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Friday, May 30 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
(Sustainability in Public Art Conservation) An Ounce Of Prevention: The Case For Pre-Fabrication Conservation Review Of New Public Art Commissions

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Works of public art are community investments that need to be cared for and shepherded through the process of construction and implementation just like any other public improvement. At present, many of the nation’s leading public art programs are over 20 years old and the fact that there was little pre-planning about maintenance and the aging of materials at the time of commissioning is coming back to haunt administrators. Particularly because many works of public art are fabricated using industrial materials repurposed for artwork (concrete, painted metals, and commercial tile to name but a few examples) there is a need for vetting of the materials and techniques of fabrication as a means of maximizing the longevity and sustainability of new public art commissions. This paper will address a program that has been implemented in several Southern California public art agencies such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Gold Line to Pasadena, and the cities of West Covina, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs to maximize the longevity and sustainability of new public art commissions by providing pre-construction review of new public art commissions by a conservator. The aim of this process is to reduce the need for costly conservation treatments by partnering conservators with artists so that public art materials can be vetted in advance of construction. The vetting process takes place after the design approval and involves a multi-phase dialogue between artist, conservator, and the agency’s representatives. The conservators chosen for the program are ones who have longstanding experience dealing with works of public art that have not aged well and cover such areas as public safety, maintainability, seismic and wind protection, as well as normally observed condition issues such as corrosion, flaking, fading, and coating issues. Developed by its authors, this program takes the onus of assuring sustainability off of the artist (who has a vested interest in convincing an agency that his/ her work is viable in the long term) and provides clear expectations about long-term expenditures to the agency that will be responsible for the care of the work.

Session Moderator(s)
avatar for Rosa Lowinger-[Fellow]

Rosa Lowinger-[Fellow]

Managing Principal, RLA Conservation
Rosa Lowinger has been a conservator of outdoor sculpture and public art since 1984. A graduate of the Conservation Center at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts and a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, she is the principal of Rosa Lowinger and Associates, a private sculpture... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 2:00pm - 3:30pm PDT
Seacliff A-C