Letter from the Editor

Farewell Public Art Review. Hello FORWARD.

2020 has been a year of tremendous change, challenge, and loss. It has also been a year that has illuminated what is most important in our lives and communities and what we hold as sacred. What has come into clear focus for Forecast Public Art, the publisher of Public Art Review, is highlighting the powerful role that artists have in addressing the most vital issues of our time, such as public health, fighting racial injustice, public safety, and accessible transportation. 

Since our founding in 1978, Forecast has been committed to artists working in the parks, schools, public housing, libraries, and other spaces we share as a public. This commitment to artists, and the people that make change in our public lives and spaces, is leading the decision to retire our beloved Public Art Review magazine and launch a more accessible, digital, dynamic publication called FORWARD

Publishing in print hasn’t always been easy. As a small non-profit, we have struggled to bring new subscribers and advertisers into the fold to cover the extensive costs of printing and shipping around the country and the world. And with the global pandemic upon us, we had to make tough choices about where our resources should be used to benefit people the most. 

As we shift gears, we take time to thank Jack Becker for founding Public Art Review and his stalwart leadership over decades to build awareness, credibility, and excitement about public art and artists. As Jack says: “Public Art Review pushed back against the idea that if art isn’t in an art museum it’s not important.” And for the last 32 years, Public Art Review has told the story of the contemporary field of public art, serving for much of that time, Jack says, as “the publishing arm for the field.” It has been a vital source of information for artists and arts administrators. It has been an educational tool; its archives are housed at the University of Minnesota. It partnered with the University of Shanghai and China’s Public Art magazine to create the International Award for Public Art. 

In the past four years, under Theresa Sweetland’s leadership, Forecast made a deeper commitment to bringing more voices into Public Art Review.  We increased our coverage of BIPOC-led projects and stories and cross-sector work across creative placemaking and planning. At the same time Forecast built national partnerships and expanded its consulting team. 

Forecast remains deeply committed to public art, public artists, and the field of public art. In fact our new mission is to advocate for public art that advances justice, health, and human dignity. 

“Public art and artists working in public is more important than ever as we recover, heal, and work for justice,” Theresa says. “Our change in publishing strategy is a response to what our country and our community needs right now: highly accessible, deeply inclusive, digitally dynamic, and timely relevant stories and tools that can bring more attention, resources, and support to artists who are on the ground healing and rebuilding our country. Publishing at Forecast is just getting started.”

As a digital, completely free quarterly publication, FORWARD can now reach you, our dedicated subscribers, advisors, and advertisers, and thousands more. Accessibility and affordability are drivers in this decision, and we hope that you share these goals with us and will help us bring this new publication to new readers and new communities. 

FORWARD continues and advances our commitment to bringing more voices into the fold. Each quarterly, guest-edited edition will speak to the most critical issues of our time. Our first edition, created in collaboration with ArtPlace America and the Center for Art and Medicine at the University of Florida, highlights the crucial work of artists in public health. The following edition will focus on challenging issues in transportation, and will be guest edited by Ben Stone of Transportation for America.

And we’ll still be covering the broad and diverse array of public art across the country on this new platform, too. Starting with the transportation edition, a second guest editor will share five public art projects that they feel are pushing the field forward.  

We are grateful for everyone who made Public Art Review a trusted source for public art and artists over the decades. Thank you dear readers and advertisers. Thank you, artists and administrators, for sharing your stories with us. We have been honored to showcase your incredible talents and contributions and to inspire others across the country

We’re grateful for all the years of support, partnership, and friendship we’ve experienced in the field through Public Art Review. We are also very excited about what we’ll do together next. We hope you’ll stay in touch and enjoy FORWARD

Thank you for all you do.

Warm regards,

Karen Olson
Editor in chief of Public Art Review
Project manager of FORWARD, Issue #1

For sponsorship and partnership inquiries: Theresa Sweetland, theresa@forecastpublicart.org

For advertising inquiries:  Shauna Dee, shauna@forecastpublicart.org

For questions about your Public Art Review subscription: Shauna Dee, shauna@forecastpublicart.org