in the Public Realm
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Previous Newsletters Vol. 2  Issue 2 - Febuary, 2012


For those of you who haven't had the luxury of creating maps, a website or, even better an app, you aren't familiar with the advice and help we frequently get from people who know us (and people who don't).

It so happens that virtually the day after every map we've ever made was printed, someone called to let us know what was incorrect or how we could have done it better. We thanked them for their concern, but inside we cried because naturally we desperately wanted everything to be perfect. The best we could say is that changes would happen in the 'next edition' whenever that is. Endlessly updating was sisyphean. So, we thought that when we migrated to a total online map, correcting and improving it would be a piece of cake. It turns out that the more you do, the more you think you can do. And the app, particularly with an app which has lots of features, multitasks and requires a hyperspace trip to our server to sift through our huge database for every query elevated us to a whole new plane. Winning the awards last year only upped the ante. We want to make instant corrections, we want the navigation for it to be so clear, so functional and so user friendly that it sets the standard for digital National Galleries. We wanted people uploading content to be delighted with this as its ephemeral home. And we wanted people looking for things to find them.

Our New Years Resolution for 2012 is going to be the 'Year of the BACK END' . What sets us apart is that our 'front end' and our 'technical support' are the same people, the art lovers, artists, architects, curators and historians. This means that we can devote ourselves to improving the way it works with the same passion that we have for the way it looks. There will be a lot of new features launched continually throughout the year with no fanfare. This month, for instance, you'll notice that the search function is considerably more powerful and simpler. Look for 'New York artists' and then sort them by category, name, or use the slider. In New York City, parks and historic districts are bounded by areas; if you want to find everything in Central Park you can. Soon, you'll be able to print it too. If you manage a collection, you can now make exportable csv files and a field that lets you describe the state of the collection. Want to post events? We can add openings, temporary exhibitions, or festivals.

Please be our beta testers. Send us suggestions. We promise that we'll write you back, thank you and even better, we'll listen. It's February. It's almost Valentine's day and this is most of all a labor of love.

Abby Suckle, President

Featured Collections:


The beauty of cultureNOW is that you can find fabulous small collections that you didn't know about, or if you did, you weren't able to visit them in situ or virtually unless you happened to be in the neighborhood.

This month we're celebrating two small collections from the Midwest who happen to be our 'newest' West Iowa Public Art, in Council Bluffs, Iowa and one that is our 'oldest', the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.

In 2004 the Iowa West Foundation launched the Public Art Program. In six short years they have completed a master plan, created sites, begun commissioning work, installing sculptures and putting together guided tours and other public events.

The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo is the longest standing arts commission in Ohio, founded in 1959. The Percent for Art program began in 1977; to date there are about 40 artworks in the Art in Public Places Collection, many of which are on our website. One of the highlights is the Art Tatum Celebration Column memorializing the Great Jazz musician; it was dedicated on September 11th, 2009.

Sun Obelisk (1984) by Dale Eldred
Photo courtesy Arts Commission of Greater Toledo

Art Tatum Celebration Column (2009) by Cork Marcheschi
Photo courtesy Arts Commission of Greater Toledo

Molecule Man (2008) by Jonathan Borofsky
Photo Courtesy Iowa West Foundation

Rhythm (2009) by Jun Kaneko
Photo Courtesy Iowa West Foundation

A Political History of the New York Irish

Date: Sunday, March 18th
Time: 1:30-4:30
Tickets: $12.50

If you happen to be in New York for St Patrick's Day, there could be no better way to celebrate than to join us on our 2nd annual tour across Manhattan from 5th Avenue to Hell's Kitchen. It's great fun to spend an afternoon listening to Historian (and Lawyer) James Kaplan share the political history of the area, including its evolution from the days when the gentleman mobster Owney Madden (believed to be the inspiration for Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby) ran the liquor distribution in the City during Prohibition to the days in the 1950's of turf wars between Irish and Puerto Rican gangs, to the ultimately successful struggle in the 1970's by the community in alliance with the Catholic Church to save the area and the adjacent theater district from the proliferation of pimps, prostitutes and pornographic purveyors. The tour wiill also discuss the close and symbiotic relationship of the Hell''s Kitchen community with the theater district.

Interesting Finds
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Search for artists, say Carpenter. And, you'll find two artists both working in glass from opposing ends of the country. James Carpenter comes from New York City, Ed Carpenter from Portland. Both work in Glass. Both have worked in Portland, New York, and Ed in Council Bluffs.

West Broadway Viaduct Bridge (2011) by Ed Carpenter
Photo Courtesy Iowa West Foundation

Spectral Light Dome (2006) by James Carpenter
Courtesy of Regional Arts & Cultural Council

Featured Architect: FREDERIC SCHWARTZ

Our featured architect is Fred Schwartz. We selected him this month because his work speaks to our mission of looking at the environment holistically. It blurs the boundary between Art & Architecture. He, like many of the Architects in New York City after September 11th, sought ways to rebuild our city. As a member of the ill fated THINK team, he labored over a design for Ground Zero that was not selected. Undaunted, he went on to build on the THINK team design in several winning competition entries for the Westchester and New Jersey Memorials, the latter being dedicated on the 10th Anniversary of the attacks.

On a larger scale, both the Santa Fe Railyard Park and the Kalahari Building utilize sustainable development principles that build on traditional energy and resource efficiency. Not only is the Park a collaboration between the architect, artist, Mary Miss, and Landscape Architect Ken Smith, but it also utilizes sustainable drip water to irrigate the landscape in an arid climate. As well as being sustainable, The Kalahari blends design elements from across the globe - the distinctive facade was inspired by the art of the Kalahari San people.

Empty Sky (2011) by Frederic Schwartz Architects
© David Sundberg/Esto
The Rising (2006) by Frederic Schwartz Architects
© Fred Schwartz Architects

The Kalahari (2008) by Frederic Schwartz Architects
© Fred Schwartz Architects

Santa Fe Railyards Park & Plaza (2008)
Frederic Schwartz, Ken Smith, and Mary Miss
© Douglas Romines/Schwartz