in the Public Realm
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Previous Newsletters Vol. 3 Issue 11 - November, 2013

The holiday season begins in earnest in New York long before its official launch at Thanksgiving. Classmates we haven't heard from in years, nearly forgotten childhood playmates, long-lost neighbors and distant cousins reconnect with vacation plans which invariably include a trip to the City. It is our annual opportunity to do our part to promote local tourism while playing host to so many grateful visitors who truly appreciate the intimacy of our living quarters and its convenient location as a way of freeing up much needed hotel accommodations for expense account travellers. Since we are woefully remiss in keeping up culturally, this is the time of year we get to explore every museum, take in Broadway's hotter new shows, shop all holiday sales, and dine in the trendiest restaurants while getting to know our houseguests better than we ever imagined was possible in such a short time.

The most welcome alternative to spending quality time cleaning apartments and decommissioning closets is to be somewhere else. So, we cheerfully accept any invitation offered to us, no matter how informal, especially if it involves an occasion to build airline miles. We congratulated ourselves on our unique good fortune last Monday to join the other sunbirds heading south to Fort Lauderdale so that we could share our insights with the Broward County Friends of Public Art at Florida Atlantic University's MetroLAB. We didn't spend that much time in the airport when we arrived but we passed by a lot of public art and thought about it as our introduction to the City.

The holiday season has become a time of vast migration where everybody seems to go somewhere else. Since next week is Art Basel when the art world will descend en masse on Miami, we thought it would be appropriate to showcase Broward County's Public Art and Design Program which is only a few miles away and could be a cultural respite from the frenzy of Miami. The public art world is fascinated by 'placemaking' through public art at the moment. We selected an artist and landscape architect who take polar approaches to how to do it to explore the range of options. Larry Kirkland's commissions are frequently located far from Washington DC where he lives. So the challenge he faces is to 'read' the setting and then reinterpret the cues to create an iconic place filled with meaning where none existed before. Kim Mathews and Signe Nielsen have done the opposite; their practice and projects are rooted in New York where they live. Signe Nielsen is also the current President of the Public Design Commission which reviews all permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed on or over City-owned property. Their challenge was to reimagine many already iconic places that they know very deeply.

Abby Suckle, President

Broward County was formed in 1915. It was named for Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward who was responsible for draining much of the Everglades making South Florida habitable. Fort Lauderdale which began as an actual fort became the County seat. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway made it accessible. What began as a sleepy agricultural community a hundred years ago is now the second most populous county in Florida.

With tourism one of the major industries, it is logical to house a significant percentage of the county's public art collection at Port Everglades and the Ft Lauderdale - Hollywood Airport, which are often the first and (sometimes last) impressions visitors have of the area. Like most of public art programs, commissions are split between local and national artists. What interested us is where they turned for inspiration. In their artist statements, much is said about the Everglades, the weather, the hurricanes, the beaches, the ocean, and even the fish, and leisure activities.

For Martha Schwartz it was the largest Arena in the Everglades that inspired Flying Saucer Grove. For Jodi Pinto who created four Light Cylinders in the Hibiscus Garage color- keyed to match the colors of the terminal building, it was wayfinding. For Christopher Janney it was the colors of the ocean in Shadow Boxing. For Miles Batt in the Florida Envelope Series it was the idea of Florida itself.

Shadow Boxing (2007) Christopher Janney Pembrook Pines, FL
Photo © Broward County Art Program

Flying Saucer Grove (1998) Martha Schwartz, Ellerbe Becket
Sunrise, FL, Photo © Broward County Art Program

Florida Envelope Series (1991) Miles Batt, Ft Lauderdale, FL Photo © Broward County Public Art Program

Light Cylinders (2001) Jodi Pinto
Ft Lauderdale, FL Photo © Broward County Art Program


There are now 48 self guided walking tours online and on the iPhone. Here are a few highlights.


Downtown's Art & Architecture

photo © Broward County Public Art Program

Broward County Cultural Heritage Landmark
Alicia Bellini-Sobchak

We began by digitizing the AIA Walking tour of Fort Lauderdale and enhanced it by including some of the public artwork, Florida Historical Landmarks, and Cultural Heritage then added the collection of National Register Landmarks in Broward County, the Florida Historical Landmarks and the Cultural Heritage Landmarks nearby.

photo © cultureNOW

Original Architect:
Starett and Van Vleck

Renovation Architect (2013): Studio V Architecture

Not everyone was in town for the Parade last week. And, the weather wasn't the best for siteseeing.

For fun we created a tour of the art and architecture which dutifully follows the parade route beginning at the Natural History Museum on Central Park West and ending, of course, at Macy's. The store itself is undergoing a major renovation at the moment spearheaded by Jay Valgora of Studio V Architects. He made a podcast about building and shared some of its lesser-known features.


Date: Friday, Dec 13
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Location: Center for Architecture

The Pairing:
Hugh Hardy H3 Architects
James Sanders
Celluloid City, Author, Architect

A year ago cultureNOW teamed up with the AIA NY Chapter’s Architectural Dialogue Committee to start a Friday night lecture series. Cocktails & Conversations pairing an architect and a critic, journalist, or curator.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Friday night without a suitable beverage. Our Bartender, Toby Ceccini creates a custom cocktail in the spirit of the architects work. It's been a big hit.



Larry Kirkland received his undergraduate degree in environmental design before becoming an artist which is evident in the immersive, architectural settings that he creates. His sculptures work by incorporating symbolism derived from overlaying site specific cultural elements, natural themes, and sometimes scientific components to create a rich layering of content. There are often many parts to the compositions.

At Richard Stockton College's Campus Center, he recently completed Illumination an overscaled fireplace which is meant to be the heart of the Center. It is liberally covered with etchings of the wildlife found in the area. The Osprey, for instance, one of the state's largest raptors, is the College's official mascot. Fans even chant Osprey calls at sporting events.

The shape of the bench in Around Town refers to the rolling landscape of the Piedmont area. Aquaria at the Broward County Convention Center evokes the experience of being immersed in a constantly moving school of colorful tropical reef fish. And The Lobby for the National Science Foundation poses the question of How does one convey, at the outset of the 21st century, the origins and evolution of human investigation of the world as well as the contributions to society made by the sciences, medicine and engineering?

The Lobby Washington, DC, Photo© Larry Kirkland
National Academy of Sciences

Around Town (2008) Chapel Hill, NC, Photo© Larry Kirkland
Public Arts and Cultural Office of Chapel Hill

Aquaria Larry Kirkland, Ft Lauderdale, FL (2011)
Broward County Art &Design Program Photo ©Craig Collins

Illumination Richard Stockton College, Galloway, NJ
Photo © Larry Kirkland


Kim Mathews and Signe Nielsen formed their partnership 20 years ago because they were interested in practicing in the public realm and thought that together they could address its scale, scope and complexity. Their work is largely concentrated in New York, and they have worked on many of its significant places.

New York City is defined by the water's edge, which has often been called the 'sixth borough'. Historically, the waterfront was industrial. Consequently, the shoreline was rimmed with degraded sites. As the area became more recreational, the challenge was how to re-engage people with water and restore a healthy ecosystem. Climate change and storm surge added to it. All told, Mathews Nielsen has been responsible for about 22 miles of waterfront parks including Hudson River Park , Pier 42 on the East River, Hunts Point Landing in the Bronx, and Governor's Island.

Another practice theme is campuses, such as Pratt Institute, where they created an 'art park' for the university's extensive collection of public sculpture as well as many new buildings. The cultural campus of Lincoln Center was a 6-year project that involved an entire redesign of the Moses era complex to update it. Noteworthy features included the green roof of the Hyper Pavilion, the bosque on the North Plaza and the lowering of the vehicular entrance. At the recently opened West Point Foundry Preserve park, the design issue was preservation. The site contains extensive remains of the 19th-century ironworks, manufacturing cannons credited with winning the Civil War, some of the nation’s first steam engines and the pipes for New York City’s water system. It also contains a network of historic paths that were reused so as to be 'light on the landscape'.

Hunts Point Landing (2012) Photo © Elizabeth Felicella
Bronx, NY

Hudson River Park: Tribeca Section (2008)
Photo © Mathews Nielsen New York, NY

Lincoln Center (2012) New York, NY Diller Scofidio Renfro +
FX Fowle + Beyer Blinder Belle Photo © Elizabeth Felicella

West Point Foundry Preserve park(2013) Cold Spring, NY.
Photo © Elizabeth Felicella


Because cultureNOW is a 501c3 non-profit (the good kind), we depend on many people to help us out. They lend their expertise, which often includes giving us advice. Some of it is about how to improve our balance sheet which could certainly use lots of improvement.

At the end of the year we are supposed to remind people of how poor and worthy we are so that they will reposition their checking accounts favorably in our direction. We have been told that we need to share with them the trials and tribulations of running a lightly funded organization in a positive way emphasizing all the successful programs we have accomplished. It is recommended that we mail it out and include a return envelope for ease of donation.

We have been dutifully studying all of the plaintive missives that flood our mailbox from organizations we are barely acquainted with. After careful consideration we suspect that most people will do exactly what we do with them. Which is to say that they will immediately recycle them leaving everything unopened and unread. Consequently, we thought that it might be better to include our end-of-year appeal in our newsletter which people actually read, instead of the real mail that they don't. So, please be generous and push the donate button. For us, it makes a HUGE difference as we do pay our interns but not nearly what they are worth. We promise to happily send anyone who makes a contribution one of our New York City Public Art maps as a thank you.

cultureNOW is a 501c3