It seems like everywhere I go, nearly everyone I meet wants to “improve the quality of life” in their community. We now throw around terms like livability and standard of living as if everyone knows what we mean. How often do we actually stop to define these terms or take action on them in the public realm? Many communities—and public artists—do so every day.
The city of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis, prides itself on innovation and community building. In 1993, the people of St. Louis Park developed an initiative called Children First. It’s essentially a partnership among their education, faith, city, health, and business communities that focuses on building the 40 “assets” or character-building attributes that kids need to become healthy, productive, and successful adults. By putting the focus on future generations, the community forces itself to continually consider what kind of world it needs to create, a consideration that transcends the here and now. This forward thinking extends to St. Louis Park’s public art program, which requires private developers to fund new work by local and national artists. The combination of this progressive approach to commissioning new work as part of community development efforts and Children First has helped establish a culture of caring for shared spaces, social engagement, and a healthier environment—a clear vision of quality of living.
At Public Art Review, we value artists as connectors, mediators, enablers, and facilitators of change. We aim to illustrate ways that artists bring their intuition, vision, and holistic thinking to challenges faced by communities—and the world as a whole—often recognizing solutions before the rest of us are even aware of the problems. In this issue‘s cover story, we look at how artists are addressing notions of livability and improving standards of living through the lens of public art and public space development. We celebrate artists working side by side with planners, designers, creators, educators, and policy makers—indeed all the caretakers of our built and natural environments—to lay foundations for future generations.
“Public art is visible evidence of our shared humanity.”
We’re very pleased to highlight some of the world’s talented, game-changing and inspiring artists in this issue, people whose voices, visions, practices and stories need to be shared more broadly—with elected officials, policy makers, leaders, connectors, and innovators seeking new ideas and solutions for creating a more livable world. Public art is visible evidence of our shared humanity, yet for too long the value of public art has been hiding in plain sight. If we work to raise awareness of and appreciation for its value, future generations will build on the foundations we lay today.