Creative City Challenge Call for Entries


Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI), winner of the 2013 Creative City Challenge

The second annual Creative City Challenge is calling for proposals for a $75,000 commission to produce a summer-long installation on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza. The winning project will be unveiled at Northern Spark on June 14, 2014.

Entries are due by 4:30 pm CDT on Monday, November 18, 2013.

Read more about the Creative City Challenge


Artist Info Session: Northern Spark 2014

Are you an artist interested in presenting a project at Northern Spark? Come learn about about the application process and get your questions answered at our artist info session.

Northern Spark 2014 Artist Info Session

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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Art(ists) On the Verge 5

Save the date: The fifth edition of Art(ists) On the Verge opens at The Soap Factory on March 8, 2014.

AOV5 fellows: Katie Hargrave, Alison Hiltner, Aaron Marx, Peter Sowinski, Emily Stover.

Stay tuned for a new round of Art(ists) On the Verge fellowship opportunities coming soon!

Northern Spark 2013 Lights Up the Night!

Write Fight - Revolver and Ananya Dance Theatre

Ananya Dance Theatre at Revolver's Write Fight

This year’s Northern Spark was a shining success. Lowertown was alight with art and friendly faces from dusk to dawn. The city shone in a whole new (moon)light and offered spectacular wonders around every corner.

Thank you to all of Northern Spark’s artists for sharing your engaging talents and ideas. And thank you to everyone who attended the festival this year — you are the ones who make the night magical. And another special thank you to Northern Spark’s partners, sponsors, and host committee. We couldn’t have ignited this spark without you!

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Reclaim Market Street!

Reclaim Market Street exhibition still

Kiosk from the exhibition at SPUR in San Francisco

Reclaim Market Street! is an exhibition and series of public programs created by the Studio for Urban Projects and hosted by SPUR (the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association), in San Francisco, CA.

Studio for Urban Projects is an art and design collaborative that, according to their website, “perceives art as a means of advancing civic engagement and furthering public dialogue.” Together, the Studio’s core members–Alison Sant, Richard Johnson, Marina McDougall, Kirstin Bach and Daya Karam–operate a storefront in the Mission District of San Francisco and have created public art projects for the city of Seattle, and the 2010 01SJ Biennial.

Installation shot from Reclaim Market Street! exhibition by Studio for Urban Projects

This research-based exhibition largely consists of a curated set of examples of public projects and interventions that have had positive impacts in other cities that is held together by a clever exhibition design consisting largely of cardboard–cardboard seats, walls, signage, kiosks, and even flooring. The meat of the project lies in its public programs of walking tours, guided bike rides, impromptu parks, and outdoor events that challenge the public to participate in redefining what they expect from (and how they interact with) city streets.


Applications available to the public as part of the exhibition at SPUR.

Indoors, I found the way the exhibition challenges people to take immediate action most refreshing. Within SPUR are work stations displaying applications where you can immediately apply to “Create a Park,” “Make Your Own Bike Lane” or “Plant the Sidewalk.” Outdoors, their project is about gathering people together to acknowledge history while contributing to aspirational scenarios of the future.

This project is a perfect example of how artists are using their practice to help create solutions to real-world problems. Market Street is the central transit corridor of San Francisco. On one side is Ferry Plaza and the bustling Financial District, on the other side is the colorful Castro District where shops and cafes line the street. In the middle is the Central Market District. Originally a theater district, years of economic decline have left it more known for strip clubs, panhandlers, graffiti, and empty storefronts. The City of San Francisco has launched a revitalization campaign and other organizations such as the San Francisco Arts Commission and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts have been actively working to literally bring art to the street.

Jackson Strand theater with public art

Paz de la Calzada painting Central Market Dreamscape, 2011. Mural, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco. Courtesy of the ARTery Project, San Francisco Arts Commission. Photo: Lydia Gonzales.

Reclaim Market Street! adds to this local dialogue and is about using Market Street as muse in a public conversation around expand the use cases for city streets beyond automobile traffic to include safe and engaging spaces for bikers and pedestrians. Because Central Market Street District is a place people are more likely to pass through quickly, Studio for Urban Projects has created a framework that challenges people to spend time on the street. A particularly interesting program that will take place on October 15th is “Temporary Urban Experiments in Creating New Public Spaces.” Child-friendly urban planning more often than not sequesters children within fenced off playgrounds. But what if play was incorporated back into street life?

imagination playground inage from new york

The Imagination Playground installed near South Street Seaport in New York City. Image courtesty of

For this project, they are featuring the Imagination Playground Kit designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group within an urban plaza that is normally dominated by concrete.

With public funds for the arts dwindling, revitalization of cities through the arts and culture is one area that is receiving greater attention in recent times. As an example, the NEA is echoing this call for a revitalization of cities through the arts by recently announcing its inaugural “Our Town” grants that help 51 communities, including San Francisco and San Jose, CA, revitalize their neighborhoods through strategies involving the arts. Creative placemaking is a challenge to reclaim our urban centers, which is precisely what Studio for Urban Projects is doing in focusing their energies toward the Central Market Street District.

Much of what Studio for Urban Projects suggests is common sense. Safe and scenic bike paths through the city, reclamation of under utilized spaces, and a move away from automobile centric civic design. It’s the thoughtfulness of the exhibition design and their collaborative ethos (Reclaim Market Street! also showcases contributions by Futurefarmers, Rebar, and the San Francisco Bike Coalition) that works best in using the arts to promote conversations that have the potential to create lasting change.

So the question is, what urban spaces would you like to reclaim?

Bruce Charlesworth: ISEA.1

Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum: Spiral Drawing Sunrise

Arriving late Thursday night in Istanbul after a full day of teaching and a drive from Milwaukee to catch my connecting flight to Frankfort from O’Hare… I am jetlagged. I’m in Istanbul for the ISEA (International Society of Electronic Artists) Festival and Conference. Given that I am two days late for the festival, my account will be limited and personal. I’ve already missed much, and will miss more. Simultaneous events are scattered all over Istanbul, and navigation is tricky.

I made it to the conference in the sub-sub-basement of a financial complex, and sat through several sessions of artists and curators presenting papers. Topics included “The Body and Digital Space,” “Philosophy and Ethics of Bioart,” “Locative Sound,” “Robotics, Interactivity and Public Space.” For more information, click here and select Paper Sessions:

That evening, I groggily traveled by funicular and tram to the Sultanamet area of the Old City and went to a Turkish bathhouse to see Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily and Jonathan Mackenzie.

Projected on the domed entrance hall ceiling of the 427-year-old Çemberlitas Hamam, the artwork depicts the Southern Ocean circulating Antarctica. According to the artists, the project software runs in real-time generating the ocean currents on the fly, to which are mapped various other ecological data sets.

The back-and-white visualization of wind and tide evoked phenomena both small and large: lines of crawling ants and storm-tracking satellite maps. I like the idea of superimposing vortex-like imagery on a dome, and data from a cold place onto one that features heat. As with many new media works with a sociopolitical or scientific agenda, this one was more interesting to me in terms of its real-time data mapping content and symbolism than as a formal artwork. Both the intellectual and aesthetic impact of the piece might have been served by a larger, more encompassing projection in one of the huge domed hot rooms where bathers sweat on their backs while looking upward. For technical or cultural reasons, these options may not have been feasible in a traditional hamam.

I decided to have a Turkish bath.

Bruce Charlesworth is an artist, writer and filmmaker. He one of the pioneers of postmodern staged photography and among the first artists to use video and audio to power aspects of physically immersive “narrative environments.” He teaches in the Department of Film/Video/New Genres at the University of Wisconsin Peck School of the Arts in Milwaukee. He previously reported on Ars Electronica in 2009 for Public Address.

TACTICAL ORGANIZING: The Instituent Art Practice of Public Matters

A group of guest writers have been invited to contribute to Public Address throughout 2011. Sue Bell Yank is a Los Angeles based writer and arts organizer. She is currently the Assistant Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and adjunct faculty in the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Her writing has been featured in the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, the Huffington Post, Mammut magazine, and various arts blogs including her ongoing essay blog entitled Social Practice: writings about the social in contemporary art (–JA

Teenaged, bespectacled Magali Bravo confronts the camera straight on as she and her small brother make their way to school through the streets of South Los Angeles. Weaving past the chain link of empty lots, nondescript motels and broad, shadeless expanses, the pair enters three corner markets in search of fresh produce. In crisp white polo shirts and khaki shorts (dress code of choice for LAUSD public schools), Magali and her brother move with a confidence that bespeaks their belonging to the neighborhood – but her face betrays disgust at the processed food choices available. Wrinkling her nose at the camera, the only fresh “produce” she finds are a few sad crates of withered potatoes and bruised bananas on the floor of one liquor store.

Magali’s video, entitled “You Can’t Put a Price on That,” is one of five videos produced through a collaboration between an interdisciplinary artist-run collective and consulting group called Public Matters, the South Los Angeles Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) Initiative, and high school students at The Accelerated School.This youth media project dedicated to exposing the challenges of healthy food access in South L.A. was only one aspect of an integrated action plan that included developing a partnership with the local city council office, creating a “youth ambassador” program at The Accelerated School, bringing together various community organizations, businesses and advocates, and culminating in two Market Makeovers. One of these “makeovers” occurred at Coronado Meat Market, a corner market run by Magali’s godfather, and her video documents members of HEAC as well as her classmates moving displays, repainting, marking clear prices, and generally redecorating the store to highlight fresh produce and healthy food options [1]. Magali was clearly the impetus behind her godfather’s participation, and her energy is palpable, infusing her fellow teens and rendering the peppiness of the thirty-something HEAC project leaders somewhat redundant.

Video: You Can’t Put a Price on That,” Magali Bravo

Public Matters, LLC, a self-described “rag-tag group of consultants” [2], is the artist-run initiative behind the production of compelling videos like Magali’s, and the connective tissue linking constituents in many-tendriled collaborations like the South L.A. Market Makeovers (2007-2009). Their goal, simply stated, is to “work with community members to create media about their neighborhoods…to develop in them a sense of ownership over these places and a belief that they can directly shape their neighborhoods’ future. The media content reflects and benefits the community that has helped create it, advancing a specific community defined agenda or initiative.[3]” Though the precise role of Public Matters shifts over time and within projects, their tendency to involve themselves in social issues of great magnitude (such as tackling South and East L.A. food deserts [4] to provide increased access to healthy food and education about nutrition) necessitates a mode of working that includes multiple partners. For Public Matters, the size and scope of these partnering institutions often matches the enormity of the problems they take on – the group has gone from working with the community organization HEAC to a research center at UCLA Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance, or REMAP), to a major inter-university research institute called the UCLA-USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. Along with huge university bureaucracies also come massive funding opportunities, and additional state and federal governmental entities to answer to – for example, the current round of East L.A. market makeovers is funded by a 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Los Compadres Market, South Los Angeles, 2007. Courtesy Public Matters, LLC.

Their lack of interest in one-offs and commitment to durational, sustainable projects that bring social benefit places Public Matters in an undefined, hybrid, interdisciplinary realm with many other artist-run initiatives that lack a traditional relationship to object-making and the commercial art market. By their university partners, Public Matters are perceived not as an artist collective, but primarily as on-the-ground liaisons with the most direct contact with schools and community organizations. They bring a way of engaging stakeholders through participatory media production that differs dramatically from traditional methods of public health messaging. From within their own organization, the boundaries between art, public health, social benefit are fluid, and become labels of convenience for different situations. Creative director Reanne Estrada maintains a separate studio practice, but sees herself engaged in a “continual practice of creative, collaborative problem-solving” in which her solo practice would suffer without Public Matters, and vice versa [5]. Mike Blockstein, principal and founder of Public Matters, very much considers the collective his art practice, and the various other consultants have diverse relationships to what they do as part of Public Matters. In his treatise on art and politics entitled Dark Matter, artist Gregory Sholette sums up this ambivalence towards definition when writing about similarly fluid practices: “I allow those who claim to make ‘art’ define it on their own terms, even if their identification with the practice is provisional, ironic, or tactical, as for example when art Steve Kurtz (with Critical Art Ensemble) insists ‘I’ll call it whatever I have to in order to communicate with someone.'[6]”

Project 3 (a.k.a. the Market Makeovers crew)

Project 3 (a.k.a. the Market Makeovers crew). Front row (left to right): Brent Langellier, Mike Blockstein, Reanne Estrada, Debra Glik, Alex Ortega, Heather Hammer, Rosa-Elena Garcia, Jeremiah Garza; Back row: Ron Brookmeyer, Nathan Cheng, Mike Prelip. Courtesy Public Matters, LLC

Team with Scientific Advisory Board

The UCLA-USC Center for Population Health + Health Disparities Team with Scientific Advisory Board + Community Advisory Board members. Courtesy Public Matters, LLC.

The interdisciplinary, shifting, and hybrid nature of Public Matters by no means implicates a lack of definition in purpose or goal. Rather, their organizational structure is tactical and deliberate, designed to maintain a nimbleness and flexibility supple enough to react effectively to a highly charged and overwhelmingly huge social issue. Perhaps for this reason, Public Matters has chosen to incorporate as an LLC rather than a non-profit – both Blockstein and Estrada worked extensively in the non-profit sector and understood the hierarchical professionalization necessary for such tax-exempt status. They were interested in forging “a new way of doing things as a social enterprise,” becoming essentially a for-profit entity but without any interest in generating profit – rather as a tactical method through which to form useful partnerships yet maintain elasticity in complex public situations [7]. By no means are they alone in this tactical organizing – Gregory Sholette explains that artists today are expert at imitating “a product particular to the post-industrial economy of our time” – the institution – which bespeaks a skill-set “that provides an edge when dealing with the society of risk beyond the longstanding adaptation to structural precariousness.[8]” In the case of Public Matters, this aptitude can be extrapolated beyond the precarity of artists’ positions as cultural producers and applied to the broader situations in which they insert themselves. In response to the “failed states” and “derelict institutions” that perpetuate problems as large as food deserts in the middle of enormous urban centers, artists “take up pieces of a broken world, transforming them into an improved, second-order social reality…[9]”

This oppositional motivation is perhaps too strong in the case of Public Matters, which is an extremely positive, collaborative, and optimistic organization. Yet the specific propensities which run through artist-initiated organizations like this that Sholette identifies, like “a propensity for flexible work patterns, developing gift-sharing networks, and a capacity for non-linear problem solving” allows artists to uniquely “mimic, exaggerate, or otherwise reshape given reality.[10]” Yet the ability of Public Matters to take on, maintain, and implement innovative projects alongside enormous university partnerships over long periods of time cannot be attributed to a flexible structure alone – in fact, issues of capacity and staffing plagues their ambition, and the work can be all-consuming. Rather, the success of the Public Matters model is related to a distinction between artistic and organizational practices that Irit Rogoff discusses in her article “Turning,” quoting a series of essays by philosopher Gerald Raunig. These essays mark a deep difference between “constituent” practice, in which an organization or collective exists to produce a series of protocols for both the representation and governance of their work (either in opposition to an existing market, or in spite of it). The problem that Rogoff identifies with constituent practice is that it is too easily pre-occupied with the processes through which an assembly is legitimated, and thus sabotages its own innovation and flexibility, opting instead for a regulatory ossification [11]. Rather, Raunig reveals practices like Park Fiction in Hamburg (and I would add Public Matters), as “instituent” practices. These organizations create “instituting events” that bring together a diversity of constituent practices (as in community organizations, schools, governmental entities, universities, individuals), and this plurality counter the closure of the processes at work. As Raunig describes, “The various arrangements of self-organization promote broad participation in instituting, because they newly compose themselves as a constituent power again and again, always tying into new local and global struggles.[12]”

This replicative capacity, the ability to re-invent themselves through a shifting diversity of strategies and networks, is why Public Matters can take on the kinds of projects they do with such limited capacity, and why they can navigate that fine line between “indulging the need to push boundaries and take risks, and being responsible to what we are charged with.” According to Reanne Estrada, this becomes the most integral part of the work, its most interesting and challenging aspect [13]. Public Matters faces a new aspect of this challenge in working with the USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities on their current round of East Los Angeles market makeovers. The Center is charged with researching and evaluating the work on a large scale with enough rigor and integrity to someday impact policy, and this kind of research agenda and resources were never before available to an organization like Public Matters (nor similarly scaled artist-run initiatives). The research context poses both an exciting possibility for affecting change and rigorously assessing impact, but also becomes an enormous challenge to the flexible, non-linear work patterns and instituent events that defines Public Matters as an organization. They are learning now to work around concerns about data contamination, defining control and intervention areas, and other such problematics from the research perspective. Yet perhaps it is their very nimbleness and the “license to explore” that they grant to themselves and all of their participants that will allow them to adapt to this new reality as well.

[1] “Where do I get my 5?” Public Matters, LLC,
[2] Reanne Estrada, interview with author, June 6, 2011.
[3] “What is Public Matters?” Public Matters, LLC,
[4] Food deserts are manifested by a scarcity of mainstream grocery stores, and where they do exist, they have poor quality produce and high prices. The South Los Angeles food desert is one of the largest in the country, spanning 60 square miles and encompassing 800,000 people. “South Los Angeles,” Public Matters, LLC,
[5] Reanne Estrada, interview with the author, June 6, 2011.
[6] Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (New York: Pluto Press, 2011), 5
[7] Reanne Estrada, interview with the author, June 6, 2011.
[8] Sholette, Dark Matter, 152.
[9] Sholette, Dark Matter, 153.
[10] Sholette, Dark Matter, 152-153.
[11] Irit Rogoff, “Turning,” in Curating and the Pedagogical Turn, eds. Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson (Amsterdam and London: De Appel and Open Editions, 2009), 44.
[12] Rogoff, “Turning,” 45.
[13] Reanne Estrada, interview with author, June 6, 2011

Artports Departs – a stylish, if cautious, Terminal 2 at SFO

A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis this week

Blast Theory’s A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis April 15-19, 2011. Buy your tickets now. The experience begins at an appointed location at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. Allow 60–75 minutes. It’s worth it.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With

Blast Theory is a UK-based artist group (led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj) who use performance, gaming, and interactive media to create participatory experiences that explore the social and political aspects of technology. One of their better-known works is Ulrike and Eamon Compliant, which premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and invited participants to take on the persona of Ulrike Meinhof or Eamon Collins as they walked through the city directed by calls to their cell phone.

Blast Theory, Ulrike and Eamon Compliant.

While less political in its premise, A Machine to See With is similar in that it’s a cell phone led experience that takes place outside on city streets. I experienced the work when it premiered in San Jose, CA at the 01SJ Biennial last September and was able to observe and participate throughout the concept and testing phases of development. I hesitate to reveal too many specific details about the work because I want to avoid spoilers. This is an artwork that you must experience yourself.

As opposed to a site-specific work that is crafted for one particular geographic location, A Machine to See With (AMTSW) is better classified as a site dependent work. The premise of the work is the same from city to city, but the work isn’t explicitly about responding to a particular location—the narrative is a stencil overlaying a place and the artists are location scouts who scour an area to unearth the characteristics and spaces that support their narrative to the desired effect.

According to Nick Tandavanitj, the artists feel a sense of jeopardy each time they stage the piece because the work is so dependent on geographical details and physical properties of a place. When the artists arrived in San Jose (a city they had never visited—all scouting was done via Google Earth) they knew the narrative would center around a bank, but were still determining how the work would resolve. In Park City, Utah they had to scale the experience to a smaller city and make accommodations for the snow and harsh weather. In Minneapolis (which they did visit in advance), Blast Theory looked at three different locations to serve as the anchor point of the work, and admit that they could have rewritten AMTSW as a different experience at each of the three locations.

The work relies on maintaining an air of intrigue and anonymity to what is going on. Playing yourself, you are challenged to imagine the previously unimaginable and question what and who is behind every corner. Blast Theory clearly designs the work to allow spaces for people to craft their own experience. When I participated, it was left up to me to decide when and how to follow the instructions delivered to my own personal cell phone and at times the work reminded me of the “choose your own adventure” stories I used to love as a child.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With. Still from San Jose.

Blast Theory is highly adept at blurring genres and mediums. AMTSW connects to urban gaming in that it enables interaction, but the work does not have the structure or clearly outlined goals of a game. In the context of a film festival like Sundance, the work takes on a cinematic element where the city is cast as set and participants as live actors in a reality-based action thriller.

In the end, I left feeling like the work was about taking a risk—not knowing who is playing along, but following directions anyway. As impersonal as the mechanism of phone calls seems to be, AMTSW crafts a finishing point that becomes a starting point to a moment of real personal connection with someone.

A Machine To See With is a Locative Cinema Commission from ZER01 for the 01SJ Biennial, the New Frontier Initiative at Sundance, and the Banff New Media Institute. It is being presented in Minneapolis as part of the Walker Art Center‘s Expanding the Rules of Engagement with Artists and Audiences initiative.

Google Art Project: does the Internet really need gallery walls?

courtesy of

Yesterday Google released Google Art Project and today it has been garnering a lot of online buzz. The basic premise is that using Google’s Street View Technology users can navigate through the galleries and corridors of 17 different arts institutions, look at high resolution images of over 1000 featured works, and create their own collections that can be shared with friends. Most of the response is positive, incredibly so, and I even read one post on claiming that “this project is bringing ‘mojo’ back to google.”

Really? I must admit that I have been on a rampage ever since I visited the site.

What immediately struck me about this project is how fixated it is on perpetuating the experience of the traditional museum with walls. If Google is going to claim that their goal is to empower people to discover art, then they have truly missed an opportunity to reshape and redefine how people experience visual information online in more creative and constructive ways. Do you need to know to take two lefts in the gallery to experience the Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Why impose physical limitations on the Internet? Why propagate old paradigms when you can create new ones?

Some additional thoughts:

1 First of all, I take issue with the project name—Google Art Project. Yes, it is a project that has to do with art. And yes, it creates a network of access to globally located artworks that people should have the chance to experience. But let’s be clear, it’s a cataloging and preservation project, not an art project. To me, this project fits more along the lines of Google’s book scanning efforts.

2 By using museum floorplans, corridors, and hallways as the structure with which users view the artworks, the implication is that the institution surroundings are as important as the work of art. This is archaic. The Internet has no use for walls.

3 The “project” reinforces old models of viewership, curatorial selection, and experiencing art. Google selected very traditional institutions for this project, and those institutions selected very traditional artworks to feature individually. Therefore, under the guise of giving users the freedom to navigate through space, the project allows someone else (aka the expert) to select which works are worthy of additional study. I found this particularly frustrating while navigating through the Museum Kampa in Prague, an institution unfamiliar to me. In a few galleries I saw video works being displayed on monitors, but wasn’t able to learn more, zoom in, or even to get a clear image (even though they weren’t purposely blurred out like other works with copyright issues). Or in the case of MOMA, selections are limited to works by well known (and very dead) artists such as Cezanne, Seurat, Van Gogh, and Picasso. Where are the modernist and contemporary artists (slight props here to Tate Britain who at least selected a work by living artist Chris Ofili)? According to Google’s press release, it seems the motivation of the project was the democratization of art. Yet the project propagates a limited “best of” view of already famous paintings and sculptures. It is a very limited dialog, and in the end the viewer doesn’t get the full picture of the collections that they claim to portray. Democratization needs to include participation.

4 Similarly, the “project” clearly reinforces the traditional museum perspective of which mediums of works are more likely to be supported (painting and sculpture). There are very clear limits to the approach they are taking in documentation and those limitations are not noted or addressed anywhere within the application. How would this same “Google Street View” model be applied to time-based art? Video? Installation?

5 The project would be far stronger if Google were open to creating dialog around their project and their process. Even when their FAQ asks “How can I get my museum added to the project?” it receives the closed reply: “Please check back here for more news soon on new museums being added to the project.” There is clearly no opportunity for user or non-invited contributions to be included.

I’d like to ask what are more forward-looking online models for sharing and experiencing art? There are certainly many interesting examples of user generated archives and navigable museum collections out there. One recent example is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s RAW/WAR archive that invites users to contribute to the decades worth of images and video in Hershman’s !Women Art Revolution Collection, a publicly accessible online archive housed at Stanford University.

I admire their resources, believe there are valid aspects to the project (although bristle at the articulation of the project goals), and trust that any exposure to the arts carries huge benefits, but feel a need to point out that where Google Art Project misses the point is that it isn’t the experience of virtually navigating physical gallery spaces, or zooming into gigapixels to view every crack of paint that should be democratized among people and cultures—it’s the broader opportunity to experience and react to the art itself. Why put navigation in the hands of viewers if you’re going to strictly limit what they can see?

Art for Animals

Happy New Year! And thanks to Steve for the invitation to blog about art in the public sphere across the west coast during 2011. I look forward to the extended conversation.

At last, a book on site-specific dance!

For all the intriguing site-specific dance performances, projects, and public explorations in recent history (Don’t you feel it too?, The BodyCartography Project, Catalyst Dance, the 2008 performance of Merce Cunningham’s Ocean, just to name a few Minnesota gems), i have often wondered why there weren’t any books on the subject.  I don’t have an answer to that question, but I have found a solution:

Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces, edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik (University Press of Florida, 2009)

As the first anthology to specifically examine dance in non-traditional performance spaces, this title explores the work that choreographers create for alternative sites and examines the basis for their creative choices. Editors Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik (professors of dance at the University of Calgary and Western Michigan University, respectively) offer a combination of interviews with and essays by some of the most prominent and influential practitioners of site-specific dance, such as Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood, Stephan Koplowitz, Heidi Duckler, Ann Carlson, Eiko Otake, and Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad of the BodyCartography Project. Site Dance is a significant and timely contribution to the public art canon–a must-read for dancers, choreographers, audiences, and public art administrators alike!

Forecast is on LibraryThing!

If you’ve never been to Forecast’s office in St. Paul, you probably don’t know that we house a public art resource library of around 1,500 books, catalogs, magazines, and DVDs!  Our library is growing so fast that soon it will outgrow its current digs and I guess will have to spill out into the street.  Although we definitely need more physical space for the library, virtual space is not lacking thanks to LibraryThing and Forecast interns Jaclyn + Pati!

Is it art or advertising? (Part II)

The game continues (See earlier post Is it art or advertising Part I).

The rise of artists engaging in corporate endeavors continues to give me pause as I read about Jeff Koons designing the next BMW Art Car.

And the fact that Bono piped in to state that this partnership would help the world “fall in love with automobiles again”????


Notes from the Artist – Gail Katz James on Fulton Favorites

Sometimes in the dead of winter in MN we tend to forget that summer ever existed, or that we have neighbors! This project by Gail Katz James is a friendly reminder of warmth (from sun and spirit)!

Fulton Favorites was funded by a grant from the Fulton Neighborhood Art Committee. (Fulton is my neighborhood in Minneapolis.) The purpose of the project was to build community by bringing neighbors of all ages together to make unique lawn signs that express their favorite aspects of our neighborhood. I held about 10 workshops this summer to teach residents how to make the signs. During the workshops, I guided the artists through the process of sketching, making a final design and translating their designs into a colorful image, simplified enough to make a good lawn sign. The settings ranged from childcare programs to block parties and park festivals. Some adults made theirs at home after picking up a packet of materials from me.