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Explore City Art 3 Ways: On Foursquare, Twitter & Mobile Sites

Above, see the team Google+ Hangout photo shoot.

The two hip dudes holding the heart? That’s Michael Ellsworth and Corey Gutch, the dynamic design team duo from the Seattle creative agency Dumb Eyes who also help to run Seattle’s monthly art walks.

The refined, bearded gentleman? That’s Matt Blair, the culture-loving smartphone developer from Portland who created Portland’s first public art app that launched last April.

The two with the toothy grins? That’s me and John Mertens at Code for America’s offices in San Francisco.

Together over the course of the last six months, our team collaborated with developers, designers, residents, and city staff from Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston, and county staff from King County, Washington, to help make public and street art more discoverable in cities. Today we are proud to announce three new ways to explore art in these five cities. Including:

1. Foursquare.
In four cities — Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco — you are now able to check in, comment, and explore nearly 3,000 pieces of public art.

2. Twitter.
Anywhere you go, if you find street art or public art, you can Tweet a geo-located image at @publicartapp and help map it. The results appear at artmapper.org.

This app, developed by John with help from civic hacker Mark Headd, is currently a part of an art exhibit, “Here Be Dragons: Mapping Information and Imagination,” at the Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, and won honorable mention for the first annual Summer of Smart hackathon. The technology was also used in Public Art Spaces, an award-winning app from the same competition that enables the public to tag spaces in cities where they would like to see public art.

3. One smartphone app, and five city-specific mobile websites help you to find public art near you:
(Design by the Dumb Eyes team; meant for display on smartphones.)

In Boston, http://bos.publicartapp.mobi
In Seattle, http://sea.publicartapp.mobi
In San Francisco, http://sf.publicartapp.mobi
In Philadelphia, http://phl.publicartapp.mobi
In Portland, go to Public Art PDX to download an app for iPod, iPad or iTouch.

In all of these cities, we also published the location data and other details for public art in a machine-readable format for anyone to use. We look forward to seeing other inspired developers mix and mash this data up and create new apps that help people interact and explore the history and culture that capture the spirit of these cities.

Special thanks to the following people and organizations that supported this project and helped make it possible:

City Staff
Kate Patterson, director of project management and art enrichment, San Francisco Arts Commission
Allison Cummings, senior registrar, San Francisco Arts Commission
Jeffrey Pierce, web and technology coordinator, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Lori Patrick, public relations manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Tina Hoggatt, coordinator of outreach and and education for King County’s Public Art 4Culture
Moira Baylson, cultural officer, Philadelphia Office of Arts Culture & the Creative Economy
Margot Berg, public art director, Philadelphia Office of Arts Culture & the Creative Economy
Steve Weinik, administrative and IT services manager, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Karen Goodfellow, staff director, Boston Art Commission

Advisory Board
George Oates, Project Lead and Designer for The Internet Archive’s Open Library and cofounder of Flickr
Jay Nath, Director of Innovation for the City of San Francisco
Josette Melchor, Executive Director of the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
Nathaniel Kelso, Design Technologist at Stamen Design
Richard Koci Hernandez, Emmy-Award-winning multimedia producer; UC Berkeley Graduate School Professor
Dan O’Neil, Executive Director at Smart Chicago Collaborative; cofounder of EveryBlock

Additional Support
Aaron Ogle, Code for America fellow
Max Ogden, Code for America fellow
Karen Johnson, Seattle journalist, and lover of cities

Tech links

All of the code developed for the project is open source and can be found on GitHub:

The data powering each site can be accessed via the following REST APIs:
(returned as GeoJSON unless noted)

Just swap out “sf” in the above urls to switch data sets.

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Jeff Ribeira

Sounds pretty cool. Love the artmapper idea. When I’m home in SF with the family for the holidays in December I’ll have to try my hand with this stuff in real time. Thanks for sharing!

Megan Price

Super Neat! This makes me want to grab the next train to Philly and continue to Boston…I’ve always driven by the murals and wanted to know more about them — now I can set out with purpose and knowledge! (I hope Northern Ireland catches on and does the same with their works of art in Belfast and Derry)