Thanks to Gar Dunlap for the correction. Brian Miller may be the world’s first town artist. He served the Scottish New Town of Cumbernauld.
From THE FORGOTTEN PUBLIC ART OF CUMBERNAULD by Neville Rae
For twenty eight years starting in 1962, Brian Miller worked as Cumbernauld’s first, and only, town artist. After initial doubts over which department he should be placed in, he was employed in the department of town architecture and planning, effectively a civil servant with all the standard terms of contract and retirement at the age of sixty-five. His position within this department meant that he became involved in the early discussions about how to shape the new town. Miller treated Cumbernauld like a blank canvas. He used the masses of concrete as a backdrop before which to explore his own unique form of abstract expressionism. His work varied from large concrete sculptures to paintings on gable ends and underpasses. In some cases he tried to use certain colours in certain neighbourhoods, effectively colour coding the urban landscape in order to help people navigate their way around the town, adding character to the different areas through the simple signifier of the colour palette.
Here is the story on David Harding in Glenrothes, Scotland – the world’s second town artist.