July 1, 2016

A Hyper Local Bridge

A vibrant red bridge made out of five tons of environmentally-friendly paper arced over an English stream

Strong enough to walk across, PaperBridge was designed and assembled by artist Steve Messam in Grisedale Valley in Patterdale, Cumbria, England. On site from May 8 to 18, 2015, the Lake District bridge comprised 22,000 sheets of vibrant red paper that snugly formed an arch weighing just under five tons. Framed by two piles of … Read More

Megan Guerber | Featured, Public Art Review

June 20, 2016

Placemaking Gets Deep

Planner Mark VanderSchaaf encourages us to dig for the soul of a city

Today’s cities could use a little soul, says city planner Mark VanderSchaaf. For much of his nearly 12-year tenure as director of regional planning for the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, VanderSchaaf has been arguing for something he calls deep placemaking. Like the ancients, he believes that every city has a … Read More

June 17, 2016

Pacifying Publics

Public art designed in service of “social cohesion” ignores some key urban issues

The romantic concept of the agora as the public meeting space of democracy has captured the imagination of thinkers for centuries. Today, public space, with its implied freedoms, informs our deliberations on what it means to have a vibrant public life in cities. The general notion among urban planners and related professions is that bringing … Read More

Rike Sitas | 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

June 10, 2016

Documenting Cultural Change

Minnesota documentary filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson turns her lens on an award-winning public art project in Caracas

Tiuna El Fuerte Cultural Park—a pop-up cultural park created by Alejandro Haiek Coll and Eleanna Cadalso in Caracas, Venezuela—won the first International Award for Public Art (IAPA) in 2013. Now the park is the subject of a feature-length documentary planned by Minnesota filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson. Mikkelson first heard about the project from Jack Becker, executive … Read More

Amy Danielson | Featured, Public Art Review

June 8, 2016

“Open Source” Philadelphia

Breaking new ground in art as in tech

Scrap materials like aluminum became works of art at a waste transfer station set up in South Philadelphia by local multimedia artists and brothers Billy and Steven Dufala. Taking cues from children’s drawings of their ideal play structures, Los Angeles–based artist Sterling Ruby designed an outdoor sculpture for them to climb that also provided a … Read More

Anna Renken | Featured, Public Art Review

June 6, 2016

Marina Abramovic: In Residence

The famous performance artist includes participants in her recent Sydney Project

In the course of her 40-year career as a performance artist, Marina Abramovic has been providing audiences with experiences that originated outside their bodies—movements and sounds and ideas that poured forth from her and washed over them. Those works have been transformative, and recognized as such. She was awarded Best Artist at the 1997 Venice … Read More

Laine Bergeson | Featured, Public Art Review

June 3, 2016

Northern Regeneration 1

Public art is thriving in Norway, fueled in part by the country’s burgeoning oil economy

The marble-clad roof and glass walls of Oslo’s Opera House rise, iceberg-like, from the fjord, connecting land and sea in a harmonious meeting of cultural life and the environment. So, too, is the Snøhetta-designed Opera House a place where art meets the public. The sloping roof is designed so that anyone who wishes may clamber … Read More

May 2, 2016

Taking Public Liberties:

Three graces in an African metropolis

Three public “liberties”—all thumbing their nose to varying degrees at Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830)—are tramping through downtown Johannesburg: The amazon of Reshada Crouse’s painting Passive Resistance hails audiences from the Nelson Mandela Theater; the child in Marlene Dumas’ tapestry The Benefit of the Doubt surveys the Constitutional Court; and William Kentridge and … Read More

Leora Maltz-Leca | Featured, Public Art Review

April 29, 2016


Curators are emerging as an important force in the world of public art

Where does public art come from? How does it get made? These are simple enough questions, but they raise some complicated issues—especially when it comes to the emerging forms of “social practice” that are rapidly reshaping the world of public art. Consider the monumental steel sculpture that towers over a corporate plaza or the mural … Read More

April 27, 2016

Artists and Fabricators: Constructing a Relationship

Artist Mark Dion and fabricators Rick and Ido Yoshimoto forged a collaborative bond in creating The Ship Chandler

Public art is public memory, in either intention or effect. Some pieces commemorate history; others become landmarks, anchoring new memories. The Ship Chandler, Mark Dion’s installation for the Port of Los Angeles, plays with this truth. The work disrupts the present with a visitation from a past that is not so much remembered as imagined. … Read More

Arlene Goldbard | Featured, Public Art Review