January 31, 2011 / 10:33 AM / 7 years ago

New app to bring U.S. art to wider audience

NEW YORK (Reuters Life) - A new iPhone app is opening up Kentucky's art scene to the public by bringing thousands of works of art in small American communities to a wider audience.

The free app includes images of local public art along with a brief description of each piece and information about the artist who created it, as well a precise GPS location.

Students and faculty at the University of Kentucky and the Gaines Center for the Humanities in Lexington developed the app called Take it Artside!. It was launched by the Central Kentucky Museum's Without Walls Project.

"As you may know, Central Kentucky is not known for our public art," said Christine Huskisson, co-founder of the project, who sees the application working equally well for other places outside the art mainstream.

"We are working to market this to places that are not Chicago or New York ... for places not known for public art."

Huskisson said the app also includes a gaming activity in which people check in at various artistic locations in the area, such as the 45 foot (13-meter) tall "Nexus" statue in the state capital of Frankfort.

"We're incorporating gaming, which I think will build new audiences. Using games and lesson plans, teachers can encourage students to look and interpret works of art from different angles," Huskisson said. "Games help get people to engage in public art."

Another game in development for the second version of the app, called Artfit!, will combine visits to public works of art with a calorie-counting function.

In the spring, Take it Artside! will introduce a crowd-sourcing function that will allow people to instantly send updates on the condition of public works of art.

"You will be able to take photographs and submit information of art. This has the potential to build a greater sense of public ownership of art, as well as help identify places that have graffiti or need repainting or reconditioning."

Huskisson is convinced that applications such as Take it Artside! will become increasingly common as people involved in art seek new ways to showcase works to the general public.

"It's positive, and it might just be the right tool. This application embodies a lot and combines technology with grassroot efforts," Huskisson said. "It's also fun.'

Similar apps are available in New York City and in Philadelphia.

Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Patricia Reaney

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