March 01 2013

Urban Art & the New York City Department of Transportation

New York City Department of Transportation

New York City, above others, has defined itself through an evolving scholarship connected to its rapidly changing street life. This broad conception of street life has been widely debated and discussed from the standpoint of urban theorists and activists such as Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte, whose respective works, The Death and Life of American Cities and Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, would usher in a new wave of ideas concerning the way in which citizens view their relationship to cities & urban neighborhoods. But this conception of urban street life has, over time, become increasingly supported by structured programs designed to enable artists to contribute to urban planning, landscape design, and placemaking.

New York City Department of TransportationSuch programs, spearheaded in part by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), among its partner organizations, work to provide opportunities for temporary and permanent works of urban art. While differences between these works vary greatly depending upon size, medium and intention, their impact upon the daily commute of public transit riders, pedestrians and tourists has steadily increased the interest in public art and how it can connect people with places.

Within the NYC DOT, artists and groups of artists can pursue one of three opportunities:

  • pARTners: “Site responsive” art that collaborates with community organizations;
  • Barrier Beautification: Artistic murals for concrete NYC barriers;
  • Arterventions: Short-term public art on display for usually 6 – 12 months.

New York City Department of Transportation

Over time, the visual impact of these three programs has created hundreds of urban art projects all over New York City. Many more are planned for 2013 and beyond. There are also many upcoming discussions to learn more about new projects being created by New York City artists and arts organizations.

Could there be any room for improving ways in which the DOT or other cities create new opportunities for artists? How would Jacobs and Whyte view the way in which New York City is engaging with artists today? Please respond with your thoughts.

Credits: Photographs by Geoff Bliss. Data linked to sources.

Geoff Bliss

Geoff Bliss grew up in Woodstock, New York and will soon graduate from the Master of Community Planning program at the University of Cincinnati with a focus in Physical Planning. He holds a B.S. in Applied Arts & Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied Political Science & Archeology. With broad interests in Urban Planning, Geoff is interested finding relationships between Sustainable Development, Urban Archeology, Public Art, and DIY Urbanism. As a Grid blogger, Geoff reported on a wide range of Urban Planning & Urban Design topics in New York City and Cincinnati, OH.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013 at 9:01 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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