people created


“helping us see the power artists have to create change in a community,” says Carey. “I knew that artists could help make a place a great place to live, but Molly helped me see how they could engage the community in solving problems, to make the community a better place to live.” Van Avery is friends with Melinda Childs, then of Forecast, and she and Childs began working with Cornerstone under the Forecast banner to set up RARE (Richfield Artist Resident Engagement), a plan to embed an artist-in-residence in Lyndale Gardens. But, as Carey notes, “development is not a linear process.” Financing for the residential building stalled—it’s since been restructured, with some of Cornerstone’s plans curbed or cut down—and Cornerstone and RARE had to recalibrate: rather than giving a resident artist an apartment on site, they would apply for a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to support a pair of artists who would use all of Richfield as their home base, doing projects, garnering a sense of what the city’s diverse residents were thinking about, and making Lyndale Gardens better known. The successful Arts Board application specified that the artists would be Witt Siasoco, an artist, graphic designer, and community activist with extensive experience working with youth, and Emily Johnson, a Minneapolis- and New York–based choreographer and installation artist.


Photo courtesy Forecast Public Art.

ON LOCATION In order to involve artists directly in the development of Richfield’s Lyndale Gardens site, Forecast Public Art partnered with The Cornerstone Group to create a second artist residency, RARE 2. One of three RARE 2 artists, Greta McLain, collaborated with more than 100 community members to create a mosaic embedded into the steps of the Lyndale Gardens amphitheater. ABOVE: Community members making the mosaic in 2016. OPPOSITE: Mural dedication on June 21, 2017.



The RARE program was piloted in 2015 with artists Witt Siasoco and Emily Johnson. ABOVE LEFT: Witt Siasoco (left) with a Richfield resident whose portrait was installed at a bus stop. ABOVE RIGHT: Artist Emily Johnson engaged Richfield elders and families through community meals, storytelling, and dance in the city’s nature preserves. Julia Bither, who works with Johnson, collected ideas from residents about their desires for Richfield on quilt squares.

were eventually installed in the seating area of the Lyndale Gardens amphitheater, and words from the community poems that Cage and Bailey facilitated found their way into the mosaics. The RARE collaborators also set up a Community Advisory Council, made up of Richfielders, that advised on many aspects of the project. On June 21, 2017, some 400 local people showed up for the official unveiling of the amphitheater and the mosaic work—a community party that featured local bands and a dragon-dance group. The amphitheater’s inaugural season continued with a series of concerts by local musicians, the last of which was a September evening of salsa music, with Puerto Rican cuisine served from a food truck. Programmed by Andrew Gaylord and the Advisory Council, the concerts will recommence next summer. While Cornerstone pursues a three-phase plan to finance the completion of Lyndale Gardens, the developer and the Council will work together to find ways for Richfield artists to support the project, without Forecast’s help—that’s RARE’s third phase. ARTIST-DEVELOPER RELATIONSHIPS

Perhaps the major key to making artist-developer relationships work, according to Carey, is making sure that each side understands the nature and pace of the other’s work. Real estate development goes forward by fits and starts,

driven by financing, permitting, and other unpredictables, she says, “and I think the artists, who were out there talking about our project, sometimes wondered why it was taking so long and what the point of their work was if there was nothing in place yet.” At the same time, Carey cautions developers to make sure they give artists a free hand to create. “Everybody needs to be clear and in agreement up front about their objectives,” she says, “and then developers need to support the artists in what they come up with, not say no.” For both Carey and Wiegmann, the way the project was granted—as a package with the artists already selected and the goals outlined in the proposal—created pressure, since there was little wiggle room for experimentation and rethinking. Wiegmann would have preferred a two-stage process in which artists and arts organization developed a plan for artist-led actions and works, which could then be presented to Cornerstone for approval—of the artist team and the project—plus necessary tweaking, before work began. At the same time, Wiegmann says, the one-year grant period for each phase of RARE was insufficient for doing what she calls the “deep work” of community engagement. “I thought we had planned for a lot of time to do this engagement work and relationship-building in Richfield,” she says, “but there’s always more you can do in outreach—and I felt that perhaps a year, the cycle of the grant, just wasn’t enough.”

ABOVE LEFT: Photo courtesy Witt Siasoco. ABOVE RIGHT: Photo by Elena Stanton.


ON LOCATION The answer to both problems, she suggests, would have been to connect the project with a single nonprofit community organization in Richfield, rather than depend solely on the artists and artist organizers who, though skilled and anxious to help, were not local people. “When you’re a community organization, you know who to call, you know how to rally people,” she says. ENDEARING A PROJECT

Even with all their challenges, says Forecast founder and now Director of Community Services Jack Becker, new liaisons between artists/arts organizations and real estate developers, liaisons that foreground community input and needs, are attracting attention in the development community as well as among the advocates of ethical development. “Developers are beginning to see that the more a project becomes endeared to a community, becomes authentically their place, not the developer’s place, the more people will come to it,” he says. “At Forecast,” he adds, “we’re already talking with other developers who want to go beyond commissioning art into other ways of working with artists that represent authentic kinds of community building.” JON SPAYDE

is senior editor of Public Art Review.


She also notes that RARE assured the artists that they didn’t have to knock on doors and initiate relationships, community-organizer style, either, if they didn’t want to. Cage and Bailey, who have extensive experience with outreach, were comfortable in the role, she says, while McLain preferred to concentrate on art-making with the community. While connecting with the community is of the essence in this dynamic kind of public work, Wiegmann says, “we didn’t want to make artists responsible for marketing or branding the development.” It helped, she says, that Cornerstone was genuinely interested in being a positive presence in the community beyond the bottom line. “There were workshops where we didn’t mention Cornerstone at all,” she points out. As for Greta McLain, she feels that her mural workshops were ultimately a success, but it was initially hard to get people to come to her on-site mosaic workshop. “Here we had all these great art materials just waiting to be used—and people just weren’t coming in,” she says. So McLain moved the workshops out into multiple locations in the community and had, as she puts it, “great success.” There was also a general problem of awareness, according to McLain. “The community as a whole didn’t have a sense of where the project was heading,” she says.



A Workable Plan for Arts Access in Los Angeles L.A. County’s sweeping Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative isn’t just another wish list—the County Board of Supervisors actually mandated it


known arts leaders in L.A. The committee conducted 14 town hall meetings in locations around the county, during which a total of 650 participants shared their experiences with, and ideas about, county arts programs. The advisory committee also formed working groups to further discuss and hone ideas about equity and inclusion in five key target areas: the boards of directors of cultural organizations, arts organization staffing, arts audiences and participants, arts programming, and artists/creators. More data and information were captured through the first-ever L.A. County–wide demographic survey of the arts and cultural workforce, which measured the diversity of boards, staff, volunteers, and contractors. Finally, to determine best practices and assess the current state of knowledge about inclusion and cultural equity, the committee consulted with peer groups in cities like New York and San Francisco, and conducted a full literature review. The public process that LACAC conducted to formulate the CEII’s recommendations was critical to its completion, but even more important was what Buckley calls “the perfect storm” of county support for the initiative, which promises to give it a real and practical impact. After all,

“What’s important is that this conversation isn’t about the arts only. It is about access and equity for residents and citizens in L.A. County.” —Leticia Buckley, executive director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission Photo © Matthew F. Witchell.



In April 2017, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC) announced a monumental new Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII), which includes 13 recommendations to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors intended to “ensure that everyone in L.A. County has equitable access to arts and culture” and to “improve inclusion in the wider arts ecology for all residents in every community.” The initiative wasn’t just a hopeful shot in the dark on the part of activists—the county itself called for it, back in November of 2015. The recommendations cover areas such as cultural policy, the use of inclusive language, internships and training, workforce development, and equity and inclusion in arts funding, programming, audience development, and arts education. “Everyone is very hopeful of moving the needle, so to speak,” says LACAC executive director Leticia Buckley of the initiative and its recommendations, “and ensuring that there ends up being more accessibility for folks to engage in the arts in every neighborhood across the county.” The CEII’s full 116-page report was the result of an 18-month process conducted by an advisory committee of 36 diverse community leaders, led by three co-chairs—Tim Dang, Helen Hernandez, and Maria Rosario Jackson—well-

Photo by Matthew Field / wikimedia / Creative Commons license


TOP: Photo by Ted Salzman. BOTTOM: Matt Blum Photography.

ABOVE: People emerge from the NoHo Arts District metro station on L.A.’s red line. BELOW: Panorama of the city of Los Angeles, California.

Leticia Buckley. “It is about access and equity for residents and citizens in L.A. County. With the idea that the arts are embedded in everything we do, it’s important to know that this is another tool in the tool kit to ensure that people are receiving equitable distribution of resources and access.” MICHAEL FALLON is

a Los Angeles–raised, Twin Cities–based arts writer who is the author of two books, including Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s (Counterpoint Press, 2014). He is also the executive director of Hand Papermaking, Inc.


since it was the L.A. County Board of Supervisors who originally directed LACAC to conduct the study and formulate a set of recommendations, the initiative marks a rare opportunity for effective policy to emerge. “Above all,” says Buckley, “we actually wanted to walk away with real, actionable items. It was very important all along that this was not going to be another gathering of arts and culture folk having a conversation about lack of diversity or anything else with nothing to show at the end of it.” Political realities are political realities, however. The practical steps associated with the 13 recommendations imply an increase of $20.5 million in county arts funding in the first year. In June, the Board of Supervisors, citing “budget uncertainties at the state and federal levels,” approved funding for only five of the recommendations, dedicating a bit more than $1.1 million to establishing a cultural policy for the county, requiring county arts grantees to adopt equity plans, expanding paid arts internships for community college students, developing work-based arts learning opportunities for teens, and placing artists in paid positions as creative strategists to solve social problems. While the allocations fell far short of the CEII’s recommendations, the LACAC remains hopeful that the county board will work toward realizing what are, after all, its own equity and inclusion goals by funding additional recommended programs in future years. “What’s important is that this conversation isn’t about the arts only,” says


TOP RIGHT: Photo by Chris Yarzab / flickr / Creative Commons license.


BOOKS New Publications Transformations: Art and the City Elizabeth M. Grierson, ed. Bristol, UK: Intellect; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017



This wide-ranging collection of essays is the fruit of a symposium held at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, in 2014. Artists, media professionals, and specialists in public policy, law, business, science, cartography, geography, and many other fields convened to ask: How can we understand the contemporary city “through an aesthetic lens—and what possibilities exist for transformative action?” Topics range from art projects intended to revitalize city neighborhoods to artistic interventions in the justice system to artists as recorders and archivists of urban realities. Greater Than Ever: New York’s Big Comeback Daniel L. Doctoroff New York: Public Affairs/Perseus Books, 2017 This first-person narrative account is written by the former New York City deputy mayor for economic development under Michael Bloomberg, of the Bloomberg-led revival of the city after 9/11. That revival produced tangible public goods like the High Line linear park and pedestrian days in Times Square, along with failed plans for an Olympic bid and for a major stadium on the West Side, and deep and ongoing concerns about equity and gentrification.


Public Space? Lost and Found Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman, eds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017 Theoretical essays and accounts of recent projects in art and architecture rub shoulders in this compendium, which asks how artist and architects can best contribute to a wider understanding of public space—its forms and its possible fates—in the twenty-first century. Subjects discussed range from artists’ work in politically charged zones like the U.S.–Mexico border and South African shantytowns to the impact of digital media on physical and virtual public space. Boredom: Documents in Contemporary Art Tom McDonough, ed. Destruction: Documents in Contemporary Art Sven Spieker, ed. London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017 These two volumes are the latest in the Whitechapel/MIT series, which boldly examines big and often surprising topics as they relate to the art world, through reprints of scholarly and theoretical essays, as well as reviews and artists’ writings. Boredom’s range is wildly wide, from an essay by iconic German critic-philosopher Walter Benjamin on boredom in France in the age of Baudelaire to Andy Warhol’s well-known ennui to Greil Marcus on the boredom with album-oriented rock that helped launch the Sex Pistols. Destruction opens with the Communist Manifesto and proceeds through a landscape of philosophic/artistic creation/destruction that includes Robert Rauschenberg (“On Erased DeKooning Drawing”), Jean Tinguely on his suicidal machines, and, in a chapter entitled “Disintegrity,” essays on violence, vandalism (of iconic paintings), and excrement.

What Makes a Great City Alexander Garvin Washington, DC: Island Press, 2016 Beginning with praise of Spain’s urban-revitalization efforts in the city of Bilbao, Yale School of Architecture professor Garvin lays out his recipe for excellence in public space in a series of chapters illustrated with photos of successful cities worldwide. For Garvin the city needs to be open to all and to offer something to everyone. It also should be able to adapt to the changing demands of its residents; take advantage of its layout and geographical situation; be “habitable,” that is, pleasant and green; and be designed to encourage cooperation rather than conflict.

Out There: Landscape Architecture on Global Terrain Andres Lepik, ed. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017 Published in conjunction with an exhibition at Munich’s Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität, this is a set of two theoretical papers and ten case studies, ranging from Europe to Africa to Latin America and illustrating a profound shift in landscape architecture thinking—from simply plotting spaces that artfully balance urbanity and nature to critically examining the interplay of landscape design with global issues like massive urbanization, the exploitation of fossil fuels, increased mobility, and pollution.

Seeing the Better City: How to Explore, Observe, and Improve Urban Space Charles R. Wolfe Washington, DC: Island Press, 2017 Wolfe, a Seattle-based urbanist, believes in basic approaches to understanding cities and what people need from them, and in this how-to volume, he encourages urban dwellers to look at and record their experience of urban space via photography and “urban diaries”—written accounts of what strikes them about specific urban locales, including description, memory, and comparison with other city experiences. The book then provides theories and concrete suggestions about how this street-level research (aided by digital technology) can find its way into urban planning.

Chicago Monumental Larry Broutman Chicago: Lake Claremont Press, 2016 In a time of turmoil about the meaning and form of monuments [see “Monumental Changes,” p. 40], this large-format book of color photographs of Windy City sculpture (which includes 3-D images) is a useful reference collection. It documents the dominance of the dead-white-guy-in-bronze and reminds us how common allegory and mythology once were (the grain goddess Ceres on the Board of Trade building; the Spirit of Music playing a lyre in Grant Park). But there are tentative new directions too. Filipino freedom-fighter José Rizal got a portrait statue in 1999 (Lincoln Park) and Louise Bourgeois’s semi-abstract Helping Hands of 1996 (Chicago Women’s Park) honors Jane Addams, the settlement-house pioneer who invented social work.

BOOKS The Nature of Design: Principles, Processes, and the Purview of the Architect M. Scott Lockard Novato, CA: Oro Editions, 2017 This large-format book, illustrated with the author’s own renderings, is both a step-by-step primer of the architectural design process, written in an informal style, and a call to step back from the prevalent idea of the architect-as-artistic-genius, and replace that glamorous concept with an image of the designer as a flexible, well-prepared, and resourceful responder to the demands and needs of the site and the project. “Design is not art,” Lockard insists. “It is not the private playground of the architect. Above all, design responds to criteria.” Psychology & the City: The Hidden Dimension Charles Landry and Charles Murray Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Comedia, 2017




“The city impacts upon our mind—our mental and emotional state impacts upon the city.” With these words, internationally known visionary urbanist Landry and urban designer (and former psychologist) Murray open this wide-ranging discussion of what they dub “urban psychology.” They discuss deep-seated, even archaic, yearnings in the human being that cities (where most people now live) can either meet or frustrate; explore the idea that cities themselves have “psyches” or “souls”; and suggest how urbanism and psychology can illuminate each other.

Kipp Kobayashi, Collective Transitions, 2017 MEACHAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Photo: Ralph Lauer


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This project from We Are All Criminals reminds us that only some of us who break the law get caught —and that should prompt discussion about our justice system but nearly all of us have a criminal history—one or more times when we’ve broken the law. It’s just that 75 percent of us had the privilege or luck to get away with that hit of cocaine, that act of petty shoplifting, or something more serious. For those who were charged with even a minor offense, a criminal record can be a barrier to a career path, college acceptance, or housing. Launched in Minnesota in 2013 by attorney Emily Baxter, We Are All Criminals (WAAC) is a small group of legal professionals who want to prompt discussion about imbalances in the criminal justice system. Luxury to Forget, one of WAAC’s projects at, is a collection of more than 100 personal stories and photos of people who didn’t get caught. Most include images of disembodied hands holding chalkboards that bear stark, hand-written messages: “Every saint has a past,” “Drug user (but it’s cool, I’m white),” “Brought loaded gun onto a plane,” “I’m sorry but you’ll never know,” or simply, “Arson.” “We’d like to change the way people view others, by changing the way they view themselves,” says Baxter. “We believe this is the foundation for a more rational, reasonable, equitable, and merciful criminal justice system.” The organization holds events across the nation, including discussions, photographic exhibitions, and conferences. Baxter’s new book, We Are All Criminals, was published in September 2017. —Jen Dolen ABOUT ONE IN FOUR AMERICAN ADULTS HAS A CRIMINAL RECORD,

Professions of twelve Luxury to Forget participants, whose confessions are pictured above. From left, TOP ROW: Comedian, student, federal officer, law enforcement officer. MIDDLE ROW: Prosecutor, licensed counselor, corrections professional, pastor. BOTTOM ROW: Attorney, filmmaker, profession not indicated, attorney.

Photos by Emily Baxter.


Luxury to Forget



Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project - Washington Metro Silverline, Tyson East Station, Fairfax, Virginia - Airbrushing and sandblasting on saftey glass. - Artist: Martin Donlin, UK

Martin Donlin in collaboration with

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with these exciting upcoming projects and congratulates Forecast Public Art on 40 years of service Thank You!

Issue 57 • What Will Monuments Honor? • RedCan Graffiti Jam • Theaster Gates • Seitu Jones • 40 Years of Public Art

Vicki Scuri SiteWorks celebrates 32 years

Public Art Review Issue 57 • 2018 •

What Will Monuments Honor Now? Controversial monuments are coming down. Here’s what could be next.

RedCan Graffiti Jam How a street art fest is changing lives on a Lakota reservation Cities As If People Mattered Artist Theaster Gates on ethical redevelopment

A new Minnesota mural highlights Native resistance, p. 15

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