PRINT Summer 1981

Public Sculpture II: Provisions for the Paradise

This is the second of two articles on public sculpture. For the first, see Artforum, March 1981.

IN THE CHAMBERS OF ARTS Council X is the registry, filled to overflowing with artists’ information and slides. The registry is a repository: it collects and catalogues the Babel-like, confused languages that comprise a locality’s art. The work may be arranged alphabetically, by category or by site; the registry may be in-house or open. Curators consult it. Dealers use it. But more often it serves as a territorial tool, the major resource for local commissions. The registry, index to art, is also a metaphor for selection; regions imply regionalism.

Sculpture funding, today, is a pluralistic construct, a structure organized on national, state, county and municipal levels, on levels of function and location, with considerable interchange among them. Public and private sources intertwine, the former leading to the latter’s involvement. Funding has developed vertically: any cosmopolitan city now contains a wealth of federal, state and municipally funded sculptures, some having entailed cross-funding, some having emanated from transportation bonds. And funding has also grown horizontally, towards decentralization. Whereas the art map of 20 years ago showed only major centers of concentrated growth, today’s displays a widespread dispersion of councils and organizations involved with public work.

This ordering or “rationalization” of esthetic development has also been attended by procedural growth. Funding is not only the provision of funds. It embraces both the manner in which works are sponsored and artists are chosen; the ways in which finances are generated and popular support is mobilized. Since funding involves public monies, it is politically inflected. All funding programs have established guidelines to facilitate the selection process, and to render it publicly accountable.

The guidelines reflect the sentiment that long-term, expensive, highly visible decisions necessitate extreme care.1 But their diversity also reflects the diversity of publics—of levels of awareness and of levels of needs—and of potential projects, each of which requires individual address. Selection methods include open competitions, limited or invitational competitions, and direct commissions. Panels may contain community representatives of various occupations, art professionals or “experts,” and local officials. Many restrict or regulate the architect’s voting role. Most make provisions for local artists.

Funding, moreover, is also a psychological process. Just as the role of arts activists has been essential in extending interest and mobilizing activity, so the process of preparing the terrain, seducing approval and generally steering the artwork into the public consciousness has assumed an importance almost equal to selection. It has become intrinsic to the procedure: few programs now exist without preparation programs designed to “psychologically site”2 the commissioned work.

NEW YORK, 1974: PLANNING Board No. 3 Member Allen B. Cohen protests the installation, without community approval, of Tony Rosenthal’s 5 in 1 in Police Plaza. “These statues,” he writes, “. . . are more permanent than Miss Rheingold or Miss Subways.”3

New York, 1972: The New York City Arts Commission rejects on esthetic grounds two of five works chosen by Washington Heights-Inwood-Marble Hill residents for installation in their neighborhood. Upon appeal, Inverna Lockpez’s Walking Pineapples is finally approved and installed.4

Raleigh, North Carolina, 1979: Phoebe Helman initiates a lawsuit against the City of Raleigh after the city, under pressure from downtown business leaders, indefinitely postpones approving funds for her NEA-commissioned abstract sculpture. The court maintains that Helman has no binding contract with the municipality since the letter offering her the commission was neither signed by the mayor nor approved by the city council, but validated by a mayoral representative. After appeal, the dispute is settled out of court.5

IT IS UNLIKELY THAT SUCH events would occur now, not only because of greater experience in public funding, but because procedures have been altered to maximize the degree of community control. The shift is recent: the results of the General Services Administration-National Endowment for the Arts (GSA-NEA) task force that met in January, 1980, to analyze the Art-in-Architecture program are indicative of a wider victory of popularity over “quality,” community standards over elite “taste.”6 Beyond preparation periods, publicity measures and increased contact with local groups, the report advised both an initial query to determine the character of community demands (i.e., for a “decorative” work, historical theme, etc.7) and the restructuring of the NEA panel system to extend community decision. Those recommendations, currently implemented on a trial basis, are highly political, designed to stem controversy, combat public hostility and adequately reflect community desires. But as immediate measures, geared to short-term solutions and to the confirmation of popular taste, they signal the defeat of public art’s first broad educative urges.

Indeed, funding’s dual aim of extending art and expanding comprehension have hardly met with equal success. Funding, at present, seems concerned more with distribution than with dialogue, more with the accommodation of norms than their creative conquest. The search for “appropriate” art, integrated into a physical and social context, and into a context of esthetic expectations, can only reinforce, rather than rectify, conventions. Seductive hues, recognizable forms and relevant content are the requirements that repeatedly emerge from publicly initiated commissions.

The result of this uneasy coexistence between political gains and esthetic impediments, though, need not be Muzak. There are ways to navigate the mixed blessings now provided by public funds. One is through quantity—through the sheer number of commissions—to develop a community tradition moving from “safe” to more challenging choices. Another is through guidelines that are sufficiently capacious to admit and encourage the difficult solution. And yet another lies with the artist, in making work “accessible” in its extension of, rather than accession to, broad perceptual issues.

It remains for the artist to find creative solutions to the public rhetoric, using the opportunities afforded through funding. There are more and more varied situations for artists to inhabit, as well as more adequate subsidies to support them. The following is a selected survey of the implicit possibilities commonly called funding programs.

THE COMMUNITY’S DEVELOPMENT AND and definition of needs, and its channeling into appropriate forms, underlies the most influential national program, NEA’s Art in Public Places division.8 Its directives accentuate local decision; from the program’s very origins in 1965 the impulse for commissions was to emanate from the communities, thus muting or masking the role of federal involvement. Grand Rapids’ Calder, which inaugurated the program in 1967, also established its administrative process. Community requests, locally matched grants, panel meetings and the artwork’s growth from design to dedication became the protocol for public work, a process repeated many times over on different funding levels.

That process subsisted until 1979 when questions as to its neutrality shifted selection towards greater local control. The problem was that the Endowment, beyond advisor and subsidizer, was also the nation’s principal curator, convening selection panels both for its own programs and for others that the agency advises. Complaints of esthetic dictatorship were rampant; local artists protested; community officials acknowledged accepting government choices so as to secure the requisite funds.9 The result was that the Endowment no longer convenes panels, preferring to advise communities on grant formulation and to vote on the completed proposals. The community now assumes responsibility for the entire process, including choosing the site, selecting the artist, fundraising, installing and publicly introducing the work. NEA approval signifies confirmation of viability and potential; the NEA functions as guide and aide.

NEA funds cater to different needs, occupying a variety of scales ascending to a $50,000 maximum. The federal grant furnishes seed capital; it is to be matched on a broad and pluralistic base, encompassing sources public and private, corporate and individual. Through this process the Endowment aims to involve as many people as possible in order to mobilize community support. Grand Rapids’ Calder, for example, was community-matched almost two times over the initial federal grant ($45,000) to meet the total cost of $126,700. Rafael Ferrer’s Puerto Rican Sun, 1979, installed in the Bronx Community Garden Park with aid from the NEA, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Con Edison, Citibank, the City Department of Parks and Recreation and a variety of community contributions, has been hailed as one of the NEA’s most successful projects, due to the scope of public involvement.

The availability of funds has prompted communities both to examine their needs and to ponder different contexts and forms, expanding beyond the expected repertory to airports and playgrounds, earthworks and sited works. The Endowment has encouraged works on university campuses as well as on city streets, and has funded temporary projects as well as permanent commissions. The projects have grown with esthetic concerns and social needs, moving from the original focus—large-scale sculpture—toward collaborative ventures, planning grants, works of an ecological nature and works based in economic redevelopment schemes.

What have been the tangible results? Endless di Suveros, along with a Nevelson in Scottsdale, Arizona, several kinetic George Rickeys and plaza-placed James Rosatis. But also a bizarre “fish ladder” for migrating trout and salmon and strolling pedestrians (Joseph Kinnebrew, Grand River Sculpture, Grand Rapids, 1975); portions of James Turrell’s volcanic megafield in Arizona’s Painted Desert; and a sod maze in Newport (Richard Fleischner, 1974). And Alan Sonfist’s Time Landscape, recreating a primeval forest in downtown Manhattan, 1978. Neon illuminating an indoor swimming pool (Stephen Antonakos, Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass., 1978). Andre’s nefarious rocks and Serra’s hulking Corten. An Aeolian harp strummed by California winds (Doug Hollis, University of California, Berkeley, in process). Planning grants to artists as design consultants, and a painted concrete mermaid (Roy Lichtenstein, Miami Beach, 1979). Art at the Olympics (Lake Placid, N.Y., 1980). Land reclamation in Wyoming, Washington, and elsewhere.

While the NEA commissions are community-initiated, federal sponsorship defines the projects of the other main national agency, the GSA’s Art-in-Architecture program. The GSA’s role as the nation’s largest patron results from its function as the largest landlord; it oversees the design and construction of all federal buildings, from courthouses to the neighborhood post office or school.

In basic terms, that amounts to a reasonable artistic allowance—one that approached $400,000 in 1980.10 The idea for the program began during the Kennedy administration, when the government renewed its interest in the arts and issued a report recommending “work of living American artists” in all new federal buildings. The terms of Jefferson and the New Deal—of artistic integration and artistic support—resonate throughout the program, which began with a GSA direct policy order in 1963. The order allocated one-half of one percent of estimated costs for art, funding it from within the individual building budget; it was neatly suspended in 1966 when wildcat inflation hit construction.

Such dismissal as a cost-saving device indicates the fragility of the program, which, as an unlegislated activity, can be revoked or implemented at will. The program was reinstituted in 1972, using a revised selection procedure that included NEA-appointed panels working with the project architects (the architect had previously controlled the choice of artists). Since then it has led a precarious, often intermittent existence, alternately bolstered and suppressed by its various commissioners, subject to popular whims and Congressional queries.

Indeed, because it is funded entirely with federal money, the GSA has been the program most subject to popular complaints and to subsequent congressional pressures. Its policies have frequently been defensive, motivated more by the desire to avoid criticism than to extend commissions for art. During 1976, when community complaints impelled an in-depth study of selection procedures, a favored measure for stemming criticism was to withhold support for already commissioned projects. George Sugarman was told to stop Baltimore Federal, 1978; the GSA refused to dedicate George Segal’s The Restaurant, Buffalo, N.Y., 1976, not wishing to call attention to work that local residents might dispute. A report of May 10 recommended sweeping changes, including “non-art type representation” on panels, percentage reductions and a general shift toward art incorporation only “when appropriate.” The latter proposal, the report noted, has the advantage of “significantly reducing the number of projects requiring fine arts and its attendant adverse criticism.”11 The actual changes were less striking, tending to regional subsidies and crafts commissions, works in various media and the funding of several pieces instead of single, “major” works.

The architectural relation has been both boon and impediment, at once encouraging art and confining it to predictable lobbies and plazas. Fountain works, kinetic wisps and looming metal blobs figure prominently among GSA commissions. But among inventive explorations of typical sites is Larry Bell’s unbuilt but fully formulated atrium project, (Springfield, Mass., projected date 1982) which will use Mylarcoated glass to sheathe the space in reflected and reverberant light. Isamu Noguchi’s Landscape of Time, Seattle, 1975, is an environment, unifying a plaza through five precisely positioned stones. And in Woodlawn, Maryland, 1980, Richard Fleischner used a shady glen, both near to and detached from the building, for a site-specific work which, in its quiet articulation of space, is one of the most private of public works.

Since the original policy order pertains to all federal agencies, the provisions for art inclusion can be widely applied at the national level. The Veteran’s Administration, for example, has conducted a program since 1979, budgeting an allowance of up to one-half percent of construction budgets, but not exceeding $50,000, for new and renovated facilities. The program operates through an in-house, unlegislated policy, using a cooperative agreement with the Endowment for selection. More significant, though, are the implications of art inclusion at the regional funding level.

The urge to legislate art into the architectural context has spurred a bandwagon movement, heralded by the “percent-for-art philosophy.” Its basis is simple—wherever building, there art; whenever “capital construction,” then paintings and sculptures, photographs and prints, street furniture and environmental work. The idea of ubiquitous art, funded as a civic pleasure and a governmental responsibility, underlies the action at state, county and municipal levels. But pragmatic and protective measures are involved as well—the need for legislative tools in the persistent battle of economics vs. esthetics, and the regional striving for autonomy.

European and American examples alike have fueled the spreading movement.12 France has long maintained a one percent national allocation, while German cities mandate amounts varying from one to two percent. The figure is two percent in Amsterdam, where the program began as a local subsidy system for indigent artists. Philadelphia, which started the American equivalent in 1959, has since amassed an extensive municipal “collection” of national and local art. Allocations vary: San Francisco’s provides for up to two percent, while Iowa budgets only one-half percent. Areas of rapid growth, in particular, have found the program a contributing factor, working symbiotically with economic development. The result has been the institution of over 50 ordinances, with others currently in process. (In New York City, for example, Executive Order #180 urges builders and architects to allocate one-half to one percent of funds for art in new public buildings; attempts are currently being made to pass “one-percent-for-art” legislation.)

The ordinances differ to a considerable degree. Some apply only to public buildings and new construction, while others extend to repairs, streetwork, parks and utilities, allowing “construction” its widest latitude. Many do not bind art to specific facilities, but create municipal funds—pools of street-sewer-and building-engendered monies—from which projects can be judiciously funded. They vary according to selection processes, local quotas and cost provisions (some, for example, cover foundation expenses, while others do not). Most, however, do not define “art” but establish or empower commissions—often the local arts councils—to execute the ordinances’ provisions.

The percent-for-art ordinance, then, ensures both funds for, and the functioning of, sculpture commissions. On another level, though, it represents a community step toward an overall cultural policy—an attempt to rationalize artistic needs and to relate them to urban plans. Illuminating, in this sense, is the case of Seattle, a city that installed its first public commission in 1912, using funds budgeted from street improvements. From then until 1973, when the Percent for Art Ordinance was signed into law, a number of sculptures were placed on public sites through private or civic group donations and public subscriptions. But the process was haphazard—hit or miss—and largely lacking in community involvement. Today, in contrast, Seattle’s is one of the most active and considered of public programs. Its ordinance provides for an annual Municipal Arts Plan that encompasses and coordinates the activities of departments and communities. Central provisions include the Municipal Art Fund, a five-to-ten year anticipated budget and an annually revised, city-wide inventory of current and potentially available sites. Their triple interaction permits esthetic plans to be aligned and integrated with overall city development. Another progressive requirement of the ordinance is the projection of the 50-percent quota for local commissions over a five-year period.

The result of this catholic approach has been a series of highly innovative programs catering to both civic and artistic publics. One-percent funds have subsidized temporary, community-oriented projects as well as large-scale permanent works; they have helped finance works ranging in scale from Lloyd Hamrol’s Gyrojack, 1979, to the many relief-sculpted manhole covers designed by different Seattle artists. The Seattle City Light Collection of portable works is funded through Percent for Art, as are the design team projects, now applicable to all new construction. These include projects developed by the various city departments and through the Urban Spaces program, begun in 1980, which deals with art inclusion for newly emerging sites—those many spaces that appear through changing pedestrian or vehicular use, and spreading development.

Another perspective is offered by the Miami region, an area traditionally rich in capital but poor in art. Miami is covered through two one-and-a-half percent programs, its own and that of Dade County; the latter has been (esthetically) blessed with extensive construction growth. Since 1973 over 140 commissions have been made from a budget that averages $250,000 per year.13 There is a William King by a police station, a Richard Hunt in the Community Center; awards have yet to be made for the new Downtown Government Center (art budget, $1.5 million) with its buildings by Philip Johnson and Hugh Stubbins. The City Commission recently approved Noguchi’s design for the redevelopment of Bayfront Park. The scheme, developed through an NEA planning grant, will be executed over a three- to four-year period, with $10-million funding drawn from federal, state, county, city and private sources. Works funded by Percent for Art are chosen by a volunteer rotating committee whose decisions are reviewed by the Professional Advisory group. Representatives of the Anglo, Latin American and Black communities serve to ensure their communities adequate voice, with the result that over half the awards go to Florida residents. The program costs less than half a cent per person per year; the Commission promotes the arts and combats criticism through publicity, articles, lectures.

Exploratory aims characterize the many programs that exhibit or commission work only for temporary periods. Stressing process rather than product, they offer a reassuring impermanence, allowing experimental, often controversial work to be tested on a wary public. The programs generally aim to develop a public tradition through repeated exposure; several make provisions for permanence, should public sentiment warrant it. For artists, their allures include ready funds, community contexts and opportunities to deal with varied and unexpected sites. The sites have moved, in recent years, away from the predictable plazas and parks to include waterfronts, warehouses, transit stations and vacant lots.

The precedents for these efforts in public “acclimatization” coincide roughly with funding itself. 1967 saw New York’s “Sculpture in the Environment” that placed 29 works by 24 artists on sites scattered throughout the city boroughs. Hailed as “the most extensive public outdoor exhibit ever held in an American city,”14 it was organized by the city Parks Department and supported by private sponsors. The latter limited the reach of community involvement, as did the matching of art to site. A Calder went to Harlem, a Nevelson to Park Avenue; sculptures were placed in uptown beauty salons as well as in Central Park. Shows like Minneapolis’ “9 Artists/9 Spaces,” 1970, succeeded it, presenting projects designed for specific city environments. “Monuments” (Newport, R.I.) took place in 1974. More important in scope and in community involvement, though, was Grand Rapids’ “Sculpture Off the Pedestal,” 1973. A grant from the NEA Museums Program ($8,900) was instrumental in raising funds to place 13 works by 13 sculptors in locations throughout the community. The money was matched locally in capital and services, linking artists, local government, the Grand Rapids Museum Women’s Committee (the program sponsor), business and industry, which donated fabrication materials and shipping. Four artists worked on site, while three had works fabricated in the city. The program yielded two permanent works, one acquired by purchase (di Suvero’s Are Years What?), the other commissioned (Robert Morris’ vast park-sited X, completed in 1974).

Such early efforts established the two main directions for temporary projects—free-standing sculpture and site-specific work. The latter’s public potential for mobilizing community sentiment is demonstrated by the annual visiting artists program administered by the Dayton City Beautiful Council, Dayton, Ohio. In a manner similar to the Residency program at Artpark, Lewiston, N.Y., artists are invited to select sites, conceive specific projects and execute them on location. A public dialogue, opposed to private studio “speech,” is facilitated by participation and process; the program implicates local business, labor, government (as liaisons), private individuals and students, who are employed as artists’ assistants. It has, so far, successfully commissioned over 15 projects, several of them significant sited works and several by artists whose work is hardly immediately accessible. Mary Miss, for example, constructed Staged Gates, spring 1979, progressively shading and articulating a wooded hillside ravine, and Alice Aycock put the forbidding A Series of Twenty-One Walls into an interior office plaza, fall 1977. Charles Simons’ Little People emigrated to Dayton’s downtown spaces, mingling with its residents, spring 1978, while Jackie Ferrara chose to place Dayton Arch, fall 1978, in elegant isolation in quiet Riverbend Park. A recent project by Cindy Snodgrass, fall 1980, concentrated on community workshops. Commissioned works by Scott Burton, Donna Dennis and others are planned.

These projects’ role as both exploratory tools and as steps toward the commissioning of permanent works is indicated by the Joslyn Museum’s “New Directions: Site Sculpture,” 1978, which invited George Trakas, Stephen Antonakos and Doug Hollis to Omaha, Nebraska, to create temporary works. There was no intention of permanent commissions; indeed, the initial reaction was hostile, with the Antonakos damaged, the Hollis destroyed. Yet the exposure and experience yielded an intense rapport between the community and two artists, who were both invited back in 1980 to create permanent works. The results were Hollis’ Wind Organ and Trakas’ The Sullivan Pass, hailed as test cases for temporary projects.

Among solutions to the problem of psychological siting is Seattle’s Special Projects program, which takes three- to four-month leases on artworks while retaining a buyer’s option. The program affords a flexible trial period for public art; community decision alone determines purchase. Another active program is the GSA’s Living Buildings, which makes federal offices and plazas available to artists, among others, for temporary shows. In this way the community is both artistically familiarized and artistically represented; local initiative is welcomed. CETA programs, arts-council-sponsored works and others subsidized by public groups round out the scope of provisional projects.

The potential reach of temporary funding is exemplified in New York, a city with sufficient public sculpture to satisfy any peripatetic peruser. Some works have been privately funded and many are permanent; most, however, are ephemeral and ever-changing products of publicly funded activities. The latter extend from programs for specific sites to urban-scale projects, from the efforts of facilitating agencies to artist-organized actions. Broad private, corporate and community monies supplement their public funds. Their significance is that, with time and modification, they might happen anywhere.

A selected list suffices to suggest their scope, and their importance to artistic needs. Hammarskjöld Plaza functions as a sculpture garden, hosting changing one-person exhibitions biased toward site-dominant works. The space is city-owned and privately leased, using individually supplemented public funds (first NEA, now NYSCA). Art on the Beach, in contrast, is sponsored by Creative Time, Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists artists in realizing works for public spaces. It occupies the still-vacant Battery Park City landfill, much as Wave Hill uses a sylvan Riverdale estate; both are annual, curated group exhibitions, founded in particular locales. Art Across the Park was a one-time, artist-organized event spreading sculpture through the northern reaches of Central Park, summer 1980. As opposed to the others, it was community-focused, aimed at giving Harlem a “participation event” and providing exhibition space for some 20 artists of different ethnic backgrounds. While the Port Authority sponsors its own temporary program, its warehouses and unoccupied spaces are also available for artist-initiated projects. Securing sites is the motive behind AREA (Artists Representing Environmental Art), a nonmembership organization broadly open to all sculptors’ participation. AREA advises and works with planners, corporations and other groups; its major program, Sculpture on Shoreline Sites; has placed numerous works on Roosevelt Island and at the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute on Ward’s Island (AREA shares the Ward’s Island site with the Organization of Independent Artists).

Yet the larger part of the sculpture placed around New York has appeared through the efforts of the Public Art Fund, a nonprofit facilitating agency that secures permits, ensnares funding, organizes programs and generally coordinates different sectors of the metropolitan community. If the Public Art Fund has been the “archangel of art in [New York] City space,”15 it has also provided a model for programs on a broad national scale. It coordinates changing exhibitions for specific spaces (i.e., City Hall Park, Central Park at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, the traffic island at Hudson and Chambers Streets), and special projects, working with artists individually to implement ideas for chosen sites. In these projects it acts as a coordinating mechanism, linking artists with business, city agencies and departmental sponsors. Programs administered by the Public Art Fund (or by its progenitor, the Public Art Council, for which it became the funding arm in 1977) include the Neighborhood Sculpture Program (1971–72), the changing Public Outdoor Sculpture Program at Waterside Plaza and the pilot planning projects for Smithtown, L.I., and Jamaica, Queens (organized with NYSCA, 1975). A significant current program is the Urban Environmental Site Sculpture Project, which will make a variety of waterfront spaces, ranging from Battery Park to Pier 42, available to six selected artists.

The shift from machine to garden, from functionalism to esthetics that underlies American public art is evident in the most recent funding category, transportation art. Although landscaping and graphics have lengthy histories, art had not previously been included in transit facilities. Its active encouragement can be traced to President Carter’s recommendation, in his May 1977 Environmental Message, that all federal agencies support projects which contribute to the architectural and cultural heritage of local communities. This broad directive opened the door for esthetics: on September 1, Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams issued the Department of Transportation (DOT) Policy Statement on Design Quality, urging the Department “to encourage improved design, art, and architecture in transportation facilities and services.”16

The recommendation emblemizes a turn which has affected railways and highways, airports and subways—all utilities concerned with motion from here to there. The end of functionalism, moreover, is not without its own function. Beyond esthetic pleasure and environmental concerns, motives include departmental image (“Monumental pieces have become symbols for the sponsoring agency”17), increased patronage and community support. For artists, the programs have expanded not only social roles but also esthetic opportunities, presenting a vast and varied inventory of sites. There are gateway sites and processional stretches (subways); passageways and rest stops (highways); slanted sites (escalators); flat plazas; exhibitionlike waiting rooms (airports). . . .

The activity has been enormous, extending through all domains. Some programs preexisted the DOT directive, while others emanated from its encouragement. Most, however, operate through fused funding, in which several sources administer, implement, and provide the art-related funds. The Urban Mass Transit Authority (UMTA), for example, is assisting art inclusion projects for subway stations in Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Cambridge (Arts on the Line, a pilot project cosponsored with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) and New York (through the New York City Transit Authority station modernization and Adopt-a-Station programs). Size and scope differentiate them; Miami’s will add art to 20 new stations at a cost of $30-50,000 each, while the $600,000 budget for Baltimore’s first phase covers four artists in four stations. The Federal Railroad Administration’s Northeast Corridor Improvement Program allocates three-quarters of one percent for art. Fifteen stations, including Washington’s Union Station, Philadelphia’s 30th St. Station and South Station in Boston, are slated for renovation. Ned Smyth has already been chosen for the elliptical entry to New York’s Pennsylvania Station.18

A program sponsored by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is regarded by the Federal Highway Administration as prototypical for other states. It is regional in both range and operation; local artists alone may make proposals for freeways, rest stops and other highway-facility sites, which may be executed on community consent. Since the program is unbudgeted, the artists secure their own funds, usually through self-financing and community donations. The results have been a local showcase, wide community support and community-based works, reflecting regional history and culture (i.e., a group of wire trees in Sherman Oaks, and a 20-foot steel sculpture of Mackinaw trout rising up out of native rock).

The large and complicated budgets of airports have provided fertile fields for the inclusion of art. Once again, areas of rapid growth and corresponding cultural development have been particularly receptive, sensing the need for commercial lures. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encourages rather than funds the projects, which are subsidized by a variety of sponsors. Seattle, for example, established a program for its Seattle-Tacoma Airport in 1969, voting $300,000 from revenue bonds for art. The program preceded the enactment of the city Percent for Art Ordinance; since San Francisco, in contrast, is covered by a one-and-a-half percent requirement, its North Terminal Expansion generated $1.4 million for acquisitions and installation. Miami International Airport recently acquired a sculpture by Fred Eversley, using $70,000 from its total $800,000 percent-for-art allocation. And in Atlanta, funds from the city ($100,000), FAA ($200,000), NEA ($50,000) and the contracting airlines ($100,000) netted $450,000 for art in the new Hartfield International Airport, the largest passenger terminal in the world. Sculptures by Stephen Antonakos and Atlanta artist Curtis Patterson are among the 14 works in a collection billed as Atlanta’s bid for cultural recognition, the complement to its burgeoning growth. 19

This and the preceding article on public sculpture were written before the possibility of wide-scale cuts at the national funding level emerged. It is hoped that these measures will not be enacted; should they be, these two articles stand as a tribute to an inspired period of artistic opportunities.

Kate Linker is a freelance critic living in New York and a past editor of TRACKS, a journal of artists’ writings.



1. For an illuminating perspective see “Art in the Coliseum,” editorial in the Hartford, Conn., Courant, January 14, 1980.

2. See Janet Kardon, “Street Wise Street Foolish,” in Urban Encounters: Art Architecture Audience, Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, March 19–April 30, 1980.

3. Letter to the editor, The New York Times, August 21, 1974.

4. Information drawn from related reports and articles in The New York Times, The New York Post, New York Magazine, June–July 1972.

5. Assorted clippings from Raleigh, N C. newspapers. 1979–80.

6. See “Report of the Joint GSA-NEA Task Force on the Art-in-Architecture Program,” dated January 22, 1980, published by the General Services Administration.

7. Conversation with Donald W. Thalacker, director, Art-in-Architecture Program, November 25, 1980.

8. For information on the NEA Art or Public Places Program, see the forthcoming publication written by John Beardsley and published by Partners for Livable Places, Washington D.C.

9. See, for example, comments by Hartford Office of Cultural Affairs Director Paul Germaine-Brown in Hartford Courant, May–July 1980 passim.

10. Telephone conversation with Donald W. Thalacker, April 22, 1981. For information regarding the GSA program, see his The Place of Art In The World Of Architecture, New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1980.

11. See Thalacker, ibid., p. 138.

12. The actual percentage allowance for art is computed on the basis of individual project costs. A discussion of the percent-for-art movement and its variations is included in 1% Art In Civic Architecture, published by RTKL Associates, 1973 and in an interview with Patricia Fuller in International Sculpture Center Bulletin, no. 26, 1981.

13. Information taken from material provided by the Dade County Art in Public Places Program and letters to the author from Leslie Judd Ahlander, its coordinator. The statistics on the Noguchi-designed park are found in John Beardsley, op. cit. Information regarding the Seattle projects can be obtained from the Seattle•Arts Commission; most of the cited programs publish material available on request.

14. Chronology of the Public Art Fund, Inc., p. 1.

15. Grace Glueck, “Guide to What’s New in Outdoor Sculpture,” The New York Times, September 12, 1980, p. C20.

16. For information on DOT policies see the Annual Reports of the Secretary of Transportation, Design Art & Architecture in Transportation, United States Department of Transportation, from 1977 on.

17. Moore-Héder Architects, eds. and authors, Aesthetics in Transportation, 1980 (sponsored by the U S Department of Transportation), p. 5. This is perhaps the most complete analysis and source of information on DOT programs.

18. Letter to the author dated April 3, 1981, from Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Associate Partner, Skidmore Owings and Merrill and Art Coordinator for the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project.

19. Information collected from a variety of sources, including Moore-Héder, op. cit., DOT Annual Reports, letters to the author from regional art coordinators and press releases.