Goodbye to the Artist Registry

©Janet Echelman 2005, She Changes, Praca Cidade Salvador, Porto, Portugal
©Janet Echelman 2005, She Changes, Praca Cidade Salvador, Porto, Portugal

Artist Registry to be decommissioned April 30th

Over the course of its development, the 4Culture Artist Registry has become a national model. With over 3,000 images, Volume VI is one of the only web publications of such magnitude in the industry, showcasing a remarkable breadth of public art and artists. Investments in design and navigability allow the site to read like a catalogue. Although it is difficult, if not impossible, to track how much work and exposure artists receive through their inclusion, the interest in the resource ‐ both practically, from the art and design community and from educators ‐ is proven. The site received over 85,000 unique hits last year.

The planned end of the three year lifespan of this current volume is April 30, 2012. As we mentioned last month, future iterations are not being considered at this time.

Since the beginning of the Public Art program in 1973, and reflected in the 1991 launch of the Artist-Made Building Parts Project (precursor to the current Registry and the first of its kind in the country), our goal has been to stimulate creative economic opportunities for artists and promote the integration of art and architecture, generating more vibrant and interesting environments. Going forward, we will continue to conduct our practice with these goals in mind.

Nancy Blum, Flower Wall, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, WA, Photo: ©Spike Mafford, 2004
Nancy Blum, Flower Wall, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, WA, Photo: ©Spike Mafford, 2004

Registry History

Over twenty years ago, we developed the Artist Made Building Parts (AMBP) roster for the region. (AMBP: deliverable objects and products integral to the built environment, including functional components, site furnishings and ornamental detailing.) Artists were selected by a jury of art and design professionals on the basis of quality of work, experience and product diversity. Work samples were represented in an extensive slide library and color catalogue. In 2001, the program expanded to include a national pool of Design Team Artists. (Design team collaboration: artists work with other members of the design team—traditionally, architects, engineers, landscape architects and clients – to incorporate their ideas and perspectives into the total project planning and design.) We also developed our first digital documentation at this time, a CD of work samples, which was used to select artists for our projects with compressed schedules and specific demands, and made available to architects, engineers, landscape architects, developers, other public agencies and neighborhood groups.

Starting in 2005, we moved the resource online and created the current system of categorization: Parts, Sites, and Plans. Each category presents artists who apply creative problem solving in ways that enrich, challenge, and excite: PARTS to implement small‐scale projects, SITES for large‐scale, wholly integrated works, and PLANS when frameworks for art integration are required. We launched Volume VI in 2009.

What Next?

We believe this crossroads in our programming provides a good opportunity to set up new, productive conversations with a broad constituency including artists, administrators, architects, and developers about the efficacy and relevancy of registries at this time.

Recent conversations in the field indicate that commissioning entities are more interested in ‘tailor‐ making’ calls. We intend to reach out and foster discourse over the next year and, looking forward, seek new ways of creating registries and developing partnerships to maximize our investments of money and staff time.

Public Art 4Culture will issue open calls for public art projects and portable works commissions as they arise. We will also continue to steward our gallery program and produce and promote a variety of educational efforts. To stay abreast of these opportunities, sign up for our mailing lists.