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Lancaster Public Art Project Receives National Honor

June 19, 2019 | Department of Public Works Public Art Program
By: Amber Strazzo

Americans for the Arts has honored “This Neighborhood Is…” among 50 outstanding public arts projects created in 2018 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art. Chosen by public art experts, the roster of selected projects was unveiled on Friday, June 14 at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Minneapolis. This is the 18th year that Americans for the Arts has recognized public art works.

The mural, a public art project led by Lancaster residents Salina Almanzar and Osmyn Oree, was installed on the façade of the Water Street Mission along S. Water St. across from Culliton Park in September 2018. Residents were invited to finish the sentence, “This neighborhood is…” and sit for a portrait.

Over three days in September, Almanzar and Oree, along with volunteers from the community, installed 20 portraits and 25 responses on the wall of the Water Street Mission. All participants were invited to help install the mural. Volunteers were provided lunch during each day of installation and were gifted a free print of their portrait as a thank you. Two Dudes Painting Company donated paint and Rental Zone donated a lift for the project.

The mural was the final product of four months of community engagement regarding the renovation of Culliton Park.

“Participants expressed that the project broke down barriers between folks that live in the neighborhood, folks that use the park as home, and folks in transition. They felt that the regular and consistent presence of art in the park helped encourage more families to come out and engage their neighbors,” said Almanzar.

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate, and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

Two independent public art experts – artist Seitu Jones of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art at Albirght Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York – discussed the trends they uncovered while examining hundreds of submissions in selecting this year’s choices for the most exemplary, innovative permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in 2018.