The Fairmount Park Art Association announces the award of two generous and prestigious $50,000 grants: one from the National Endowment for the Arts and another from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in support of the innovative program New•Land•Marks: public art, community, and the meaning of place. These grants will augment funding from the William Penn Foundation to begin the commission of the first round of public art projects. The goals of the program are to incorporate public art into ongoing community development, urban greening, public amenities, and other revitalization initiatives, and to celebrate community identity, commemorate “untold” histories, and offer visionary, yet reasonable, ways to invigorate public spaces. The first projects to be selected reflect a variety of approaches to the objectives of the New•Land•Marks program:
- Congreso de Latinos Unidos with artist Pepón Osorio who will transform Congreso’s new facility in North Philadelphia with I Have a Story to Tell You . . . , a multimedia photographic work consisting of large-scale photographs in windows throughout the building and a more intimate “casita” in the outdoor courtyard.
- Friends of Elmwood Park with artist John Kindness who will celebrate and memorialize the significant contributions of the working class and the social importance of labor. A Century of Labor will consist of two central seating areas and includes seven bronze “work button tables” inspired by traditional metal work buttons.
- Pennypack Environmental Center Advisory Council with sculptor Ed Levine who will build a series of small structures that explore the study and enjoyment of the natural world. Embodying Thoreau: Dwelling, Sitting, Watching includes Thoreau’s Hut which symbolizes man’s place within nature and is the same dimensions as Thoreau’s hut at Walden Pond.
- Project H.O.M.E. with writer Lorene Cary, photographer Lonnie Graham, and sculptor John Stone who will develop Church Lot, a mixed-use garden, performance space, altar/fountain sanctuary, and indoor community room located on the former site of St. Elizabeth’s Church (destroyed by fire). An oral history project will inform texts to be carved into a series of marble elements over time.
- South of South Neighborhood Association with artist Janet Zweig who will design An Open-Air Unfolding Library to be situated on vacant land created where abandoned housing was demolished. Developed with assistance from Drexel University’s College of Information Science, the library will literally “open a cultural institution to the public.”
The commissions are scheduled to begin this year, and each unique project will proceed on a separate timeline. Nine other projects have been selected to enter a research and development phase to advance them to a stage of readiness so they can be considered for commissioning after the initial projects are underway. As part of a long-term commitment to New•Land•Marks, the Art Association hopes to commission as many of these projects as possible over the next decade.
For more than a year, 18 community groups have been working with 25 artists. “The proposals submitted to us were outstanding and generally responded creatively and perceptively to the communities’ stated goals,” said Penny Balkin Bach, Executive Director of the Art Association. “Our evaluation process, therefore, was extremely rigorous and challenging.” Among the evaluation criteria were artistic significance, community endorsement, a budget within the stated parameters, an available site, and the overall readiness of a project to move into a commissioning phase.
A number of events will keep the projects visible as they develop. Beginning in May 2000, a “transportable exhibition” of graphic panels illustrating the proposals will be displayed at community venues throughout Philadelphia. A major exhibition of the New•Land•Marks proposals, accompanied by a publication, will be held at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from February 10 to April 15, 2001. The New•Land•Marks exhibitions and publication are funded by the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a grant program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. New•Land•Marks has also been supported by grants from the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Leeway Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, and the Independence Foundation.
Chartered in 1872, the Fairmount Park Art Association is the nation’s first private, non-profit organization integrating public art and urban planning. The Art Association works to promote the appreciation of public art through advocacy efforts and programs that commission, interpret, and preserve public art in Philadelphia.
For more information about New•Land•Marks please call Charles Moleski, Program Manager, at (215) 546-1087.