Americans for the Arts honored two City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) projects on Friday, totaling seventeen national awards for the AIPP program since Americans for the Arts began the national recognition program in 2000. Tau Ceti by Austin artist Joseph Kristofoletti and Blackbird by Austin artist team of Joseph and Holly Kincannon are among 50 other outstanding public art projects recognized in 2018. The Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art, selected a total of 50 projects from an open call process out of 361 applications. Selected by a panel of public art experts, the roster of projects were unveiled Friday morning at the Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Minneapolis. Two independent public art experts—artist Seitu Jones of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art at Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York—discussed the trends in public art as they presented this year’s choices for the most exemplary, innovative permanent or temporary public art works submitted in 2018.
Located in downtown at the intersection of 2nd and Brazos Streets, Tau Ceti stands at ten stories tall, claiming the title of the tallest work of public art in Austin. The stunning mural creates a mesmerizing optic experience as sunlight from surrounding buildings refracts over Kristofoletti’s brush-painted gradient color spectrum throughout the day. Tau Ceti references a single star in the constellation Cetus that is similar to our own sun.
Blackbird, a hand-carved limestone sculpture, is a contemporary blend of pop and traditional art. Located on the North side of Republic Square Park, the Kincannon’s sculpture is part of the “please touch the art” movement, giving a nod to Austin’s grackle population, and a whisper to iconic music. The dark color and flowered details draw inspiration from Oaxaca pottery. Juror Aaron Ott stated “I was just so smitten with this piece […] if it were placed in a park near me, I would visit it all the time.”
“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate, and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”
Congratulations also go to two other Austin institutions for Public Art Network Year in Review recognition, including the Blanton Museum for Austin by Ellsworth Kelly and the Landmarks program at UT Austin for Amistad América by Jose Parla. This is the 18th year that Americans for the Arts has recognized public art works. All projects selected for Year in Review can be viewed on this page.
The complete presentation, which includes photos and descriptions of all 50 projects, are available for purchase through Americans for the Arts’ store.
Art in Public Places is a program of the Cultural Arts Division within the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Additional information is available at www.austintexas.gov/department/art-in-public-places
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.