Public Art Today, Tomorrow and into the Future

5 February 2013

A leading figure in the world of public art is the keynote speaker at a free seminar called Public Art Tomorrow being held at Wellington City Gallery on Saturday 16 February from 11.30am-1.30pm.

Jack Becker is the founder and Executive Director of Forecast Public Art, a 35-year-old non-profit organisation based in the United States that seeks to strengthen and advance public art internationally, as well as in the US. In 1989, he established an annual grant programme for Minnesota artists and Public Art Review, an international journal devoted to the field.

Becker says he's looking forward to discussing public art with a Kiwi audience. The topic for the seminar is broadly about the direction public art is moving in and what form it may take in future.

"Public art is a field of inquiry, a constant testing of new ideas and searching for new experiences. It's not a science that can be mapped out so clearly as to predict outcomes. But that's the fun of it, isn't it?"

Speakers will address what's happening in the field now, for example, how public art is responding to and/or affected by the recession, and how it's being used as a tool for regeneration, revitalisation and place-making.

Becker is joined by Wellington's own Heather Galbraith (Head of School of Fine Arts, Massey University) and David Cross (artist, curator and academic). Martin Basher, a New York based New Zealand artist, will complete the line up of speakers.

Jack Becker will provide a global overview of public art activity. Heather, David and Martin will form a panel and respond to Jack - each speaking for 15 minutes about projects they've been involved in, and their views about what's happening now and what may happen tomorrow in the field of public art.

City Gallery Wellington Director, Elizabeth Caldwell, says public art is becoming progressively more diverse and extremely relevant in Wellington.

"This is a city that is already well known for the way it enlivens its public spaces with public art, both through the network of sculptures that populate the city and a history of staging events that examine this topic - such as the One Day Sculpture Symposium.

"An increasingly online world of virtual 'likes' and the 'twitterverse' highlight an interest in the act of making and exploring the place for objects alongside more ephemeral performance based contemporary sculptural practice."

The seminar is a Public Art Fund event in partnership with City Gallery Wellington, the International Sculpture Center and the Wellington Sculpture Trust. Seminar organiser Katie Taylor-Duke says she's looking forward to hearing Jack Becker in discussion with local art experts.

"This seminar, dedicated to the subject of public art, plays to Wellington's strength. It's serendipitous that these diverse leaders in the field of public art can come together in Wellington to share their thoughts about what's going on beyond gallery walls."