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.
Such 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.
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.