Longtime Philly Exec Director & Chief Curator to retire

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Longtime Philly Exec Director & Chief Curator to retire
Fabrication of Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies pedicabs (2017). From left: Cai Guo-Qiang, Lance Fung, Penny Balkin Bach, John Talley.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Something of a public art movement has taken hold in this country in the 40 years since Penny Balkin Bach joined the Association for Public Art in 1980. Bach has played a major role in the maturation of the field. Most critically, early on she posed questions about public art and community that today echo ever louder as issues surrounding public monuments spill over into the mainstream.

The Association, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. It was chartered in 1872 as the nation’s first organization devoted to public art and has evolved over time to become one of the few non-profits in the U.S. that preserves historic works as well as commissions new ones, and interprets a vast collection of public art.

“So many of the projects that Penny spearheaded at aPA were firsts in the practice of public art,” says Barbara B. Aronson, president, Board of Trustees, who continues, “It’s remarkable how she took a local organization, albeit one located in a city celebrated for its monuments, and transformed it into a national influencer.”

Says Bach, “As I look back, I’m eternally grateful to the Association’s Board for allowing me to do extraordinarily experimental and thought-provoking work, which brought the Association closer to so many artists, scholars, designers and, most of all, people passionate about Philadelphia.”

Over four decades, Bach has overseen the commissioning of many permanent works that enhance the public realm in Philadelphia, including those by Siah Armajani, Mark di Suvero, Rafael Ferrer, Isamu Noguchi, Martin Puryear, Jody Pinto, and Pepón Osorio. Recent temporary projects on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway tapped into the magnetism that brings people together through public art – including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s OPEN AIR, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, and Jennifer Steinkamp’s Winter Fountains.

One of Bach’s first initiatives as executive director was to organize a landmark conference with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts that resulted in the Association’s ongoing outdoor sculpture conservation program, the first of its kind in the nation. Soon after she organized a pivotal nation-wide summit where public art advocates convened to hear from innovators in architecture, landscape design, urban planning, law, art, and the performing arts.

In 1980, she spearheaded a commissioning program entitled “Form and Function,” whose goal was to integrate art into communities by way of use as well as placement, challenging the artist’s role as creative problem solver. The dialogue that began there led to “New·Land·Marks,” a 1992 program conceived to incorporate public art into ongoing community development, greening, and revitalization. Both of these efforts celebrated community identity, commemorated “untold” histories, and offered visionary, yet reasonable, ways to invigorate public spaces.

Under Bach, the Association sprang into action to call attention to a neglected masterpiece, All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors (J. Otto Schweizer, 1934), resulting in the return of the sculpture to its rightful place along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Over the course of four determined years, the Association represented the public interest to keep The Dream Garden, Maxwell Parrish’s exquisite mosaic, in place and in the public eye.

Bach’s tenure has been marked by increased exploration of innovative approaches to public art and its audiences. One of the most visible is Museum Without Walls: AUDIO, an award-winning interpretive program for outdoor sculpture that can be accessed, night or day, for free, by cell phone, audio download, or on the web. Listeners learn about the complex histories and untold stories behind public art in Philadelphia from an array of different voices and viewpoints.

In December, the Association will launch its unique and irreplaceable historic archive online, where it will be available to scholars and the public for free. The Fairmount Park Art Association/Association for Public Art Digital Archive tells the story of the ideals, debates, and decisions that have shaped public life in Philadelphia via minutes from board meetings, annual reports, and photographs from 1871 to1982. Bach will be presenting this history at the Association’s 150th Annual Meeting at Moore College of Art & Design, where she will also be awarded the organization’s historic Medal of Honor.

Penny Balkin Bach has written extensively about public art, including Public Art in Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 1992); lectured widely; and participated in many public art juries and advisory committees. She has received many awards, including the national PAD award, from the Public Art Dialogue (an affiliate of the College Art Association), in recognition of longstanding contributions to the field.

Before coming to the Association, Bach was part of the team that established the Parkway Program, a “school without walls” that used Parkway institutions as learning environments for high schoolers. She then joined the Philadelphia Museum of Art to develop its first Department of Community Programs and began working with artists to create large-scale installations that related to the outdoor spaces around the Museum.

“I had no idea that for my entire early professional career I was in training for this rare opportunity to combine my hybrid interests in art, civic engagement, education, and urban design,” she concludes.

Today's News

November 15, 2022

'American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs' on view at the Dayton Art Institute

Pace presents Sonia Gomes's first-ever solo show in New York

"Aljoscha: Distant Posterity" opened at the Priska Pasquer Gallery

Castaway Modernism: Basel's acquisitions of "Degenerat" Art examined in new exhibition

First major UK exhibition devoted to women artists working in Germany in the early 20th century opens

Museum Kaap Skil unveils 17th century wedding dress from the world-famous Texel shipwreck

Kunstmuseum Den Haag acquires the plaster version that served as a model for Hans Arp's last stone sculpture

P·P·O·W to publish The Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné

Paul G. Allen and the art he didn't sell

Ishara Art Foundation presents the first solo exhibition of artist Navjot Altaf in the Arabian Peninsula

Sarah Ruhl and Rebecca Taichman on conjuring 'Becky Nurse of Salem'

Rachel Uffner presents group show "Encounter" and "Sacha Ingber: The difference between Right and Wrong"

American Beauty: Rock & Roll & Mid Century Auction at Rivich Auction

Natalie Christensen, Minimalism in Photography, The Original by publisher teNeues

'The Old Man & the Pool' review: Wading into Mike Birbiglia's comfort zone

A tenor's Met Opera debut, long delayed, is worth the wait

Lyon & Turnbull announces results of Design Season sales

Review: A dance for our times travels to a dark place

Longtime Philly Exec Director & Chief Curator to retire

Michael Simpson Paintings now on view at GIANT Gallery

Art tells New Jersey stories at Newark's new Terminal A

New Southern California exhibitions reveal riches of art and tradition

La Brea Tar Pits begins an unusual rebrand

The ceramics obsession has moved to our walls

Who needs a V part wig?

Effective Writing Tips for College Students

Is the Galaxy Quest movie a piece of art?

What is Escape From Tarkov Cheats

Understanding Different Types of Translation Services

4 Ways Artists Can Use Cannabis To Enhance Creativity

Online Slots - An Easy Way To Make Money From Home

Understanding Recycled Art

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful