in the Public Realm
Want to receive the CultureNOW newsletter in your e-mail inbox? Click here to sign up for our mailing list!

Previous Newsletters Vol. 2 Issue 11 - November, 2012

Since today is the day after the election, in the spirit of every other publication, our plan for this issue was to turn to our government and its seat for inspiration. We were going to share the surprising (to us) finding that when we looked at our metrics, we discovered that more people are searching for public art in Washington, DC than any other city in our digital universe except Boston and New York. Why would the art lovers in our Nation’s Capital turn to cultureNOW with such enthusiasm we wondered? Did we have that much content? Was it that good? So, we looked and were delighted to find that our metro collection is far from shabby and includes a very healthy dose of civic monuments and harbors jewels such as the public art collection in Arlington, VA. We were going to share these delights with you.

But that was last Sunday night when we contentedly tucked ourselves into our bed secure from the elements without truly understanding how fragile life as we know it really is. By Monday our world had changed. The shore was no longer a block away. Even though our office is dry, the basement below where Con Edison, the boiler and our Fios connection live is not. From the sidewalk you could hear the cacophony of portable generators and water pumps enthusiastically slaving away. We might get our power and phones back next week or perhaps the week after.....until then we will charge our cell phone, schlep our laptop and keep a stiff upper lip in a remote location.

We thought about our new normal. In our newly delicate world, we chose an artist, Tim Prentice, who’s work is almost ephemeral and depends on movement and light which he terms drawing on air. Since everyone is really focussed on sustainable architecture, we wanted to look at one of the architectural firms, COOKFOX, which pioneered healthier buildings and is on the technological cutting edge of environmentally sensitive design, And, of course, since neither rain nor sleet will stop the US post office from delivering the mail, a digital hiccup won’t prevent us from delivering our virtual mail either.

Abby Suckle, President

Washington is a city of monuments. L’Enfant's planning move connected the all the important places leading to oddly shaped traffic triangles framed in long vistas ideal settings for traditional monuments. Consequently, the city has more than its fair share of generals on horseback and politicians of note sprinkled throughout the cityscape. Some of the more interesting figurative sculptures can be found on the memorials on the mall. Of course, there is also a healthy collection of more modern works such as Donald Lipski's Five Easy Pieces at the Convention Center.

When you visit Washington, there is so much to do that it is easy to overlook the surrounding metropolitan area. This is a mistake. One need only travel across the river, no further than Arlington, VA which has been quietly amassing an excellent collection of modern pieces. In fact, if you happen to be in Penrose Park tomorrow afternoon, you can enjoy Richard Deutsch's Echo which will open at 4 as the first phase of Penrose Park.

Burrowing down deeper into the 'slightly less' recent commissions, we were looking for works that are about the intersection of man with nature and came upon two works. Wendy Ross' Bud/Blossom is about patterns of growth and change within the natural environment. Kendall Buster semi-transparent untitled membrane covering a metal frame sculpture is made out of shade cloth typically used to protect delicate plants from intense heat and sun, filtering light and harmful UV rays.

Up and Down was inspired by the façade of Arlington's original courthouse. Each “frame” in Lisa Fedon’s Eternal Truths contains a sculptural image symbolizing the roles the library serves as a meeting place for the community and a place where information offers a portal to other worlds/knowledge and fuel for aspirations. Many of the images were drawn from photographs taken by local high school students; others came from Fedon’s own photographs of Arlington.

Untitled (2007) Kendall Buster
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Art

Eternal Truths (1999-2000) Lisa Fedon
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Art

Bud Blossom (2003) Wendy M. Ross
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Art

Up and Down (2006) Graham Caldwell
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Art

Korean War Veterans Memorial (1995) Frank Gaylord, Louis Nelson Photo courtesy of James Walsh

Five Easy Pieces (2003) Donald Lipski
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Photo courtesy of the Artist
Opening November 8, 2012
Artist: Richard Deutsch
Arlington, Va
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Art

Cocktails & Conversations
A New Series of Dialogs on Design

The Pairing:
New York Magazine
Diller Scofidio Renfro

The Beverage:
Author + Bartender

Cocktails: 7pm
Conversation: 7:30
Friday Night Nov 16th

cultureNOW is proud to Partner with New York’s other Premier Cultural Institution, the Center for Architecture. Join us and some of NYC’s most interesting and provocative creators and thinkers. Our new series of dialogues on design pairs an architect and a critic, journalist or curator.

Of course it wouldn’t be Friday night without a suitable beverage. A custom drink inspired by the architect’s work will be created especially for the occasion.

Horatio Gates - The laying of the Monument

Trinity Cemetary 2012
The Daughters of the American Revolution

Was it only two weeks ago that we joined all these ladies for a pleasant Sunday afternoon in honor of the memory of Major General Horation Gates. After the ceremony at the Cemetary where a plaque was laid near his unmarked grave, we went on a walking tour followed by a lunch at Fraunces Tavern.
Photo courtesy of Abby Suckle



Many architects believe that they are artists on both a small and grand scale. But, unlike most of them who relegate their artwork to their off hours, Tim Prentice found a way to build a thriving architectural practice in New York, Prentice & Chan while simultaneously working on his art before he was able to become a sculptor full time. Since then he has had work commissioned throughout the country, many in university buildings.

He calls himself a kinetic sculpture and talks about concentrating on the movement, rather than the object. “I take it as an article of faith that the air around us moves in ways which are organic, whimsical, and unpredictable. I therefore assume that if I were to abdicate the design to the wind, the work would take on these same qualities. The engineer in me wants to minimize friction and inertia to make the air visible. The architect studies matters of scale and proportion. The navigator and sailor want to know the strength and direction of the wind. The artist wants to understand its changing shape. Meanwhile, the child wants to play.”

BiPlane Gainesville, FL (2003) University of Florida
Photo courtesy of the Artist

Scatterlight (2012) Stanford University Palo Alto, CA
Photo courtesy of the Artist

Square Dance (2007) New Haven, CT
Photo courtesy of the Artist

Jibs (2010) Grand Prairie, TX
Photo courtesy of the Artist


When Bob Fox and Rick Cook formed their architectural practice Cook + Fox, they were very interested in defining what a healthier building really is and researching what it means to create one which has a light footprint on the environment. Among their projects are two recent offices built a few blocks apart and completed within the past few years which illustrate the revolution happening in sustainable design.

One Bryant Park is New York’s first LEED Platinum Skyscraper. It prototyped many of revolutionary changes to the building systems that help to save energy. There is a system for harvesting daylight, double plumbing so that the rainwater can be reused as grey water for flushing toilets, and it may have had New York's first waterless urinals. Co generation and materials purchased from closer suppliers have all made an appearance. But the real litmus test for commitment is when an architect plans their own office especially when money is involved and the project is smaller and a retrofit where it would be impossible to change out the whole building . At 641 6th Avenue the roof is planted, bees are kept, bikes are closeted, materials do not off gas, air is ducted through the raised floor creating NY's first LEED Platinum Office.

Office at 641 6th Avenue New York, NY (2011)
Photo Bilyana Dimitrova

Green Roof of 641 6th Avenue New York, NY (2011)
Photo courtesy of the Architect

One Bryant Park New York, NY (2010)
Photo courtesy of the Architect

One Bryant Park New York, NY (2010)
Photo Courtesy of the Architect
cultureNOW is a 501c3