Do your part for public art—check out the #KRISArtofGiving campaign

Posted by Abby Lynch, Sep 19, 2016 0 comments

This is the official blog of Americans for the Arts, so I might be preaching to the choir when I point out the value that public art projects bring to communities. Public art adds value by providing a visual interest to the area, activates public places, and helps builds community vitality, to name a few. The accessibility of public art is a nice fit for our mission of “arts for all” and is why Americans for the Arts has supported public art happening in communities around the country for years.

This year, we want to get the word out to an even wider audience. That’s why KRIS Wines has partnered with Americans for the Arts to celebrate the value of public art in American communities, and reward the artists who create it. They’re giving away $25,000 in prizes to artists who have recently completed projects in the United States, and your votes—up to once per day at kriswine.com/giving—will determine the winners.  And once you vote, tell us about it! We’re collecting stories using the #KRISArtofGiving hashtag, and we want to hear from you.

As development coordinator here at Americans for the Arts, it's not every day that I get to work with a funder who wants to support both our organization and artists. This campaign highlights the positive impact that public art can make in our lives and I am excited to share two projects with you that personally touch my life and the value they bring to my neighborhood.

"Tin Can Telephone" by James Bullogh. Photo by the author.

Public art does public good

This mural, by painter James Bullogh, went up in my neighborhood in 2014, and I love it. It makes the street—a busy through-way with narrow sidewalks and no street trees—visually appealing for the pedestrians and drivers who pass it every day, and has transformed the building into a notable landmark for the block. It also has a broader public benefit as a product of Murals DC, the graffiti abatement program that pairs local educational nonprofit Words Beats & Life with DC’s Department of Public Works and (Americans for the Arts member) DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to paint murals on graffiti-prone walls. Murals DC projects partner professional artists with local teens to install the works, ensuring that program participants learn skills and become invested in the work they’ve created.

Columbia Heights Civic Plaza fountain. Photo by Martha Heinemann Bixby

Public art builds communities

This plaza is at the cultural center of my neighborhood. Its distinctive design by Jann Rosen-Queralt builds from the central fountain out to the sidewalks and streets of the surrounding intersection. It was a big upgrade from the nondescript gravel that was there before the streetscape was transformed in 2009.

But the aesthetic value isn’t the only benefit to the neighborhood. This space has cleverly integrated a water feature, a meeting space, and a lot of pedestrian traffic, making it suitable for all sorts of uses. The fountain does double duty as a decorative element and a splash park during the hot, sticky DC summers (much needed in a neighborhood where not everyone has adequate air conditioning). When the fountain isn’t running, the whole plaza can host farmers’ markets, dance performances, a petting zoo, holiday displays, and more. Families come to let their kids play in the water. Friends meet up for impromptu picnics, and people cross through on their way to and from their homes, the Metro, and the nearby shopping center. As a resident, I love how the whole neighborhood participates in making this location their own.

Public art needs YOU

Public art is an essential part of building a vibrant, healthy community, and KRIS Wines wants to reward the artists who make it. Visit www.kriswine.com/giving to see eligible projects and vote for your favorite. With 101 works spanning 23 states, there’s something in there for everyone.

You can vote once per day, so vote early, vote often, and tell us which project gets your vote and why with a post on social media using the #KRISArtofGiving hashtag.

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