Barrus on Vernacular and Bufano

Tim. Thanks for the thoughts about Benjamin Bufano from San Francisco. I just threw out the idea of vernacular public art without understanding where it is going. Vernacular is something that appears to sprout from the place and feels so at home that most travelers ignore it. But art requires a little uncomfortable sand in the face. Your definition of vernacular is to merge with the life of the … [Read more...]

Morris Lapidus as Vernacular Artist

Touching on an idea that demands more examination, should we start to think about public art as vernacular? Do we commission so much public art that cultural integration should be prioritized in the same manner of vernacular architecture? As a starting point, check out Lincoln Road, a pedestrians-only roadway in Miami Beach. Lincoln Road is packed with cafes, tables, awnings, signs, lights and … [Read more...]

New Urbanism Kills Itself

Maybe Andres Duany is not such a tyrant. His heart opened and felt New Orleans as the glorious northern capital city of the Caribbean instead of the impoverished urban slum of North America. In February's Metropolis Magazine, he observed and followed his instinct to describe the relationship between mortgage free homeownership and the pattern of living - not the pattern of streets and building. … [Read more...]

Subtropic’s Best Streetscape

The streetscape - sidewalks, trees, benches, cafes, building facades - is the world's number urban renewal project. How many thousands of miles or kilometers are rebuilt each year to invigorate neighborhoods here, there and almost everywhere? As with all global movements, the differences can be minute. Yet, every city declares their streetscape a strict response to local culture making the … [Read more...]

DELETE! Public Space in Vienna

In some chairs in some room in New York City in 1980s, Kyong Park and I discussed a guerilla project to block out all the street signs in a section of Manhattan. In a few hours could we paint over every name: 33rd, 32nd, 31st.....? Would a traffic jam ensue in the morning? Would the government of New York respond like an emergency or just let it be until the streets department replaced them in … [Read more...]

China’s Suburban Follies

Domus Magazine in Italy thought the Jinhua Architecture Park was so hip, that they published the park before anything was really complete in July 2006. "a+u" magazine in Tokyo published the suburban park of architectural follies in December 2006. Herzog & de Meuron Cataloguing a creative moment in architecture has rarely been done outside of temporary world fairs or biennales. The park is … [Read more...]

Public Art of MoMA’s Aitken & YouTube

"Danger, Will Robinson" squawked the robot. Now, I walk into the danger of critiquing something I have never seen, but many others have - the Sleepwalkers video projections by Doug Aitken on MoMA in NYC. But projecting yourself into the reality of some other place is a primary function of this Blog and is the virtual/physical internal struggle of the Internet itself. This entry is caused by … [Read more...]

Welcome to Aesthetic Grounds

Surfing the web for five years as a public art consultant, I noticed that nothing exists that keeps interested parties informed on public art or public space that is not pure reporting or academic analysis. Where was the something in the middle - arts journal criticism? Something that focuses on the visual? Something that understands the silly institutional traps? I live in Florida. The sun … [Read more...]

Loving Local Artists: Marvin Finn

On January 29, 2007, Marvin Finn died at the age of 89 in Louisville, Kentucky. I have never heard of Finn before. A notice came to me via Google's daily alert. His obituary included one "public art" project made during his 86th year. In the Courier-Journal, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson praised Finn's legacy, calling him "one of Louisville's greatest folk artists." I love this statement. … [Read more...]