Today it is our pleasure to welcome Amelia Foster, Program & Administrative Associate for Forecast Public Art, a non-profit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Amelia fills us in on Forecast Public Art’s activities, programs, and their fabulous resource library. Enjoy! ~ Laura
Forecast Public Art is a small non-profit that strengthens the field of public art – locally, nationally and internationally – by expanding participation, supporting artists, informing audiences, and assisting communities.
The organization has three main program areas: grants for artists working (or interested in beginning to explore) the public realm; the magazine Public Art Review, published biannually for a unique audience of artists, fabricators, and commissioning agencies; and a consulting service which plans and facilitates public art projects for a wide variety of clients.
In addition to these important resources and services, Forecast Public Art also has a lively resource library. Amelia answered some questions about the library for the LaIP:

The Forecast Public Art library.

Where is the Forecast Public Art library located/how is it connected to (physically/organizationally) Forecast Public Art?

Our library collection is generated from trade subscriptions, books reviewed or listed in Public Art Review, and generous donations from Forecast supporters. Housed in Forecast’s office, the resource library maintains a non-circulating collection of more than 2,000 print, digital, and multimedia materials from the field of public art. With a collection as diverse as the field of public art itself, the library includes exhibition catalogues, artist monographs, journals and periodicals, reference materials, public art maps and guides, and DVDs.

Library materials include books, brochures, DVDs, and more.

What is the purpose of the FPA library? Why was it considered a priority to make that kind of resource available to artists and facilitators?

Forecast’s mission of strengthening and advancing the file of public art includes an educational role. As publisher of Public Art Review magazine, we’re at the nexus of contemporary public art dialogue. However, when you ask most folks what they think of as “public art” you’re likely to hear one of the three M’s — murals, monuments, or memorials. We’re dedicated to providing resources that expand the definition of public art, and we do so by providing an array of resources to our constituents and the general public.

Our collection provides a truly unique cross-section of the field of public art. Here’s a random sampling of our collection: video documentation of a pyrotechnic display on Minneapolis’ Greenway bike corridor; The Urban Cook Book, a catalogue of contemporary guerilla artists alongside their favorite street food recipes; The Artist’s Guide to Public Art; a stellar manual chock-full of practical tips from RFQs to fabrication; and Waiting For Godot In New Orleans, a catalogue of Creative Time’s site-specific performance in post-Katrina New Orleans http://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/welcome.html

The library, open to the public, serves as a source of inspiration for many artists.

Who has access to the FPA library? Who uses it most frequently, and for what purposes?

Our library is publicly accessible during office hours. Most visitors are artists looking for inspiration. We’ve also had faculty from arts colleges research our materials for their coursework. Many other arts-related events have taken place in our library and drawn upon its materials including a round-table discussion with artist Candy Chang and a chapter meeting for the Twin Cities Chapter of ARLIS [Art Libraries Society of North America].

Can you describe in depth one of the public art installations that Forecast Public Art has facilitated in a Twin Cities area library?

Photo from a film shoot that took place last spring — students from nearby Avalon High School created a short film exploring the importance of public art in the Twin Cities. The film included interviews with St. Paul based artists and FPA executive director, Jack Becker. Click to view film.

Forecast’s work with the libraries began in 2001 when Hennepin County passed a percent for art ordinance, dedicating one percent of each building project of $1 million or more to the selection, purchase and installation of works of art. Forecast has contracted with the Library Foundation and the county directly to ensure proper management of percent for art projects. Since 2001 Forecast has helped ten libraries find the right artworks for their communities.

Just last year we helped to facilitate The Dream Machine, a window project by Phil Daniel and Shawnee Langworthy of Architectural Stained Glass. This mandala-inspired artwork was installed at the Plymouth Public Library in May 2011. Phil and Shawnee were selected for this commission through Forecast’s consulting services with the Hennepin County Libraries.

The collaborative process of selecting an artist began when a Plymouth Library’s head librarian convened an arts committee to identify possible sites for public artwork as well as basic criteria. Once site and criteria were agreed upon, Forecast facilitated a call for artists, selection of finalists, and interviews with candidates.

A selection panel at Plymouth Library chose Phil and Shawnee of Architectural Stained Glass for their percent for art project in 2010. Phil and Shawnee’s proposal included an invitation to the public to submit their favorite library themed quotes. The artists chose some of these quotes to be etched onto pieces of glass in the mandala.

In 2011 the Hennepin County Libraries collaborated with Twin Cities Public Television to highlight their collection of public art projects throughout the metro libraries. Forecast’s Executive Director, Jack Becker was featured prominently as a key player in process of connecting the public with quality artworks. An interview with Phil Daniel about his Plymouth project was also included. Phil spoke about the empowering experience of creating art in public, for the public. He enjoyed creating an artwork that people can look at and think, “This belongs to us!”

Check out Forecast Public Art’s resource library collection on Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/ForecastPublicArt/

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