Notes from Workshop #26: From Apps to Arts in Public Places: Code for Boston, Creative Technology, and the Creative Spirit

May 5, 2016


Some of the most extraordinary technology-related work underway in the Boston region continues to emerge from Code for Boston, part of the Code for America “Brigade” network. CfB describes itself as a “group of developers, designers, data geeks, and citizen activists” using creative technology to solve civic and social challenges through new apps that reflect and respond to community needs. One need only participate with – or simply observe – the geeks and hackers at work every Tuesday evening at the Cambridge Innovation Center to witness an in-depth, disciplined approach to civic engagement and to the kinds of positive outcomes resulting from that engagement.

The question: is there a way – or even a reason – to expand from this strong, community-driven approach to “app-making” to a comparable approach to “art-making” in/for public places?

The issue is not only that of integrating technology generally into art in public places, but of adapting CfB’s discipline as a development model – a discipline that, as stated by one of CfB’s regulars, encompasses a workflow of “collaboration, iteration, and experimentation.” What are the lessons to be learned from CfB about new ways of working productively with government and community partners?  What do they suggest not only for new aspects of the creative process but for new kinds of work emerging from that process? 

The May 5 exploratory workshop/brainstorming session focused on the principles underlining CfB’s take on civic engagement, how these play out within CfB’s universe, how the fundamental logic can – and does – work in the environment of art in public places -- and how you might respond to that logic with your own ideas, projects, and initiatives.

Leading the workshop was: Harlan Weber, founder and leader of Code for Boston and Director of Design and Service Innovation at MassIT, the state IT agency; Isaac Chansky, co-organizer at Code for Boston and Front End developer at BEAM Interactive; Emily Royall, analyst and technologist at Massachusetts Data Office as MassIT, and Curator for Cultural Computation at MIT; Matt Rouser, Chief Technology Officer, Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston.


NOTE: The comments and questions recorded below are more suggestive than they are detailed, particularly given the rich and active discussions they prompted throughout the workshop. Our hope is that they in turn propel further inquiry and, as a result, further collaboration.


  • From Harlan Weber: leveraging technology and design for use in the public sphere
    • The imperative to frame one’s work with a government agency as a partnership, with the agency serving as both friend and educator
    • How to get the problem/challenge “right-sized”
    • Continuous use of GitHub to keep documentation up to date
    • Constantly employ the discipline and elements of collaboration


  • From Emily Royall: working at the intersection of computation and culture, imagining and reshaping relationships between people, cities, and technology
    • What is public space?
    • How are artists who are working with technology transforming our notion of public space?
    • From Marina Abramovic: art = context + intent
    • What is public space? Where is it going? Is there an intersection between physical and virtual spaces?


  • From Matt Rouser: integrating creative technology and urban strategy to make cities better for the people living in them
    • Notion/practice of “radical transparency”
    • What kind of role can this transparency play in the creation of art?


  • From Isaac Chansky: applying technology to public art, within a framework of collaboration, iteration, experimentation – and anything else that makes sense contextually
    • How to create a more interactive experience for people?
    • Why should technology be involved in arts in public places?
    • Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic
    • Adding technology: still doesn’t solve how you work with people
    • Add: “technology” to art, public, place!
    • Constant iteration by everyone working on the project


  • From workshop participants – questions, ideas, both large- and small-scale: 
    • Equity and ethics: how are they made – and kept – part of this world?
    • Screens on MBTA could provide digital info
    • Open source map of arts in Boston: identify places where are is/should be
    • Neighborhoods as cultural districts: e.g., Roxbury?
    • Calling out arts districts
    • Implications of infusing places with art, and what happens
    • ArtsCommons: to help grown/bind the community
    • How to visualize the stories of the people who’ll be part of the ArtsCommons
      • Possibly a new app via Code for Boston?
      • How technology has a power to provide a unique perspective
      • Journey/narrative, created by input from population
      • Get community involved in building art together


Notes from Workshop #25: BostonAPP/Lab Goes to Boston Arts Academy’s STEAM Lab

February 23, 2016

From the workshop announcement:

A recent quote from an unknown source: “Collaboration is not about gluing together existing egos. It’s about the ideas that never existed until after everyone entered the room.” 

Collaboration drives what BostonAPP/Lab does and what it seeks. 

Collaboration is also, virtually by definition, what defines the Boston Arts Academy’s STEAM Lab – where experimentation and exploration are constants as participants seek ways to integrate the arts into a curriculum of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. Boston Arts Academy is the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts and recently was one of eight schools recognized nationally by the Ovation Foundation and President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for its STEAM initiative.  

The goals in proposing a meeting of the Labs can be summarized as follows: (1) How does this program work in concept, in practice, in results? (2) How can this approach inform the ways in which artists might work in public places? (3) How can artists working in the public sphere in turn inform the work of the Lab?

STEAM lab is a place to play, think, create across disciplinary boundaries while keeping art central to learning: what possibilities does this kind of collaboration suggest? 


STEAM Lab director Dr. Nettrice Gaskins began by narrating the Lab’s work -- its approach, its achievements, its relationship to the Boston Arts Academy as a whole, and ways in which the Lab’s multidisciplinary approach can be and has been embedded in arts in public places. Her PowerPoint presentation was further enriched by the description by one of her students, Nate Whitaker, of his own explorations around the notion of “virtual space.”

As can be seen in the admittedly fractured nature of the notes below, the general Q&A and the subsequent small-group discussions were more evocative than conclusive, generating some basic questions (schools as public space), topics for deeper exploration (weighing the A in STEAM), pondering next steps (how do we share expertise).

We hope readers will weigh in with their own questions – and even answers – regarding this kind of collaboration, and what it may mean for schools, for art, and for the interrelationships between the two. How can schools, in fact, be – or are they already? – public spaces?


  • Culture: how it operates in the country

  • What we do daily that produces energy output

  • How to tap into cultural knowledge

    • Path through ArtsCommons

    • Cultures interact and inform most about their culture:

      • Later collect and identify strengths and ways to improve...or identify needs

  • Other schools that do not have ability and resources to bring STEAM lessons into their classes: how do we share expertise?

  • What can I take away that I can do right now?

    • Portable STEAM lab?

  • Weighing the “A” in STEAM

  • Making STEAM look like a lot of things

  • How do we make STEAM accessible?

  • Finding motivation in the art: enough to explore/learn

  • Capacity for time/level of involvement

  • Understanding the “Why” (this is cool, but how does it work?)

  • Augmented realities: how it changes the typical classroom

    • Eliminate infrastructure of projectors, marker boards, smart boards, tv’s

    • Eliminate computer labs, and dedicated technology space

    • New spaces all have technology and art capabilities

      • “tinkering spaces”

  • Art and food

  • Educations sites and land as public art space

  • Schools as public space: outward, not inward

  • Intergenerational, intercultural, interdisciplinary art: 

    • Critique: subjugated knowledges

    • Art for the “defined” people?

    • Technology of the self (Foucault), not just “technological devices”

    • “Dynamize” gaps, negative spaces/places

    • Multiple feeds into central spaces:

      • Alumni, creative core, neighborhoods, cultures, populations, group

Notes from Workshop #24: Food and Arts: A Marriage in the Public Market

January 26, 2016

From the Workshop Announcement:

What kinds of installations, performances, and interactive engagement will work in the Boston Public Market/The KITCHEN?

What does, or could, a marriage between food and art look like?

Are there ways to incorporate into this new generation of activation other elements within the Trustees’ portfolio -- which now includes The KITCHEN -- of community gardens and open space?


Workshop participant responses/recommendations, by category:

1. Illumination

  • Outside: projections/light shows/lasers/lighted sculptures

  • Signature art piece: cf. BSA Green Staircase

  • Simple, but fun, signage

2. Marketing/communications

  • Need to communicate experience to those who may be interested (both in- and out-of-town)

  • Consider building’s visibility

  • Generate attention/curiosity via building mapping, projections, art 

  • Lighting: opportunity for contemporary projection on exterior

3. Vendor engagement

  • Programming: vendors bring live music from their area/farm/town

  • Local music/local food

  • Screens in market with recipe ideas, based on specific ingredients from vendors

  • Branded bags with spaces for vendor-specific info stickers

4. Civic engagement

  • Outside “directional” interventions/art that lead people to the BPM/KITCHEN

  • Live streaming video of kitchen activities, visible in the market and/or on the street

  • Create a “community table,” instead of a buffet experience: people talk about their food experiences/share recipes/knowledge

  • Field trips: from schools to market, AND from market to schools, via truck/bus

  • Students study grocery/market layout, food production, entrepreneurship, design

  • Traveling empty school bus w/pop-up kitchen

  • Farm visits: sign up at Market

  • Culinary competitions: different age groups

  • Interview people: experience in the market; sound bites for media

Develop a BPM/Kitchen app, to include:

Storytelling (about vendors, farms)

Pop-up BPM/Kitchen-branded stall(s) to be placed in different communities

Community Garden “State Fair” – e.g., which garden has the best tomato?

Connect Market to:

Local gardens

Economic diversity

Cultural diversity

5. Partnerships: “home-made food,” “home-made art”

Bring artists/artisans into Kitchen to demonstrate

  • Metal fabrication

  • Woodworking

  • Letterpress printing

Find out what surrounding groups/businesses/organizations do/need, and find a connection via the content of the Market/Kitchen.

Promote homesteading programming:

  • Canning, cheese-making, kombucha-making, candle-making, etc.

  • Give space over to craft market once/month or so, focused on food-farm-related items

  • Work with region-wide waterfront fish businesses, including fishermen/women

6. Food-as-art

  • Vegetable art

  • Latte art

  • Competitions for all ages to make food art

7. Venue

  • Extend market and kitchen images/atmosphere/character into (throughout) other parts of the building

  • Kitchen doesn’t look inviting from street; looks like private space: make it look exciting

  • Both BPM and Kitchen need to be or feel “messier”

  • Make the street entrance the primary entrance

Activate the public/private perimeter – i.e., the outside edges around the building

  • Flowers, stands with produce, street performers, painted murals on sidewalks

Add art in hallway + lighting +vendor programming and art in hallway: call it Nourish

  • Art installation in hallway, changeable, a la Dewey Square

  • Overall, plan for/implement ongoing series of temporary installations throughout the two spaces


Notes from Workshop #23: ArtsCommons on the Ground

December 15, 2015

The many participants in the Lab’s November 24 workshop – where we began to bring the ArtsCommons to life ­­ created a rich set of both general and specific responses to the ArtsCommons’ core questions:

  • Location: where can/should the ArtsCommons best be sited?
  • Users: who will/can/should be engaging with these spaces?
  • Curation: what topics/ideas issues can the ArtsCommons’ programming address?
  • Criteria: how do we set priorities - and who is “we?”
  • Infrastructure: what are the essential mechanical, electrical, environmental, safety requirements for the ArtsCommons?

One of November’s participants wrote later that the ArtsCommons’ “openness is its generosity once the artists and community get their minds and hands on it, it will go beyond anything we come up with in a workshop.”

The challenge, then: identify the specific steps required to create a successful launch ­­ and ensure a residual impact ­­ of the ArtsCommons. For example:

  • What are the most critical ingredients for structuring an effective ArtsCommons partnership?
  • Given the flexibility built into the ArtsCommons’ initial design, what are the most efficient/effective approaches to siting, configuration, use of materials, etc.?
  • What kinds of “prompts” will activate what kinds of activities or uses over the course of a two­ week ­long residency at a single site?
  • What are the definitions of success – immediate as well as on­going ­­ for the ArtsCommons?

The ideas summarized in the notes below suggest the multiple strategies by which participants saw the ArtsCommons coming to life.


Brainstorming kinds/examples of potential artnerships:

● Community Investors: (Ideas are money, time is money)

● Town Hall meetings to provide the community a voice in what happens in their space, as well as a way to find out what we should/can be leaving behind

● Space is money. What is a surplus in the community that needs to be shared?

● “Life Is Good”

● Studio Fresh

● Loft F Gallery, Design Museum Boston, Industrial Designers Society of Boston, Energy companies – solar, batteries etc.

● Blockchain (bitcoin) companies – enabling people to prove concepts ● Incentivizing partnerships via potential profitable scalability

● Organizations already established in communities and can foster activity. Places may not have the kind of venue like the Children’s’ Museum; however, they do have organizations like the Boys and Girls Club where children can create a sense of community and are encouraged to express themselves through art. Thus maybe a “leave­behind” or performance is not a physical mark on the location, but enhancing these established communities.

● Community organizations

● Micro communities

● Boston Redevelopment Authority


Brainstorming kinds/examples of ctivities:

● Collaborative/Diverse performances based on communities (anniversaries, memorable dates)

● Themes for local civic engagement; dialogues and themes via installation(s) that would address social issues, and travel from one site to the next

● Incubator for social groups

● Physical platform that can engage and enable communities to evolve/continue ● Create frameworks of time

● Location, Location, Location: The “black box” as a means of creating a place of activity? To draw, engage and connect people – perhaps in a place with little/no pre­-established social engagement.

● Visual, lecture, performing ­ one of each.

● Theme for X amount of time.

● Social media ­ pulling attention, keeping focus ­ creative direction

● Food and gardening ­ seasonal

● Campfires


Brainstorming kinds of/criteria for uccess:

● Knowledge: Consistency, Accessibility (social media), Word of mouth, visibility – posters/structures

● Create/sustain dialogue with the community to see what the ArtsCommons means to them

● Pre­-work with and preparing the community for the ArtsCommons as crucial component of what happens on/in/around the ArtsCommons

● Regularity: Reliable

● Variety of audiences at one time (trick them, be vague enough to appeal to everyone) ● Cross­-seasonal unit that can scale and be simple/pure/’magical’/intuitive

● Timeline enabling community to engage and adapt to it before taking it away

● Physical “list” that can be passed on

● Growth of community in platforms, groups, friendships

● Educational components such as people learning about local activities or just generally learning from one another

● Cross-fertilization of cultures

● Drop Box – Social Media hype before it gets there “Drop the Box”

● Equal Opportunity: “Natural Selection” shouldn’t rely on funding – kit of parts should enable any idea to be seen through and given the chance to “prove itself.”

● Spatial/ Physical hype: what happens in the space before the physical structure gets there? Excitement, Questions, Mystery, Imagination

● Ideological Hype/Community Influence: community brainstorms for topic/themes Understanding community needs. Who knows best? Insider or outsider?

● Constructive community input – ideals, not problems. Fill the space with good, not remove the negative.

● Involvement – core community vs. outside community

● Incubator for movement: urban gardens, uplift what exists, reality that needs healing

● Creating community: social media … network > physical space … destination

● Sponsor a cube ­ network Kickstarter

● Must haves: power, wifi, security

● Performance: intimate, secured, stage, collecting something – filled with stuff

● Barber shop; mani­-pedi

● Transparent walls

● Open studios/Open streets

Notes from Workshop #22: ArtsCommons in the Community

November 24, 2015

The "ArtsCommons" is Boston APP/Lab’s proposal for a portable, flexible outdoor "black box" providing opportunities for installations, performances, and civic engagement. Major thanks to Ben Bruce and Greg MacGlashing for the physical concepts and design, and toEagle Leasing for its enormously generous offer to provide steel containers that will constitute the ArtsCommons, and to the many individuals and organizations, including the Rose Kennedy Greenway, who have been collaborating with us on this project. And, finally, to the enormous, extraordinary group of workshop participants who've been helping us to answer the Who/What/Where/How of the ArtsCommons!

Notes from Workshop #21: Let's Face the Music

October 27, 2015

For the sake of argument let’s assume the following: When many (most?) of us talk about or envision a new work of art in a public place, most likely the focus is on some kind of visual expression.

  1. Is music as public art different from music as performance? If so, how? If not, why not?

  2. If there are differences, what are the ways in which -- to pick up how Robert Irwin frames art in a public place -- "you can take [musical] art out into the world?"

  3. Given #2, what are, or what could be, the complementary roles or skills sets of, e.g., a musician, a composer, a community leader, a municipal agency, a producer, etc.?

  4. Ultimately, what -- if anything -- needs to happen to ensure that music is incorporated more explicitly in the common understanding of"public art"/"art in a public place?"

Helping to lead the band was: Mike Avitabile, arts administrator/director of Hub New Music; Maria Finkelmeier, composer and founder/director of Kadence Arts; Mike Hardin, percussionist; Erik Holmgren, Mass Cultural Council’s program manager for Creative Youth; Jon Sakata, concert pianist, installation artist, and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Notes from Workshop #20: The City as Art

June 23, 2015

What kinds of urban spaces provoke what kinds of responses from artists, architects, and designers? And how can those spaces be re-imagined as “urban catalysts,” enabling social and well as physical re-invigoration of a specific site with its own specific conditions? To what extent does this “call-and-response” approach represent new opportunities or new frameworks for creating art in public places?

Recent work by graduate architecture students at the Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) have incorporated this notion of art as an urban catalyst – of art that provides an opportunity for agency – by proposing interventions that, as described by the current BSA show, are “bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a building.”  Homing in on a specific, and very much related, challenge, how can such an approach enhance a city’s overall strategy for a more vibrant, supportive, and invigorating public realm that overall is also a vehicle for agency? Presentation, discussion, and brainstorming were led by Rob Trumbour, from Wentworth Institute of Technology and Artforming, and Chris Osgood, who recently left the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics to become Boston’s Chief of Streets. 

Notes from Workshop #19: Designing in Collaboration

May 13, 2015

This workshop began with an overview of some of the current work sponsored by the Enterprise Rose Architecture Fellowship. Nella Young, Director of the Fellowship, set the stage by first describing Enterprise Community Partners, the parent organization, as an intermediary in the community development field, with over 500 people nationwide bringing tools, grants, and network-building skills to creating affordable housing that links design with community-building. Within that framework, the highly selective Fellowship program offers opportunities for trained architects to bring a design perspective to the community development process.

Notes from Workshop #17: Art as Play

March 26, 2015

Open-ended play is essential for human development throughout life. It is also part of the creative process, whether one is an artist or a scientist or mathematician. Yet if the built environment tells us what a culture values, the built environment in cities around the country tells us that play is something that only young children do within playgrounds and park fences. We live in a time when more and more people are moving to urban centers.  We also live in a time when there is a named disorder for lack of play – play deficit disorder.

Led by Lillian Hsu (Cambridge Arts Council), David Robert (Center for Speculative Children’s Design), and Sarah Carrier (landscape designer), workshop participants began with a group brainstorm and then were given materials to create one example of a playful activity that each could take home and multiply in her or his neighborhood or city, the next day or any day.

Notes from Workshop #16: "ArtsCommons" 3.0

February 18, 2015

Last December, the second “ArtsCommons” workshop generated a set of core principles to shape the physical and programmatic components of a shared approach to art in public places – with the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Dewey Square Park as the site.

Lab participants have been examining ways in which these principles can be brought to life. What if we used large steel containers in a variety of configurations? What if we could turn those containers into stages, sculptures, theaters, galleries, and more? What sorts of opportunities would they provide for new, more expansive collaborations? How do we make those collaborations happen?

Helping to facilitate the workshop was Sebastian Mariscal and Brian Militana of Sebastian Mariscal Studio, design concepts; Dan Sternof Beyer New American Public Art, infrastructure; Maria Finkelmeyer of Kadence Arts and Cedric Douglas, Cedric Douglas Design.

Notes from Workshop #15: "ArtsCommons" 2.0

December 10, 2014

Participants in the previous workshop – 'Arts Commons: Sharing Resources, Linking Disciplines, to Create Art in Public Places' – brainstormed a wide range of responses to the question of what could happen in and on the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Dewey Square Park when resources are shared and disciplines linked to create art in public places – an “arts commons,” in other words.

The all-star set of “commoners” included Charlie McCabe, Director of Public Programs, Rose Kennedy Greenway; Jamie Gahlon, Associate Director of HowlRound: A Center for Theater Commons; Alexander Castillo-Nunez, Jessie Tolbert, and Kadahj Bennett, founders of the Home Association theater collective working in a variety of media including video, poetry, live performance, and design; Maria Finkelmeier, percussionist/composer and head of Kadence Arts; Cedric Douglas, named Upham’s Corner’s Public Artist; and Brian Militana, project manager with the architecture/design firm of Sebastian Mariscal Studio, whose principal, Sebastian Mariscal, will join the team.

Notes from Workshop #14: “Arts Commons” 1.0

November 12, 2014

With the Lab’s focus on “incubating new collaborations” this workshop drilled down into what that means in practice, bringing together artists from many disciplines (music, theater, design, visual arts) to set out their points of view on what this kind of collaboration – or “arts commons” – looks like. For the major part of the workshop, participants working in small groups had the opportunity to brainstorm, and figure out implementation strategies for, their own cross-disciplinary ideas focused on art in public places.

The roster of all-stars helping to facilitate the workshop were Charlie McCabe, Director of Public Programs, Rose Kennedy Greenway; Jamie Gahlon, Associate Director of HowlRound: A Center for Theater Commons; Alexander Castillo-Nunez, Jessie Tolbert, and Kadahj Bennett, founders of the Home Association theater collective working in a variety of media including video, poetry, live performance, and design; Maria Finkelmeier, percussionist/composer and head of Kadence Arts; Cedric Douglas, named Upham’s Corner’s Public Artist; and Brian Militana, project manager with the architecture/design firm of Sebastian Mariscal Studio.

Notes from Workshop #13: Open Web, Art, and the Civic Realm

september 30, 2014

The open web offers opportunities for enriching experiences at the intersection of art, public, and place.  For civic technologists, art in public places is an untapped avenue for impactful citizen engagement. What collaborative possibilities can be unlocked by bringing together the arts and civic web communities to weave a richer social fabric?

The chief “incubators” were Kawandeep Virdee, co-founder and open web technologist at New American Public Art, and Lyre Calliope, Community Lead, Code for Boston.

Notes from Workshop #12: Catalyst Conversations

june 10, 2014

The lab was clear in the importance of public art that the public can engage in. If there is an art piece that people have the opportunity to put in their own creativity into it, they too may understand that the art is also theirs. It builds a strength in people and creates a sense of unity. Thousands of thoughts, one language: Art.

Leading the charge was Pedro Alonzo, independent curator; Camilø Alvårez, owner, director, and preparator at Samsøñ; Dan Sternof Beyer, co-founder, New American Public Art; Matthew Blumberg, founder and executive director, GridRepublic; George Fifield, founding director, Boston Cyberarts Inc.; and Primavera De Fillipi researcher, CERSA / CNRS / Université Paris II and research fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Notes from Workshop #11: More than Pipes

april 30, 2014

The recent, and important, Public Space Invitational announced by Kris Carter and Michael Evans of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is a major contribution to a more robust and inclusive civic environment, with proposals that fulfill NUM’s request for initiatives that are “simple, intuitive, and literally awesome.” This is significant. But what’s next?

What/where/how are the new ways in which multiple stakeholders – artists, communities, agencies, hackers – can come together to increase the limits of what’s doable in cultivating public spaces? What technologies and resources can be brought to bear that expand and sustain participation in these efforts? How can we weave together physical, organizational, and community-based infrastructure from the outset? How can these kinds of efforts reflect a multi-faceted understanding of urban equity?

“Creators” included Nigel Jacob, co-chair, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics; Dan Sternof Beyer, co-founder, New American Public Art; Chrislene DeJean and Terry Marshall, co-founders, Intelligent Mischief; Lyre Calliope, Community Lead, Code for Boston; and Nate Smith, artist. We particularly want your participation and your ideas, leading to outcomes that will serve all stakeholders.

Notes from Workshop #10: Art and Design as Practical Social Action

march 25, 2014

How does, and how can, art serve as a partner within the Boston region’s continuing drive toward greater technological and entrepreneurial invention and innovation? More broadly, what is its role in community-building, in fulfilling the artist Joseph Beuys’ notion of art’s potential for “practical social action?”  What are the opportunities for and challenges to building community through new kinds of collaborations and enterprises? South Boston-based Artists for Humanity has provided a model for the kind of integration that incorporates art, design, innovation, and entrepreneurship, leading ultimately to revitalized communities.

The “action figures” included Jason Talbot, Co-Founder and Special Projects Director for AFH, and John Cannistraro, Jr., President of Watertown-based Cannistraro Plumbing and an AFH corporate partner. We’ll speculate on future outcomes for AFH while opening up the discussion to see where, how, and under what circumstances this kind of integration can take place.

Notes from Workshop #9: Beyond the One-Shot Deal

February 25, 2014

What are the opportunities for art in new development beyond the "statue in the lobby?" How can those opportunities be realized -- and how are they being realized? Are there economic models that, when applied, allow for a long-term relationship between art and creativity on the one hand and real estate development on the other. Can art be integrated into a development's long-term operation -- whether the development is affordable housing, mixed-income housing, or mixed-use?

The lead "explorers" in this workshop included Mark Matel, Rose Architecture Fellow and Project Manager for the Bartlett Yard affordable housing project; Sebastian Mariscal, principal with Sebastian Mariscal Studio and designer/developer of new mixed-income/mixed-use Parker & Terrace Development in Mission Hill; and artist Cedric Douglas, many of whose works appeared this summer at Bartlett Yard and who is a finalist for a permanent installation at Upham's Corner.

Notes from Workshop #9: Lessons from Beach Project

january 28, 2014

A complex initiative, with many parts and many players, is underway at Magazine Beach to restore both the 1818 magazine and the open riverside area that surrounds it. This is a significant case study about aligning the art, the public, and the place on a critical site, with participants ranging from the nearby neighborhood association to state government and agencies and from artists to non-profits.

The “lead provocateurs” were Evan Hines, Director of Development for the State Department of Conservation and Recreation; Rep. Jay Livingstone of the 8th Suffolk District, Massachusetts House; Rob Trumbour, Director at ArtForming; Renata von Tscharner, Founder and President of the Charles River Conservancy; and Cathie Zusy, Chair of the Magazine Beach Committee, Cambridgeport.

Notes from Workshop #8: Tactical Urbanism/Tactical Art

November 6, 2013

A key ingredient in generating a more vibrant and inclusive environment for art in public places comes from tactical urbanism: short-term, small-scale, and high-reward initiatives focused on improving the public life of a neighborhood and a city. This workshop was convened to examine these tactics, and how to inventory what those tactics require for success, and the kinds of spontaneous interventions that make up much of art in public spaces.

The workshop provided examples of how, when, and where these strategies result in partnerships with certain municipal agencies in support of their goals. It's tacticians included Dan Sternof Beyer of New American Public Art; Gary Dunning of Boston Celebrity Series; and Rachel Szakmary of the Boston Transportation Department.

Notes from Workshop #7: “An architect, an artist, and a developer walk into a bar…”

september 23, 2013

Questions on the table at this workshop were:

  • Given these three perspectives, what are the overlapping interests that will, or that do, guarantee a workable, sustainable model for collaboration that embeds art into a project’s initial design and development concept? What are the opportunities? The constraints?

  • What would a final “protocol”, or at least an informal, but rigorous, arrangement, look like?

  • What collaborative tools can be developed to support this effort?

Leading the discussion was Tamara Roy, Senior Associate Principal with ADDInc.; Gillian Christy, Sculptor; and Mark McGowan, Manager of Development with Skanska.

Notes from Workshop #6: Making It Happen

June 27, 2013

BostonAPP/Lab is moving toward organizing and bringing more transparency to the complex series of roles and responsibilities underlying its initiatives. The result is a “Knowledge Grid” – or, the BostonAPP GameBoard®. This workshop took aim at refining and strengthening the GameBoard. We want to make sure that we’ve covered all the right bases, that both the “who” and the “what” are fully accounted for and that this can serve as a useful model for initiating and monitoring future projects, whether you’re an artist, a city agency, a donor, or a community organization.

Lillian Hsu, director of the Cambridge Arts Council, and Dan Sternof Beyer, head of New American Public Art, analyzed one of their projects in terms of the GameBoard. We then broke into small groups to examine how the model can be improved and, ultimately, serve as a valuable tool and road map.

Notes from Workshop #5: The Intersection of Arts, Politics, and Economics

April 18, 2013

How can public art transform the ways in which people use and think about public space? What are some of the new models for private sponsorship of public art? How do we foster these new partnerships? This workshop addressed these and other questions surrounding the role of public art in urban design.

The panel, moderated by Ron Mallis, director of BostonAPP/Lab, included Chris Cook, director of the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture, and Tourism; Janet Echelman, whose transformative work can be seen in places as varied as Phoenix, the San Francisco Airport, Vancouver, and Porto, Portugal; Marggie Lackner, director of Design and Architecture for the MBTA, whose experience includes the Arts on the Line program; and Rob Trumbour, assistant professor of urban design at Wentworth Institute of Technology and founder of Artforming, a design and research collaborative.

Notes from Workshop #4: Creative Strategies, Practices, and Collaborations

march 26, 2013

This workshop's panelists included Jason Turgeon of FIGMENT Project at Bartlett Yards; Neil Horsky, community artist and educator; and Conrad Crawford of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Notes from Workshop #3: Lessons from the HONK! Festival

February 26, 2013

This workshop's panel included Ken Field and John Bell of the HONK! Festival; Lillian Hsu of the Cambridge Arts Council; and Annie Houston of the Mass Cultural Council.

Notes from Workshop #2: Building a Network

january 22, 2013

On October 24, 2012, over three dozen participants, representing foundations, artists, NGOs, city and neighborhood agencies, planners, architects, landscape architects, among many others, convened at the Boston Society of Architects for a “brainstorming roundtable” emphasizing challenges, solutions, and action steps aimed at a more robust and vigorous environment for art in Greater Boston’s public places.

From that event there emerged a new working group–BostonAPP/Lab–to sponsor a monthly series of sessions devoted to identifying how, by whom, and by what actions these and other challenges would be met.