Public Art Review issue 56 - 2017

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Public Art Review

Centro Chroma Tower Centro Plaza, San Antonio, Texas

Issue 56 • Spring/Summer 2017 •

Issue 56 • Resistance and Reclamation • Nuart • Carlton Turner • Tenderloin • Twin Cities • 2017 International Awards

Bill FitzGibbons

Public Art Review


Resistance and reclamation


$16.00 USD



Project: “Singing the Light” - Greenwood College School, Toronto, Canada Texas - Artist: Sarah Hall Technique: The Glass is an integrated artwork 60 feet high by 18 feet wide, continuously spanning 5 floors at Greenwood College School. The artwork is multi-layered and involves new, cutting–edge glass technologies.

GLASMALEREI PETERS STUDIOS Glasmalerei Peters GmbH Am Hilligenbusch 23 - 27 33098 Paderborn Germany fon: (0049) 52 51 - 160 97 0 email:

Representaive USA Peter Kaufmann 3168 SE 69th Avenue Portland, OR 97206 mobile: (00)1.503.781.7223 email:

Photo: Peter Legris




Celebrating 10 years of animating the ground plane with superb public art. Aesthetics, scale, schedule and durability - Achieved. A dozen artists,15 states, 50 projects - and the very best clients, communities and crews. Google “LithoMosaics� to see our potential. Contact us at for more information.

Public Art Review Issue 56 • Spring/Summer 2017 • Volume 28 • Number 2

FEATURES 33 A Search for Standouts in a World of Public Art The winner, finalists, and semifinalists for the 2017 International Award for Public Art 48 Resist Artists ask us to rise up



55 Not Afraid to Look the WINONA LADUKE White Man in the Face The art of indigenous resistance 60 What Are We Risking? An interview with Carlton Turner


64 Nuart Is Now The complexities of urban expression at the largest street art festival in the world ON THE COVER Using their own destroyed criminal records, ex-convicts make fresh paper on which they can reclaim their identities at the Expungement Clinic, a program of the People’s Paper Co-op in Philadelphia. Learn more on page 12. Photo by the People’s Paper Co-op.


THIS PAGE Ai Weiwei surrounded the facade of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence with 22 rubber dinghies that had been used by Syrian refugees to cross the Mediterranean for Reframe (2016). See more on page 59. Photo by Simone Ramella / flickr / Creative Commons license.

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 56 • Spring/Summer 2017 • Volume 28 • Number 2


PUBLISHER + EDITOR NOTE A Call to Transformation

10 PROJECTS WE LOVE Select recent works


10 Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York: Breathing Lights

12 Philadelphia: People’s Expungement Clinics

14 Brooklyn: Lost Man Creek 12

15 Chinatown, New York: Here to Stay

16 Frederick, Maryland: Sky Stage

TOP: Photo by the People’s Paper Co-op. MIDDLE: Photo © Nika Kramer. BOTTOM: Photo by Justin Sengly.

18 Byers, Colorado: The Feed Store 19

Ithaca, New York: URCHIN (Impossible Circus)


Cairo: Walking a Watermelon in Cairo

22 IN THE FIELD News, views, and ideas

22 The Street Museums: Taking the outside in



24 “How Do We Go Beyond Talking?”: An interview with Roberta Uno



Richard Florida’s Top-Down Urbanism



A Placemaking Glossary: Terms you need to know


74 ON LOCATION Global reports

74 A Creative Community Discovered: The Tenderloin


82 Hard Work in a Hybrid Space: Twin Cities


88 BOOKS Publications and reviews




Placemaking, Public Servants

93 AT LARGE Art As Cinema: the NowYouSeeMe! awards


96 LAST PAGE Public Posts: New York’s Subway Therapy project



Photo by Mark Woods

Public Art Review ISSUE 56 • SPRING/SUMMER 2017 • VOLUME 28 • NUMBER 2

PUBLISHER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Theresa Sweetland EXECUTIVE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karen Olson SENIOR EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jon Spayde COPY EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loma Huh EDITORIAL ASSISTANT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jen Dolen DESIGN AND CREATIVE DIRECTION. . . . Outside the Box Designs ADVERTISING SALES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arts ink CIRCULATION COORDINATOR. . . . . . . . . Shauna Dee

Fostering dialogue in public art for 44 years. Paradise Under Reconstruction in the Aesthetic of Funk: A Quantum Leap, Starting From The Top...!!! Temporary installation by Xenobia Bailey at Seattle Presents Gallery.

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Downton Skyline with Sky Stations, 1994 by R. M. Fischer. Photo by Dan White, courtesy of Visit KC.


A Call to Transformation Changes to Forecast Public Art and Public Art Review reflect what’s needed now

TOP: Photo by Katie Fears, © BOTTOM: Photo by Diane Drinnon.

Transformational change is really, really hard; it often fails outright, or makes people so change-weary that they seek out “normalization” and simple solutions. Our goal at this important organization is to avoid these pitfalls by living into this mission and vision, while staying true to our founding values: to support public art and artists and the rights of all people to have access to the arts. Over the next year, Forecast will be diving deeper into the issues of social, political, and economic equity, community health and resiliency, and civic innovation. Over the next three years, we’ll focus intently on our consulting and creative services, led by Jack Becker, and on mentoring the next generation of consultants. We’ll also focus on building a roster of artists who represent diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and perspectives—a roster that cities across the country can draw upon—while supporting artists here in St. Paul, Minnesota. Finally, Public Art Review will be positively impacted by this vision. In June, we’re kicking off a rebranding initiative and beginning the process of building our new Web platform. In the coming months, we’ll be reaching out to you, our subscribers and readers, with a sneak peek at our new publishing plans. Our print and online publishing will continue to cover what is new and upcoming in the fields of public art. We’ll also add a deeper focus on transformative placemaking and community-engaged design. We’re glad to have you with us on the journey toward a more beautiful, resilient, equitable world.


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director of Forecast Public Art.

Public Art Review.


Change is one of those aspects of life that some people work to avoid and others thrive on. Here at Forecast Public Art—the nonprofit that publishes Public Art Review—we not only advocate for positive change, we thrive on it and actively support people and places that are setting the stage for meaningful change to occur. When Theresa Sweetland arrived at Forecast nine months ago, the organization was in the throes of one of the most significant shifts in its almost four-decade history: a change in leadership. By all accounts, this transition has been successful and the future looks bright. The thoughtfulness and accountability demonstrated in this process surrounding a well-respected organization and its longtime leader is, we believe, something to be admired and studied. As in all leadership changes, there are now new eyes on the work, new perspectives on the vision, a drive for innovation, and new creative approaches. In January, Forecast Public Art’s board of directors, driven by an awareness of the boundary-blurring changes taking place in the field, and by a passion to make a greater impact on the world, approved a new mission and vision for Forecast. As an organization and publication that arose, and continually evolved, to serve the burgeoning field of public art, Forecast is making a more emphatic statement about the kind of impact we want to have on the communities we serve and on the world at large. Our new mission is to activate people, networks and proven practices to advance the transformational power of arts in public life.



PROJECTS WE LOVE Select recent works




Every night for several weeks in autumn 2016, a warm glow lit the windows of hundreds of usually dark, vacant homes across Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York. For a short period, these empty spaces gained new life—or, at least, the feeling of life. By illuminating dark properties, Breathing Lights sought to spark discussion on the reclamation, renovation, and revitalization of abandoned buildings.

Photo © 2016 Breathing Lights.

From 6 to 10 pm, the windows in these buildings—which represented fewer than 10 percent of the vacant structures across the region—shone in a pulsing rhythm that mimicked human breathing. LED light strips controlled by simple software created the effect. Several months of public programs supported the installation, highlighting issues affecting children and adults living in neighborhoods with many vacant homes, as well as offering resources for the renovation of vacant houses. The project, developed by artist Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson, both of Troy, and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge initiative, ended in late November with the slow fading of the light in each window as the batteries in the light fixtures ran out. The fadeout was meant to evoke a sense of loss that might inspire action.






PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA PEOPLE’S EXPUNGEMENT CLINICS THE PEOPLE’S PAPER CO-OP A minor felony conviction like drug possession can be a ball and chain for people who have served their time and are trying to turn their lives around. But in many states, a process known as expungement allows such offenders to seal off their records from employers and landlords doing background checks. In the City of Brotherly Love, a program of the People’s Paper Co-op (PPC) helps ex-offenders raise their hopes by pulping their expunged criminal records and turning them into clean sheets of paper on which they assert their new identities. In collaboration with Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), the PPC holds free clinics where thousands of participants have worked with lawyers to clear their records. In a symbolic and satisfying next step, the records are pulped and turned into fresh, blank sheets of handmade paper. On the new pages members are invited to complete the phrase: “Without these records I am…” Responses to the prompt range from “I’m a kind and selfless guy, and I try

hard to do the right thing” to “I’m a pillar in my community, still trying” and the simple “I can change.” The responses are paired with Polaroid portraits—“reverse mugshots.” Then the individual stories are sewn together into a giant paper quilt, which is exhibited in an effort to spark discussion, empathy, and criminal justice reform. This year, the project expanded to create Philadelphia’s first Reentry Think Tank, which, according to the PPC’s partner organization the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, “connect[s] returning citizens with artists, activists, and legislative experts” to help destroy stereotypes, create connections, and advocate for measures that help ex-felons make a successful reentry into the economy and society. The PPC hires some of the people who have used its clinics, as they have gained advocacy and communication skills along with paper-making ability. Portions of the quilt were shown in multiple venues across Philadelphia over the past year. Parts are always on display at the PPC’s storefront.


Photos by the People’s Paper Co-op.





Right now, you can go visit an artwork in the form of a living redwood forest in downtown Brooklyn. A 4,500-square-foot oasis of calm, Lost Man Creek by Spencer Finch in collaboration with the Save the Redwoods League is a 1:100 scale recreation of a 790-acre protected, inaccessible section of California’s Redwood National Park. The work features 4,000 young dawn redwoods, which are native to China and can be found growing elsewhere in New York City as ornamentals. Planted in an irrigated landscape shaped to mimic the topography of the national park, the trees stand just 1 to 4 feet tall—miniature versions of California’s 98- to 380-foot trees. “Through both a scientific approach to gathering data—including precise measurements and record keeping— and a poetic sensibility, Finch’s works often inhabit the area between objective investigations of science and the subjectivity of lived experience,” said Emma Enderby, associate curator at Public Art Fund, which organized the installation. “In a world where climate change is at the core of societal debates, Finch’s installation in the heart of one of the most urbanized neighborhoods of the city presents us with the universal reality of nature’s power to awe and inspire, and the importance to remember and protect such wonders.” Installed in October 2016, Lost Man Creek—which is fenced in—is on view at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Commons until May 13, 2018. After that, the trees will be “rehoused.”

TOP and BOTTOM: Photos by Timothy Schenk, courtesy the artist and Public Art Fund, NY. MIDDLE: Photo by Claudio Papapietro, courtesy the artist and Public Art Fund, NY.







TOP: Photo by KahEan Chang. BOTTOM: Photo © Enbion Micah Aan.

In response to the massive gentrification under way in New York’s Chinatown, artists Betty Yu, ManSee Kong, and Tomie Arai formed the Chinatown Art Brigade in 2015. Their concern was that low-income tenants and small business owners were being pushed out by rising rents, luxury development projects, and a rapid influx of art galleries—and they knew the power of art to advance social justice. Immediately, the collective began working closely with the Chinatown Tenants Union to organize tenants and to fight evictions and displacement. The collective rapidly grew as other Chinatown-based artists, residents, tenants, and activists joined in. Over the summer of 2016, the Brigade held Here to Stay cultural production workshops for residents, which included storytelling, mapping, oral histories, and “placekeeping” anti-displacement walking tours. In September, they used large-scale outdoor mobile projections for a Here to Stay event. Tenant messages like “Who did you displace so you can live in your luxury condo?” and “Who did you displace to open your gallery?” illuminated neighborhood buildings.





Photo by Bill Adkins.






Photo by Sarah Jo Pixley.

A 2010 fire damaged—and ignited a new purpose in—a pre– Revolutionary War building in Frederick, Maryland’s downtown historic district. After the fire, the structure, a factory turned warehouse, sat vacant for six years. It still lacks a roof, doors, and windows—but it’s been turned into a temporary performance space for free public events. Virginia-based artist, ecologist, and urbanist Heather Clark approached the building’s owner, a firm that manufactures sewer pipes, to suggest the repurposing. Dubbed Sky Stage, the venue seats140 people under the sky and among trees. Suggestions for programming come from the public; the space has hosted drama, music, dance, children’s stories, art classes, and a variety of lectures and films. Sky Stage’s centerpiece is a digitally designed two-story wooden sculpture created by Clark in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Structures research group. Drought-resistant plants weave through the sculpture’s intricate latticework and the doorways and windows of the stone structure. The double spiral helix of sedum plants is irrigated by rainwater collected from an adjacent roof. City workers, local contractors, and other businesses volunteered time and support for the project, which is operated by the Frederick Arts Council and AmeriCorps. Sky Stage is open to the public through July 2017.






Set in a former feed store on Byers, Colorado’s Main Street, The Feed Store is an ongoing experimental space for rural cultural activities. It’s also the home base for M12 Studio, a constantly evolving interdisciplinary collective of artists and other thinkers exploring the aesthetics of rural cultures and places. The collective publishes its research in books, including This Road Leads to Nowhere: Pierre Punk, An Equine Anthology, and A Decade of Country Hits: Art on the Rural Frontier, through Last Chance Press, M12’s in-house, independent press, and through Jap Sam Books in the Netherlands. M12 currently includes Peter de Kan, Matthew Fluharty, Josh Garrett-Davis, Margo Handwerker, Kris Harzinski, Jamie Horter, Stuart Hyatt, Marc McCay, Mary Rothlisberger, Chris Sauter, Richard Saxton, Jared Walters, and David Wyrick. The Feed Store has hosted more than 200 artists, writers, researchers, and students since its inception in 2011.

Photos courtesy the M12 image archive.






TOP: Photo by Robert Barker © Cornell University. BOTTOM: Photo by Joe Wilensky.


ITHACA, NEW YORK URCHIN (IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUS) / CODA Five hundred plastic chairs are fastened together into an undulating form that looks like a giant sea urchin. You can enter it and sit on the chairs that rest on the ground; but from there the structure sweeps upward and the chairs mutate from useful to useless. The rhythmic, varied texture created by the chairs’ 2,000 legs mimics the spongy-butprickly surface of the sculpture’s living namesake. URCHIN (Impossible Circus), by Brooklyn-and-Ithaca-

based design firm CODA, is firmly in the tradition of the readymade, initiated when Marcel Duchamp exhibited a bottle-drying rack as a sculpture in 1914. But with Urchin, CODA not only questions the definition of art by expanding a simple, utilitarian chair form into an art element; it expands the ordinary act of sitting into participation in the “evolution” of a dynamic, large-scale animal form. The work was on display during the Cornell University Council for the Arts’ 2016 biennial, which closed in December of that year.




In parts of the Arab world, watermelon is a term for nonsense, a joke, or a sham. Egyptian artist Heba Amin has put the fruit to work in her art. In 2015, she was part of a group of graffiti artists hired by the TV show Homeland to decorate street scenes in a Syrian refugee camp. Unbeknownst to the producers, they wrote subversive messages critiquing the politics of the show. The messages included “Homeland is racist,” “Homeland is not a series,” and “Homeland is watermelon.” Walking a Watermelon in Cairo, Amin’s 2016 public performance piece, is another act of subversion. Amin says the work was in response to the call of Chinese artist Han Bing, who more than 15 years ago started walking

a cabbage on a leash (for poor Chinese, he said, the cabbage is a symbol of sustenance and comfort). During Bing’s performance, he asked people to question what “normal practice” is, and to reflect on what we’ve become blind to in the routines of our daily lives. “You can walk radishes, watermelons, or nothing,” he said. This launched a social project that became a global phenomenon. Artists around the world, like Amin, started walking fruits and vegetables. Amin says that Walking a Watermelon in Cairo prompts the question, “Is artivism worth pursuing as a mechanism or is it just another tool that uses media to heighten the public’s consciousness?”


Photo courtesy Heba Amin.


IN THE FIELD News, Views, and Ideas


The Street Museums Can you create museums for the anarchic outdoor genre called street art? Sure, as long as they break the rules too. BY JON SPAYDE

The Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA) Immanuel Kanthof 1, Amsterdam, Netherlands

This street-art institution is within walls, but it’s as unconventional as a museum can be; in fact, on its website the word museum is crossed out. It’s actually a collection of gallery works by major street artists, including Banksy, Blu, and the iconic Futura (formerly known as Futura 2000), hung on the walls of an innovative computer school. The school, École 42, was founded by telecom mogul Xavier Niel in 2013 as a free peer-to-peer learning center for coding. Street art collector Nicolas Laugero Lasserre approached Niel with the idea of installing work from his collection. During a few hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays it’s open to the public; to visit and check out the art, you make reservations on 42’s web site.

This Dutch collection of street art is a museum only by virtue of being founded and curated by a single energetic expert, Ukraine-born Anna Stolyarova. It has a headquarters with a gallery space, but it’s essentially a large commissioning project that keeps street art on the street by inviting a mainly Latin American roster of artists to transform places in Amsterdam’s blandly suburban Nieuw-West neighborhood with murals, stickers, sculpture, and quirky transformations of street furniture. You “visit” SAMA by taking a two-hour-plus, €15 walking tour of an approximately 70-work collection that changes constantly as older works are painted over. Book the tour online.

The Street Museum of Art (SMoA)

URBAN NATION Museum for Urban Contemporary Art Bülowstraße 7, 10783, Berlin, Germany

Photo © Nika Kramer.

The anonymous group behind this Brooklyn-based initiative rejects the very idea of putting street art in a museum, instead asking: “How can the current model for contemporary art museums be re-examined to conform with the energy of street art?” Their answer is to “museumize” the art out in the urban world by adding curatorial labels and didactics to the works in situ. SMoA “tags” art internationally (one London project is called Beyond Banksy) and has also made films and done billboard projects that highlight the art’s creators and traditions. “SMoA is the first public art project to adopt the guerrilla tactics of street art and graffiti culture in a program of illegally curated exhibitions,” the group writes. “Admission is always free and the hours are limitless.”

The URBAN NATION Museum for Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin is scheduled to open in September 2017. Devoted completely to street art, it draws on the collection of the nonprofit Urban Nation, founded by Yasha Young.

Scheduled to open in September 2017, the Museum for Urban Contemporary Art will be, in one sense, the most conventional of the four: an actual building solely devoted to, and containing, street art. But it will push the museum-design envelope to highlight street art’s scale, energy, and ephemerality. Architects are transforming an early-twentieth-century residential building in Berlin’s Schöneberg neighborhood by creating massive wall spaces inside and removable wall panels on the exterior that become murals, which then can be swapped out for other murals. The museum will draw on founder-curator Yasha Young’s years of commissioning and collecting under the banner of her nonprofit, Urban Nation.

a writer and performer based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is senior editor of Public Art Review. JON SPAYDE,


Art42 96 Boulevard Bessières, Paris


graffiti art, urban art, street art, or post-street art [see p. TK], the work of spray can and sticker virtuosos has been moving toward the mainstream for decades. It’s commissioned as public art and shown (and sold) in galleries. It got its first major museum retrospective, Art in the Streets, at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 2011. So it was only a matter of time before museums wholly dedicated to street art would show up. But how do you institutionalize what began as, and for many still is, outlaw art? Four museums meet the challenge by being as unconventional as the art they display. WHETHER YOU CALL IT


“How Do We Go Beyond Talking?” A conversation with Roberta Uno about arts, equity, and demographic change BY VENESSA FUENTES

her team partner with other organizations, host conversations, design participatory artist-led workshops, and share stories that look at the relationships between the nation’s changing demographics and the arts. She mixes artistic, community engagement, scholarship, and activist practices to foster unexpected conversations and encounters.


Roberta Uno, what do you think artists and arts organizations—white-led, people-of-color-led, and Nativeled—need to pay attention to with respect to cultural and social equity? How do we go beyond talking? How can we get beyond the desire of wanting to do something to get to the actual work of doing? These are questions that organizations, including our own, need to ask wherever we organize and build relationships. What does it look like, for example, to recognize that we’re on indigenous land in a real way? One that rises above simply asking Native people to come in and lead a prayer at the beginning of a conference. We can do better.

As our nation’s demographics shift, terms like minority and majority begin to mean different things. Does that point to a shift in language, in identity politics? This is at the heart of our project. One of our goals is to reframe and offer a new way to think about the arts sector—and our broader society. We’ve been pointing out how inadequate and oxymoronic our language is when it comes to terms like majority and minority. Instead, we say the potential new American plurality. I mean, think about a term like underrepresented. Underrepresented according to whom? If you’re standing in your white-led boardroom, yes, people of color and Native people are underrepresented. But if you’re standing in the community, people of color and Native people are quite represented. We encourage our white allies and their organizations to say historically underfunded instead, because that’s what they’re really talking about. What else about our white allies? I’ve always believed there need to be conversations and spaces for people to gather, whether it’s as women or as ballet dancers. Constitutionally and otherwise, we as a nation have to protect a group’s shared identity. But we as an organization have always created an intersectional space. It’s very intentional work building this system of core partners across budget size, across race, across geography, across disciplines. We also recognize that the largest partners we have are white institutions like the Kennedy Center or the Brooklyn Museum. We want to know what they are doing to walk equity and to change and transform their institutions. These are the kinds of questions that [we] don’t often get to [ask] as peers. White people are definitely part of what we do! Just take a look at our list of cultural organizers and artists. They’re at our leadership table, they’re in our audiences, they’re

Photo © Simon Luethi, 8SP.


Roberta Uno leads Arts in a Changing America, a five-year initiative based at the California Institute of the Arts. She and


photographers, painters, and poets. We also have people doing food-justice work, beat boxers, standup comics, farmers, and other craftspeople. It’s required for all attendees to sign up for something. Of course, almost everyone who has an administrative background wants to sign up for the writing workshop, because they’re very comfortable being in their heads. That’s safe. But because we’re so demanding of attendees, we push

“Our profession asks us to be brave; the type of work we engage in demands that we have rigor and that we have courage. And so we expect that from others.”

and our ethos as artists. Our profession asks us to be brave; the type of work we engage in demands that we have rigor and that we have courage. And so we expect that from others who want to go into this artist-driven work with us. Today, we are all in a brave new world where we all have to have courage. We demand and expect that of our allies. And we expect to create a loving, open space where change is possible. Does arts-based community engagement need new tactics to be effective in an environment where old rules don’t apply? What needs to stay? This is where the learning that we’ve done with our partners comes into play. I will say that building on an artist-centered and artist-driven organization informs how we identify new tactics. Traditionally, the ways people learn have been shaped and dictated by educational institutions. The ways, for example, that philanthropy convenes people usually stick to a certain model. You know, a plenary. A panel. A breakout session. That type of thing. We wanted to get out of that mindset, which is how we got into immersive participatory learning. When we design programs, we usually start off with hands-on artist workshops—and not just visual artists,

and encourage them to maybe think about that standup workshop instead. We ask people who come to our events to take risks and be open to learning in different ways. What might you learn if you engage more of your body than you normally do? What might you learn if you put your hands into the soil? Do you see more artists of color and Native artists getting public art commissions? What resources would you offer to artists looking for opportunities? Good question, one I’ll have to think about some more, but an initial thought I have is about how to build better connections between individual artists. I think one of the greatest things an established artist can do is to share their connections with emerging artists who are looking for commission work. That said, it’s also critical for commissioning institutions to be more thoughtful when it comes to promotion. It’s a big opportunity for organizations to do the outreach work to make sure that public art projects reflect the communities they are created in. is a program officer at the Jerome Foundation and was published in A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society, 2016). VENESSA FUENTES


—Roberta Uno


programmed into the work. But we’re very careful to not make space that’s about white tears and holding hands and somehow flipping all the issues to center around whiteness. If white allies need to have that kind of healing space for themselves we encourage them to do that, but we don’t exist to do that. The bottom line is we’re one of the rare artist-driven organizations. In my mind, part of this comes from our vulnerability


Richard Florida’s Top-Down Urbanism The “creative class” prophet’s prescriptions for today’s urban ills don’t get at the real problems BY TOM BORRUP PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 28 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 56 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG


Florida’s “creative class” the economies of increasingly inequitable cities. He posiresearch became a sensation and opened new avenues of tions this brand of creativity as having greater value than dialogue among city leaders around the world. At the same human well-being and economic equity. He laments its side time, his emphasis on shaping cities in the interests of that effects yet offers solutions that fall far short of real remedies. What Florida doesn’t say (or barely hints at) may provide privileged subset of citizens has had a very mixed legacy. If you’ve heard Florida speak, you’ll recognize the tone more important takeaways than what he asserts. His analof the preface of his most recent book, The New Urban ysis says nothing, for example, about rural communities, Crisis, where he establishes working-class credibility via which are as creative, complex, inequitable, and relevant his roots in multiethnic Newark, New Jersey. He endeavors as urban ones. Nor does he make clear who is really coming out ahead in the contemporary to redeem himself for some uninurban sweepstakes. He anoints a tended consequences of his earlier handful of international “superstar work—namely, growing economic cities” as “winners,” as if the entire inequity and gentrification, espeentity called “the city” can win cially in cities, seemingly fueled or lose. An economic geographer, by the strategies he advocated for he focuses on places, not people; attracting the creative class. His patterns rather than pain, power, confession begins: “I realized I had or politics. Nor does he see the been overly optimistic to believe passion people have at the grassthat cities and the creative class roots level for their communities. could, by themselves, bring forth a Other than blaming himself, Florbetter and more inclusive kind of ida doesn’t look below the surface urbanism.” In other words, he takes as he lays out what is essentially a personally what he brands as the no-fault inequity scenario: nobody new urban crisis. is really to blame for the widening While relying on hard data gaps between haves and have-nots for most of his argument, Florin our communities. ida writes in this personal vein Perhaps the biggest missing throughout, and his stories unfold factor in Florida’s equation is a in a compelling way. However, definition of what constitutes a he may not be as much at fault successful city. He writes: “Inequalfor these inequities as he claims. Richard Florida’s new book is being published ity is an ironic and troubling Nor are his “new” ideas, which in 14 years after The Rise of the Creative Class. attribute of urban success.” But many cases are decades old, likely what are his criteria for success? to save the day. He spins numbers, The answer seems to be: aggregate interesting in themselves, to illustrate what most observers of urban trends already see—the economic growth regardless of how it’s distributed. shocking, upward concentration of wealth, economic segre- He describes Baltimore, Maryland, as being on the gation, and profound changes in patterns of urban/subur- upswing, citing bustling tourism and convention-going, ban populations: what he calls “winner-take-all urbanism.” and points to some neighborhoods that are drawing afflu Despite its good points, the book reveals the one-dimen- ent and educated people. He then acknowledges that most sional nature of Florida’s work. Creativity is measured in Baltimore neighborhoods are rife with poverty, skyrocketing terms of service to a capitalist economy—patents, copy- inequality, and worsening economic segregation. How is this rights, and the application of intellectual property to grow an upswing? In another example he describes the “creative A DECADE AND A HALF AGO Richard




economies” of New York and Los Angeles as far stronger tion from more serious ways in which the poor are hurt. than in the 1970s or ’80s, and he asks whether anyone really However, given his no-fault inequality scenario, he makes (his emphasis) would want to trade today’s economy for that no further examination of the issue. of 40 years ago. But with income inequality vastly steeper It’s hard to disagree with his assertion that “poverty occurs in the absence of institutions that unleash the today, would going back really be bad for most people? Some of his data can be eye-opening. For the cost of a creative energy of people and neighborhoods, or, even more median-priced apartment in New York’s SoHo district, one so, when there are dysfunctional structures that stymie and could buy 18 median-priced homes in Las Vegas, Nevada; squelch it.” This serves as his lead-in to three pages devoted 38 in Memphis, Tennessee; 50 in parts of Toledo, Ohio; to grassroots community economic development. “Empir70 in parts of Detroit, Michigan; or over 100 in a neigh- ical studies document the potential of such bottom-up borhood of Youngstown, Ohio. The most likely group of approaches to boost the development of very poor places,” people to move to dense urban areas between 2000 and he concludes. But when outlining solutions, he dismisses 2014, he says, were the richest 10 percent; those most grassroots efforts as drops in the bucket. His solutions for likely to leave cities during those years (mostly to suburbs) the new urban crisis are all top-down. were the poorest 10 percent. He notes that density makes Florida describes seven “pillars” on which to build “a more productive urbanfor liberalism—“Places tip from red to blue, from ism for all.” Ridding cities An economic geographer, Republican to Democrat, of overly restrictive zoning when their density reaches and building codes that Florida focuses on places, limit density and restrict about 800 people per square not people; patterns rather the supply of housing tops mile,” he writes—but with than pain, power, or politics. his list. To do this, he advohis “Overall Economic Segregation Index” and cates overcoming NIMBYs recent election data, he (residents’ reactions of “not shows that the greatest economic inequality positively in my back yard”) and countering pro-zoning neighborcorrelates with politically liberal places and negatively hood activists he labels “new urban luddites.” He may not correlates with conservative places. be entirely wrong about increasing density, but it is not Florida is no fan of suburbs, delivering copious data on productive to demonize planners and community activists their energy inefficiency, traffic congestion, and, in compar- who have a long history of working to protect things they ison to more densely populated areas, excessive infrastruc- cherish in their neighborhoods, or for him to make sweeping ture costs, which, he says, dig a $1 trillion-a-year hole in the generalizations applied to every city and neighborhood. U.S. economy. Health costs, accidents, time lost in commut- None of Florida’s seven prescriptions are new, but ing, and other side effects dig that hole deeper. Following they are consistent with his outside-in or top-down way on his 2010 book, The Great Reset, he observes the onset of seeing communities. Progressive urbanists, community of “slumburbia,” where 53 percent of Americans now live development practitioners, and unions have been at this for and where poverty is growing the fastest. Between 2000 and decades. He calls for reforming local property tax codes and 2013, he points out, suburban poverty increased 29 percent. federal mortgage subsidies, and building infrastructure to The murder rate in the suburbs rose 16.9 percent between support dense, walkable communities and affordable hous2000 and 2010, while in cities it declined 16.7 percent. ing. He calls for increasing wages (an “idea” he attributes Slumburbanization, he suggests, will soon accelerate a to Henry Ford, not the labor movement!) and for investing reverse white flight, this time from the suburbs to cities. in people and places via education, social services, and Florida’s constant refrain, that “clustering, not dispersal, other avenues, including a guaranteed minimum income. powers innovation and economic growth,” points to the He praises Nordic countries for having found a balance fact that with him, every problem seems to be an economic between equality and creativity, but nowhere does he dare problem and every solution an economic one. to use the word socialism or even social democracy. Finally, He spends considerable effort denying that gentrifi- he calls for creation of a Presidential Council of Cities, on cation is as bad as the media and activists claim. His data the model of the National Security Council, to coordinate support that, and maybe he’s right to say that the fuss his program. He describes HUD as out of step, a product of about gentrification could be a red herring, deflecting atten- the old urban crisis.


One chapter is devoted to the global urban crisis with data far more alarming than that coming from the United States. Quality of life is vastly worse and worsening for billions of people—reminding us that American problems are truly First World problems. To cope with the global crisis, he proposes something out of a dystopian film (or Trump foreign policy paper): “The United States should also consider underwriting and assisting in the development of ‘refugee cities’ that could take advantage of the skills and talents of the displaced.” These would be permanent labor camps in “third countries” willing to take in enormous numbers of refugees, thus keeping those yearning to breathe free away from our shores. In short, Florida doesn’t go below the surface of the data and the patterns to explore the whys of contemporary urban crises or to question the forces propelling, and benefiting from, the alarming trends he documents. However, though his solutions ring hollow and feel inadequate, he does succeed in illuminating those trends. In this way, he actually helps strategists and interdisciplinary teams who are developing scenarios for improving the human condition—scenarios based on more than fueling economic growth at any cost.

consults with cities, foundations, and nonprofits integrating arts, economic development, urban planning, and design. He serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the University of Minnesota’s Masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership and teaches Cultural Planning for Drexel University. TOM BORRUP, PH.D.,


Katy Cowan July 9-October 29, 2017 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd. Milwaukee, WI 414.446.8794

Photo courtesy Tom Borrup.



A Placemaking Glossary Here are some terms you need to know now

ETHICAL DEVELOPMENT: A philosophy of development that emphasizes sustainability, health, and inclusivity, as well as transparent government processes and ethical investment. According to the World Vision Ethical Cities Programme, ethical development prioritizes “the ‘common-good’ over individual interests as well as adopting a long-term perspective.” INCLUSIVE URBANISM: Urban development that includes the inputs and interests of the widest possible variety of citizens. Inclusive cities “maintain their wealth and creative power by avoiding marginalization, which compromises the richness of interaction upon which cities depend.” (Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism)

PEOPLE-FIRST DESIGN: Urban design that emphasizes the health and convenience of urban dwellers by encouraging compact and dense city development and promoting walking, bicycling, and public transit. The philosophy also calls for better use of municipal infrastructure and for maintaining the viability of locally based businesses. PLACETAKING: Often invoked as a sort of “evil twin” of placemaking, this synonym for gentrification occurs, according to Lumpen magazine, when projects are designed to appeal to “the wealthy and privileged, such that the disadvantaged find themselves forced out of their neighborhoods and public spaces.” PLACE-STAKING: Balancing the dissimilar and often conflicting interests of different stakeholders— business owners, pedestrians, government, homeowners, and others—in the process of creating and executing urban designs. RESILIENT DESIGN: “The intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in order to respond to natural and manmade disasters and disturbances—as well as long-term changes resulting from climate change—including sea level rise, increased frequency of heat waves, and regional drought.” (Resilient Design Institute) REURBANIZATION: Umbrella term for the movement of people from the suburbs to core cities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the annual growth rate of American cities has surpassed that of the suburbs since 2011. —Jon Spayde


INTERSECTIONALITY: A sociological theory that calls attention to the multiple issues of discrimination that someone may face when he or she belongs to multiple identity groups: race, gender, age, ethnicity, health status, etc. At the same time, the term refers to the web of interconnected interests in power structures; in the arts, it calls attention to the dynamics among artists, commissioners, city administrators, and other wielders of power and influence.


ARTWASHING: A term for what observers see as the past and present role of public art and creative placemaking in priming markets for the benefit of developers and outside investors, raising price points and enriching municipalities, but displacing incumbent residents, often communities of color. ArtsFuse Boston says that the process often “exacerbates class differences, encourages unwanted neighborhood changes, and even takes advantage of undervalued artists.” The term can also refer to the support of art and culture to burnish a corporation’s image.


Take a free guided tour of artwork in Metro stations. Each two-hour tour is unique, educational and led by a Metro Art Docent or artist. and click on Art Tours metroartla


The winner, finalists, and semifinalists for the 2017 International Award for Public Art


And the winner is…. THIAGO MUNDANO. The Brazilian street artist has been

named the winner of the 2017 International Award for Public Art (IAPA) for his project Pimp My Carroça. The project began in 2007 when Mundano approached São Paulo’s unofficial garbage-collection workers with a proposal: he and artist colleagues would give their carts—carroças—a colorful makeover. The goal: make the collectors and their vital work more visible, more individual, more likely to get the love and respect they deserve. And as part of the deal, Mundano and company offered the workers medical exams, safety equipment, and other life-enhancers. The jurors saw the project as a brilliant example of the IAPA’s focus on placemaking: public art enhancing urban life. The 2017 International Award for Public Art process got under way when an international panel of jurors met in Shanghai in May 2016 to review more than 140 case studies—submitted by researchers from around the world—of art-led placemaking created in the last 10 years, from 2007 to 2016. They returned to Shanghai in March 2017 for a two-day art and placemaking conference and to announce Mundano the winner of the award. So how did the jurors—Derrick Cherrie, New Zealand; Wang Dawei, China; Jasmeen Patheja, India; Jay Pather, South Africa; Tamsin Dillon, United Kingdom; Katia Canton, Brazil; and Mary Jane Jacob, United States—choose the 35 short-listed projects named semifinalists, finalists, and winner?


IN A WORLD OF PUBLIC ART “The jurors for the first three iterations of the International Award for Public Art have been scrupulous in their desire to recognise good practice in whichever of the seven regions of the world it appears,” says Lewis Biggs, chair of the organizing committee of the IAPA and a founding member of the Institute for Public Art. “This is not easy,” Biggs continues, “because, of course, local context is of immense importance in the creation of the meaning and impact of public art, and no one can be an expert outside the area of their own experience. To mitigate this difficulty, the jurors ‘represent’ each region and can speak about context during the jury process to inform and enable their colleagues, so a consensual agreement on quality is at least a possibility.” In the next few pages you’ll learn about the art-led placemaking projects most highly esteemed by the jury. For more detail on the history of the International Award for Public Art, please go to —The Editors Research for this article by Nahla Al Tabbaa, Sara Black, Giusy Checola, Diane Dever, Jessica Fiala, Megan Guerber, Hsiung Peng-Chu, Jun Kitazawa, Kim Saeseul, Pan Li, Stella Prasetya, Lesya Prokopenko, Vaughn Sadie, Peter Shand, Leon Tan, and Parisa Tehranizadeh. Edited and adapted by Public Art Review senior editor Jon Spayde.





Caring for the collectors Pimp My Carroça, Thiago Mundano, São Paulo, Brazil, 2007 In São Paulo, 17,000 tons of waste is generated each day, and only 1 percent of it is recycled; but of this recycled material, 90 percent is collected by the 20,000 or so people who man the carroças, the city’s garbage collection carts, picking up refuse day and night and turning it in for money. These unofficial garbage collection workers, the catadores, are generally poor people living at the margins of Brazilian society. Street artist Mundano approached them, listened to their stories, visited places where they spend time, and basically fell in love with their cause. The project Pimp My Carroça (an allusion to the popular MTV show Pimp My Ride, in which autos are given fancy makeovers) was the result. Mundano and collaborators painted the carts in vibrant colors, decorated them with lively street-art motifs, and added slogans like “I am the champion of recycling.” The idea is to give these underappreciated workers a higher profile and earn them some respect from São Paulo’s 11 million citizens—and to help the catadores more directly too. The project took place in June 2007, with Mundano in charge of a group of 50 artists and other volunteers putting the catadores and their carroças through a “pit stop” where the carts were decorated and supplied with safety signals and mirrors, and the garbage pickers and their families were given massages, haircuts, meals, medical and ophthalmological check-ups, and psychotherapy if needed. At the end of the day, artists, helpers, and catadores assembled for a demonstration in the city center that called for the municipal government to set up recycling cooperatives. The project was entirely crowdfunded through Catarse, Brazil’s version of Kickstarter. The jury felt that the project fulfills its aesthetic and social aims equally, contributing to a sense of place in São Paulo by promoting cleanliness, recycling and sanitation, but also by building a new sense of common purpose, connectivity, and pride between the workers and other citizens and creating a mechanism for dialogue between these underappreciated workers and the rest of society.

To honor the absent Red Shoes, Elina Chauvet Juárez, Mexico and multiple locations, 2009–present Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young women have disappeared or were tortured and killed in Juárez, Mexico, during the 1990s and 2000s. Architect and artist Chauvet created a monument to them that has become a movement. The 2009 installation consisted of 33 pairs of donated red women’s shoes placed along Juárez Avenue, the main street connecting Mexico to the United States. Since then, the installation has been re-created more than 80 times by artists, activists, and independent organizations—sometimes in memory of the Mexican martyrs, sometimes as a general protest against the abuse of women and “femicide.”

Cardboard and culture Eloísa Cartonera, Javier Barilaro, Washington Cucurto, and Fernanda Laguna Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2003–present The catastrophic Argentine recession of 2001 made many homeless and/or impoverished, increasing the number of cartoneros—unofficial cardboard and paper collectors/ recyclers—on the streets. Writer Cucurto and artists Barilaro and Laguna decided to become good customers of the cartoneros by creating a publishing house, Eloísa Cartonera. Beginning with art books bound in recycled cardboard, for which they pay a fair price, they soon branched out into literature, attracting major Argentine authors like Ricardo Piglia and César Aira. The project has spawned about 60 “cardboard publishers” in Latin America and one in Mozambique.

TOP: Photo by Victor Moriyama. BOTTOM: Photo by Gabs Leal.

TOP: Catadores (garbage recyclers) in São Paulo display their carroças (carts), newly decorated as part of Thiago Mundano’s Pimp My Carroça project. BOTTOM: Catadores and their allies rally in a public park to call for the creation of municipal recycling co-ops.

Fun in the wastelands The City Is For Playing, Basurama Collective São Paulo, Brazil, 2013 Basurama is an artists’ collective based in Boston, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and São Paulo that works with discarded materials, the refuse of the consumer society. During the 2013 Festival Baixo Centro, a festival of art and culture that’s part of the municipally sponsored Virada Cultural (Cultural Turnaround) in São Paulo, they brought their improvisatory approach to two semi-abandoned urban wastelands, Viaduto do Chá and Minhocão. There, using rope, discarded tires, and other urban detritus, they created funky playgrounds that attracted children—but also adult commuters and office workers who formerly avoided the areas.

Future shacks Cultural Development Nodes, STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzokic and Marc Neelen) with architects María Camila Vélez and Yesenia Rodríguez and El Puente Lab Medellín, Colombia, 2010–present This architectural team, invited by Colombian urban activists El Puente Lab, came to Moravia, a poor neighborhood in Medellín mostly populated by immigrants from the countryside, with few services and no urban planning. The goal was to create spaces for cultural and community development and planning, using only locally available resources and working closely with local people. The teams collected salvaged materials and worked with Moravia artisans to create three buildings used for health care, literacy, and art workshops.





A sculptural spring Théâtre Source, Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Douala, Cameroon, 2013 Ndogpassi III is a densely populated makeshift neighborhood, home to 3,000 families of migrants from the Cameroonian hinterlands. Until Belgian sculptor and visual artist Aguirre y Otegui intervened, its only water source was a spring that was both muddy and difficult to access. Collaborating with the local art center, Doual’art, Aguirre worked with the site, a bowl-like depression with steep slopes, to create a massive, dramatic structure that lifts the water and guides it down six stair-stepping tiers. Along the way, the work offers a laundry area, an open-air theater, and an agora-like gathering place. Théâtre Source (Theater-Spring) debuted as a maquette at the 2010 art festival Salon Urbain de Douala (SUD 2010). In the face of neighborhood skepticism about whether the project would actually be completed, Aguirre and his collaborators worked hard at fundraising. To augment a grant from the Flemish Ministry of Culture, a funding partner of SUD 2010, Aguirre sold engravings of the maquette and successfully lobbied the ministry for more support. Construction took two and a half years; Théâtre Source was finished in time to highlight the next edition of Salon Urbain de Douala, SUD 2013. The structure is the most prominent and successful of the projects that Doual’art has promoted in its efforts to use art to improve the quality of life in Cameroon’s largest city. In suburban shantytowns such as Ndogpassi III, basic services such as water, electricity, and garbage collection are often inadequate, as the Cameroonian government has shown itself incapable of, or uninterested in, fully addressing the needs of the migrants. The IAPA jury felt that Théâtre Source was a genuinely holistic response to the site and its context. In addition to the functional purpose of providing safe drinking water and washing facilities for 3,000 homes, Théâtre Source also offers a forum, in the form of a community amphitheater, for performance, poetry, music, and other types of expression. The jury also commended the dedication with which those responsible for the project raised the funds to make it happen.

Crisis cuisine El Mattam El Mish Masry (The Non-Egyptian Restaurant) Asunción Molinos Gordo Cairo, Egypt, 2012–2019 To highlight class and food issues in the troubled and overpopulated Egyptian capital, Molinos created a pop-up restaurant, El Mattam El Mish Masry (“The restaurant that is not Egyptian”), in one of Cairo’s many “unofficial” settlements—an area that was once agricultural land. The restaurant’s first week featured elegant meals prepared by a Michelin star chef; as the weeks went by, the meals gradually became cheaper. Finally, having to rely solely on local resources, the menu started to reflect whatever was available on the appropriated farmland: cigarette butts, rubbish, and contaminated soil prepared as meals and served to customers.

Donkey music Borg Al Amal (Tower of Hope), Lara Baladi Cairo, Egypt, 2008–2009 Commissioned for the 11th Cairo Biennale, this installation was built in an ashwa’iyat (informal housing) shantytown that sprang up on land owned by the military near the Cairo opera house. It took the form of a tower made of the same red brick used to build the settlement’s homes; some bricks bore an image of a donkey and a peasant with the word “HOPE” inscribed in Arabic or English. Inside, an instrumental symphony played, accompanied by recordings of donkeys braying, a familiar sound in the agricultural Middle East. The resulting mix of beauty and cacophony was designed to highlight the lives of Egypt’s marginal people and to register a subtle political protest by means of an innovative creative endeavor on government ground.

OPPOSITE: Photo courtesy the artist.


Young citizens of Douala, Cameroon gather to collect water and pass the time in Philip Aguirre y Otegui’s Théâtre Source, a sculptureenvironment whose multiple tiers include a spring, a laundry area, a performance venue, and agora-like public spaces.

Art in odd places Festival d’Art Urbain, multiple artists Antananarivo, Madagascar, 2010–present

Hip hop hope Dlala Indima, Buntu Fihla Phakamisa, South Africa, 2011–present

This festival, the only one in Madagascar to highlight “urban art”—graffiti/street art, music, sculpture, video, and photography—has as its goals building up a vibrant art scene in the Malagasy capital and encouraging the city’s residents to think about the role of art and public space in their daily lives. The 2016 festival emphasized the siting of works and projects in unexpected spaces throughout the city, including a site that offers a panoramic view of Antananarivo, a tunnel that connects different parts of the city, and a washhouse where people pay to have their laundry done.

Phakamisa is a township in the former Ciskei, a territory set aside for black residents under South Africa’s apartheid regime. One legacy of that regime has been continuing unemployment in the township and a sense of hopelessness that is particularly strong among youth. Graffiti artist and graphic designer Buntu Fihla and collaborators responded by setting up the collective Dlala Indima (Play Your Part”) with the goal of beautifying Phakamisa with street art and giving youth a sense of possibility. The project continues today with workshops, film screenings, and presentations by young professionals from the township.





Alleyways reborn Revitalization of Dazhalan and Baitasi, Zhang Ke and others Beijing, China, 2010–presentt Under the aegis of the city’s official design showcase, Beijing Design Week (BJDW), architects and designers are making interventions into two traditional Beijing neighborhoods that are both innovative and respectful of scale and tradition. Dazhalan (Dashilar in the Beijing dialect) is an 800-year-old neighborhood not far from Tiananmen Square that became the city’s main business district in the seventeenth century, eventually becoming the site of opera houses, cinemas, and Beijing’s first stock exchange; later it went into steep decline. Attempts in the 1990s to revive its main street, lined with shops selling traditional goods like silk, tea, and Chinese medicines, fell short of real vitality, and the area turned into little more than a tourist trap. But BJDW initiatives paired architects and designers with shop owners to help establish new businesses—including coffee shops and boutiques—and modernize more traditional ones. Zhang Ke, founder and principal of the firm ZAO/standardarchitecture, developed a “micro-hutong” in Dashilar: a modern variation on the traditional alleyway dwellings (hutongs) that are both emblematic of old Beijing and threatened by the city’s breakneck development. Baitasi, a faded old hutong neighborhood that is more residential than Dashilar, is named for its most famous feature, the White Stupa Temple, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist temple in the city. To attract younger residents to a neighborhood that lacks the commercial infrastructure of Dashilar, BJDW-spawned initiatives there have emphasized collaboration with local residents, and have focused on the development of affordable micro-hutong living spaces, including one by ZAO/ standardarchitecture: a 150-square-meter courtyard divided into one small and one large living space. Other initiatives of the Baitasi ReMade project include a pair of furniture-design firms and a new clinic that emphasizes traditional medicine. The jury was impressed with the thinking of the design teams in providing genuinely social spaces within newly reconstructed historical living accommodations, as well as their building into the design both a diversity of possible uses and the open-ended workspaces required by traditional artisans and the newer creative industries. The teams insisted on human scale and combining artisan-led initiatives (rather than big-brand development) with new technology.

The nature of a village Art as Environment—A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek, Wu Mali New Taipei City, Taiwan, 2011–2012 Wu invited the residents of the Plum Tree Valley/Zhuwei district to reflect on the urbanization that has been overtaking this once-rural, lower-income area. Interdisciplinary events called attention to residents’ relationship with the environment and envisioned a closer connection with the natural world. “Breakfast at Plum Tree Creek” was a gathering to share local produce and dialogue with development experts; in “Shaping of a Village,” architecture students and residents visualized an ideal Zhuwei; and “Local Eco Life” taught residents about local resources and the broader ecology of the area.

The bricks of life Daily, Leung Mee Ping Chiayi County, Taiwan, 2009 Daily is a model of a traditional house half-built out of more than 2,000 handmade glass bricks, among which are interspersed 10 red-earth bricks collected from different cities in Asia. The glass bricks contain a multiplicity of objects from the everyday life of Chiayi County residents: beads, keys, shoes, toys, a flag, kitchen implements, and so on, all of which were donated by the residents. The work was commissioned as part of the public art program for Prince Boulevard, an avenue leading up to the planned Palace Museum Southern Branch, a satellite of Taiwan’s iconic art museum.


Photo by ZAO/standardarchitecture.


Renovated micro-buildings in a hutong (residential alleyway) in Beijing’s Dashilar neighborhood, by ZAOstandardarchitecture. The firm contributed to the revitalization of Dashilar and another neighborhood, Baitasi, by modernizing these traditional Beijing courtyards.

Moving out, moving in Living Room, Jun Kitazawa Kitamoto-city, Saitama prefecture, Japan, 2010–2015 Living Room repurposed a vacant retail store in suburban Tokyo by inviting local residents to bring unwanted furniture to the space. The furniture was organized into a public “living room” open to all. As more furniture came in, the space also became a site of exchange as people picked up items they needed and brought in ones they no longer wanted. It also served as a place for relaxation and the exchange of stories. Students, people with disabilities, parents having trouble raising their children, elderly people, immigrants, and many others shared the space and their concerns.

Burn this 2014 Jeongseon International Fire Sculpture Festival, Lee Jae-hyo, Kim Sun-doo, and others Jeongseon District, Gangwon Province, South Korea, 2014 In a dramatic exhibition/event sponsored by local government, eight sculptors from South Korea and China created works in wood that were exhibited for a month in Jeongseon, a onetime mining district that has fallen on hard times as coal has been phased out in Korea. At the end of the month, local residents were invited to set the works on fire. The flames were intended as a rite of purification and renewal, to symbolically set the region on a new path and give its residents hope for a better future.





World park Superkilen, Superflex Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012 The Danish art collective Superflex is the only double winner in this year’s IAPA, with a project that made the semifinals (see p. 42) and this finalist, a project in their home town, Copenhagen. Superkilen is permanent 2,460-foot-long park stretching on either side of a cycling track in the ethnically diverse and densely populated Nørrebro district, nearly a third of whose inhabitants are immigrants or their descendants, 20 percent of them coming from non-Western countries. The park consists of three areas, “The Red Square,” “The Black Market,” and “The Green Park,” each colored accordingly. It was designed in collaboration with the area’s residents. “The people living in the immediate vicinity of the park,” the artists write, “relate to more than 50 different nationalities. Instead of using the designated city objects [traditionally] used for parks and public spaces, people from the area were asked to nominate specific city objects such as benches, bins, trees, playgrounds, manhole covers, and signage from other countries. The objects were either produced in a 1:1 copy or bought and transported to the site.” (Teams even traveled to Palestine, Spain, Thailand, Texas, and Jamaica to procure five of the objects in Superkilen.) The result is a lively “global village” that supports the area’s diversity by peppering the park with diverse plants, cultural symbols, and practical objects, 108 in total, including street lighting from Qatar, a picnic table from Yerevan (Armenia), a South African barbecue or braai, a manhole cover from Tanzania, a gate from Karachi (Pakistan), a bench from Ethiopia, soil from Palestine, and a cedar tree from Lebanon. Neon signs from throughout the world advertise a Russian hotel, a Chinese beauty parlor, and other small businesses far from Denmark. The judges commended the project’s ambitious scope and scale as well as the thoughtfulness that went into its execution, noting that despite “globalization,” the visual landscapes of most of the world’s cities rarely take care to reflect the ethnic and cultural composition of their neighborhoods. And they commended Superflex for celebrating and validating the experiences of city residents by bringing them in as codesigners of urban space.

The people’s apartment Flat Space, Oberliht Association Chişinău, Republic of Moldova, 2009–present

Our town Otwock, Mirosław Bałka Otwock, Poland, 2011–present

Under communism, people in the Republic of Moldavia, like other Soviet citizens, used domestic space as a zone of freedom from the intrusive state. Today’s independent Moldova faces many challenges as it deals with the neoliberal world order, and the artists of the Oberliht Association have reproduced a Soviet-era flat and repurposed it as informal public space for discussion, debate, and the raising of political awareness. From April to November each year, Flat Space also hosts a weekly program of activities and events, including flea markets, open-air discothèques, sports competitions, and cooking and food sharing.

Noted Polish artist Mirosław Bałka was born in the small city of Otwock, and in 2012 he and a handful of collaborators established a project there, “with the aim,” they write, “to look at the town in question from the angle of art.” Bałka invites international artists like Tacita Dean and Luc Tuymans, as well as Polish colleagues, to Otwock to pursue thematic investigations into the town’s architecture, its history as a health resort, its relationship with literature, and other topics. Public programming has engaged the townspeople and their city government in the ongoing effort to explore Otwock at depth and from multiple angles.

OPPOSITE: Photo by Superflex.


A view of the “Red Square” of Superkilen, a park in Copenhagen designed by the art collective Superflex. Composed of red, black, and green zones, the park sports neon signs, manhole covers, benches, and other features gathered from the home countries of immigrants.

Who is the hero? The Monument to a New Monument, Zhanna Kadyrova Shargorod, Ukraine, 2009

Seats of justice The Jurors, Hew Locke Runnymede, Surrey, UK, 2015

Public spaces in Ukrainian towns and cities, and in other post-Soviet communities, are often dominated by statues of communist heroes, monuments whose existence now poses sharp questions. Should these symbols of authoritarianism and repression be destroyed, replaced by tributes to dissidents or contemporary politicians? Should they be somehow retained as historical artifacts or items of nostalgia? Kadyrova has created a monument to this monumental conundrum: a sculpture made of white tile, designed to resemble a statue covered with a white sheet as if it were about to be ceremonially unveiled. The white mass shows the outlines of a human body, but the identity of the “new hero” is unknowable.

The 12 intricately worked bronze chairs installed near the meadow where King John signed Magna Carta, the charter of English liberty, pay tribute to the jury system, which Magna Carta affirmed. Commissioned for the 800th anniversary of the signing, the work incorporates symbols and images of significant moments in the struggle for individual rights, including a portrait of the first female attorney in India, the house where Aung San Suu Kyi was held captive, and a bullhorn that belonged to Harvey Milk. The chairs, scaled to be sat upon, are arranged as if for a discussion or debate.


Drying times Gavkhouni Wetland, Fereshteh Alamshah Isfahan, Iran, 2012


Alamshah blended Qur’anic-biblical lore with contemporary concern for the environment in the works she created and the performances she organized in the threatened Gavkhouni Wetland near Isfahan in central Iran. Alamshah also managed the overall project, which was organized by the Paradise Art Center in Hormuz and directed by another prominent Iranian environmental artist, Ahmad Nadalian. Gavkhouni is the terminal basin of the Zayandeh River, which rises in the Zagros Mountains and travels some 200 miles to the wetlands. But recently, demands for water for drinking and agricultural and industrial use in the Isfahan region, made worse by drought, have forced local officials to divert water out of Gavkhouni. Iranian artists and NGOs have responded with calls to preserve this colorful and diverse ecosystem, a popular destination for ecotourists. In 2012, Alamshah presented, on the site, a series of poetic sculptural statements about the situation, including an undulating stone snake, meant to stand for wildlife threatened by the desiccation of Gavkhouni, and sand drawings of migratory birds that feed in the wetland when it has water. But the most ambitious of her projects was Junah’s Fish, a performance in which she enlisted the help of nearly two dozen local residents, including city officials. Each performer wrapped him- or herself in a plastic bag with a fish tail attached. Writhing on the ground like fish left to dry out and die by the retreating water, they eventually formed a single giant fish shape on the Gavkhouni sands. The allusion, of course, was to the story of the prophet Jonah, told in both the Old Testament and the Qur’an: the prophet refuses to do God’s bidding and is imprisoned in the belly of a huge fish—a symbolic death, here seen as punishment for reckless disregard for the planet’s resources. The jury appreciated the project’s commitment to drawing attention to an ecological issue of great significance, given the increasing scarcity of water across much of the world, and they lauded Alamshah’s approach as appropriate and consistent with the ambitions of the project.


SEMIFINALISTS Memory park The Bank, Superflex Al Shuwaiheen, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2013–2014

Give and take Walls of Kindness, Anonymous and others Mashhad, Iran, 2014

Al Rolla Street in Sharjah was once a financial hub of the UAE, but as the banking action moved elsewhere, the street took on a forlorn aspect. Danish art-interventionists Superflex (see p. 40) appeared with a plan for raising the area’s morale. People working and living in the area were asked to submit designs for urban objects—benches, bins, signage, slides, swings, and so forth—from the city where they came from or a park they had visited. The objects were then constructed and placed on empty land in the middle of the street, turning an abandoned area into a park designed by community memory.

In an upscale neighborhood in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, an unknown artist-benefactor painted a wall blue, installed a few hooks and hangers, and wrote: “If you don’t need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.” Soon shirts, coats, trousers, and other clothing began to appear on what came to be dubbed the “Wall of Kindness.” The idea went viral on social media, and soon other Walls went up throughout Iran, where official figures put the homeless at 15,000 nationwide— though other reports suggest there may be that many in Tehran alone.

Photos courtesy Paradise Art Centre.



Some of the earthworks and (bottom left) artists involved in a 2012 project calling attention to the plight of Iran’s Gavkhouni wetland. Artist Fereshteh Alamshah managed the project, which underscored the threat to wildlife posed by the drying out of the marshland.

Bridge of size Tabiat Bridge, Leila Araghian Tehran, Iran, 2010–2014 What if a bridge could be a place to linger on and enjoy rather than simply a way to get from one place to another? The answer to Araghian’s question is her Pol-e-Tabiat, or Nature Bridge, over a major highway and linking two public parks in Tehran. The huge bridge, a city landmark that took four years to complete, has three levels: one for cafés, another for walking, running and biking, and a third that’s a platform for viewing the highway below, or the Alborz Mountains, which tower beyond the Tehran skyline.

In memory of a massacre Public Art, Mourning & Resilience, Art Forces, Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts/Al Jana, Ahlam Laje’a Center, and artists from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt Beirut, Lebanon, 2012 The Palestinian residents of the huge Sabra and Shatila refugee camps not only contend with poor sanitation and limited water and electricity; they carry the memory of the 1982 massacre that saw 3,500 of their countrymen killed by Christian militiamen with Israeli support. Art Forces’ Susan Greene brought a group of regional artists into the camps to talk with residents and, from their stories, create murals in Shatila’s Mosque Square that document their suffering and resilience.

FINALIST Beckett after Katrina Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, Paul Chan, in collaboration with Classical Theatre of Harlem and Creative Time New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 2007


Multidisciplinary artist and activist Chan gave a lecture at Tulane University in 2006 and visited the Lower Ninth Ward. He was appalled by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina had wrought in the neighborhood, which suggested to him the bleak setting of Beckett’s best-known play—a setting he had recreated in one of his video animations. He contacted public art promoters Creative Time in New York, and the idea of a site-specific outdoor staging of Godot in New Orleans began to take shape. He brought on board director Christopher McElroen, who had mounted Godot for the Classical Theatre of Harlem using the long and painful wait for federal help after the hurricane as a central metaphor. A cast headed by New Orleans native Wendell Pierce (of The Wire), and including local actors, gave four free evening performances over two weekends in November 2007 in two New Orleans locations—the middle of an intersection in the Lower Ninth Ward, and the front yard of an abandoned house in Gentilly. As artistic director, Chan supervised the production, its promotion (via enigmatic signs posted around the city that quoted Beckett’s scene-setting for the play: “A country road. A tree. Evening.”), and a range of teaching and communityservice activities, including free classes, that occupied the nine-month run-up to the performances. The jury was impressed with the commitment of the artist and organizers to a long-term approach and to a genuine interaction with a traumatized and marginalized community, making use of a form of contemporary theater that many people find challenging, and mediating it through artists of the highest quality. While the project was clearly ephemeral, they felt that the commitment to quality it demonstrated could well make a permanent impact on the community and the identity of the two neighborhoods involved. The fact that the artists sought to provide direct support to the community’s rebuilding efforts through establishing a “shadow fund” to gather nearly $50,000 in donations was also highly commended.


SEMIFINALISTS Moccasin memorial Walking With Our Sisters, multiple artists and volunteers Canada, 2013–2019.

Eyes on the border Repellent Fence, Postcommodity Mexico, 2015

There have been 1,186 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women in Canada in the past 30 years. Walking With Our Sisters is a traveling memorial to the lost and missing, in the form of beaded vamps—the decorative tops of moccasins. They are displayed in ceremonies, planned in consultation with Native elders, that include smudging, the burning of sage or cedar, singing, and pipe ceremonies. More than 46,000 people have taken part since the project’s first installation in 2013; it will visit 30 communities before completing its journey in 2019.

Postcommodity’s ironic answer to Donald Trump’s proposed wall was a temporary two-mile long installation along the U.S.–Mexico border: 26 huge balloons modeled on “scare eye” balloons, a bird-repellent product sold online and, curiously, based on Native American motifs. The installation, soaring above open fields, highlights the often-arbitrary nature of borders. The “scare eye,” described by Postcommodity as a symbol of the “social, cultural, economic, and political interconnectedness of indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere,” emphasizes shared cultural expressions in the region that spans the border while it also points to the omnipresence of border surveillance.

OPPOSITE: Photo courtesy Paul Chan and Badlands Unlimited.


The Wire’s Wendell Pierce (right) led a cast in Waiting for Godot in New Orleans a decade after Katrina. Organized by artist Paul Chan, the NOLA Godot was mounted at an intersection in the Lower Ninth Ward (pictured), and in front of an abandoned house in the Gentilly district.

Art houses Dorchester Projects, Theaster Gates Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2009–present

Honoring Antonio Gramsci Monument, Thomas Hirschhorn New York City, USA, 2013

To counter an exodus from a South Side neighborhood, Gates envisioned revitalizing it by turning empty properties into arts and community spaces. He moved in and purchased and restored the home adjacent to his own, using recycled and salvaged materials when possible, and installed 14,000 art and architecture books from a recently closed local bookstore and 60,000 slides donated by the University of Chicago’s art history department. Now covering half a dozen properties, the project continues to expand, supported by grants and donations; but Gates is also developing alternative ways to sustain continued growth and bolster the local economy.

This ramshackle temporary structure in the South Bronx, dedicated to Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), an Italian leftist thinker who theorized the role of culture in supporting (or subverting) capitalist domination and promoted education for the working class, was a sort of anti-monument given over to community use. It consisted of a series of pavilions, including a library of books by and about Gramsci, an Internet space, a lounge, and a bar, all built and largely run by local residents. There was also a public program, including art workshops, philosophy and poetry lectures, open-mic sessions, and theater.

FINALIST Pick up sticks If You Were to Work Here: The Mood in the Museum, Peter Robinson Auckland, New Zealand, 2013


If You Were to Work Here was Robinson’s contribution to the 2013 Auckland Triennial, entitled “If you were to live here...” and curated by Hou Hanru. The overall Triennial project was an effort to link two important public institutions, the Auckland Art Gallery (the major force behind the Triennial) and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, holder of the world’s richest collection of Māori taonga (cultural objects). Robinson’s project involved the making of many hundreds of tokotoko, or oratory sticks, “talking sticks” that allow the holder to speak without interruption in council. But the artist’s long felt-covered rods were also “mood sticks”: each bore one of the four colors that premodern Western medicine associated with a dominant fluid (humor) in the body and a dominant mood in the soul: red for blood (active, social), yellow for yellow bile (angry), black for black bile (melancholy), and blue for phlegm (peaceful). The sticks were displayed on the floor of the Auckland Art Gallery, and volunteers then carried them in an informal procession to the War Memorial Museum, where they left them leaning against the pillars and walls of the museum’s Grand Foyer. From there, museum employees were encouraged to pick up a stick that corresponded with their current state of mind and place it somewhere in the museum. The workers’ “moods” showed up inside vitrines, next to historical objects, and even attached to outside walls. The jury was impressed with the project’s economical but striking aesthetic: hundreds of brightly colored rods arranged on the floor and carried in procession. They noted rich layers of meaning: a rod, stick, or pole is a basic human tool for support on life’s journey, for identity, and for defense or attack if necessary. In this case, the rods also referred to the tokotoko, which give the holder the right to speak out. The movement of the performers between gallery and museum, said the jury, managed to “weave a sophisticated sense of emotional and creative action across the interceding geographical space.”


SEMIFINALISTS Hip hop against hate Berbeda dan Merdeka 100% (Different and Free 100%), Respecta Street Art Gallery Indonesia and Singapore, 2011–present In 2011, Indonesian Muslim mobs attacked two villages in Java: one made up of members of the breakaway Ahmadiyya Islamic sect and the other of Christians. In response, street artists got active. With a tradition going back to the 1940s struggle against Dutch rule, street art is taken seriously in Indonesia, and when Jakarta’s graffiti-and-street-art-friendly Respecta Street Art Gallery mobilized artists to promote tolerance, there was a vigorous national response. Under the banner of Berbeda dan Merdeka 100% and prompted by social media, artists are creating murals, posters, and leaflets and passing along the message of communal harmony.

Homemade messages Village Video Festival 2011 (#3), Jatiwangi Art Factory Jatiwangi, Indonesia, 2011 Jatiwangi is an Indonesian village that boasts an innovative nonprofit, Jatiwangi Art Factory, aimed at improving village life through art, education, and public discussion. One of its projects, the annual Village Video Festival, brings video artists and related experts to Jatiwangi to live with residents and help them develop their communication skills while making videos that reflect local priorities. The 2011 festival saw the creation of a micro-broadcasting station that sent videos to TVs in five satellite villages, with programs that spoke to local concerns—a homemade alternative to Indonesia’s hypercentralized media.

OPPOSITE: Photo by Jennifer French.


Volunteers raise “talking sticks” designed by New Zealand artist Peter Robinson before taking them to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The sticks, each symbolizing a mood, were left for employees to place throughout the museum, in anonymous acts of self-expression.

It takes a village Sasaran International Art Festival, Ng Bee, Ng Kim Heoh Sasaran, Malaysia, 2008–present

Lighting up the red zone Luxcity, Jessica Halliday and Uwe Rieger Christchurch, New Zealand, 2010–present

Sasaran, a fishing village, is the hometown of artist Ng Bee, who, after his art education and travel abroad, decided that it was as good a place as any for an annual international art festival. In 2008 he invited 35 artists from Malaysia and abroad to live in Sasaran, produce work, and share their process with local people. After initial skepticism, the villagers began to participate wholeheartedly, opening their homes, handling logistics, material sourcing, fundraising, and other tasks, and feeling pride in the developing identity of Sasaran as an art center.

Luxcity, the central event of the 2012 Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA) in Christchurch, was a celebration of survival and hope. In September 2010 and February 2011, the cities of Christchurch and Lyttleton were struck by major earthquakes. Much of central Christchurch became derelict and was declared a “red zone,” inaccessible to the public. In the Luxcity event, architecture students created a variety of illuminations in the red zone, using projection, lasers, balloons and fabric suspended from demolition cranes—lighting up beacons of hope for a renewal of the city.

RESIST Artists ask us to



After artist Cannupa Hanska Luger created a tutorial about how to make mirror shields in 2016, people nationwide made them for water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipline near Standing Rock, North Dakota. Inspired by women in the Ukraine who held mirrors up to riot police, the shields are designed to show the humanity on both sides of the line.

Drone footage still image by Rory Wakemup, courtesy Cannupa Hanska Luger.

Art is resistance. Resistance can be defined as “the refusal to accept or comply,” and artists, by their very nature, question what is and why. They dig beneath the surface to get at the human essence. Throughout our history, art and artists have resisted oppression, violence, injustice, and inequality. Today, at an unprecedented moment in geopolitics, the work of public artists is amplifying activism, resistance, and solidarity like never before. As people head into the streets to voice their views—in the largest numbers in our history—public artists are giving color, context, vision, weight, and unignorable presence to the broad social movements that the protests represent: the demands of people who have been marginalized, and mainstream Americans too, for recognition and justice. Artists are also raising their voices. Along with dozens of institutions and art professionals, artists including Kara Walker, Danh Vo, Ken Lum, Mark Dion, and Paul Chan signed a petition against President Trump’s first executive order calling for a temporary ban on entry to the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Christo ended his longtime Colorado project as an act of protest against the Trump administration. While what follows is not an exhaustive list of today’s protest-related artwork, the artists and projects featured here are among the most recent examples of how artists are supporting, and in some cases fostering, protests, strikes, and boycotts across the country. From artist-made signs created for the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March, to the mirror shields at Standing Rock, artists are underlining the essence of art as resistance. At the same time, artists are facing unprecedented challenges: they’re being interrogated at our borders and attacked globally. Recent reports show a doubling of attacks on artistic freedom and artists’ rights since 2015 across the world. The oppression and censorship of artists is troubling and impacts us all. Undeterred, and understanding the risks involved in speaking out in public space, public artists put their careers, their safety, and sometimes their lives on the line to fight for change. THERESA SWEETLAND

is the executive director of Forecast Public Art.


ABOVE: On Inaguration Day in January 2017, with the cooperation of local businesses, dozens of artists hung banners—with messages of love and inclusivity and against global fear and exclusivity—in Philadelphia and Atlanta. The artist Ishknits designed and hung a banner quoting the black feminist writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. It was part of Signs of Solidarity­, an ongoing, Philadelphia-based public art project protesting hate and divisiveness. OPPOSITE: From 1920 to 1938, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hung a flag outside their New York headquarters the day after someone was lynched. After intensifying national protests in recent years over fatal police shootings of black men, Dread Scott’s A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday, seen here in 2016 in New York, is a powerful reference to the NAACP’s previous practice.

OPPOSITE: Photo by Conrad Benner. THIS PAGE: Photo © Dread Scott, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.



OPPOSITE: Photo by Larissa Puro/ USC Institute for Global Health / flickr / Creative commons license. THISE PAGE: Images courtesy the Amplifier Foundation.



In January 2017, the Amplifier Foundation put out a public call for poster designs by women for the national Women’s March on January 21. More than 5,000 designs were submitted in one week, including these by (clockwise from top left) Jennifer Maravillas, Brooke Fischer, Jessica Sabogal, Mary Purdie, and Megan J. Smith. OPPOSITE: More than 500,000 people marched for equality and human rights in downtown Los Angeles for the Women’s March. They carried homemade signs and those with designs by artist Shepard Fairey.


These images are some of the artworks selected for this year’s The Art of Indigenous Resistance exhibition, which will travel around the United States this summer. With artists from both North and South America, the exhibition, says curator Kim Smith, is about “trying to find a bridge to merge the two continents” instead of the White House’s proposed “wall of hate.” CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Here’s to Good Womyn (2016) by Monique Aura, from Haudenosaunee-Ontario, Canada. This is not our land, we are its people (2017) by Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara/Lakota) from Fort Yates, ND. The Women with Rebel Dignity by The Zapatista cooperative Las Mujeres con la Dignidad Rebelde, from Chiapas, Mexico. Decolonize (2017) by Keith Secola Jr. from Santa Fe, NM (Northern Ute/Bois Forte Chippewa).

All images courtesy The Art of Indigenous Resistance.



The Art of Indigenous Resistance BY WINONA LADUKE Earth through cultural practices have sustained us for millennia. Art has power. Art has the ability to wake up the people. Through it, we can evoke emotion, tell stories, inspire and motivate, and when channeled as a vehicle for issues of consciousness, it can become a catalyst for meaningful change. People are working hard to make a shift politically and socially, and we must take this opportunity to show solidarity and remind our communities of how resilient we are. With a blending of art, music, and activism, we are taking this opportunity as young people to step up, be innovative, support one another, and grow into our roles.

Indeed, Standing Rock launched a renaissance of the art of resistance, and from Standing Rock it grows. We too must not be afraid to look at the enemy or at our own weaknesses. And the beauty of art must be made to shine in both the darkest and brightest of times. is executive director of Honor the Earth, a Native-led environmental organization ( WINONA LADUKE

Photo by Jennifer Elizabeth Kreisberg.

In reservation areas where high rates of addiction, poverty, and loss of culture threaten our way of life, we have to create ways to engage and uplift our communities. Our mission is to create awareness and support for social and environmental issues, and to showcase empowering indigenous art from across the country. Through this lens, we want to show that indigenous self-expression is deeply embedded in indigenous tradition and culture. Song, dance, storytelling, and prayer are all done to honor Mother Earth and to heal. Our connections to Mother

Winona LaDuke and curator Kim Smith at an event for The Art of Indigenous Resistance, an exhibition now in its fourth year.


Lakota artist Charles Rencountre created a statue in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2014, and recently constructed its twin at Standing Rock. Not Afraid to Look sits on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The statue is modeled on what was called an “effigy pipe,” a smoking pipe originally carved during the Indian Wars of the Northern Plains. The pipe, which wound up in the collection of President Andrew Jackson, has a small Native figure carved into the shank and facing the attached bowl, which is shaped like a white man’s head. I found Charles Rencountre and the first Not Afraid to Look at the Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. His statue loomed large over us both, and his mission was compelling: to take the gifts collected from our ancestors and bring them into a modern medium. He told me he wanted to come to Standing Rock. “That piece and I come from that area. My great-great-greatgrandfather was a signatory of the 1851 treaty—he put his name on that treaty,” Rencountre said. “The piece resonates clear back into the history of our people and so it’s extremely appropriate that work is sitting there at that camp.” Today, the new iteration of Rencountre’s piece sits on LaDonna Allard’s land overlooking the river. There will be more of these statues elsewhere, I assume. The battle for Standing Rock inspired some of the best and brightest Native artists to create art, and resulted in a multitude of media using the art form designed by the tattoo artists: the Standing Rock tattoo became a worldwide symbol of solidarity with Standing Rock and generated thousands of dollars for work on the ground and for the future. Wearable art, T-shirts, and murals abounded in the camp, with new artists producing silkscreens onsite. Alongside this movement, Honor the Earth has sponsored two years of an exhibit called The Art of Indigenous Resistance, curated by Dine artist Kimberly Smith, and including primarily paintings, giclées, and fabric pieces, as well as mounted wheat-paste murals. Kimberly Smith explains the thinking behind it:


ABOVE: A silhouette of the United States emerges out of positive words in Seper A. Torcasio’s banner from Signs of Solidarity­in Philadelphia. OPPOSITE: Drawing attention to the fate of those who risk their lives fleeing persecution, Ai Weiwei’s Reframe (2016) covered two facades of Florence, Italy’s Palazzo Strozzi with 22 rubber dinghies that had been used by Syrian refugees to cross the Mediterranean.

TOP: Image courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio and Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. BOTTOM: Photo by Simone Ramella / flickr / Creative Commons license. OPPOSITE: Photo by Conrad Benner.



PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 28 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 56 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG Photo courtesy Plastic Jesus.


In March 2017, Future Internment Camp signs appeared at construction sites in New York (pictured), Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C., and other cities. According to the signs—which feature a presidential signature and seal, and a White House logo—each site has been reserved for an internment camp. Scanning the QR code in the lower right corner of the sign reveals it is the work of street artist Plastic Jesus.


THE RIGHT TO ARTISTIC EXPRESSION Artists’ constitutional rights explained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota

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It extends not only to books, theatrical works, and paintings, but also to posters, television, music videos, and comic books—whatever the human creative impulse produces. STREET PERFORMERS, SUCH AS MUSICIANS, PUPPETEERS, OR MIMES, HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN PUBLIC.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects both the right of performers to engage in protected speech in public and the right to solicit funds. THE CONSTITUTION ALSO PROTECTS ACTIONS THAT

Examples of these symbolic forms of speech include wearing masks and costumes or holding a candlelight vigil. However, symbolic acts and civil disobedience that involve illegal conduct may be outside the realm of constitutional protections and can sometimes lead to arrest and conviction. Therefore, while sitting in a road may be expressing a political opinion, the act of blocking traffic may lead to criminal punishment. SYMBOLICALLY EXPRESS A VIEWPOINT.



Relatedly, artistic expression should never be chilled out of fear of unwarranted police scrutiny. Once you allow the government to censor one person, it has the power to censor you or something you like. The ACLU advocates for the principle that free expression for ourselves requires free expression for others. WRITE, PAINT, DRAW, COMPOSE, SEE, AND HEAR.



However, this does not mean that the Constitution completely protects all types of speech in every circumstance. Police and government officials are allowed to place certain narrowly drawn “time, place and manner” restrictions on the exercise of First Amendment rights—for example, permit requirements for large groups using public parks or limits on the loudness of sound amplifiers. Any such restrictions must apply to all speech regardless of its point of view. THE CONTENT OF SPEECH.



ment cannot limit expression just because any listener,

or even the majority of a community, is offended by its content. In the context of art and entertainment, this means tolerating some works that we might find offensive, insulting, outrageous—or just plain bad. The second principle is that expression may be restricted only if it will clearly cause direct and imminent harm to an important societal interest. The classic example is falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater and causing a stampede. Even then, the speech may be silenced or punished only if there is no other way to avert the harm.

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The Supreme Court has allowed censorship of sexual speech on moral grounds, but this does not mean that all sexual expression can be censored. Only a narrow range of “obscene” material can be suppressed. TARGET OF CENSORSHIP.


The Supreme Court’s current definition of constitutionally unprotected obscenity, first announced in a 1973 case called Miller v. California, has three requirements. The work must (1) appeal to the average person’s prurient (shameful, morbid) interest in sex; (2) depict sexual conduct in a “patently offensive way” as defined by community standards; and (3) taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The Supreme Court has held that indecent expression—in contrast with obscenity—is entitled to some constitutional protection, but that indecency in some media (broadcasting, cable, and telephone) may be regulated. OBSCENITY.



Justice Louis Brandeis’s advice that the remedy for messages we disagree with or dislike in art, entertainment, or politics is “more speech, not enforced silence,” is as true today as it was when given in 1927. WE DON’T LIKE.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties of all Minnesotans guaranteed by the Constitution and state laws. Learn more about their work at

Photo by Kevin Edwards.



What Are We

Risking? An interview with Carlton Turner BY CLARENCE WHITE

CARLTON TURNER IS ALL ABOUT CREATING NARRATIVES: true narratives that challenge lazy assumptions about the world and what art and artists are—narratives that confront false limitations on what art can say and how it can change the world. Since 2001, Turner has worked with Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts membership organization based in Atlanta; he is now its executive director. He brings to the job a combination of skills: fundraising, arts administration, experience as a touring artist, community activism, and fostering artists and culture-makers. He keeps an eye on history and society in order to catalyze conversations and progressive ideas. The goal: to create a new narrative about culture. Arleta Little, arts program officer for the McKnight Foundation, says: “For me, Carlton demonstrates the capacity of culture to craft character and to create community.”

Carlton, Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre in the Twin Cities, has said that in addition to being deeply supportive of artists, you are “more than an artist, [you are] a platform builder.” Do you think that description fits?



When she says platform, it fits—in terms of creating platforms for changing age-old conversations. We are talking about shifting policy, equity in the arts; about understanding colonialism and looking at long-term racial disparities and how those things have an impact on arts ecosystems.

Are you a working artist now? Part of my current role is as a touring and a working artist. Part of my work is to maintain my identity as an artist. It helps me to maintain integrity—what the work is about. The further I get away from that, the more I drift away from being an advocate for artists. That’s why I continue to engage my skills as an artist and pursue the development of things that speak to my soul.

If platform fits, what are some of those platforms? How do they fit in today’s landscape of arts and society?

the way that capitalism deals with communities and society and helps us realize what democracy means. We also have to look at the role of philanthropy. Working intersectionally is difficult when the philanthropic sector has siloed issues. Often, they see their work as [finding] solutions to individual issues, working in individual communities, without solving the underlying issues. Doing this is a false promise. Today, philanthropy is cut off from activist roots. Our work continues to be intersectional and to be a recasting of the narrative of the United States into one that is about imperialism and the occupation of indigenous land. Our work is interconnected in an ecosystem of change in which we are seeing communities that struggle as extensions of ourselves rather than “other.” This is the front line of cultural transformation.

“We’re talking about understanding colonialism and looking at long-term racial disparities and how those things have an impact on arts ecosystems.”

In the world of yesterday, we were working from a singular narrative, and arts have been, to this point, advanced on that singular narrative. All voices were not honored with the same equity and on the same platform. Today, the conversations have to be a little more based in analysis—analysis of how capitalism works, how patriarchy works, how government works, and how movements work. What we are dealing with today is based on a continuum of issues and challenges that have never been reconciled. That is evidenced by what happened at Standing Rock, for example—invaded and burned to the ground and people arrested.

You mention Standing Rock and talk a lot about intersectionality. Where do you see the intersections today? Where is the best leverage for change? Intersectionality is the place where we find strength, find the challenges and interconnectedness. It is where I find that my own challenges [as a person of color] are connected to age, LGBT, gender, and other issues. Hopefully, intersectionality helps us put an end to the competitive “oppression Olympics.” We are working to associate, understand, and connect the oppression I experience with other peoples’ oppression. This is contrary to

What are you working on today to address this? What I am most excited about is working with the Intercultural Leadership Institute, in which Alternate ROOTS has joined with the First Peoples Fund, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and the PA’I Foundation. It’s a collection of 30 Fellows from around the country, peer experts who are building an intercultural experience that allows us to move into spaces with a more pluralistic understanding of our existence. In our work, we realize that our identity is not complete without the others around us. The Institute brings together arts leaders from different communities to look at and honor leadership development in ways that are not framed by the dominant culture. We travel to different locations around the country to gain community wisdom that can uplift. We pay a lot of attention to the ways in which a lot of different leadership cultures think of the land, for example.

citizenry. Our work is actively demanding that we be seen and heard; it’s saying we are human. It’s about performing in the streets as well as changing the public perception of who gets to perform on stage. We are challenging the notion of who the arts are for. When I was asked to respond to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts at NEA in 2009, what I laid out was how the survey was flawed. It looked at opera, symphony, and dance, In the context of this developing and emerging and how people are consuming art in those venues. In reality, intersectional movement, what purpose do art and it’s difficult to find a community that does not have artistic culture serve? practice embedded in its culture. These practices in these Art and culture are informing, framing, and delivering ideas. broad communities are involved in how we make meaning Art and culture have a transformative ability to change ideas. out of this journey we are on as human beings. But the arts It is a response to a “white-washed” America that’s produced infrastructure only holds up a few selected works or practices as being valid, worthy of the museum show or the big concert hall. Much of the [philanthropic and arts administration world] has promoted change, but most of it was superficial. It was never intended to change the structure. [It’s like when, in] Mississippi, we were integrating children into a school system that was still run by the white supremacist structure; it didn’t put a dent in segregation, and it affirmed the power structure. Today’s challenge is that we don’t have enough discourse with each other to come to a collective assessment of how these systems impact our lives. It’s difficult to have conversations with our white Progress Theatre’s The Burnin’ was inspired by two nightclub tragedies: a fire and a stampede. neighbors, because they are the Artists, left to right: Cristal Truscott, Carlton Turner, Tiana Johnson, Rebekah Stevens, Derrick Brent. recipients of the faulty information created by politics as a form overkill, in Baltimore, Charleston, Ferguson, and Standing of theater: faux journalism that fixates the public on fear and Rock. We have found ourselves backed into a corner like a safety. It’s performance propaganda. cornered black panther—out on a limb or out of our minds. How do we bring about radical change to the systems so It is about connecting historically relevant events to as to create ones that are not just a reflection of the times what is happening today. Acknowledging that history is to in which they were built? We keep asking ourselves, what confront the fact that, in order for there to be an America, is the role of arts? And as Martin Luther King Jr. might ask, there had to be a resource, slave labor, to secure an economic what are we risking? future. Acknowledging that many of us were slaves until 1865 and didn’t get to vote until 100 years later—and that all CLARENCE WHITE is a writer who is also an editor, publicist, of this was backed up with a fictitious narrative of normalcy. and contributor to the Saint Paul Almanac. His publications We are responding to the premise of the historical “three- include “Smart Enough for Ford,” in the anthology Blues fifths citizenship” allowed to African Americans, [which has Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota. He lives been] cemented in our psyche; this concept of a second-class in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Photo by Melisa Cardona.

This is a significant shift in how we see our relationship to our surroundings. If you are building policies around the land, what you get is very different from a policy that values profit over people. Now is the first time communities of color and indigenous peoples are defining leadership on their own terms. This operates from a very different premise: our cultural practices that don’t always get to lead the way.


The Madrid-based artist SpY provides a lifeaffirming reflection on the surface of the harbor of Stavanger, Norway, where the Nuart festival of street art has been held annually since 2001.

Photo by Brian Tallman.


This international street art festival in a Norwegian city is clued in to the complexities of urban expression—and of this moment in history BY KAREN GARDINER


Is Now


“IT’S LIKE A 17TH OF MAY PARADE,” says the guide through a loudspeaker, looking across a

crowd of almost 300 people—young, old, carrying babies and walking dogs—gathered in Stavanger, Norway, for the first tour of street art in the Nuart festival. His comparison with Norway’s joyous national independence day celebrations confirms the popularity of this international gathering of street artists, held in the small southern Norwegian city since 2001. In its 15 years, Nuart has come to be embraced by the local community and to earn respect from the art world for its thought-provoking curation, which goes much further than inviting artists to paint murals on walls. The festival is a forum for frank, critical discussion of what street art is, what it’s becoming, and what it ought to be. The Nuart organization supports educational initiatives that introduce local youth to what insiders call “the culture”—street art and its ethos. At the same time, the festival, with its goal of keeping street art provocative rather than merely decorative, expects to face challenges as Norway’s oil economy declines and a flush era of “anything goes” for street art morphs into a period of harder times and civic skepticism about the value of the work. Spend a day or more in Stavanger and you’ll see how deeply Nuart is woven into the fabric of the city. Around almost every corner there is artwork to be discovered, from an enormous mural by Axel Void facing a kindergarten to the small dramas played out in the tiny but extraordinarily expressive figures of workmen by Jaune and angst-ridden businessmen by Isaac Cordal. From the deck of a boat in the harbor, headed out on a fjord cruise, you can see works by Faith47 and Dot Dot Dot, from previous years’ festivals, rise into view amid the clusters of wooden houses.


second piece of street art in the painter’s career, which suggests how active Nuart’s curation has become.) British duo kennardphillipps addressed some of the culture shocks of the day with their unsanctioned paste-up outside Stavanger Cathedral. Titled In Humanity, the work displayed headlines from the UK’s right-wing press demonizing migrants in the run-up to last summer’s Brexit referendum.

UTOPIA AND DADA The 2016 festival took the 500-year anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia and the centenary of Dada’s founding as an opportunity to explore two themes: “Utopia and Rights to the City” and “Dada, Art and Everyday Life.” These linked ideas about the transformation of the urban landscape were picked up by the invited artists, including text artist/poet Robert Montgomery, who, in the Situationist tradition of détournement, took over two of the city’s advertising hoardings with his anti-consumerist poems. In the main shopping square he commandeered a billboard to demand “an art of shouting poems in shopping centers.” On the Nytorget boulevard he suggested: “Go into your local branch of [Spanish high-fashion chain] Zara and leave anonymous love letters in the handbags.” The parallel between the tense geopolitical landscape at the time of Dada’s founding—the middle of World War I—and the difficult year that was 2016 was not lost on the participants in the opening weekend’s Nuart Plus symposium, held in a former brewery under a banner reading “Beneath the Paving Stones, the Beach” (the theme of Nuart 2014). It is “a shitty period,” Norwegian oil painter Henrik Uldalen commented at the gathering. As if in response, reflections on the utopian concept of making a better world informed the contributions of many of the artists. Uldalen, for example, created a dark but beautiful expressionist mural of a couple spooning, with the intent, he says, of bringing beauty to the streets. (It was only the

“For ten years I didn’t use the word curator,” founder Martyn Reed tells me, “because we didn’t want to attempt to define what street art was; just to celebrate it. As the [street-art] culture became more interesting for urban planners and complicit in gentrification, the dominant form became murals: safe, decorative pieces. Lots of the really interesting, human-scale works with which you connect individually down a little dark alley were being lost, so we decided we would curate in a much more aggressive manner and keep the politics and the activism and the small works at the forefront.” There’s no doubt about the increasing commodification of street art. In 2016, 160 street art festivals were registered in Europe alone, most focused on the creation of those “safe, decorative pieces”—attractive murals at the behest of city councils, divorced from street art’s political and activist roots. Yet if the form has been mainstreamed and absorbed into wider culture, it is perhaps paradoxical that many in the art world still resist taking street art seriously or acknowledging its influence on contemporary art practices. “I noticed that similar themes and styles to street art and activist-based art were seeping into contemporary art in a different way,” Reed says. “I saw there were quite a few artists dealing with topics that we were working with and becoming aligned with street art, but they weren’t practicing street artists. So for the curation of Nuart, I just wanted to broaden it and bring these people in, [but] what are they? They’ve been called urban artists, as a commercial term to sell street art, [but that is] not a very satisfactory term.” With this in mind, Reed took Nuart 2016 as an opportunity to float the idea of a new term, one that expresses neither the conformity of civic décor nor the chaos of counterculture. Post-street art was the designation chosen to recognize art informed by the forms and themes explored by street art but not regarded as street art per se. It served as the name of the festival’s curated indoor installation exhibition. For Reed, the term gives curators, critics, and others a way to focus on the artistic qualities of the work rather than its controversial reputation. “I think a lot of academic institutions and certainly a lot of professional curators avoid

TOP: Photo by Runa Andersen. OPPOSITE TOP: Photo © Ian Cox OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Photo by Brian Tallman. .



TOP: British duo kennardphillips (Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps) pasted up, without prior approval, a mural that included anti-immigrant front pages from tabloids. The work, titled In Humanity, pointed out racist responses to the European immigrant crisis and the Brexit referendum of 2016. BOTTOM: The kennardphillipps mural was sited directly in front of Stavanger’s 12th-century cathedral. OPPOSITE PAGE: Nuart founder and director Martyn Reed, who hopes that the festival can help street art flourish by keeping “politics and activism…at the forefront,” in an age when the art is often reduced to civic décor—while also underlining street art’s growing influence in the gallery world.

BIRTH OF AN “ART CITY” Now, Nuart is working on establishing Stavanger as the world’s first “Art City” through producing a public art program that runs alongside the region’s “Smart City” programs, which promote sustainable energy, mobility, and information technology. “All the money in Norwegian culture is relatively new money, so there’s no history of patronage of the arts,” Reed says. Now, though, it’s the children of the generation that really profited from the oil boom who are engaging with the arts, and the aim is to create a city where, according to Reed, “art is an intrinsic part of city development. Not just by sticking a sculpture outside of a city development block, but to integrate art into a city in a completely new way.” Nuart has proven so successful for Stavanger that other cities are reaching out to collaborate, hopeful that they can emulate that success. In spring 2017 Nuart will bring the festival to Aberdeen, Stavanger’s twin city and Scotland’s oil capital. But, Reed says, Nuart cannot simply be packed up and replicated elsewhere, and it shouldn’t be subordinated to civic policy. For example, Oslo, in a bid to increase social cohesion, “wants murals on impoverished housing blocks, thinking [they’re] like wallpaper,” says Reed. “We don’t really do that.”

Photo © Ian Cox

WHO’S AFRAID OF CRITICISM? Nuart may be unique among street art festivals in that it’s not afraid of self-critique. Reflection on the role of the art in advancing gentrification and commodification of the culture—as it is absorbed into urban regeneration projects and museum shows—forms part of the festival, finding an outlet in the Nuart Plus symposium, which in 2016 included presentations from critic Carlo McCormick, cultural geographer Emma Arnold, and Christian Omodeo, curator of a controversial 2015 museum exhibition in Bologna, Street


the term street art,” he says. “I thought post-street art gives people an alibi to engage with the culture without being embarrassed by the terminology, which is often related to youth culture and used in a derogatory sense.” The concept was discussed at Nuart’s opening event, entitled “Fight Club,” but without resolution. Given this atmosphere, one key to Nuart’s success is the fact that Stavanger has never had a derogatory view of graffiti. “There’s nothing negative attached to the culture here,” Reed says. “We don’t have 40 years of broken-window theory”—the idea, popularized by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and other American city officials, that graffiti, like broken windows, degrades neighborhoods and promotes crime. While the city officially holds a zero-tolerance policy with respect to graffiti, “no one applies it,” Reed says.

Monument to a Disappearing Monument, by Australian artist Fintan Magee, memorializes the fading of Stavanger’s oil economy, and the resulting unemployment in the industry, which has affected some 25,000 of the city’s 130,000 people.


Art: Banksy & Co. (In response to the inclusion, without permission, of some of his own works in that show, the street artist Blu, in a Dadaist act, destroyed his Bologna murals by painting over them.) Before Nuart, Reed ran Numusic, an electronic music festival for which he not only flew in DJs to perform but also set up panels to discuss that culture and its social setting. “So, yes, you’re at a dance party,” he says. “But for those deeply engaged with it, they were coming to an event to listen to someone who literally invented a form of music, based on a need to escape an impoverished inner-city experience. I think Nuart Plus acts in a very similar way.” At Nuart Plus, he says, “it’s like ‘yes, this is a very beautiful mural,’ [but also] ‘this is why it exists.’ It’s not just a decorative piece complicit with a gentrification process. Out of these 160 other festivals, guaranteed, 120 of them are that, so they certainly don’t want to set up a critique of their own event within their event. “I think we are quite secure in our practice, [so] we are able to open it up to critique. I think that’s how we keep pushing or expanding the idea of what street art is. It’s become a place where people talk about this in a really honest way.”

Photo © Ian Cox

ABOVE: These murals, painted on Stavanger residences by French artist MTO, are designed to “hack” Google Earth and Google Street View by interfering with their image processing. OPPOSITE: A tour of Nuart Festival works attracts locals and creates a festive atmosphere. Stavanger citizens, says organizer Martyn Reed, are on the whole supportive of the street art in their midst, though tougher economic times that have come with the end of the oil boom may cool their enthusiasm.



Photo by John Rodger Photography.

“THE KIDS LOVE IT” Nuart also runs the largest street art education program in the world, having put 8,000 children through it in the last three and a half years. “I’m an art graduate,” Reed says, “and in my seven years of fine art practice I didn’t see a spray can or a marker in the classroom. I really wanted to break those boundaries, so that this culture wasn’t demonized in the education system.” As part of the Cultural Rucksack, a government arts education program, Nuart brings children in from across the region. “Since our first program it’s been oversubscribed, because the kids love it, the teachers love it; the kids have never been so engaged with art practice before,” says Reed. “As a participatory art practice it’s really powerful. They learn about art and activism; about Situationism, and about rights to the city. We try to encourage them [to realize] that it’s their city and if you want to go and put a sticker up, you should; that you don’t do this [and] then put it in a drawer or put it on the fridge. You put it in public space. So everything, all the practice is about public space.” The education program, he says, was inspired by a personal experience a few years ago in downtown Stavanger

when he witnessed a woman stopping in front of a Logan Hicks mural depicting a man with his head in his hands. “She was obviously not a museum-goer. She was stressing, pulling one kid by the arm, the other one was in the buggy. And this kid just went, ‘Mum, what do you think he’s thinking?’ And they all just stopped as a little group and she turned the buggy to face it. It was a really beautiful vignette. Before that I had no interest [in working with kids]. Then I saw that’s where the value of this work is.”

THE OIL BUST—AND AFTER? Nuart continues to reach across demographics—a seniors’ program was offered for the first time in 2016—and to be accepted in the community. I counted four artworks making reference to Norway’s whale-hunting trade, including a large mural by Roa depicting a bisected whale spurting blood and oil. But residents seem to have no problem with seeing such controversial issues discussed on their walls. Indeed, locals are happy to donate their buildings for street art without knowing what will appear on them. However, Reed can see that some changes are afoot. “I always thought, how long are we going to get away

Photos © Ian Cox

is a freelance writer from Scotland. Her work has appeared on the BBC website, in the Guardian, and on Hyperallergic. KAREN GARDINER


OPPOSITE TOP: The Scottish poet and text artist Robert Montgomery took over centercity advertising kiosks and, here, a brick wall to post Situationist-tinged messages calling for playful interventions in everyday routines, the imagining of utopian futures, and art-historical critique. BOTTOM: Montgomery’s immigrationfriendly message on a Stavanger residential building reflects his support of the international Refugees Welcome campaign, launched in Germany in 2014.

with this? It’s a conservative city council and the message and the voice we’re amplifying is diametrically opposed to that kind of ideology,” he says. “The great thing about living in a community that’s doing economically okay is that people are not so in need of exerting power. In a community that’s wealthy, people are not complaining about street art. It’s going to change now, because the economy has shifted. And I can see there’s going to be more outspoken [negative] voices.” At the beginning of the year, global oil prices dropped to the lowest levels in decades. Norway, and particularly Stavanger, the country’s oil capital, have been hit hard. In a city of fewer than 130,000 people, 25,000 jobs were lost in 18 months. Those included jobs within the industry, but also those of the people who serve that industry both directly and indirectly. Reed notes, for example, that in 2016 restaurants and taxi firms were closing down. Stavanger’s shifting economy informed Nuart 2016’s biggest mural, a piece by Australian artist Fintan Magee named Monument to a Disappearing Monument. Painted on two silos in a soon-to-be-demolished industrial district, the mural depicts an oil worker and his reflected image; in the reflection, the paint appears to be breaking into pieces and disappearing. On my final morning in Stavanger I went on one last, unguided art hunt, which revealed pieces from previous years’ festivals—a ghostly mural by Borondo, an homage to Edvard Munch by Pejac—that I hadn’t noticed before. The bus to the airport drove past the main shopping square. Robert Montgomery’s billboard had already been removed from the advertising hoarding, replaced by an ad for a phone company.


ON LOCATION Global Reports


A Creative Community Discovered


Ira Watkins, an artist and resident of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, poses in front of a massive billboard displaying his painting in a community garden.


from the laundromat, she discovered she’d locked herself out of her room at the Pierre, a hotel that had been converted to an SRO, or single-room occupancy building, in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, a 50-block area that’s the poorest in the city, yet abuts the swank Union Square shopping district. Camped out in the TV room with her laundry, waiting to be let back in, Rosemond started chatting with a neighbor and learned about a competition—with a deadline in just a few days—for artists who live or work in the Tenderloin. Sixty artists would receive $1,000 each! A singer—or chanteuse, as she prefers to call herself—Rosemond had an old demo tape she decided to submit. It turned out that Rosemond was exactly the kind of below-the-radar artist that the Wildflowers Institute, based in nearby Chinatown, was seeking to discover through the contest. Though she considers herself “first and foremost a singer,” Rosemond had put her artistic dreams on hold while raising a son and daughter as a single mom in Colorado. The hours of a nightclub singer would not have permitted the kind of attentive parenting she was committed to providing. But with her children grown, Rosemond could hit the road. Her initial plan had been to stay in Redmond, California, with her brother, but after a successful audition in San Francisco, she realized she needed to move to the city in order to make rehearsals. After first staying in what turned out to be an illegal artists’ squat, Rosemond, who works as an in-home health aide, was able to find stable housing three years ago at the Pierre Hotel. For $415 a month, she has a small room with a private bath, but no kitchen. Rosemond’s unplanned interaction in the TV room in some ways typifies the work of the Wildflowers Institute, cofounded by Hanmin Liu and Jennifer Mei in 1998 after two decades spent training international leaders in cross-cultural competence. Recognizing that significant power often operates under the surface, Wildflowers works to identify and funnel resources toward the informal networks that strengthen communities. The Wildflowers mapping process has charted everything from leadership dynamics at a Fortune 500 research institute to where Latino youth find safe places to hang out in gang territory.

Photo by Justin Chotikul.



The Wildflowers Institute’s unique approach to highlighting informal local networks is helping under-the-radar artists in San Francisco’s Tenderloin find their voices—and each other



Photos by Justin Chotikul.




people sleeping in the street. And then, “I cross the street and there’s the Hilton with their valets”—a contrast, Rosemond says, that she appreciates for keeping her in touch with “the pulse of what’s really going on.” It’s a knowledge that she says infuses and deepens her singing: “You can’t help but express what you see.” HOLDING UP A MIRROR

Through its canvassing, Wildflowers identified and mapped the location of over 650 artists who live or work in the Tenderloin. Liu makes a distinction between the artists who “come for the cheap rent and want to make it big and get out” and the “resident artists,” the majority of whom have no formal artistic training and are disconnected from the gallery scene and other art institutions. Often, like Rosemond, they’re seeking to revive a dormant passion. Still, despite their large number, Tenderloin artists have not necessarily been aware of each other. For poet Jesse James Johnson, who has lived in the same Tenderloin SRO for 11 years—with a bed, desk, bookcase, sink, fridge, microwave, and a bathroom and showers down the hall—the mapping project was “a revelation,” confirming something he’d always suspected and helping him shift from a feeling of isolation to a sense of “being part of something unique and powerful.” The 17-month ArtPlace grant culminated in December 2015 in the “Hidden Gems of the Tenderloin” awards ceremony, in which 60 artists whose work conveys the neighborhood ethos—including Johnson, Rosemond, and visual artists like Ira Watkins, who lives and paints in his van— received their awards. The event, held in the old-fashioned auditorium of the Kelly Cullen Community, an old YMCA converted into low-income housing for chronically homeless


In 2014, Wildflowers, which hadn’t worked on an artist-specific project before, received a $180,000 grant from ArtPlace America to conduct a census of Tenderloin artists. (A self-professed “creative spirit,” Liu, who is president of Wildflowers, doesn’t consider himself an artist; he notes that cofounder Mei was trained in art history.) The mapping began with door-to-door canvassing and focused on the SROs, an architectural feature the Tenderloin has managed—so far—to retain, and which provides an oasis of affordability in a rapidly gentrifying city, one of the most expensive in America. “For many of the residents who end up in the Tenderloin, it’s their first stop in America or it’s their last stop,” notes Liu. “It’s a community of people who have found themselves together not particularly by their own choosing, but because this is where they have to live.” Liu cautions, “We don’t want to sugarcoat this. The Tenderloin stinks. It’s full of urine. You see needles all around. It is gritty, it is tough, and it is poor.” And yet, despite all that, or perhaps partly because of it, the Tenderloin manages to provide an environment that welcomes and sustains artists. Simple economics is key. “It’s all about affordability,” notes Rosemond, who longs for the day she can afford her own kitchen. She describes her room as “kind of confining,” but that very smallness means that people don’t stay inside, turning the streets, according to Liu, into a de facto living room. If you walk down the sidewalk—or, in Rosemond’s case, camp out in the TV room—you’ll naturally connect up with others. And for Rosemond, the very grittiness of the Tenderloin provides its own form of inspiration. Heading out to look in on her two clients with Alzheimer’s, Rosemond walks by


RIGHT: Hanmin Liu, president of Wildflowers Institute, at a meeting in the Tenderloin. OPPOSITE TOP: Wildflowers uses a unique modeling method that allows people to define the character of their communities. OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Pins mark artistic landmarks in the Tenderloin—known as St. Ann’s Valley to early San Franciscans—on this cultural asset map.




After the conclusion of the ArtPlace grant, Wildflowers initiated an artist incubator with funds from the Kalliopeia Foundation. The aim was to amplify the voices of the resident artists. Here, Tenderloin resident Bisola Marignay, Ph.D., sings during an incubator session.

individuals, was, says Johnson, “like an explosion of energy. People were literally crying and embracing. People were discovering each other.” According to Johnson, who gets by on a $1,200 monthly disability check and types up his poems on a computer at the local community center, Wildflowers “held up a mirror to us. People were doing art but were hesitant to call themselves an artist. Now they recognize themselves as artists and are even more productive.” A HEALING HAVEN UNBURDENED BY STIGMA

For Johnson, who tends to write for a small audience of “maybe forty-nine people who I know,” art in the Tenderloin “is not so tied to success and wealth and commodities.” Rather, he says, a lot of the artists are “finding expression and trying to heal some of the wounds that they live with.” And, indeed, using art as a vehicle for healing was the dominant theme that emerged from the Wildflowers site visits with SRO artists in their “live/work studios.” And, according to Liu, their art not only helped them clarify their own sense of themselves, but “it also clarified the terms they insisted on for an environment conducive to healing in the Tenderloin.”

That some artists have even named the Tenderloin a “sanctuary” is perhaps rooted in the neighborhood’s unique—and defiant—history. As one example, this past February, the Tenderloin Museum marked the centennial anniversary of the ultimately unsuccessful “vice district” closures of 1917 with an evening of live entertainment celebrating “one hundred years of resistance to traditional social mores.” That resistance also made the Tenderloin a haven for queer and transgender people back when their identities were criminal. And it continues to provide refuge for people who are marginalized today—or are here illegally. That sanctuary status can have a liberating effect: “When you’re free of a lot of the stigmas that might burden you,” Johnson says, “you’re free to explore other ways to be.” And, indeed, out-of-the-box artistic expression that might be deemed odd or problematic in other settings can get a free pass in the Tenderloin. Rosemond observes that while the majority of people in her building are elderly and disabled, there are some painters and “a guy who does a kind of mime thing. He paints his whole body in gold and has a gold boom box.” Rosemond, who says, “I’m not sure what you’d call his art,” notes that “that’s one thing in the Tenderloin—they think outside the box here for sure.”




Photos by Justin Chotikul.

ON LOCATION ABOVE: Ira Watkins displays Falling Through the Cracks, one of many artworks born of the Wildflowers incubator. TOP: These images represent a small fraction of the 650+ Tenderloin artists and cultural leaders that Wildflowers identified and engaged with over the past several years.





After the “Hidden Gems” event, which concluded the ArtPlace grant, Wildflowers made continuing the project “our own initiative,” says Liu. Using general operating funds from the Kalliopeia Foundation, Wildflowers initiated an artist incubator with the aim of “amplifying” the voices of the resident artists. The stakes are high. “There are people with money who are trying to do away with the SRO hotels, which is where I live,” observes Rosemond. The Tenderloin, Johnson concurs, “is on the verge of disappearing, so anything we can do to help it survive and give it voice is important.” The 30 intensive artist incubator meetings helped the artists rise to the challenge. Johnson, who concedes that he mumbles and tends to read his work too fast, received positive comments about his delivery for the first time after the December 2016 incubator presentation, which included singing, spoken word, and the projection of a painting by Ira Watkins. Johnson credits the process of collaborating with the other artists—“very talented, skilled people”—as the transformational factor. “Everyone upped their game,” he says. “We wanted to perform our very best: it wasn’t just about us, it was about the group.” And the group of artists, Liu notes, received a spontaneous standing ovation from about 250 people when their presentations ended.

As for what’s next, Liu says Wildflowers will continue to work as it does in any community in which it operates, seeking to “build an interface between the formal and informal networks.” In the Tenderloin, that means creating forums for the artists to articulate the value that their “unorthodox self-organized sanctuary for healing” offers to a fiercely gentrifying city. In one such example, Wildflowers connected filmmakers Todd Sills and Kevin D. Wong with Rosemond, and the pair have begun filming her for their documentary Home Is a Hotel, which presents stories of current SRO residents. It’s an attempt to counter current efforts to rebrand SROs as “microhousing” to lure tech hipsters. California Assemblymember David Chiu represents eastern San Francisco, which includes the Tenderloin. He sees the Wildflowers artist census as “helping make the case that we need to assure that the vision and creativity of artists living in SROs continues to be a part of the fabric of our great city. Every story of an artist, writer, or poet who is threatened due to our housing crisis helps inform the public and policymakers on why we need to address San Francisco’s affordability crisis.”

Minneapolis writer JACQUELINE WHITE is the founder and director of the Minnesota Host Home Network, which champions permanent connections with caring adults for youth experiencing homelessness.

Photo by Justin Chotikul.


Jesse James Johnson read from his poem “Fugitives” at an incubator session. The group of artists presenting at this event received a standing ovation.





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Hard Work in a Hybrid Space Public art administrators have to handle demands from multiple stakeholders, private and public—while staying true to mission (and as upbeat as possible) BY SHEILA REGAN PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 28 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 56 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG


Public art program administrators and their colleagues who run public-art-oriented nonprofits need to be negotiators. Not only do they have to talk a good game about their projects, they have to negotiate the conflicting demands of multiple stakeholders: artists, community groups, government entities, private-sector players like developers and building owners, and anybody else who has a say in how the work is planned, made, and displayed. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are a case in point. They’re rich in public-art initiatives and have strong traditions of public and corporate support for the arts, but a strong sense of neighborhood identity prevails and city government is careful with permitting and other requirements. And, as elsewhere, private-sector partners have their bottom lines to look after. Administrators need to take a lot of sometimes conflicting demands into account to make public art happen. They operate in a kind of hybrid space,

a web made up of legal concerns, branding, mission, public perception, and the formidable public sector–private sector divide. Take Robyne Robinson, the Arts and Culture Director for the Airport Foundation MSP. She runs the Twin Cities airport’s art program, a hybrid of the foundation and the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) that presents, maintains, and plans a very wide spectrum of public-art forms, of which tile art, paintings, sculptures, and performances are just the beginning. Minneapolis–St. Paul is the first airport in the United States to have a film screening room, and Robinson’s program is currently adding display cases to each of the airport’s 300 restrooms. On top of that, the program plans to create an art park in 2018 in collaboration with the city’s comprehensive art museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and in 2020 open a new outdoor amphitheater.

Photo © Matthew F. Witchell.





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

ABOVE: Tile work by Stacia Goodman in a restroom at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Terminal 2, Gate H10. RIGHT: Robyne Robinson is the arts and culture director for the Airport Foundation MSP. OPPOSITE: Tile art and display cases in restrooms are an important part of an ambitious art program at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.

To make it all happen, Robinson needs to get approval not only from her steering committee, but also from a committee of business development people. “Those are my checks and balances,” she says. “Whatever the architects are working on, pretty much it’s a green light for arts and culture, but it has to be reviewed to make sure it’s legal and that we’re following our mission statement and not interfering with MAC business, whether it’s advertising or anything against what the airport is planning.” Robinson and her staff even have to get the okay from the airport police. Doing all that legwork is hard work, but Robinson considers herself an optimistic person. When she gives her presen-

tations, her excitement tends to rub off on people. “I’m filled with so much enthusiasm, they’re probably just like, ‘My god, keep her quiet, she is too excited,’” she says. A LOITERING DILEMMA

Despite all the optimism and best intentions in the world, however, the public art administrator’s multiple concerns don’t necessarily align smoothly, says Joan Vorderbruggen, who runs the Made Here public art program, part of the Hennepin Theatre Trust (HTT), which operates several large performance venues in downtown Minneapolis. For example, last year a controversy arose around a storefront display about homelessness.




In the piece, created by zAmya Theater, statistics about affordable housing along with cardboard cut-outs of the city streetscape appeared in the window of a building at a major intersection. “One day I saw that the property manager had put a ‘no trespassing’ sign on both sides of the window,” Vorderbruggen says. “He said that loitering had increased outside the window; people had spent long periods of time there and it had become a problem. He couldn’t ask people to leave if [he didn’t post] a sign.” The zAmya artists, whose work centers on the theme of homelessness, weren’t happy about the sign, of course, because the main thrust of their piece had to do with not having a space to call one’s own.

“That was really challenging, and in the end the property owner didn’t budge,” Vorderbruggen says. “It wasn’t an ideal experience.” Still, Vorderbruggen has had some successes too, like a building owner who not only approved a photojournalism display about trans identity, but offered to support education on the issue for his tenants. “I know from experience that is not typically what people expect when they attempt to show more controversial or provocative work, but [it] blew my mind that he was that supportive,” she says. To help make the case for artworks, Vorderbruggen calls on interpersonal communication skills that she acquired in previous careers as a waitress and a nurse. “There’s this

TOP: Photo by Steven Lang. BOTTOM: Photo by Julia Merle-Smith.

ABOVE: Joan Vorderbruggen leads a walking tour for Brilliance!: Made Here. The third round of Made Here window exhibitions, Brilliance! encompassed 15 city blocks. LEFT: Joan Vorderbruggen, director of public art and placemaking for Hennepin Theatre Trust.



moment, if you are able to get in front of business and property owners, where you are able to read what might be of most value to them,” she says, “and then try to work them toward a yes.” Meanwhile, she also keeps the city of Minneapolis in the loop. “As a courtesy, I always send mock-ups of everything to the director of Public Works and [Public Arts Administrator] Mary Altman in case they have feedback or have problems,” Vorderbruggen says. “It’s a courtesy but it’s also so there are no surprises from them.” While the majority of Made Here projects aren’t on public land, Vorderbruggen considers looping in city officials to be a good way of dotting her i’s and crossing her t’s, and of assuring her corporate partners that all the projects are observing the laws and guidelines for signage in public places. That’s a necessary assurance, given some incidents in the past. In one 2014 project in which HTT wasn’t involved, a downtown property manager agreed to place a vinyl wrap mural of a sexy woman “dressed” in milk on one of his buildings. The problem was that the mural was part of an ad campaign that promoted Coca-Cola’s milk line, Fairlife, and since 2001 Minneapolis has banned the promotion of any product or service in the context of an art mural. The property owner was slapped with a fine.


TOP: Photo by Justin Sengly. BOTTOM: Photo by Shane Loeffler.


ABOVE: Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) Executive Director Shannon Forney hangs art at Workhorse Coffee Bar, which she co-owns with her spouse. TOP: This artist-designed “Wayfinding Art Bike” in St. Paul’s CEZ neighborhood is part of a larger effort to encourage non-motorized traffic.

ON LOCATION The mural was “pretty artful but it was [a] very clear promotion for revenue-generating for the company that put it together,” Vorderbruggen says. Because of that experience, the property manager was reticent to work with Made Here. She finally got him on board a project, though, by getting a signed letter from the city saying that everything in it had been approved. PUBLIC ART REVIEW | VOL. 28 | NO. 2 | ISSUE 56 | PUBLICARTREVIEW.ORG




Shannon Forney, Executive Director of the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ), which does placemaking and arts-community building in a section of St. Paul, calls her organization the “elastic” between artists, businesses, and the city, because its role is “to stretch and sometimes pull them together,” she says. CEZ is well positioned for that elasticity because they have a track record as partners in projects, they’re well known among their neighbors, and they understand how to deal with civic red tape. “We want to be the first phone call people make, because we are such good connections,” she says. Last summer, for example, CEZ hosted a grand opening event for Studio on Fire, a letterpress printing studio. The event involved closing off a street, and CEZ knew just how to navigate the permitting process to make that happen. For another project that’s still in the works, CEZ is involved in an arts proposal for a water tower that sits on top of a new indoor mini-golf course building. (Forecast Public Art, the publisher of Public Art Review, is a partner in the project.) CEZ has been instrumental in working with the building developer, the artist, the city, and even the Minnesota Department of Transportation to make sure the project can be realized. “Those are the kinds of layers of civic navigation we work through, to make sure it is okay,” Forney says. STAYING TRUE TO A NEW NARRATIVE

With so many partners having a stake in a given piece of art, staying true to its mission can become a challenge for an arts nonprofit. DeAnna Cummings is the chief executive officer of Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), an organization that strives to shape a positive message about North Minneapolis, a section of the city challenged by high rates of poverty and lagging economic development. Most of the stories about North Minneapolis that the local mainstream media tell, and that many Twin Citians take for granted, tend to be negative, Cummings says, and that’s something JXTA is trying to change. Those narratives, often subconscious, “take away the power from people in this community and ascribe a story of deficiency,” she says. In contrast, JXTA strives to create beautiful, engaging, and creative art and design, hiring young people to develop their talents on projects in collaboration with professionals. In doing so, JXTA helps send the message that the young

people in the community have something to contribute that’s valuable and important. JXTA works hard, she says, to keep that narrative at the forefront. A recent project exemplifies this mission. A 20-foot sculpture called North Arrow was commissioned by a developer, the Ackerberg group, for a county Human Services building at a major North Minneapolis intersection. The sculpture was specifically designed to point toward the downtown skyline and, from certain angles, to frame it, Cummings says. The artist hoped to convey the idea that the North Side is an integral part of Minneapolis, not a separate community. Another project, commissioned by the nonprofit CommonBond Communities, includes a bus stop with artistic enhancements and bike racks that say “North Minneapolis,” as well as a pocket park with benches that light up—all installed with the help of neighborhood young people. While the CommonBond project offered less creative leeway than the Ackerberg commission, Cummings says that it still reinforced JXTA’s narrative. “The narrative is also: a dozen teenage black youth at work on the site of this new development,” she says. But the organization has had to defend itself too. This winter it turned down a client who had a project proposal but no budget. According to Cummings, the potential client wanted JXTA to either do the project out of its own budget (because it was a “high-visibility opportunity”) or share who its funders are. “There’s a narrative there that says we should be grateful that they would approach us and offer exposure,” Cummings says. JXTA declined the offer. That desire to stay true to its mission has led JXTA to try to stay as autonomous as possible. For example, JXTA owns several buildings, on which it can allow the display of murals without asking the permission of a landlord. “Owning our own property gives us more flexibility and leverage,” Cummings says. “[But] you always still have to engage with the people that live with the piece.” That means building owners, but also people who live in the neighborhood and have to see the art every day. Neighborhood sensibilities are very important to JXTA, whose projects almost always have a community component. That being said, Roger Cummings, JXTA’s chief cultural producer, speaks for both administrators and artists when he adds, “If you are afraid to offend anybody ever, your work is going to be quite bland, because somebody is always going to be offended.” is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She regularly contributes arts coverage to the Minneapolis/ St. Paul newspapers City Pages and the Star Tribune, and has also written online for Hyperallergic, American Theatre magazine, American Photo magazine, Salon, Fusion, Public Radio International, and Pacific Standard magazine. SHEILA REGAN




TOP: Photo by Bill Cottman. BOTTOM: Photo by Bruce Silcox.


TOP: Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) hires young people to develop their art and design talents in collaboration with professionals. RIGHT: Chief Cultural Producer Roger Cummings and Chief Executive Officer DeAnna Cummings of JXTA.

BOOKS Publications and Reviews

How Placemaking Got Creative A decade in the life of a planning philosophy

How to Do Creative Placemaking: An Action-Oriented Guide to Arts in Community Development Jason Schupbach, Don Ball, Katryna Carter, Jenna Moran, Bryan McEntire (eds.) National Endowment for the Arts—Public Affairs, December 2016


HUMAN COMMUNITIES GROW, change, adapt, and die. Some of that process is the organic outcome of individual actions and reactions, combined with bureaucratic decisions about such matters as streetscapes, utility upgrades, transit lines, and tax codes. But sometimes, more philosophical approaches shape our communities—the “slum clearance” efforts of the 1950s and the New Urbanism of the 1990s are a couple of examples. It can take decades or more for the consequences of these planning movements to shake out. And the results can be unpredictable. The creative placemaking movement, by comparison, is a wee toddler of a planning philosophy. The notion that artists should be embedded in planning efforts was spearheaded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and it’s been just under a decade since the endowment launched its ambitious Our Town program, which has since awarded grants for more than $30 million to hundreds of neighborhoods to support their creative placemaking efforts. The learning from this first decade is gathered in essays by leading practitioners,

as well as short Our Town case studies, in this how-to manual produced by the NEA. The volume is neatly organized into segments designed to help practitioners—artists, urban planners, architects, developers, and community or economic development authorities—find relevant discussion and examples. Yet all these audiences would do well to read the comprehensive and thoughtful work from cover to cover. The prose is clear and readable (refreshingly free of academic jargon), and color photographs help illustrate the concepts. The NEA released the book at a vital moment. With its emphasis on economic development and “vibrant” neighborhoods, the creative placemaking movement has made some artists and community activists uncomfortable. Revitalization, after all, has long been a code word for gentrification and displacement. The writers in this work make no effort to sweep this pitfall under the rug. Indeed, they demonstrate, with examples and instruction, how artists embedded in a well-executed placemaking effort can serve as a force for inclusivity, ethics, and a just planning effort. We may be a half-century or so away from any kind of true evaluation of creative placemaking—including its inevitable unintended results. But if planners, development agencies, government bodies, and artists ground their future experiments in the indispensable learning garnered by the NEA, we stand a good chance of living in human communities designed for each and every one of us. JOE HART is a writer, musician, and artist

based in rural Wisconsin.

Cry You One, an outdoor performance and online storytelling platform, celebrates the people and cultures of Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands while calling people forth to save the region’s coast.

Photo by Melisa Cardona Photography.





Public Perplexities Essays grapple with the changing meaning of the “public” and the evolving roles of art

Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good Edited by Johanna Burton, Shannon Jackson, and Dominic Willsdon Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016

in the revived Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture series, whose first run, between 1984 and 2004, produced six volumes—

may become. Social media, for example, are reconfiguring the very idea of the public, while in many countries the state-as-public-sector is under fire both from the ideologues of the free market and the grassroots activists of the Left. The roles that the arts are playing and could play in this rapidly shifting sociocultural scene is the theme of Public Servants. Accounts of actual projects—for example, a remarkable initiative that enlists artists to create images of the real or imagined outside world, as requested by prisoners in solitary confinement—rub shoulders with dense essays on the interaction between the market and meritocracy and the legacy of Jürgen Habermas’s theory of the public sphere. A “Portfolio” of artists’ first-person accounts of their experiences working in public realms adds authority to the mix. Mel Chin speaks, I suspect, for many artists as well as others in Trump’s America when he writes: “If, while living and working, you become aware you are in a compromised system, then you had better do something or say something about it…. I thank goodness that the processes I have at my disposal are excellent for momentary liberation.” JON SPAYDE is a senior editor of Public

Art Review.



including Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation, which became a critical classic by taking up the challenge of defining postmodernism in its early phase. Public Servants is just as much of its moment, engaging as it does the recent turn of art toward concern with public life. But Burton and her collaborators intend more than a survey of the artworks we’ve come to label public or public practice or socially engaged. The essays here, many reprinted and some commissioned, take on multiple aspects of the whole contemporary relationship between art and the public: sociological, theoretical, and philosophical as well as art-historical. At the outset, the editors render a notable service by grappling with the word public itself and reminding those of us who use it unreflectively that its field of meaning is wide—and paradoxical. For placemakers, it can point to physical space set aside for the democratic interaction of citizens; as a “sphere,” it can mean a zone freed from the demands of the market—or a realm controlled by the needs of the political state. And, of course, it can simply stand for art that’s outdoors. The issues don’t end with semantics; technological and political change are redefining what each of these “publics” actually is and



BOOKS Theo Jansen: The Great Pretender 3rd expanded edition Theo Jansen Rotterdam: Nai010 Publishers, 2016

PEOPLE Alicia Penalba, Sculptor Mario Kier Joffé Barcelona: MALBA + RM, 2016



An Argentinean best known for her monumental and winged sculptures, Alicia Penalba (1913– 1982) gained recognition in 1950s Europe. Published as a complement to the Alicia Penalba, Escultora (Alicia Penalba, Sculptor) exhibit at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), this thorough biography shares beautiful photographs and documents from Penalba’s personal archive. The Art of the Multitude: Jochen Gerz—Participation and the European Experience Jonathan P. Vickery and Mechtild Manus, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016 Cultural identity, public memory, participation, and the connections among community, art, and politics are explored through essays by ten authors. Throughout the book the editors use the biblical term multitude as a more complex, heterogeneous, and experiential way of saying the public, and focus particularly on the work of conceptual artist Jochen Gerz, many of whose works invite direct participation by the “multitude.”


Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing Kay A. Haring, with illustrations by Robert Neubecker New York: Penguin / Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017 Kay Haring’s charming book—the first biography of the late artist for young readers—tells the story of her older brother. Following the artist from boyhood to fame, readers discover that Keith Haring’s motto was always to just keep drawing. Bold and bright, like Haring’s instantly recognizable work, this lively picture book will engage both adults and children. Further information about the artist is included. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Youth Advisory Committee of the Berks County Community Foundation in Reading, Pennsylvania, Haring’s hometown. Kenny Scharf: In Absence of Myth G. James Daichendt, with foreword by Ann Magnuson Petaluma, CA: Cameron + Company, 2016 This flexibound survey of the life and graffiti-inspired paintings, performances, and sculptures of Kenny Scharf follows the timeline of an artist who typified his generation. New York in the 1980s— and close associations with the likes of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol—laid the groundwork for an artistic evolution that left many of his contemporaries behind. This complete biography covers the full story of a richly chaotic creative career.

Kinetic artist Theo Jansen’s often massive, always imaginative beach creatures are made of yellow plastic tubing and walk with the help of the wind. Jansen has made these complex but light-hearted structures for almost three decades, and his approach has evolved over time. In 12 chapters he tells the story of 12 periods in his creative development.

PROJECTS Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project Sheryl Oring, ed. Chicago: Intellect Ltd, University of Chicago Press, 2016 Sheryl Oring’s multiyear, ongoing I Wish to Say project—in which she sets up a desk with a typewriter and invites people to dictate a letter to the President or a presidential candidate, which she types and sends—is a catalyst for a deeper look at artists’ intersection with public policy. The book includes samples of the postcards from 2004 through 2016. Along with sharing the voices of some of the 2,500 people whose cards she typed, Oring discusses politically engaged contemporary art from a variety of viewpoints. Chapters include topics like photographing people, dissent, free speech in a digital era, civic engagement, social practice, the role of artist books, and turning strangers into neighbors. Fourth Plinth: How London Created the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World Isabel de Vasconcellos, with foreword by Grayson Perry New York: Art Books, 2016 Relating the story of every commission that has ever stood on the stone pedestal in London’s Trafalgar Square, this book gives behind-the-scenes views of the rotating series of works that have adorned the Fourth Plinth over nearly 20 years. In a famous public space, the plinth exists not only as a platform for new art, but, as the author shows, as an inspiration for love and debate. Providing full-page illustrations, artist commentaries, and background material on the plinth’s origins as a stage for creative ideas, de Vasconcellos offers rich context for the world’s smallest sculpture park. Restauración de una Pintura Mural / Restoration of a Mural Painting: Tercerunquinto 2000–2015 Sergio Arroyo and Itala Schmelz Mexico: Turner, 2016 Presented in Spanish and English, Restauración de una Pintura Mural, by the Mexico City–based architect/artist collective Tercerunquinto, describes the restoration of a Mexican mural in 2010, with photographs. The book focuses on the use of public walls for political propaganda and the economic and cultural impact of such murals on the local community.



Your Glacial Expectations Olafur Eliasson and Günther Vogt, with a contribution by Josephine Klougart New York: Thames & Hudson, 2017 This beautiful volume describes a site-specific collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Günther Vogt. Created for the Danish textile company Kvadrat in 2012, Your Glacial Expectations integrates large mirrors into a lush, grassy landscape. Photographs and illustrations document the artwork and its environment through the changing seasons, with an accompanying text and maps. 9/11 Memorial Visions: Innovative Concepts from the 2003 World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition Lester J. Levine Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016 After reviewing all 5,201 entries for the 2003 World Trade Center Memorial Design Competition, Levine chose 180 standout designs to explore: memorial concepts that engage light, sound, digital technology, movement—including some that go well beyond traditional boundaries. Through personal stories, Levine shows how entrants were inspired to engage and connect with viewers. Web links are included for further study of each concept.

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS, 1987-2017 A NEW BOOK Meandering Methodologies, Deviant Disciplines

Four Years of City Art Collaboratory Shanai Matteson, Editor

The City Art Collaboratory is an experimental Fellowship Cohort for artists and scientists that seeks to grow cross-disciplinary relationships and new approaches to artistic collaborations focused on issues of place and sustainability. This new book published by Public Art Saint Paul features an anthology of essays by artists, scientists, critics, and scholars.

A public art, community, and food project by Seitu Jones with Public Art Saint Paul

PUBLIC SPACES 3rd4All: How to Create a Relevant Public Space Aat Vos Rotterdam: Nai010 Publishers, 2017

On September 14, 2014, two thousand people gathered for a meal at a half-mile table set on a street in Saint Paul to share food stories and hopes for the future of our food systems.

3rd4All views space-making from five angles: people, place, experience, product, and future. Ranging across related fields in the development of public space, the 20 interviews that make up the book explore the need for “third places,” the impossibility of forcing community, our desire to escape from mediocrity, our need for places where we can learn and better ourselves, and many other topics. This beautifully designed book poses thoughtful questions and answers about the social value of public places.

Drawing on this event, we now have a Neighborhood Meal Kit available for purchase.

Future Imperfect Elizabeth M. Grady, ed.; introduction by Deborah Fisher; foreword by Shelley Frost Rubin New York: A Blade of Grass Books, 2017 Attentive to art’s connection to everyday civic life, Future Imperfect maintains that art should be everywhere. The nonprofit A Blade of Grass, which supports impactful, socially engaged art and artists, funded the projects featured. These grassroots works include a mobile beauty salon for women experiencing homelessness, New York community efforts to clean contaminated topsoil with mushrooms, and healing and wellness workshops in Oakland. Examples and analyses explore the impact, structure, practice, ethics, and effectiveness of socially connected public art.

The CREATE Kit Contains suggested instructions for hosting a Neighborhood Meal along with relics from the original meal and holds all the elements for an artful gathering. Ideal for artist & art organization gatherings, community garden and healthy food groups, and for meals in your own neighborhood. The CREATE Kit: Collectors Edition 30 limited artist editions of the CREATE Kit, hand numbered and signed by Seitu Jones with museum quality components and relics from the original meal.




Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring, eds. New York: Random House, 2016

Asking the Audience: Participatory Art in 1980s New York Adair Rounthwaite Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017

This selection of 40 works by author and activist Jane Jacobs (1916–2006) is a welcome companion to her other books on urbanism, economics, politics, and ethics. The author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities championed community-based urban planning. Relevant to developers, activists, and policy makers, this volume includes speeches, essays, articles, interviews, and lectures covering topics like feminism, globalization, and universal health care, all under the larger concept of people-focused places.

With emphasis on the 1980s as a critical decade in the shaping of current art practice, the author explores two Dia Art Foundation–backed projects in New York: Group Material’s Democracy and Martha Rosler’s If You Lived Here…. These works, and others like them that focused on activism around issues like homelessness and AIDS, lead the author into an exploration of public participation and political engagement in contemporary art. Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words Frederick Bianchi and V. J. Manzo, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016



The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Sharon Louden, ed. Chicago: Intellect Ltd, University of Chicago Press, 2017 A follow-up to artist and editor Louden’s 2013 collection of artist essays on the sustainability of creative practice, this compilation extends the theme beyond the studio. It describes not only how to maintain a creative life, but how to make the creative work produced meaningful to a wider community. With essays from 40 artists, Louden’s collection testifies to the impactful, vital community contributions made by contemporary artists.

Memory: Fairmount Park by B a r t S h aw 2016 PA N Year i n Rev iew Ima ge by Ra lp h La ue r

The environmental sound art field, which emerged around 50 years ago, integrates natural noises into creative sound work. Essays by 23 environmental sound artists illuminate a broad range of concepts and techniques, from sound sculptures in public places to “river listening,” from data-as-music to activist sound. This book blends many artistic voices into a rich compilation. Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move Rebecca Roke New York: Phaidon, 2017 Mobitecture is one of those books that simply pop for fans of architecture, transportation, and solid design. With chapters organized by type of power and number of wheels (“Human,” “Three wheels,” “Sleds +”), the volume champions innovative design solutions and considers historical origins, politics, activating and maximizing spaces, the environment, and social issues. Featuring 250 photographs, Roke’s book describes mobile architecture in a variety of forms, from the thoughtfully useful to the downright bizarre—including houseboats, huts, wearable structures, disaster shelters, and more.


C e l e b r a t i n g 1 5 Ye a r s of Fort Worth Public Art


Art as Cinema

Jack Becker

The NowYouSeeMe! awards honor films about public art—and promote the field while they’re at it BY JACK BECKER

serve as a This year’s NowYouSeeMe!, which received 70 submisjuror for the second round of NowYouSeeMe!, an interna- sions from around the world—three times the number it tional public art short film contest, I didn’t hesitate to say garnered its first year—limited the length of entries to ten yes. I’ve been a proponent of documenting and sharing the minutes. Beyond documentaries, the contest encourages stories of public art for decades, and film is one of the best films that use public art as a backdrop for fictional stories, ways to do that. In fact, nowadays there are more aspiring experimental films, and more. (You can learn about this “independent filmmakers” than ever before, with smart- year’s top six films and the overall winner, Black Circle phones or handheld video cameras readily available. Public Square by Matteo Frittelli, on Public Art Review’s website.) art makes great subject matter, or, at the very least, compel- I hope the number of submissions triples in the next round, ling backdrops for their productions. (Of course, there are including more films about temporary as well as permanent copyright issues, but that’s another story.) works. While it’s laudable to promote the preservation of Noa, daughter of pioneering Israeli sculptor Dani Kara- artworks installed in our landscapes, sharing the stories of van, and her colleague Smadar Timor started the film contest those that can no longer be seen is of equal importance. a few years ago in response to the lack of attention paid to These days, people are probably more willing to watch a the care of great works of public art following their comple- short film than to read a book or even a short essay. For those tion. Hence the title: NowYouSeeMe! It’s true that public art is often hiding in plain sight and is subject to neglect once the artist’s work is done. Award-winning films, judged by notable experts and screened at the Louvre, Noa rightly assumed, would enhance the importance of public art in people’s minds and, hopefully, lead to better stewardship of significant works in the public realm. After all, respectable museums would never let a masterpiece fall into disrepair, and we all understand the importance of conserving historic treasures. Plus, public artworks are seen by a thousand times more people than those in museums, and for free. They deserve the Matteo Frittelli’s award-winning film is about Massimo Bartolini’s Black Circle Square. same respect, don’t they? Sadly, more often than not, municipalities and commissioning agencies lack the of us who want to promote awareness and appreciation of resources to care for them—or worse, don’t even consider the public art, this could be a boon. The fact is that films featurconsequences of letting them decay. ing public art can address several critical issues in our field. I’m captivated by the history of cinema and love watching They can help audiences develop a shared vocabulary for films, including films about public art and artists. Among discussing and evaluating work, and they can foster interest my favorites are Albert and David Maysles’s documentary in the process of art making as well as the product. Films about Christo and Jeanne Claude’s Running Fence (1976). can promote new approaches and highlight the theoretical Their lens captured the joys and frustrations that went into underpinnings of artworks. And film can capture the impact this 24.5-mile-long artwork. If not for Freida Lee Mock’s of public art on its audiences, and on the communities in Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994), which won an which they live, while helping to make people more aware Oscar for best documentary, I wouldn’t appreciate Lin’s of the value artists add to our society. game-changing Vietnam Veterans Memorial nearly as much as I do. And Rivers & Tides (2001), Thomas Riedelsheimer’s JACK BECKER is the founder of Forecast Public Art and sensuous film about Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral sculp- Public Art Review. He directs Forecast’s Community ture, captures the artist’s endless patience and persistence. Services program.



Photo courtesy the artist Massimo Bartolini and the filmmaker Matteo Frittelli.



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It was the day after Election Day. In the wake of the shock felt by many Americans at the victory of Donald Trump, sticky notes began appearing on the wall of a tunnel between the Fourteenth Street subway stations on Sixth and Seventh Avenues in New York City. On them were written messages of love, grief, surprise, fear, support, and encouragement, such as “Love will always trump hate,” “As my heart cries, help me understand,” “Never give up,” “Listen to each other,” “MAKE ART,” “Grieve Organize Resist,” “We will fight against the rising tide of Fascism,” and “this is helping.” Artist Matthew Chavez was the instigator; he put up the first notes in what became the Subway Therapy project. As interest grew, similar note walls appeared on the East and West Coasts of the United States, and in Toronto. Chavez, who goes by the name Levee, also received requests for assistance from interested European groups. The New York notes were allowed to stay up for several weeks with the support of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, whose own note quoted the Statue of Liberty’s “Give us your tired, your poor” poem by Emma Lazarus. The notes were eventually taken down but not discarded; the New-York Historical Society is preserving a selection to document community members’ election response. Hoping to address concerns about excessive partisanship and give voice to all, Chavez also aims to bring the project to areas with political views that differ from those of the liberal coastal enclaves. “It is especially crucial to provide relief to people living in areas where such expression may not be as accessible,” says the artist, who plans to digitize the notes for wider dissemination—there’s a growing digital archive on and on an Instagram account of the same name—and turn them into a book. After the inauguration, Chavez set up an installation at Cornell University that featured a wall of New York notes and a participatory wall inviting visitors to express themselves. In the words of one anonymous writer, “It gives me hope that such beauty and solidarity is coming out of such chaos.” —Jen Dolen

Photo courtesy Photo courtesy Matthew eL“Levee” Seed. Chavez.

Artist offers a way for people to express themselves post-election



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Issue 56 • Spring/Summer 2017 •

Issue 56 • Resistance and Reclamation • Nuart • Carlton Turner • Tenderloin • Twin Cities • 2017 International Awards

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