PHILADELPHIA, PA – Two Philadelphia public art projects commissioned by the Association for Public Art (aPA) have been named among the 50 best public art projects by the 2013 Public Art Network Year in Review by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts. OPEN AIR by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a temporary public artwork on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and Lines in Four Directions in Flowers by artist Sol LeWitt, which was commissioned by the aPA and carried out by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, were chosen from more than 250 submissions from across the United States. The annual Year in Review program recognizes the most exemplary, innovative, permanent or temporary public artworks created or debuted in the previous year.
Three independent public art experts — John Carson, artist and Head of Carnegie Mellow University School of Fine Art, Norie Sato, artist, and Justine Topfer, Project Manager, San Francisco Arts Commission and private curator — juried the 2013 Year in Review. Their selections were announced on June 13, at the Americans for the Arts Public Art Preconference in Pittsburgh.
“By creating a sense of identity of places we inhabit, public art makes an enduring impact on our lives,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. Since 2000, the Public Art Network Year in Review has annually recognized outstanding public art projects through an open call submission and juror selection process. The Year in Review program is the only national award that specifically recognizes public art projects.
ABOUT OPEN AIR: Commissioned by the Association for Public Art, OPEN AIR (2012) by MexicanCanadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer combined public art and mobile technology to create a spectacular participatory experience that illuminated Philadelphia’s night sky from September 20 – October 14, 2012. Using a free mobile app, participants’ voices and GPS locations directed 24 powerful robotic searchlights along a half-mile section of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, creating unique and dynamic three-dimensional light formations visible up to 10 miles away. The lights reacted in brightness and position to the GPS location of the participants and the frequency and amplitude of their voice recording, which could be heard through the app, the project website (www.openairphilly.net) and speakers located at the Project Headquarters on Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s OPEN AIR and Sol LeWitt’s Lines in Four Directions in Flowers Named Among Top 50 Public Artworks by Americans for the Arts the Parkway. Messages from 127 famous Philadelphians were also featured in the project’s pre-recorded “Voices of Philly” archive, compiled in partnership with WHYY. Close to 6,000 messages were submitted and an estimated 17,000 people visited the Parkway throughout the project, making it the largest crowd-sourced public art project ever seen in Philadelphia. OPEN AIR was funded in part by the Knight Foundation, and presented in conjunction with the 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and 2012 DesignPhiladelphia Festival.
ABOUT LINES IN FOUR DIRECTIONS IN FLOWERS: Installed 30 years after its conception, Sol LeWitt’s Lines in Four Directions in Flowers (2012) is work of monumental scale, made up of more than 7,000 plantings — strategically configured rows of flowers in four colors in four quadrants. The 18,850-squarefoot garden was initiated in 1981 when the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) invited LeWitt to propose a public artwork for a site in Fairmount Park. LeWitt selected a long plot of land behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art known as the William M. Reilly Memorial, and submitted his design with instructions — leaving the ultimate realization of the project to others. LeWitt’s Garden was finally brought to life in 2012 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, along with OLIN architects and designers, who conceived of the landscape design based on LeWitt’s 1981 proposal in consultation with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Groundswell Design Group, LCC., who worked with OLIN to plant the flowers and install an irrigation system. The garden’s flowers bloom sequentially throughout the horticultural season — creating variation in height and texture within each line of LeWitt’s design — and in winter, the rows of plants retain their linear direction. Lines in Four Directions in Flowers will remain on view for at least the next two years at its intended site.
ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION FOR PUBLIC ART: The Association for Public Art (aPA, formerly Fairmount Park Art Association) commissions, preserves, promotes and interprets public art in Philadelphia. Since its founding in 1872, aPA has worked with artists, communities and civic leaders to make encounters with art a part of everyday life, creating a Museum Without Walls that is free and accessible to residents and visitors. As the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning, aPA has an unparalleled and pioneering history, characterized by artistic excellence, creative initiative, collaboration and civic engagement. Working closely with city agencies, aPA remains today a central resource and contributor to Philadelphia’s enduring reputation as an important place to view and experience the evolution of public art. Through aPA’s free, interactive public programs, website and publications, Philadelphians and visitors are invited to experience civic spaces enlivened by artists and art; to discover the city’s vast collection of public art; and to connect to a shared cultural legacy. associationforpublicart.org
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