One of five regional networks of public art administrators, NowPAC (Northwest Public Art Council) had their annual meeting in Portland, OR, on November 2. Nearly 70 people from four states and two countries attended the one-day session.
We met in an old, renovated building that now serves as headquarters for the hip landscape architecture firm Place Studio. Architectural models, flying brooms (Halloween had just past), and material samples surrounded us as we settled in to look at images, hear from our peers, and re-connect with the tribe.
Kudos to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) for organizing a great line-up of speakers and for hosting a great after-party at RACC Executive Director Eloise Damrosch’s “tree-house” home.
Presenters shared with us final designs for public art projects, stories of de-accessioning challenges, and new ideas on commissioning best practices.
In roundtable discussions, we covered:
- the fine lines between being an administrator and a curator
- changing demographics and how that affects what we commission
- how to recover from a public art project gone bad
And, for the first time, local artists (from RACC’s Design Team Roster) were invited to the meeting.
Having artists in the room broadened the conversation. Personally, it was great to meet artists whose work I knew but whose faces I’d never seen. I also reconnected with an artist who had been a finalist on a project many years ago.
Really, when it gets right down to it, those social connections are the most important aspect of these meetings. Whether it is making friends with the conservation guy who I hope will be able to help us in a moment of crisis, or re-connecting with an artist, curator, or administrator with whom I can share battle scars and war stories—our colleagues are our best allies and mentors.
I look forward to seeing many of these folks in Pittsburgh, June 13–16, for the 2013 Americans for the Arts Public Art Preconference and Annual Convention!