Ithaca’s Public Art Commission

Did you know the City of Ithaca has a Public Art Commission?  Well, I just found out that it does.

The PAC is an advisory committee to the City of Ithaca on decisions about and implementation of public art.  PAC receives and reviews proposals for public art projects as well as donations of public sculptures, etc. to the City of Ithaca.  Anyone who has a concrete idea (and funding) for a public art project can and should present their proposal to PAC.  I’m assuming it would be a good idea to get on their agenda…

Clearly not many artists know they can present their proposals for recommendation and approval, so do tell them.  PAC doesn’t seem to have a yearly budget, and unlike some exemplary government public art programs around the country (of course, in bigger cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chapel Hill, NYC, among others)  the City of Ithaca doesn’t currently employ the “percent for art” funding program.  (That explains a lot.)  Currently most of the public art we encounter in the city has either been donated, privately commissioned, part of the grant-funded Art in the Heart of the Downtown Alliance, or otherwise grant-funded.

The good news is PAC has recently received some funding to support their first open call for proposals for (the first, I think) public art project funded by the City, which should be coming out soon, so look out for it.  In the meantime, we really need to do something to get that Percent For Art funding mechanism in place here.

On the City of Ithaca website, under Boards and Committees, you will find information about PAC.  You’ll find the full Public Art Plan PDF here.


Temporary Art Spaces – Now Showing

We had a listing of some current Ithaca shows of interest in a previous post, but I want to point out a few more and reiterate one, that are housed in temporary spaces around town.

IC Photo Show

“I Feel When You I Want”
The Ithaca College Photography Workshop class exhibit is in the first floor of the parking garage at the corner of Cayuga and Clinton.  The space is a vast, dark, unfinished cavern with temporary walls individually lit, creating stations throughout.


Viewing hours for the IC show are Friday 12/12 and Saturday 12/13 from noon to 8pm and Sunday 12/14 noon to 6pm.  Bundle up, it’s unheated!

Comet Skateboards has a show of artist designed, hand-painted skateboards above Petrune on The Commons.  This space is not really temporary as Petrune seems committed to showing art here, but it’s new, loose and fun.  I don’t know how long it’s up.


And, Brick Balloon continues through December 31st in a temporary space: 108-110 collegetown ct. @208 dryden rd., ithaca, ny 14850.  T-Th 12–5pm or by appointment.

art stunts

Red Shoes, in response to your previous question:

“Ithaca artists – how can these kinds of inventive public interventions be created in town in ways that don’t mar, destroy, etc?”

Did anyone happen to notice this local art stunt that took place a few months back on the storefront located outside of the Cayuga Street Parking Garage?

Public Art

Just listened online to Tish Pearlman’s interview with Patty Phillips, Chair of the Cornell Art Department.  What struck me most in their half-hour discussion was the exchange about public art.  Patty speaks about the questions that make for good public art and the way that avoiding these questions can result in “disappointing public art.”    Phillips feels that engaging public art is all about the content: does the work address the site (historically, physically, socially) or “what it means to be a public citizen” or how we as individuals relate to public space?  She mentions Creative Time and The Public Art Fund as examples of organizations supporting/creating strong public art.

Work chosen to offend no one also inspires no one.  The most interesting public work poses questions, opens dialog and need not make stark, polarizing declarations in order to do so.  We have nothing to fear from the public examination of the issues we struggle with as a community.  How is Ithaca’s public art serving our community?  Some people may enjoy being photographed with the metal horse on the Commons, but are they talking about it?

Here are some (non-controversial) recent public works that I found charming/whimsical/thought-provoking:

Pulse Park by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - Madison Square Park, NYC

Pulse Park by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer - Madison Square Park, NYC

More info on this project

More videos of this work