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Location Analysis

Consideration of location is critical to most public art projects. Consideration of the context helps to distinguish public art from art in public. To avoid the downsides of “plop art,” an artist or commissioning agency should take time to research the site and communicate with audiences that use the site. A public artwork can have greater impact if it is design takes into account the site, its history, the traffic, the surrounding environment, and the characteristics of its setting.


Three Locations

Return JourneyReturn Journey

The site for Return Journey was determined by practical considerations; while the sculpture couldn’t be returned to the exact location in which it originally stood (the playground), it made sense to place it on the corner of the park at the intersection of two busy streets. To serve as a landmark monument celebrating the spirit of the community, the high-visibility entrance to the park was the obvious choice. This site, because of its visibility, also helped protect the piece from vandalism.

1000 Print SummerSanford Center

For the Sanford Center (formerly the Bemidji Regional Event Center), a consultant worked closely with a public art committee to discuss what kind of art might serve their goals, and what spaces would strategically address the criteria they established. Several possible projects and sites were considered, including an exterior paving design outside the front entrance and art as wayfinding signage for the building. The group had no shortage of ideas but needed help prioritizing options to address their desired impact and budgetary restraints. Working with the project architect, Forecast staff studied the building plans, listened to the ideas generated by the committee and recommended three sites. The terrazzo floor in the main concourse was obvious. While the architect had already picked a fabricator to install a plain terrazzo floor, Forecast suggested that the fabricator might be willing to work with an artist on the design. The floor, which had a significant budget beyond the art budget, could become a low-maintenance, permanent art fixture at the event center enjoyed by all, seamlessly integrated into the architecture of the building. The other locations were the two entrances to the event center. It made sense to commission one artist to create two hanging sculptures and take advantage of the high ceilings. These sites were originally targeted for chandeliers, but the architect was willing to replace them with artworks. They would provide a welcoming accent and greet visitors in a unique way. Both projects (the floor and the hanging sculptures) responded to environmental elements of the surrounding landscape.

1000 Print Summer1,000 Print Summer

For the temporary art project 1,000 Print Summer, artist Dave Machacek sought locations with a built-in audiences. He researched and approached festivals and events scheduled around the state, recognizing that it would be easier to reach a wide community this way. By engaging with community festivals happening around the state 1,000 Print Summer worked closely with festival organizers to bring this unique art element to their events. This approach enabled Machacek to reach a wide variety of geographic locations and diverse communities. Video documentation proved useful in conveying the concept to potential host sites.

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Featured Video

Michon Weeks on Vimeo from Forecast Public Art.

With her planning grant Michon Weeks, researched location, feasibility, funding and design elements for her public art piece.