Happy New Year from Americans for the Arts!

Posted by Caitlin Holland On January - 4 - 2014

All of us at Americans for the Arts wish you a very happy New Year, and congratulate all of you on your valuable work creating, enhancing, and advancing the arts in America last year!


We can’t wait to see what innovative and creative work will be done in the arts in 2014!

The heART of the Core: Why the Arts Bring the Common Core to Life

Posted by Susan Riley On July - 19 - 2013
Susan Riley

Susan Riley

This summer, many teachers and administrators across the country will be attending conferences and professional development sessions that focus on the Common Core State Standards in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Before many of their toes even touch a sandy beach, these dedicated educators will cross hundreds of miles and spend many hours getting ready for a whole new way of instruction.

But where are the Arts?

What happens to our arts teachers, museum curators, performers, teaching artists and arts administrators?  Are they afforded the same opportunity as their peers for rigorous, relevant professional development in unpacking the Common Core Standards for their subject areas?  As has happened so often in the past, for many the answer is a resounding “no.” Read the rest of this entry »

2013 Annual Convention Spotlight: Exploring Pittsburgh’s Art Community

Posted by Michelle Clesse On April - 17 - 2013
Michelle Clesse

Michelle Clesse

An installation art museum, a nationally renowned glass studio, and a cartoon museum walk into a bar. Just kidding. Museums and studios do not have legs, and therefore, cannot walk anywhere.

Plenty of cities have great art resources for artists and art enthusiasts alike. When I stumbled into Pittsburgh in 2009, I was amazed by the combination of major arts institutions, niche arts organizations, and scrappy little start-up arts groups; but even more so by how approachable and accessible the Pittsburgh arts community was.

I had a hotbed of arts at my fingertips. By the time I’d been in Pittsburgh for a year, I’d taken two glass blowing classes at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, dragged every out-of-town visitor to the Society for Contemporary Craft, and learned about Gertie the Dinosaur at the ToonSeum.

Now, I certainly didn’t limit myself to the visual arts scene. During my first year I also saw the Pittsburgh Ballet perform twice, checked out the Pittsburgh Symphony, and saw The Mikado performed by CMU’s School of Drama.

As I’ve settled into the city and put down more roots, I still frequent some of my favorite art spots fairly regularly. I have also continued to explore both large and small performance art groups, while keeping my hands busy (and dirty) at many of the public access and cooperative art studios. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to Know Our Staff: Ten Questions with…Nora Halpern

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 3 - 2013
I was asked to include one of my favorite Americans for the Arts photos so I chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

Nora (fifth from the right) was asked to include a favorite Americans for the Arts photo so she chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.

So far, I’ve conducted a self-interview and one with Hannah Jacobson.

This time I have turned to Nora Halpern who currently serves as Vice President of Leadership Alliances for Americans for the Arts.

1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.

Grasstops wrangler: find the person who can move issues forward.

2. What do the arts mean to you?

I find this a very difficult question to answer because the arts are infused in everything I do and everything I am. Therefore, trying to define or identify the arts as something “other,” runs counter to the way I think.

I was lucky to have been raised in a home where the arts were central. Film, music, performance, and the visual arts were vital members of the family and often the glue that got all six of us talking about one topic at a time. Long before the days of remixing and mash-ups, dinner at our house was a cornucopia of art conversations: whether debating likes and dislikes or passions and poisons.  Read the rest of this entry »

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos.

Our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process is open through April 5, so be sure to nominate a project as we continue spotlight former honorees on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is Your Essential Magnificence by James Edward Talbot which was honored in 2012.

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

Read the rest of this entry »

Process Over Product: Building Creative Thinkers with Art

Posted by Rachelle Doorley On March - 19 - 2013

With the smell of coffee brewing and waffles toasting, I peer into my girls’ art studio and see two preschoolers happily invested in the processes of drawing flowers and painting landscapes.

My two-year old dips her brush delicately into a bowl of water and then fills her brush with paint. The brush dances across the page and I hear her chatting about rainbows and a blue-green sky. My four-year-old fills her page with intricate illustrations of imaginative flowers and spirals.

kids painting

We have a morning ritual of making, and it’s almost always process-driven. I do everything I can to set up an invitation to create—on this Spring morning the table was covered with paper, a jar of markers, and watercolors—and then I’ll step back to allow my children to find their creative voices. This is process-oriented art: open-ended, exploratory, individual, and one-of-a-kind.  Read the rest of this entry »

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos.

Our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process is now open through April 5, so be sure to nominate a project as we continue spotlight former honorees on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is The Peanut Farmer which was honored in 2012.

"The Peanut Farmer" by Charles Johnston

“The Peanut Farmer” by Charles Johnston

Read the rest of this entry »

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos. With our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process slated to open later this month, we will be spotlighting a few former winners on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is From Here to There: High Trestle Trail Bridge which was honored in 2012.

Photo by Kun Zhang

Photo by Kun Zhang

Read the rest of this entry »

How Projects Change from Initial Proposal to Final Installation

Posted by Stacy Levy On February - 15 - 2013
Stacy Levy

Stacy Levy

When a public artwork is unveiled, we assume it was planned to look that way from the inception of the project: a straight arrow from proposal to completion. However, this is usually not the case.

Typically, there are a myriad of changes, alterations, trimming, and edits that take place at anytime during design as well as construction phases as a project progresses towards completion. The flexibility to revise the project and respond to proposed changes is the most valuable skill an artist can acquire when seeking to create public art. Changing situations and the resulting alterations are the common currency of public art and artists must accept and expect alterations when agreeing to a public art commission.

I have a solid foundation of built projects that underwent revision and will discuss various lessons-learned from my perspective as an artist at the Public Art Preconference prior to the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Pittsburgh this June.

At the session, I will be joined by other public art professionals who have worked on teams including: Natalie Plecity, a landscape architect from Pittsburgh, and Cath Brunner, public art director of 4Culture in Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »

When Is It Time to De-accession?

Posted by Michele Cohen On February - 13 - 2013
Michele Cohen

Michele Cohen

I have thought long and hard about ways to approach the conservation and maintenance of public art, particularly the thorny question of de-accessioning a piece.

What are the criteria? How do we make an informed decision? What is in the best interest of the public?

Historically, government entities have removed public artworks because they have deteriorated to the point where they pose a public safety hazard or they are so degraded they have become an eyesore, and the cost of repair exceeds 50% of their value (another hard thing to determine). The decision to remove an artwork in those cases is easier to make.

The more complex reasons to de-accession a public artwork stem from negative reactions to the content. What sort of process do we embark on if the public objects to the subject or style of an artwork?  I think many folks, both arts professionals and the general public, are gun-shy about removing artworks because of subject or style after the precedents of Tilted Arc and John Ahearn’s installation, which remained for a brief five days on a plaza in front of a Bronx police station.

For the purposes of this discussion, I will focus on de-accessioning public artworks because of conservation issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Cusick

Jessica Cusick

On Saturday, September 28, 2013, Glow, the first all-night arts event in the United States to emphasize the commissioning of new work, will transform the beach in Santa Monica into a world of interactive and engaging contemporary art installations.

Building on the success of Glow’s first two editions, it is expected, once again, to attract between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors to Santa Monica Beach during the course of one night, making it among the largest public art events in the U.S.

In order to produce the event, staff will ask City Council to adopt an ordinance that temporarily suspends local law in the Glow zone for the duration of the event, as was the case in 2008 and 2010. This was the unusual solution that we were able to craft, working closely with the City Attorney’s office.

Use of public space in Santa Monica is by necessity heavily regulated given the broad range of demands and the need to preserve access to one of the most iconic beaches in the country. When we first started discussing Glow we realized that in order to provide the artists the freedom they needed to reinvent our public spaces, and give the public the opportunity to experience them, the event that we were imagining would essentially break every rule in the book. These range from when the parks are open to the public to what can take place on the beach at various times of the year. In 2008, we even needed to take precautions not to impact the grunion runRead the rest of this entry »

The Arts Are Patriotic, Too

Posted by Robert Lynch On February - 5 - 2013
Robert L. Lynch

Robert L. Lynch

Imagine this scene: there is a band playing as you walk in. As the musicians wrap up their piece and take their seats, a large choir pops up, featuring top-notch a cappella performers. This performance segues into rousing solo performances from vocalists backed up by beautiful orchestrations. Great writers are celebrated. Poetry is recited. And the whole celebration is capped off with—what else?—dancing.

If you were in Washington D.C. last week, or anywhere near a television, you might recognize this event, not as an arts festival, a cabaret, or a musical, but as our Presidential Inauguration. It’s probably not the first thing most people noticed as they watched the pomp and circumstance of a centuries-old tradition play out, but it is certainly what struck me most: at our most essentially American moments, when we want to celebrate most fully and most impressively, we inevitably employ the arts.

What I saw was:

  • The presentation of our National Colors through military music and choreography.
  • The spectacular Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
  • Myrlie Evers-Williams reciting the words to a great, moving spiritual at the center of her comments.
  • The story of the Dome of the Capital—of architecture, art and fine craft—completed in the middle of the Civil War as an artistic symbol of our Union. And the story of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome—a piece of art cast, assembled and put in place by slaves in 1863.
  • Musicians James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and the Marine Band each singing our national treasures: the great patriotic songs of our country.
  • Poet Richard Blanco reading “One Today”; references again and again to a movie, “Lincoln;” handcrafted crystal vases gifted to the president and vice president at lunch; the gifts given to all members of Congress, a portfolio of essays related to the Statue of Freedom—in the words of Nancy Pelosi: “Freedom stands on the Dome of the Capitol.”
  • And so many more examples, from the arts and music performances in the parade and balls, to Speaker John Boehner’s story of a team of mother and daughter seamstresses who made the huge flag that hung over Ft. McHenry and inspired our national anthem.  Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art Year in Review Spotlight: “Community Garden” in Bronx, NY

Posted by Tim Mikulski On February - 4 - 2013

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos. With our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process slated to open later this month, we will be spotlighting a few former winners on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is Community Garden which was honored in 2007. The project is a glass mosaic mural located on the mezzanine wall at the Bedford Boulevard Subway Station in The Bronx, NY. The imagery depicts a fantasy garden of colorful, larger than life-sized fruits, vines, insects, and animals. Through artist Andrea Dezsö’s garden, the community is able to experience colors and shapes that are different from those predominantly found in the area. Her garden delights commuters, inspiring them with the playfulness missing from their urban environment.

Photo by Rob Wilson for MTA Arts for Transit.

Photo by Rob Wilson for MTA Arts for Transit.

Check out more photos of Community Garden below and remember to nominate a project in your area when we open up our nominations for the 2013 Year in Review! Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

The 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which ended on December 9, featured the perfect marriage of arts and business. Hundreds of high-end companies hosted private parties; pop up exhibitions and roving ads on cars, carts, and even people. Millions of dollars in art sales, restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and luxury car rentals exchanged hands.

This year’s massive six-day extravaganza featured thousands of the world’s top galleries showcasing art work worth more than $2.5 billion. The growing economy and booming arts market translated into sales for the week that exceeded $500 million.

The Basel spinoffs included 22 satellite fairs that converted Miami into a rambling art lovers paradise. From South Beach to Wynwood, from North Miami to Coral Gables, from Pinecrest to South Dade—there were museums, galleries, and unique spaces featuring thousands of works of art, special events, and cultural happenings.

Corporate marketing executives took notice. The way brands connect with consumers takes many forms. Partnering with an event like Art Basel and the related activities provides the opportunity for direct contact with new customers.

Hundreds of companies were looking to capture the attention of the 500,000+ arts aficionados that descended on Miami and Miami Beach for the week. Brand managers rented museums, galleries, warehouses, gardens, and clubs to showcase their products in an artsy atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »

500 Artists, Gardens Celebrate Florida’s 500th Birthday

Posted by Xavier Cortada On December - 17 - 2012

On Easter Sunday 1513, Ponce de Leon landed his three ships on the eastern shore of the peninsula where I live.

Claiming the land for Spain, he named the place La Florida, (for the Spanish word “flor” or flower) because of the lush landscape and because of the day the explorers arrived, Pascua florida, Easter.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of this encounter, I am working through the Florida International University College of Architecture + The Arts to develop FLOR500, a participatory art, nature, and history project that encourages participants to explore Florida’s natural wonder:

Indeed, I wanted to create an art project that allowed our inhabitants to understand the multicultural origins of our state, its fragile biodiversity, and its threatened coastlines. So I took the father of the Fountain of Youth mythology and his historic milestone as a point of departure to explore ways of rejuvenating “the Sunshine State.” Read the rest of this entry »