Conversations on Patronage: What is a Civic Artist

Presented with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission 

15 Feb 2019
Sherry Lansing Theater, Frieze Los Angeles
Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot
Los Angeles, CA 90038
United States

Public art has expanded to not only include publicly commissioned sculpture, but also creating communities. Artists are partnering with civic agencies to produce social impact, which include long-term projects and the lack of a permanent installation. Civic agencies navigate changing opinions of public art, while artists respond to both a public and their own sensibilities during commissioned projects.

Participants: Kristin Sakoda (Los Angeles County Arts Commission), Andrea Bowers (Artist), Suzanne Lacy (Artist and Professor, USC Roski School of Art and Design)

Moderator: Brooke Kamin Rapaport (Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York and Commissioner, U.S. Pavilion, 2019 Venice Biennale)


Brooke Kamin Rapaport is Commissioner and Curator of the United States Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice. She is Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator and is responsible for the outdoor public sculpture program of commissioned work by contemporary artists. Through Madison Square Park Conservancy, she founded Public Art Consortium, a national coalition of museum and sculpture park colleagues. Rapaport was assistant and associate curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she oversaw the permanent collection and organized numerous exhibitions including Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960 (2001), and a series of installations in the Grand Lobby with contemporary artists such as Houston Conwill, Leon Golub, and Meg Webster. Rapaport was also a guest curator at The Jewish Museum in New York, where she organized exhibitions including The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend (2007) and Houdini: Art and Magic (2010). She frequently speaks on and moderates programs on contemporary art and issues in public art. Rapaport also writes for Sculpture, where she is a contributing editor. She serves on the boards of Socrates Sculpture Park, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. She earned her B.A. from Amherst College and her M.A. in Art History from Rutgers University.

Kristin Sakoda is Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission which provides leadership in cultural services for the largest county in the U.S. An arts executive, attorney, and artist, Ms. Sakoda has over 20 years of experience in the cultural field. The Arts Commission provides grants and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, runs the largest arts internship program in the country, coordinates public-private arts education initiatives, commissions civic artwork, produces free community programs, and advances cultural strategies to address civic issues across sectors. The agency has a longstanding commitment to fostering access to the arts and leads the county’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative. Prior to the Arts Commission, Ms. Sakoda served as Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) where she led a wide range of strategic, programmatic, legislative, and policy initiatives. During her tenure her portfolio included advancing diversity and inclusion, cultural capital projects, creative aging, public art, and affordable workspace for artists. Ms. Sakoda is also a lifelong arts practitioner whose work is informed by her prior career in the performing arts. She has appeared on stages across the U.S. and internationally including as a dancer with the Urban Bush Women dance company and in hit musicals Rent (National Tour) and Mamma Mia! (Broadway). Ms. Sakoda holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law where she received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for Excellence in Entertainment Law and a B.A. from Stanford University in American Studies with a specialization in Race and Ethnicity and a secondary major in Feminist Studies.

Andrea Bowers lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Bowers received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1992. Over the last twenty-three years, she has built an international reputation for her drawings, videos, and installations, which deal with social issues ranging from womens’ and workers’ rights to climate change and immigration. Bowers is represented by Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Andrew Kreps in New York, NY, Capitain Petzel in Berlin, and Kauffman Repetto in Milan.

Los Angeles-based artist and professor (USC Roski School of Art and Design) Suzanne Lacy is internationally renowned as a pioneer in socially engaged art. Her installations, videos, and performances have dealt with issues such as sexual violence, rural and urban poverty, incarceration, gender identity, labor, and aging. Working collaboratively within traditions of fine art performance and community organizing, Lacy has realized large-scale projects in London, Brooklyn, Medellin, Los Angeles, Quito, Northwest England and Madrid. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University in Scotland and is a professor at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California. Lacy’s most recent work includes Across and In Between, a project covering the Brexit crisis along the Irish border, with 300 residents participating in series of actions that will be projected onto the front of the Ulster Museum in Belfast in October 2018. The project, sponsored by 1418 Now and the Belfast International Art Festival, where Lacy is this year’s artist in residence, will culminate in The Border People’s Parliament, a performance at the Stormont National Parliament Building.