“Illuminating” a City Through Public Art

The jury is in for the Connective Corridor’s call for public art.

Last week’s blog post in our Syracuse New Times series focused on the Connective Corridor’s outreach to artists as part of a $650,000 call for public art – one of the largest in the country. We’re pleased to report that as the deadline approaches, we’ve already received more than 100 entries before the on-line application closes at 11:59 p.m., March 1. The call has made it around the country and across Europe, attracting very high quality artists. Now the challenge is to evaluate entries and develop a short list of semi-finalists. To do that, we’ve assembled a talented jury.

This week’s post focuses on the jury and the theme of the call. Next week, we’ll be talking about the criteria the jury will be using to evaluate entries through the month of March. And, we’ll continue to provide Syracuse New Times readers with the chance to weigh in with their ideas.

Let’s start with the jury.  Our goal was a team with perspectives on the larger landscape, as well as familiarity with Syracuse. Specifically, we looked for:

  • An arts educator to assure that artists and projects can connect with SU – VPA’s academic framework as well as the community;
  • A professional artist familiar with the creative climate of Syracuse to help select work that is fresh, exciting and will endure over time;
  • A community representative from the nonprofit arts world to help with community engagement;
  • A professional art curator with a trained eye to ensure works contribute to the realm of public art;
  • An emerging arts leader with a vantage on creative, collaborative design, representing millennial perspectives;
  • An arts journalist who understands the world of arts and culture;
  • An arts professional with a background in urban planning;
  • A professional with expertise in energy, lighting and the built environment;
  • An arts historian with background in archaeology or anthropology to ground the project in cultural narrative;
  • A national arts leader, drawn from a major foundation to help shine the spotlight on Syracuse as a great place for public art.

Our search led to a group of smart, well-rounded professionals who will be leading the conversation through next steps. We’re pleased to announce the jury includes:

  • Dr. Stephanie James, founding director of Syracuse University’s School of Art, VPA; fine artist, scholar, curator and arts administrator, and formerly associate dean and head of the School of Visual Arts at Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), United Kingdom;
  • Maarten Jacobs, Executive Director, Near Westside Initiative, Syracuse, NY;
  • Elizabeth Dunbar, Executive Director, Everson Museum; former director of DiverseWorks in Houston; former curator and associate director at Arthouse in Austin; former curatorial positions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art;
  • Mervyn Rothstein, distinguished arts journalist; retired writer and editor at The New York Times, including former assistant editor and writer for the Sunday Arts and Leisure section;
  • Dr. Emily Stokes-Rees, faculty member in SU’s graduate program in Museum Studies; doctorate from Oxford University, postdoctoral fellow at Brown University at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology; Harvard University post; experience with a wide variety of exhibitions in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia;
  • Carol Coletta, VP/Community and National Initiatives, Knight Foundation; former director of ArtPlace; former president and CEO of CEOs for Cities; former executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design;
  • Anne Cofer, locally-based Arts Educator/Public Artist, former recipient of the Best-of-Show Award at the Everson Biennial, Syracuse, NY;
  • Melanie Littlejohn, community leader and Regional Executive, National Grid, Syracuse NY;
  • Willy Wong, Creative Director, WW and former Chief Creative Officer NYC & Company; former advisory board member of SXSW Interactive and board member of Adobe Partners by Design; faculty member, School of Visual Arts, NYC;
  • Charlotte Cohen, Fine Arts Officer, Urban Development Manager, U.S. General Services, managing both new art commissions at federal buildings as well as the fine arts collection in the New York region; former director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program; former staff at the Smithsonian Institution; faculty member, NYU Steinhardt School of Art and Art Professions.

The jury reports to a local steering committee which includes: Dr. Lucinda Havenhand, Associate Dean of Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts; Quinton Fletchall, Connective Corridor Project Coordinator/Public Art Manager; Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Director, Connective Corridor, Syracuse University Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development; Kate Auwaerter , Preservation Planner/Syracuse Public Art Coordinator, Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency; Owen Kerney, Assistant Director for City Planning, Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency; Adria Finch, Economic Development Specialist, Downtown Committee of Syracuse; Stephen Butler, Executive Director, CNY Arts; and Daniel Franklin Ward, Curator, Erie Canal Museum and Chair of the Syracuse Public Art Commission. The local group will also help develop outreach sessions to provide public input to the jurors.

Corridor of Light

Corridor of Light

Next week we’ll share the ranking criteria that jurors will be using, but we wanted to wrap up with some thoughts on the theme of this call. “Illumination” has been a literal focus of the Corridor through lighting projects that highlight the City’s iconic architecture and urban spaces. But we also see public art along the Connective Corridor as a way to metaphorically light up the city as a vibrant, radiant place to live, work and engage.

Enjoy this short video, “Illuminations,” about how lighting and public art can enhance good things already underway in the City.  Photos in the video are award-winning entries from a Connective Corridor student photo contest, “Cusescapes,” along with images by SU photographer Stephen Satori and published news stories about Connective Corridor lighting projects. SU student photo credits include Dongmin Shin, He Shi and Ted Rysz. Video by Peter Hartsock.

We’re looking forward to “illuminating” you about public art through this partnership with the Syracuse New Times. Stay tuned next week and learn about the ranking criteria the jury will use, as well as more details about the entries!
Quinton Fletchall is the public art project coordinator for the Connective Corridor. He is also is a part-time SU VPA instructor of design, a current graduate student in the communication and rhetorical studies (G’15) and a graduate of industrial and interaction design (’13).

Survey questions:

  • What would you like the jury to consider as they evaluate artists?
  • What advice would you give artists working in Syracuse?

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