Featured

January 20, 2017

The Art Department

The grassroots “agency” dubbed the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is set to come of age with a convening and a policy paper

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) could be a cabinet-level agency of the federal government—in your dreams, and in the dreams of its founders, a young artist-activist-instigator named Adam Horowitz and Arlene Goldbard, a veteran consultant, activist, and writer on cultural policy. What the USDAC actually is, is a three-year-old grassroots network of … Read More

Jon Spayde | Featured, Public Art Review

January 18, 2017

Wait/Walk/Wisdom

California artist-inventor retools a crosswalk button to offer upbeat messages

PETALUMA, Calif. – When you press a button at a crosswalk, what you hear (“Main Street. Wait! Wait! Wait!” followed by “Walk” or that beeping or rattling sound) may be annoying, but it’s also life-affirming, helping the visually impaired, or the merely distracted, navigate a busy intersection. Now a Petaluma, California artist-technologist has decided to … Read More

January 16, 2017

Public Ritual

William Pope.L and exorcisms of abject otherness

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’re republishing this 2010 Public Art Review article about artist William Pope.L, whose work addresses racism and social inequities.   Best known for his street performances, William Pope.L has worked for decades across a broad array of media including public interventions, stage performances, installations, painting, and found … Read More

Derek Conrad Murray and Soraya Murray | Featured, Magazine Feature, Public Art Review

January 13, 2017

Funktional Vibrations

by Xenobia Bailey

NEW YORK – Suspended over the main entrance of the new 34th Street Hudson Yards station—New York City’s first new subway station in 25 years—one of Xenobia Bailey’s Funktional Vibrations mosaics glitters in a swirl of color. Located beneath a new urban park and playground, the artwork greets commuters with an energetic interlude to their … Read More

January 11, 2017

Fire on the Veld

South African artist’s mammoth fire-etched images are also an experiment in grassland ecology

At sunset on April 11, 2015, fire erupted in a 12-acre swathe of dry grass in the Khatlhampi Private Reserve near Johannesburg, South Africa. This was no wildfire; it was a controlled burn, carefully supervised by Working on Fire, an NGO that specializes in fire management on savannah lands. The burn was also designed—by Johannesburg-based … Read More

December 26, 2016

Pure Genius

MacArthur Fellowships have a long tradition of rewarding innovative public artists—and of providing the resources for recipients to live free and dream big

Economic uncertainty, regardless of how it exhibits itself, has a sneaky way of stifling creativity. Conversely, financial freedom is often a potent muse. Just ask the artists, writers, scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, and other pioneering souls who—after being awarded a vaunted MacArthur Fellowship—suddenly found themselves blessed with the freedom to dream radically, experiment spontaneously and, if … Read More

December 19, 2016

Portable Land Art

Vaughn Bell’s playful works are inspired by serious issues of humankind and our environment

Vaughn Bell’s work brings a quirky, humorous sensibility to a sphere that is often treated with deadly seriousness: our relationship with the environment. The Seattle-based artist literally “models” human relationships with the natural world by creating offbeat objects like the Portable Personal Biosphere, a terrarium that fits over the head so that the wearer carries … Read More

October 9, 2016

Museums Go Public

Around the country, museums are collaborating with public artists and shedding their highbrow image

Over the years, in these pages we’ve chronicled the evolution of public art from “plop art”—the big sculptural object by the renowned artist dropped into the public place—into a dynamic ecosystem of artistic practices, from mural-making to event-making, that are more and more focused on the histories, needs, and wishes of communities, and more and … Read More

Jon Spayde | Featured, Public Art Review

July 15, 2016

A Shift Toward Trust

Indian artist Jasmeen Patheja describes her work and the genesis of the Talk To Me project

Jasmeen Patheja began addressing critical social issues early in her career as an artist. While still an art student in Bangalore, India, in 2003, she initiated a project that ultimately led to the formation of Blank Noise, a collective that emerged in response to the widespread harassment and rape of women. Blank Noise creates interactive … Read More

July 13, 2016

Climate Storytelling

Subtle, elegant, and arresting, public art projects on a human scale help us understand climate change

One of the greatest gifts an artist can offer is to show us the world as it is. Our sense of what is real is often clouded by our preoccupations, passivity, or politics. But when an artwork removes these filters and allows us to see as the artist sees, we can be changed. Our perspective … Read More

Karen Olson | Featured, Public Art Review

June 15, 2016

Culture Worker

Mankwe Ndosi uses sound to build understanding in a diverse neighborhood

Mankwe Ndosi believes that performance is powerful, sound is transformative, and that music lives everywhere. “Everyone has a daily soundtrack,” says the Minneapolis-based artist. “Music is in people’s daily lives.” Today the Harvard graduate works to gather the musical soundtracks in city dwellers’ everyday lives, whether those are the echoes and vibrations off a freeway … Read More

Laine Bergeson | Featured, Public Art Review

June 13, 2016

Opening Up Urban Space

Two mirrored projects call attention to space in densely populated neighborhoods

In New York and San Francisco, two temporary installations have transformed public walkways with reflective materials, drawing attention to how we think about open space in dense urban areas. Five hundred feet of golden foliage-like polished metal plates form six porous canopies above paths in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park in Teresita Fernández’s Fata Morgana. “My … Read More

Anna Renken | Featured, Public Art Review