Public Art Projects

OPEN CALL: CSPA Quarterly:  An Open Call for Essays, Artwork, and Reports 

CSPAQ 8The CSPA Quarterly has embarked on what has turned into an incredibly challenging series of publications:  four issues focused on each of the four dimensions of sustainability (as recognized by UNESCO).  Our first issue in the series on Art + Economy was published at the beginning of the year, and our issue on Environment will be released soon.

The remaining issues in the series are open for submission.  Please send us tips, projects, essays, scripts, photographs, etc that represent the two remaining dimensions:

SOCIAL EQUITY / performances, artwork, or public art projects that address issues of social equity- local or global!

CULTURE / Yes, we know this is broad.  We’re looking for essays, projects, etc that evaluate the value of culture, and the role of art and culture in a sustainable society.

Please address submissions to:

For Previous editions, please CLICK HERE

Green Public Art Lands on List of Top 50 Public Art Projects in US

This post comes to you from Green Public Art

601f373719f82d0dc8c6a93864b96067The artwork, Orit Haj by artist team Didier Hess (Project Manager, Rebecca Ansert of Green Public Art Consultancy), selected by a jury of arts professionals from over 350 submissions as one of the Top 50 most exemplary public art projects of 2012, was announced at the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network conference in 2013.

The American for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review program recognizes exemplary and innovative, permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in the previous calendar year. It is the only national award that specifically recognizes public art projects. Three independent public art experts—John Carson, artist and Head of Carnegie Mellon University School of Fine Art, Norie Sato, artist, and Justine Topfer, Project Manager, San Francisco Arts Commission and private curator—juried the 2013 Year in Review. Their selections were announced on June 13, 2013 at the Americans for the Arts Public Art Preconference in Pittsburgh. Over 350 projects were submitted for review and 50 final projects selected. For full list click here.

Orit Haj, a site-specific artwork at Vasquez Rocks Park in Acton-Agua Dulce, California is a tribute to the Native American culture of the Tatavium people from the Santa Clarita Valley. Designed by artist team Didier Hess (a Los Angeles based collaborative led by Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess) as a slow release time capsule. To construct the sculpture, the artist team invited the community to participate in a workshop series where they learned about the ancient architectural building material called rammed earth, which is a mixture of soil and cement compacted into forms to create a solid earthen structure. The community was invited to bring personal artifacts to insert into the earth as the workshop participants added the rammed layers. These artifacts will reveal themselves over time as the rammed earth slowly erodes. Deeply hidden within the form is a secretive bronze sculpture designed by the artists for a generation to discover in approximately 200 years.

The sculpture evokes the shape of the unique formations at Vasquez Rocks and is inviting to the human hand to touch it and visitors to climb on it. As people return to the Vasquez Rocks at various points in their lives, the sculpture, like the rocks, will be changing, their contours and the artifacts they contain altering in response to both human and natural forces.

Commissioned by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Orit Haj is the County’s first “green” public art project and the Interpretive Center, designed by Gruen Associates, is Los Angeles County’s first Platinum LEED building.

To read more about the project follow these links:

USGBC LA Chapter Tours Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks Rammed Earth Workshop – photos

Vasquez Rocks Rammed Earth Workshop


Rebecca Ansert, founder of Green Public Art, is an art consultant who specializes in artist solicitation, artist selection, and public art project management for both private and public agencies. She is a graduate of the master’s degree program in Public Art Studies at the University of Southern California and has a unique interest in how art can demonstrate green processes or utilize green design theories and techniques in LEED certified buildings.

Green Public Art is a Los Angeles-based consultancy that was founded in 2009 in an effort to advance the conversation of public art’s role in green building. The consultancy specializes in public art project development and management, artist solicitation and selection, creative community involvement and knowledge of LEED building requirements. Green Public Art also works with emerging and mid-career studio artists to demystify the public art process. The consultancy acts as a resource for artists to receive one-on-one consultation before, during, and after applying for a public art project.
Go to Green Public Art

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Research and Development

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Creative Scotland have announced a call for proposals for public art research and development projects.

“The fund’s purpose is to support the initial research and scoping of a range of public art projects and approaches to provide opportunities for communities across Scotland to engage with the development of creative places through imaginative, artist-led projects.   The aim of the investment is to open opportunities for the public of Scotland to engage with artists in a wide range of public art activity.  We want to encourage high quality and imaginative projects that contribute to successful places, build new audiences and extend the diversity of public art practice.   In 2011/12 there is a budget of £150,000 available.”

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

Beyond Planning

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland
Nine Mile Run Greenway Project (1996-2000), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Image courtesy Reiko Goto, Tim Collins, Robert Bingham, John Stephen. published a ‘Thoughts and Responses’ piece entitled Beyond Planning by two long time colleagues from Pittsburgh, Denys Candy and Reiko Goto. Candy was in Scotland to consult on the Helix project in Falkirk and Goto has been doing her PhD with On The Edge at Gray’s School of Art. Both represent long term grassroots, localist and pedagogically radical approaches to working with communities. Neither flit between public art projects telling stories of how their work transforms communities, nor do they place primary value on ambiguity.

Denys Candy paints an idyllic picture of Vermont in the snow, whilst at the same time contextualising it within a longer term understanding of the likely impacts of global warming on one local industry – the production of maple syrup. For anyone who enjoys that epitome of North American cuisine, pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, the loss will seem one of personal luxury, but as Candy points out others will lose jobs, income and cultural identity.

He then shifts focus, bringing us back to Pittsburgh, to the history of a steel town. The key juxtaposition in this movement from Vermont to Pittsburgh is the ability to ‘touch nature.’ From a location where that is easy, to one where it has been much harder, he’s not concerned with theoretical questions about what nature is, or what wildness is, but rather the simple pleasure and documented benefits to health and well-being of access to nature.

Denys drills down into the specific history of ‘urban renewal’ in Pittsburgh, of de-population, freeways creating isolation, ‘white flight’ and suburban sprawl. His position is that,

“…we need to embellish, improve upon conventional or apparently rational planning methods by adopting attitudes and practices that I call creative regeneration, predicated on asking deep questions and addressing them in practice, collaboratively and collectively.”

His methodology is grounded in two questions framed by Terri Baltimore, who co-founded Find the Rivers! with him,

“How do we heal post industrial cities rent by the trauma of demolition, discrimination and displacement,” and, “What strategies and methods bring more well-being, defined as improvements in economic, ecological, physiological and cultural health?”

He characterises three stages of “unfolding action,” involving “Re-experiencing, Re-imagining, Re-making,” and he touches on the application of this process in an area called “the Hill” in Pittsburgh. His process is exemplary and bears much deeper reading to really understand.

Reiko connects Denys’ project on “the Hill” to her and her partner Tim Collins’ work in Pittsburgh where, over a similar ten year period, they undertook two related projects, Nine Mile Run and 3 Rivers 2nd Nature. She connects by describing the experience of being invited to participate in Denys processes, and reciprocating by inviting him to participate in her and Tim’s processes.

Reiko and Tim’s methodology, like Denys’, is rooted in ecological and cultural understanding. All are intimately familiar with the history of the place and people they are working with. All place the highest value on working within communities, All have strong aesthetic understanding driving their work. Reiko highlights the work of Suzanne Lacy, artist and teacher, and Grant Kester, art historian and theorist, who provide a framework for understanding the conversational as an aesthetic mode, and the convivial as a form rather than a method or intention.

When artists such as Lacy, Goto and Collins, Candy and others specify conversation as an aesthetic, they are not primarily focusing on the instance of the conversation, the immanent experience of it at any one point, but rather the conversation as a durational performance.

For these artists, the conversation is the 10 year conversation in a place, with many, many people through formal and informal processes. Within the conversation there will be formal public meetings; there will be intentional activities such as trips to see and experience places and all the associated experiences; there will also be the informal and chance encounters. Some elements of the conversation will be about the artists learning both from the locals and specialists. Other elements of the conversation will be about the community learning from itself, sometimes reflected through the artists. There will be tough moments and convivial moments, but the convivial will be what is remembered.

The idea that conversation is an aesthetic is informed by performance art more than visual art. The cues are in Allan Kaprow’s scores for Happenings, intentionally purposeless activities that engage participants in a negotiation of shared experience. By way of an aside, the researchers of On The Edge, at the instigation of Anne Douglas, took Kaprow’s score Calendar (1971) as focus for work over the last year. The way that Kaprow’s scores function as a boundary and orientation point around which a number of people with disparate interests negotiate creative action and creative relationship became sharply clear.

Another cue is in the radical/critical pedagogies of in particular Paolo Friere. Friere’s concern that learning needs to acknowledge power relations, and through developing an understanding of the historical context (which of course in his context was colonialism and in these artists’ capital, industry and racism) enable and empower individuals and communities to shape their own futures. This had a significant influence on late 60s and 70s feminist methods such as consciousness raising, and more recently Ranciere’s text The Ignorant Schoolmaster revisited these ideas.

The role of the artist and teacher is critical in these processes, and both Reiko and Denys are at pains to avoid constructing this in any heroic or charismatic mode.

Reiko articulates Denys’ role in a way that is normally framed in terms of glue or connecting,

“His work is like the essential but tiny knots between the pearls in the necklace. He keeps many different stakeholders and interests from rubbing against each other. It also keeps the whole project secure by maintaining each activity as a connected but separate entity. Denys helps to hold the integrity of a community that consists of many kinds of people.”

Her nuanced analogy of a string of pearls, being both the string that connects and also the knots that keep elements from rubbing together, is very effective.

Another relevant aspect of understanding the aesthetic of conversation comes from the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. They describe learning from their project Atempause Für Den Sava-Fluss that something they have come to call ‘conversational drift’ is a beneficial outcome. The project developed a discursive approach to the riparian landscape which increased the amount of clean water in the river Sava. Although interrupted by the Yugoslav war, their proposals were implemented with EU funding. Their assistant on the project went on to employ, iterate and evolve the approach developed by the artists on another nearby river, the Drava. The Harrisons’ concept of ‘conversational drift’ articulates the way that a conversation (in this larger sense) can move away from you, but carry on, and then come back into your life having developed in its own way. This throws into sharp relief the values and characteristics of a conversational aesthetic.

This short thought and reflection, written by two masters, barely touches the surface of the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the writers.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland


An Excerpt from Daniel Boese’s article in ARTFORUM on Wooloo’s “New Life Coppenhagen”.

“We work in the medium of hospitality,” Rosengaard says. The “New Life” project created the possibility for strangers to share their homes and experiences, to thus collaborate under the broad goal of addressing climate change in a global conference and treaty. All participants created the work together, unlike public art projects in which artists serve as teachers for a lay public. Individual acts of hospitality create hope in the face of planetary ecological crisis; strangers can agree and cooperate. But our heads of state did not follow suit; they failed to usher in an age of global cooperation at the summit. “New Life” walked the line between art and activism in a new way, updating tactics pioneered by Beuys, Gran Fury, and the Russian Constructivists: Times have changed, and the problems have only become more urgent.