The Next Conversation: Public Art

John Boylan’s Next Conversation

This episode: “Public Art

Date: Tuesday, September 22, from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, a lounge and art gallery at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848.

This month we’re talking public art. What is the status of public art, especially in Seattle, one of the respected public art pioneer cities? Where does art in public places stand in the larger worlds of art, politics, and commerce? Is public art being redefined? If so, what is it becoming?

The Guests (see below for bios)

Barbara Goldstein

Carolyn Law, artist

Greg Lundgren, artist

Dan Webb, artist

I’ve thought some over the past months about public art. In part I keep coming back to the tremendous potential of putting art in public places. Done well, it can have an immense power, a power to connect with passers by in ways that much studio art cannot. A question: Is it being done well? And how might “public art done well” even be defined?

What is the direction of public art? Is it in need of redefinition or rebirth?

Part of my thinking about public art comes from years of going to Burning Man. Whatever else it is, Burning Man is laboratory for public art. As with any laboratory, some of the work shines, while some may need a serious rethink. But the important thing is the existence of the laboratory. Is there any corollary outside of Black Rock City?

For this conversation, we have an excellent set of guests. Barbara Goldstein is Public Art Director for the City of San Jose, and was for many years the Public Art Director for the City of Seattle. She’s also the editor of “Public Art by the Book ( Carolyn Law has been a public artist for a number of years. Most recently she has been conducting investigations in new directions for public art. Greg Lundgren wears a number of hats, but the most relevant one involves PDL, the art group to which he belongs: Finally, Dan Webb has been working as a public artist, most famously in Olympia. His article “I Heart Public Art” has been making the rounds since it was published in the September 2008 issue of “La Especial Norte.” It’s available as a pdf at

So come and talk about public art. I’m guessing that this one may draw a crowd, so come early and partake of Vermillion’s excellent food and beverages. Thanks also to all who suggested people for this conversation, and especially Beth Sellars, Anne Focke, and Barbara Leucke.

If you want to link to this announcement, you can find it at

Next Month: “Art and Alcohol.” And yes, writers and writing are included, and other substances might come into the conversation as well.

Finally, I’ve been continuing with my little experiment in Web publishing. I’m up to Episode Four of “”Ship—a weekly adventure serial, a space opera, a romance, a small diversion in trying times.” You can find it at

The story thus far: Hare Trieste is reunited with Largo, a sentient spaceship, along with Ship, Largo’s brain and Hare’s long-time partner. Ship has a sharp wit and a passion for old-fashioned flat-screen films. But Hare finds that Largo is currently inhabited by Baelyae, the fierce daughter of the Grand Duke of Trinne. Hare…. If you’ve read this far, it would be easier to start at the beginning:

The Guests

Barbara Goldstein is the Public Art Director for the City of San Jose and editor of Public Art by the Book, published by University of Washington Press and Americans for the Arts in 2005. For eleven years prior to her work in San Jose she was Public Art Director for the City of Seattle.  She has taught architectural criticism, written and extensively on art and architecture and lectured nationally and internationally.  She’s glad to be back among friends in Seattle.

Carolyn Law has maintained a diverse professional artistic practice over the past twenty-five years that encompasses both studio and public artworks, art planning for public art projects as a consultant or artist-in-residence, and planning and project management for pubic art programs. Her consistent focus is expanding the ways she and other artists are able to engage individuals and communities in their public environments through diverse creative exchanges. She has worked on numerous projects throughout the Northwest area of the U.S. and in California, Arizona, and Tennessee.

The public art projects Carolyn has been involved in range widely — from design team collaborations with architects, engineers and/or other designers coupled with extensive interface with agencies, community groups and individuals, to artworks integrated into a specific area of a larger project. She has worked on various types of projects including public plazas, parks, and infrastructure such as bridges, bus and light rail transit and streetscapes. Her art planning efforts include conceptual and practical outlines for incorporating public art into a wide variety of sites and locations such as Bainbridge Island City Hall, Harborview Medical Center, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, the Seattle Parks and community centers systems, a civic square for an historic courthouse/city hall in Nashville, Tennessee and Portland, Oregon’s bus transit system. Carolyn has undertaken project management for the public art programs of the Washington State, King County and Seattle Arts Commissions which strengthens her ability to be innovative with basic practices and issues in the public art field.

Carolyn’s studio work has been shown in galleries and museums regionally and nationally. Currently her main focus is on drawings that record a visual journal of her thinking, interests and research, and temporary installations in outdoor settings.

Civic engagement with a focus on the public arena has also been a priority. She has participated on review groups such as the Seattle Design Commission, Sound Transit Light Rail Review Panel and the Baseball Stadium Community and Public Art Committees. Carolyn is a long-time mentor to younger artists interested in the public art, encouraging them to think broadly about ways to interface with the expansive world outside their studios.

Greg Lundgren, a multi-disciplinary artist and designer, is the founder of Vital 5 Productions, Lundgren Monuments, and the Hideout. He is a member of the performance art group PDL. As an independent curator, Lundgren has produced over 40 exhibitions, most recently Dada Economics at the 2009 Bumbershoot festival.

I just got Dan Webb’s acceptance, and I don’t have his bio. His Web site is


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