Tag Archives: arts in urban redevelopment

Molotch, H. and Treskon, M. (2009). Changing Art: SoHo, Chelsea and the Dynamic Geography of Galleries in New York City. _International Journal of Urban and Regional Research_, 33(2):517-541.

Mark Treskon is a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Sociology department. He has a BA in Geographical Studies from the University of Chicago, and M.Sc. in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto, and his research interests are urban sociology, public space, and housing. (See other entry for Molotch’s bio.)

In this article, the authors examine the commercial displacement of the gallery scene from SoHo to Chelsea from the mid-90s through the mid-00’s. Unlike residential gentrification, which seems to be just about rising rents, relevant in commercial displacement are the new values of what is sold in that particular space. Galleries are the sites of intense socialization, Oldenburg’s (1999) Third Spaces, which promote lucky meetings and consequent deal makings (Currid, 2007) and “designate the ‘buzz’ (Storper and Venables, 2004; Caves, 2000) that results as a fundamental economic resource” (518).

Molotch and Treskon here are less interested in the social issues generally linked to displacement (mostly because it’s not residential). Instead they want to know whether Chelsea galleries can withstand non-art pressures and, more generally, whether there can be durable gallery districts?

In terms of the “contingent scene,” Chelsea is protected from retail competitors and their clientele in a way that SoHo isn’t, and its upper-floors can still feasibly be gallery spaces, benefiting from the “art neighborhood” scene.

Chelsea benefits from “contingency artifacts,” too. The spaces, former garages and the like, were perfect for the new, bigger art and complex installations coming into vogue. Artists now can do their work in other, smaller places and present their works on a large, urban scale in the district. This means you can have a “bohemian product” (534) in an industrial setting — the works themselves have become more indicative of the spaces in which they’re presented.

“This represents an escalation in the meaning of ‘scene’…. If you want to be with contemporary art in a hip social setting, Chelsea becomes the necessary — and reliable — place to go” (534).

The place stability occurs via the twin forces of good reasons to move (e.g. higher rents) and reasons to stay (e.g. worry that others won’t follow). At this point, galleries stay in Chelsea because, even if they rents are high, they want to maintain in the sticky social setting.

Finally, the processes: (1) escalating rents can dislodge, (2) a leader can select a new site, (3) “scene dependence” encourages others to settle in the new zone, and (4) provided the value of art tracks with rising rents, the new district can be durable. However, if consumption preferences weaken, the durability can crack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Miles, M. (1997). The City (Ch.1), The Contradictions of Public Art (Ch.4), and Art in Urban Development (Ch.5). In _Art, Space, and the City: Public Art and Urban Futures_. London: Routledge.

Malcolm Miles, PhD, Architecture from Oxford Brookes University, is Professor at Plymouth University’s School of Architecture, Design and Environment. He chairs the Culture-Theory-Space research group and researches the intersection of critical theory, contemporary visual culture, and urbanism.

Miles here aims to undo the nostalgic view of public art, particularly transhistorical modern art, which, rejecting context, helps to “project a compensatory fantasy of the present which abolishes conflict” (88), including — especially — those of race, gender, and class. Genuine public art should reflect that there are numerous discrete publics, and that the public realm evokes more than urban sites.

“The reconfiguration of a city introduces, in treating its existing fabric as a contourless ground on which to inscribe a new design, the possibility of a radical break with history…. perhaps the urge for a new city derives from a desire to purge the unclean, abolishing the mess and complexities of the past” (23).

He levels, following Zukin (1995) and Deutsche (1991), an attack against using art for redevelopment purposes, particularly the prosperous 80s. The essential question, linking art, urban policy, and the predictable gentrification is, Who controls the process? Miles holds that Percent for Art projects ignore the difference between “urban development” and “urban regeneration.” The latter evokes something more sustainable and strives for social justice. The former, by contrast, too often means capitulating to developer interests. Saskia Sassen (1996) worries about cultural districts/centers because reflect middle-class interests and flatten difference. Yet, per Sassen, “A large city is a space of difference” (as cited on 118). Again, whose public art is this? Who’s in control? Because even though they’re agents of gentrification, it’s rarely the artists who feel empowered on their way out.

“Developers do not develop in order to construct the ‘city beautiful,’ they construct the city beautiful in order to conceal the incompatibility of their development with a free society” (130).

For Miles, “art” and “public” didn’t jibe in the 19th century and they still don’t today, and he contends the art-and-architecture trope is a framework for conventional, male-dominated public art. A sculpture in a plaza isn’t necessarily any more approachable than hallowed museum galleries. Per museum director Kathy Halbreich (1984), “Public art should not be restricted to artworks placed in public plazas but should encompass relationships and dialogues between artists and the public” (as cited on 94). But, per feminist art historian Arlene Raven (1989), “the new public-spirited art can…critique…the uneasy relationship among artworks, the public domain, and the public” (as cited on 100). (Thus, harking Helguera (2011), the community member’s input is key.)

Finally, Miles quotes Suzanne Lacy’s (1995) Mapping the Terrain proposal for new, socially active modes of art practice.

“An alternative history of today’s public art could read through the development of various vanguard groups, such as feminist, ethnic, Marxist, and media artists and other activities. They have a common interest in leftist politics, social activism, redefined audiences, relevance for communities (particularly marginalized ones), and collaborative methodology” (as cited on 101).

1 Comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Markusen, A. and Schrock, G. (2006). The artistic dividend: urban artistic specialization and economic development implications. _Urban Studies_, 43(10):1661.

Greg Schrock, PhD, Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Chicago, is Assistant Professor at Portland State University. His research focuses on the intersection of regional economies and local labor markets, and how economic and workforce development initiatives can promote social equity and upward mobility in low-wage sectors.

With this article, the authors aim to reconceptualize the additional, positive impact of artists on their cities that would not otherwise occur without them: the “artistic dividend.” Thus far, their contributions have been understated because current methodologies ignore critical improvements artists bring to manufacturing facilities, cross-fertilization into other sectors and artistic practices, or the fact that “regional consumption of the arts may be import-substituting, as consumers prefer to spend on performances and artwork rather than spending at shopping malls full of imports” (1662).

Artists “heavily patronize other artists’ work and as so much of this work is labor-intensive, the multiplier effect of local arts consumption maybe higher than expected” (ibid).

There are two forms of dividends: first, current income streams within the market and second, “returns to the region as a whole on past investments” (ibid), which echo Markusen’s (2004) “distinctive city” findings about artist distribution among cities. They operationalize the artistic dividend occupationally, and look at individuals who self identify as artists.

So how and where are artists locating themselves at the start of the 21st century? Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco lead the pack, having highly skewed location quotients (particularly in performing arts), believed to be linked with: increases in arts funding, emphasis on tourism, and the pursuit of cultural capital by city leadership.

At the same time, these cities reversed the trend of decentralization, with artistic communities reconvening in LA, New York, and San Francisco in the 90s, so much so that LA overtook the highest-concentration-of-artists mantle from New York. Artists did flock to other second-tier cities, making their populations more secure. Migration is affected by the artists’ decision about where they want to live and work, but work is not the deciding factor.

Without question, artists cluster by their particular practice. For example, designers and architects are more likely to have full-time professional occupations in their field. New York, LA, and San Francisco are home to the largest concentrations of designers but not architects. Because the latter’s work is so cooperative, they cluster in metro areas in general. Advertising industries are correlated with large pools of artistic groups, but Markusen and Schrock demurred to make claims about direction of causality. Artists, especially writers, are self-employed in varying patterns; therefore policymakers should look at more information than just arts organization impact studies.

The authors conclude with the following policy recommendations. Cities should: (1) support artists’ centers, (2) link resident artists with their corporate communities not for philanthropy but product development purposes, (3) improve their decision-making processes for arts funding, and (4) make more granular, strategic investments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Markusen, A. (2004). The distinctive city: Evidence from artists and occupational profiles. University of Minnesota: Project on Regional and Industrial Economics.

Ann Markusen, PhD in Economics from Michigan State University, is Professor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis’ Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and Director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics. She is considered one of the foremost authorities on “creative placemaking” and has also taught at Rutgers, Northwestern, Berkeley, and the University of Colorado.

Tracking occupations in American cities, Markusen makes discoveries about the “distinctive” city, and the occupational and lifestyle trends of various artists, and gives recommendations for cities to articulate the arts to distinguish themselves from other municipalities.

Beginning with discoveries, cities “have not resurged at the expense of other second tier cities” (4) in recent decades. Some occupations trend toward major metros, others second-tier, others still avoid the second-tier, opting for cities bigger and smaller. A city’s size does not dictate the degree to which its economy is specialized or hierarchical, but distinctiveness does appear to be on the rise.

To study change over time, Markusen used the “occupational advantage” (7) measure in California cities and discovered the cities are becoming increasingly specialized. Regarding the artistic advantage: in the 1990s, artists showed a reversal in the decentralization trend, particularly in LA, New York, and San Francisco.

Reasons for the concentration of artists in these and other cities:

  1. sheer size, though “only at very high thresholds does the demand for elite arts activities show sensitivities to size of place” (11);
  2. demand might be higher in the traditionally elite cities because of the concentration of disposable income;
  3. the media and advertising industries are in larger cities and have a high demand for artistic labor pools;
  4. arts lure tourism dollars;
  5. cross-pollination and synergies across the various art practices;
  6. artists themselves are drawn to cultural amenities; and
  7. artists patronize other artistic works.

And now the factors that draw artists away from large cities to smaller ones:

  1. different types of artists prefer different locales;
  2. as they’re often self-employed, they are freer to move from city to city;
  3. their presence in a city is linked to the host-city’s sectoral strength;
  4. self-employment varies considerably across regions;
  5. because they’re often self-employed and “footloose,” artists are “paradoxically, capable of acting as stabilizers in a regional workforce” (18), often staying where they are and producing at the same frequency.

Conclusions:

  1. The notion that a city’s sheer size or personal wealth equates to artistic competence is unsupported.
  2. Sectoral strengths are linked to artistic clusters and migration patterns.
  3. Higher cost of living matters sometimes, sometimes not, in dissuading artistic presence.

So what can cities do to cultivate their distinctiveness? Cities should:

  1. play to their current strengths,
  2. “make more modest [arts] investments in smaller distinctive neighborhood-based arts complexes that will stabilize communities, home-grow artists, and create that…urban mosaic” (21);
  3. target the sectors that play up the distinctiveness;
  4. lure artists through amenities, arts education, social/housing benefits;
  5. subsidize artists’ spaces;
  6. link artists to each other; and
  7. rethink current arts investment strategies (read, megaprojects).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Lloyd, R. (2002). Neo-bohemia: Art and neighborhood redevelopment in Chicago. _Journal of Urban Affairs_, 24(5): 517-532.

Richard Lloyd, PhD Sociology University of Chicago, is Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University. His areas of expertise are urban sociology, sociology of culture, social theory, sociology of art, work and occupations, social change, and political sociology.

This article is Lloyd’s first publication from his ethnographic study of Chicago’s alternative enclave, Wicker Park, from 1999-2001, from which he developed the concept of the “neo-bohemia.” Spending those two years as participant observer, attending a wide range of events, and conducting long, open-ended interviews with approximately three dozen informants, Lloyd determined that the socio-spatial reformations within neo-bohemias belie much postmodern theory regarding the organization of the city, the spectacular (Sorkin, 1992) and the decentralized (Soja, 1989).

“The city remains a place where people actually live, not just visit” (519).

Therefore, Lloyd suggests, instead of conceiving culture as a strictly consumable commodity, we should start to investigate “the new intersections of consumption and production in consumption and production in urban space” (ibid).

The three trends he observes in Wicker Park (and expands upon in his 2004 paper “The Neighborhood in Cultural Production: Material and Symbolic Resources in the New Bohemia”):

  1. the displacement of manufacturing and adaptive reuse;
  2. the intensifying commodification of culture, produced and consumed locally, as well as exported; and
  3. the increasing valorization of artists’ human capital.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Deutsche, R. (1998). The Question of ‘Public Space. American Photography Institute National Graduate Seminar, New York, The Photography Institute.

In this lecture, Deutsche asserts that questions about public space are questions about democracy, itself an “embattled concept” (2). The rhetoric around public space has led to profoundly undemocratic policies, including private space, “state coercion and censorship, surveillance, economic privatization, the repression of differences, and attacks on the rights of the most expendable members of society, on the rights of strangers and on the very idea of rights” (2).

She notes two steps by which public space is made authoritarian: (1) Call it a park and give it meaning dictated by its function, then (2) claim the namer has governing authority (see Friends of Jackson Park). She also insists we are too narrow in our conception of “public” and so avoids using the term “public art” altogether. We should be blurring the boundary between the two, not darkening the line. For example, just because a museum has gallery spaces does not make it socially isolated.

Deutsche is interested in public art because it constitutes an art located in a universally accessible location and because of the topic of public art is, on its own, a political site. However, in the absence of critical analysis and discourse, public art can be produced with and for elite interests.

“I fully support the deployment, or re-deployment, of visual objects to, as Acconci writes, ‘break’ spaces that have been ordained as public or ‘make’ public spaces in which the foundations of social unity and of power can be questioned” (10).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Deutsche, R. (1992). Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy. _Social Text_, 33:34-53.

Rosalyn Deutsche, PhD, Art History from CUNY, is an art historian and critic who teaches modern and contemporary art at Barnard College and Columbia University. She has written on interdisciplinary topics such as art and urbanism, art and the public sphere, and feminist theories of subjectivity in representation. She teaches courses in modern and contemporary art, feminist theory, and urban theory.

Starting with the story of Friends of Jackson Park, who sought to close out “their” (scare quotes intentional) neighborhood park at the night to the homeless, and thus dispossessing them of their “right to have rights” (Arendt), Deutsche avers that public space shows the cracks in a totalitarian system. It’s where “people declare rights and which, paradoxically, is constituted through the declaration” (51). As such, one cannot discuss art in the public realm without talking also about democracy. The need to do so is all the more pressing since public art often articulates the conservative, status quo objectives of the elite, imbuing major redevelopment projects with legitimacy by virtue of their art-ness.

However, if we infuse the notion of the public sphere into public art, we are no longer limited to thinking just about physical public spaces. We can instead think of public art as “a practice that constitutes a public by engaging people in a political debate” (39). Artists can recoup the public purpose of art by resituating “public” in their practice. They do this by: (1) returning to creating actual art, not the developer’s precious, pseudo public art for privately owned public spaces, and (2) exploring “public, rather than the private nature of meaning and subjectivity” (41) of the 70s and 80s.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Zukin, S. (1995). _The Cultures of Cities_. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Here Zukin has compiled a book of essay about the rise of the symbolic economy, brought on by the concurrent decline of cities and expansion of abstract financial speculation, and the themes we must consider when discussing cities: the use of culture as an economic base, the articulation of culture to privatize and militarize public space, and how the power of culture is related to the aestheticization of fear.

The five essay chapters include: (1) “Learning from Disney World,” which details the multinational’s symbolic economy and its oft-copied visual strategies of coherence, tableaux, compression, condensation, invisibility, and facades. (2) “A Museum in the Berkshires,” which explores economic cultural strategies in historic, post-Fordist districts and the inherent contradictions. (3) “High Culture and Wild Commerce in New York City,” which covers several initiatives since the mid-50s’ decision to make New York a cultural destination and the city’s qualified dedication to the arts, often breaking down over issues of land, labor, and capital. (4) “Artists and Immigrants in New York City Restaurants,” a seminar-derived piece exploring both how restaurants are themselves cultural sites, as well as the rigidities of ethnic and social divisions of labor. (5) “While the City Shops,” a departure from the traditional postmodern critique of the consumerist economy and an investigation into how the shopping street is a site for overcoming alienation and building community. In “Remembering Walter Benjamin” (253), Zukin affirms, “shopping streets lead us toward a material analysis of cultural forms” (254), that they are linked not just to globalization, but to immigration, recession, continual adaptation, and reuse of the built environment for retail shopping.

Zukin ends the book reminding the reading there is no one transcendent culture, but that cities do share the symbolic economy, therefore, we must ask whose representation of whose culture is being enshrined in which institutions when cultural strategies are formed.

1 Comment

Filed under Community Development, Cultural Economy, Major Field, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields