Friday, August 6, 2010

Art Vulups: Public Art in Conjunction with City Planning

I just went to an amazing panel discussion last night regarding a new public art initiative being launched in Riverside County, California.

ArtVulups mission is to communicate land use planning and sustainability concepts through art and creative expression. This public art process involves a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach involving artists, urban planners, educators and the public.

I think they are heading in an exciting direction that could very well pave the way for the future of Public Art and art collaborations in general. Not to mention the intrinsic benefits that can begin to influence and shape community and the well-being of its people.

We are by nature, defined by where we live, where we have been or where we are from. Sometimes this is our personal own way of explaining to others who we are, and conversely it is a way that others may perceive us.

Unfortunately, the downside of "Geographic Identity" is the inherent "geographic undesirability", narrow-minded views of the intelligence level of certain geographic inhabitants and other assumptions.
I think we can all relate to this to some degree. Since moving to Riverside a year ago from Silver Lake (East LA), I find this to be a multi-fold challenge.

During the lecture, it became clear and comforting to me to hear Bob Johnson (previous planning director of Riverside, now assistant manager of Temecula) mention that Riverside is going through an identity crisis.
Hurray!! I can ride out my personal geographic storm while this rich community is going through a Renaissance and beginning to redefine itself. So timely for me, as I sink the feet further into the soil here and spread my proverbial wings across - what is for me - a new landscape.

Some of my peers and colleagues are involved in Arts Vulups.
Doug McCulloh and Ruth Nolan are teamed up with planners to address issues of Vision and Noise respectively. Doug is an amazing photographer focusing on the power of seeing things clearly.
Ruth's word-talk takes us through the symbolic shadows of the landscape.
I love both of their work.
Incidentally, but slightly relates, Doug, Ruth and I participated in a recent writing project in conjunction with the University of Riverside called Writing the Desert.

Certainly, as artists and city planners collide we can foresee our understandings of "Geographic Identity" evolving. Through their eyes and actions, new ideas of destination and habitation will occur to shape our perceptions and help redefine our place.
Both literally and metaphorically.


  1. This is a great and unique idea. Many of the problems with public art in the United States is that it comes into the conversation tooooooo late. It has been used as a "band-aid" for poorly planned sites. Another re-acquiring problem is that often times the artist does not take the community (the true viewers) in to consideration while making the work.

    There needs to be more discussions and groups like the one described and I wish you guys the very best luck !!

  2. thanks for this generous and insightful writeup, Leora! I'm thrilled to be part of this and it's just beginning. You have a really good vision of what the project is hoping to be and will, undoubtedly, evolve into.

  3. Thank you Cat for the dialogue. I think you hit the nail on the head, and perhaps there is common sentiment with what you are saying and what the project wants to achieve.

    My pleasure, Ruth!

    In the mean time, I found this blog started by 2 of the other collaborators for the project regarding Housing.