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Naomi Miller

Sculptural or architectural structure that channels a spring or source of water and shapes it by means of jets or sprays, the water falling into one or more containers or basins.

Fountains may serve decorative or practical purposes and have, in a multitude of forms, been a feature of both public and private spaces since ancient times. They have been erected to celebrate technological advancement in a civilization, for example in the harnessing of water for public use; to serve as objects of religious significance or to commemorate events of historical importance; and to create poetic and theatrical displays.

Whereas the fountain is documented throughout the world, its absence from some areas is due to such factors as the lack of an adequate hydraulic system for its construction or, in terms of the fountain’s decorative function, the prevalence of a different aesthetic for the display of water.

The latter has historically been the case in East Asia. An essential feature of ...

Article

Joan Marter

(b New York, Sept 8, 1940).

American environmental artist. Johanson is known for art projects created in the natural landscape that solve environmental problems. She is considered a pioneer in ecological art and has made permanent installations in gardens and parks in the United States and abroad. Johanson was born in New York City, where she was a frequent visitor to parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. She graduated from Bennington College where she studied with sculptor Tony Smith. While at Bennington (1958–62) she also met artists Kenneth Noland, David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline and Philip Guston. In 1964 Johanson completed a master’s degree in art history at Hunter College.

A publishing project offered her the opportunity to catalogue the art of Georgia O’Keeffe, who became her mentor. Johanson’s paintings from the 1960s were Minimalist, as she explored the optical effects of colors. In 1966 she began producing large-scale sculpture, also Minimalist in style. ...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

The first national parks were conceived to preserve the natural wonders of a primeval American wilderness that served as inspiration for American painters and photographers. American landscape architecture and park design were central to the emergence of the National Park System at the end of the 19th century, and the permanent conservation of threatened areas of natural beauty. Photography and landscape painting strongly influenced the aesthetic appreciation of unspoiled nature. Photography informed the construction of pictorial spaces, distances, situated views in unexpected places, lighting, angle of view, framing of the view. The overwhelming experience of America’s natural places influenced painters, such as Thomas Cole, Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, and naturalists, such as John Muir, whose emphasis on the transcendental vision of wilderness began to shape a desire to conserve these places as national symbols of America. Moran’s paintings of Yellowstone Park were influential in designating Yellowstone as America’s first national park on ...

Article

City parks are areas of land specifically allocated for public recreation. The word ‘park’ was originally used to define enclosed pieces of land stocked with wild animals and managed for hunting purposes. Parks such as the Tiergarten in Berlin, the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and the Royal Parks in London were established as royal preserves in or adjacent to capital cities. Informal public access to the London parks was allowed from the early 17th century.

Boston Common, established in 1634 as pasture owned in common by the citizens, is the oldest public urban park in North America. The first walkway on the Common was created in 1675 and the first tree-lined pedestrian mall was planted in 1728. Equally, Mount Auburn Cemetery (1831) in Cambridge, MA, and subsequent urban cemeteries of the period, performed many of the functions of a public park. But the 843-acre Central Park (...

Article

Jeremy Hunt and Jonathan Vickery

At the turn of the millennium, public art was an established global art genre with its own professional and critical discourse, as well as constituencies of interest and patronage independent of mainstream contemporary art. Art criticism has been prodigious regarding public art’s role in the ‘beautification’ of otherwise neglected social space or in influencing urban development. Diversity and differentiation are increasingly the hallmarks of public art worldwide, emerging from city branding strategies and destination marketing as well as from artist activism and international art events and festivals. The first decade of the 21st century demonstrated the vast opportunity for creative and critical ‘engagement’, activism, social dialogue, and cultural co-creation and collective participation. New public art forms emerged, seen in digital and internet media, pop-up shops, and temporary open-access studios, street performance, and urban activism, as well as architectural collaborations in landscape, environment or urban design.

Intellectually, the roots of contemporary public art can be found in the ludic and the architectonic: in the playful public interventions epitomized in the 1960s by the ...

Article

Linda Weintraub

(b New Bedford, MA, 1945).

American performance artist, sculptor, landscape architect, educator, and writer. Sherk received her BA from Rutgers University, Douglass College and her MA from San Francisco State University. She acquired certificates in Landscape Architecture and in Traditional Arts of Japan from the University of California Extension and the Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts, respectively. In the early 1970s she devised the term “Environmental Performance Sculpture” to describe her work, which remained relevant to her later ventures. These works highlighted the significance of “environment,” which she manifested by integrating artistic interventions into cultural and physical conditions of a site. Three early examples include Portable Parks I–III (1970), a series that included the transformation of three urban “dead spaces” into multispecies habitats; Response (1971; University of California San Diego), a performance installation that presented concurrent responses to being in the university from the perspectives of psychology, biology, physics, still photography, and video; and the ...