It's the end of an era for the city of Austin's Art in Public Places Program as Martha Peters, administrator of the program for 11 of its 18 years, departs to direct a public art program in Fort Worth.
Au Revoir, Martha: Peters Departs AIPP
Public art in Austin will never be the same. The individual who did the most to see to it that our city had rich and meaningful art in its community spaces -- its parks and fire stations and community centers and along its roadways -- has left to help another city in its quest for the same. Martha Peters, administrator for the city of Austin Art in Public Places program for almost a dozen years, has accepted the position of program director for the newly formed Public Art Program in Fort Worth. It's a serious loss to the city, for as writer Sarah Hepola noted in her profile of AIPP for this paper last year ("Transforming a Neighborhood Near You," Dec. 20, 2002), Peters was the reason for this program's success; she was "an arts administrator par excellence, one of those rare beings who understands aesthetic, civic, and commercial concerns. She holds hands, she navigates mazes, she acts as interpreter between the city and the artist." In making note of Peters' exit, Jill Bedgood, current chair of the AIPP Program Panel, notes Peters' "professionalism, insight, and ability to work with the public, artists, architects, project managers, proponents, and naysayers, alike." And because of these qualities, she became not only a respected city official but a dear friend to many of the artists and citizens she helped. They will miss her for other reasons as well. In Hepola's feature, the late Tre Arenz was quoted as saying of Peters, "Not only is she respected in this community but around the country in public-art circles." It can hardly surprise us that when Fort Worth undertook a national search for a director to guide their fledgling public-art program, they felt the strongest candidate was Martha. Austin was blessed to have her for so long, and Fort Worth will soon realize what a gem they have. Best wishes, Martha.