5 Temporary Public Art Installations to See Before Summer Ends

By August 14, 2017 No Comments

Written by: Elysian Koglmeier on behalf of the Public Art Archive

The air is getting cooler. The sun is rising later. That means, *gasp,* summer is coming to an end! Embrace these last weeks of warm sunshine and vacation calendars by checking out these 5 outdoor temporary public art works.

Stamford, CT

ART SHAPES! Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit

Hosted by: Stamford’s Art in Public Places

Where: Downtown Stamford

Through August 31, 2017

Summer is a great time to enjoy your local main street – sit outside and sip on an iced coffee; read a book on a park bench, window shop, and more.

Stamford Downtown hosts an outdoor sculpture exhibit to draw locals and visitors to its streets – a wonderful example of invigorating downtown through creative placemaking. This year’s exhibit consists of 39 painted fiberglass geometric shapes. Artists were invited to submit designs for the Shapes; submissions were reviewed by a jury; and the final designs were selected by the event’s sponsors.

Photo Credit: Michael Cummo / Hearst Connecticut Media

New York City, NY

Open House

By Liz Glynn

Where: Doris C. Freedman Plaza, 60th Street and Fifth Avenue

Through: September 24, 2017

Thousands of locals and tourists flock to Central Park during the hot, sticky days of summer for shaded and cool respite.

Those entering the park via the Doris C. Freedman Plaza will encounter lavish ballroom furniture… sculpted out of concrete. Los Angeles artist, Liz Glynn, transforms the plaza with her witty installation, Open House, funded by The Public Art Fund.

Glynn is known for “recharging” artifacts from the past. Open House is a middle ground between a democratic public space, Central Park, and the extravagant private gathering places of New York City’s wealthy elite. Glynn’s sculptured furniture are remakes from one of the grandest Gilded Age interiors on Fifth Avenue- the now demolished William C. Whitney Ballroom. She invites the public to sit and enjoy what used to be a private and exclusive interior space that is now open and accessible to everyone.

Photo by James Ewing, courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.

Chicago, IL

The Floating Museum

By: Faheem Majeed, Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, and Andrew Schachman

Where: Chicago Riverwalk

Through: September 29, 2017

Image Courtesy of The Floating Museum

Nothing beats a Chicago summer. Residents emerge from a long winter hibernation. They strip themselves of their down coats; slather on the SPF and head to iconic landmarks like Lake Michigan and the Chicago Riverwalk.

Those walking along the Chicago River will be surprised to see a floating pop-up museum.

The Floating Museum is pioneered by a collective of creatives (artists, professors, poets, and more) that want to break down institutional walls and bring art to underserved communities. This contents of the Museum focus on Chicago’s African American history and is in conjunction with the DuSable Museum of African American History.  

The Floating Museum is a collaborative arts organization that creates temporary, site-responsive museum spaces to activate sites of cultural potential throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. They engage local artists, historians and organizations in events that challenge traditional museum thinking and generate community engagement conversation.

San Francisco, CA


By: Illuminate

Where: Golden Gate Park

Through: October 21, 2017

Photo Courtesy of Conservatory of Flowers

Summer nights are perfectly spent outdoors with sunset picnics, stargazing, and fireworks.

San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers is transformed from sundown to midnight in Golden Gate Park; it bursts with psychedelic colors and spinning flower mandalas. The facade of the Victorian greenhouse is the canvas for Illuminate, a nonprofit arts organization. It was commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of San Francisco’s Summer of Love (1967) and its “Flower Child” legacy.

Illuminate masterfully organized numerous partners to bring this light art extravaganza to fruition. The work was developed in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the Conservatory of Flowers.

Philadelphia, PA

Big Bling

By: Martin Puryear

Where: Along Kelly Drive between Fountain Green Drive and the Connecting Railway and Girard Avenue Bridges

Through: November 2017

Photo by Caitlin Martin, courtesy of the Association for Public Art.

Summer is the time of large ice cream cones, extra long beach towels, and towering cheeseburgers. Philadelphia added another colossal summer treat to the list – Big Bling.

The wooden sculpture is 40-feet high, wrapped in chain-link fence and sports a massive gold-leafed shackle on the top. Some may see an abstract form; others may see an animal. I personally see an elephant with a long trunk reaching down to the ground.

Puryear states: “I tend not to tell people what they’re looking at when they’re in the presence of my work. I trust people’s eyes. I trust their imagination.”

Big Bling was commissioned by Madison Park Conservancy, New York and originally exhibited in Madison Park. It is a great example of how temporary work does not have to be a “one-hit-wonder.” It can continue to be temporary, but occupy various locations by traveling from city to city, bringing surprise and delight to thousands.

Big Bling was also a 2017 Public Art Network Year in Review awardee. Find out more about the PAN Year in Review on our PAA blog post on July 17, 2017.