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Public Art in Montgomery County

Public art can be a catalyst for community building, economic development, and creating a sense of place. Where it is located, how it connects to its surroundings, and whether it engages viewers can be as important as the design of the artwork itself.

Creation of public art is an option under the Montgomery County development review process when applications are in downtown areas and transit-area zones. Significant works of public art have been installed in Silver Spring, Bethesda, White Flint, and Wheaton. Learn more about the Art Review Panel that guides creation and installation of public art associated with private development, and watch our Public Art in Public Places Video:


Public artwork became an amenity to be provided by developers in exchange for increased density as part of the optional method standards of the Zoning Ordinance in 1974. Under the optional method, developers are granted higher densities in exchange for significant public amenities and facilities. Optional method development is available in downtown areas and the Commercial Residential mixed-use zone. The Commercial/Residential Zone Guidelines provides criteria by which artworks are reviewed.

The optional method is intended to create a more attractive urban environment through a package of public amenities provided by the private developer. To qualify for the optional method, additional filings are required and certain development standards must be met including a public amenities package. Among the list of qualifying amenities are increased open space, affordable housing, farmland protection, environmental conservation, and public art.

Artworks are reviewed by the Art Review Panel (with representatives from the Public Arts Trust Steering Committee, PATSC), whose recommendations inform the final decision of the Planning Board. Although the artworks approved through the optional method are a public amenity, they are privately owned, operated, and maintained.

 “Sewing the fabric of our Community,” by Kate Decicco and Rose Jaffe (Summer 2015) in the Long Branch neighborhood
“Sewing the fabric of our Community,” by Kate Decicco and Rose Jaffe (Summer 2015) in the Long Branch neighborhood

Public art is also created through taxpayer-supported funds. The Public Arts Trust aims to build and inspire communities through place-making and to nurture artists engaged in public art.

The public art program dates to the late 1970s, when County Council member William Hanna, former mayor of Rockville, established a countywide program that funded art as a percentage of capital projects. In 1983, the County adopted a program that mandated that 1% of certain capital projects be set aside for the acquisition and commissioning of artworks. The amount was amended twice–to .5% in 1988 and then to .25% in 1990.

In 1995, the Council adopted a law that requires consideration of .05 percent of each fiscal year’s total capital expenditures to be allocated for public art. Funds vary each year.

Art Review Panel

Lead planners coordinate with the Art Review Panel to evaluate the developers’ public benefits package, provide professional guidance, and recommend conditions of approval for the consideration by the Planning Board. The Art Review Panel typically meets bimonthly. Please see their current schedule below.

Art Review Panel members

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    Claudia Rousseau, PhD.

    Public Arts Trust Steering Committee Representative, Claudia Rousseau is an art historian, independent curator and art critic.  She is currently Professor Emerita, Art History, Montgomery College and Editor-at-Large of East City Art, an online art magazine covering art and art exhibitions in the DMV region and beyond.  She is also a senior contributor to this magazine.  Dr. Rousseau has curated numerous exhibitions in galleries and museums in the region.  She is also an internationally published scholar of Renaissance and Modern Art.  Since 2010 she has been a juried member of the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA) for her writing on art. Dr. Rousseau was born and raised in New York City, completing her B.A. at Hunter College, CUNY and her M.A. and doctorate at Columbia University in New York. She has been a resident of Montgomery County since 2001.

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    Charles Bergen

    Charles Bergen has practiced Architecture for over 20-years, but in 2012 he decided to pursue his lifelong passion in art. Since making this transition, Charles is the creator of the Chinatown Barnes Dance in Washington, DC. This artwork celebrates and ushers in the Chinese New Lunar Year. It is a well-known successful example of a colorful Barnes Dance (diagonal crosswalk). This public artwork is located in a high-profile intersection and is designed to enhance the pedestrian experience within the crosswalk. The long curves, colorful scales and expressive heads of the dragon safely lead the pedestrian across 7th Street (an extremely busy intersection). Additional artworks are located throughout the DC/ MD region in Brookland, Capital Hill, Hyattsville and Bowie.

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    Christine Farley

    Christine Haight Farley is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law where she teaches courses on intellectual property law and art law.  Her scholarship focuses on international trademark law and art law.  Professor Farley served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs from 2007 to 2011 and as Co-Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property from 2005 to 2009.  She has been a visiting professor at law schools in France, India, Italy, and Puerto Rico and has given lectures in more than twenty-five countries.  She is Fulbright Specialist for intellectual property law.  Professor Farley frequently appears in the media as an IP expert and is regularly invited to speak at IP conferences sponsored by ABA, AIPLA, and INTA, among others. Before teaching, Professor Farley was an associate specializing in IP litigation with Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman in New York.  She holds a B.A. (State University of New York at Binghamton), J.D. (State University of New York at Buffalo), LL.M. (Columbia University), and a J.S.D. (Columbia University).

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    Francoise Carrier

    Françoise M. Carrier is a land use and zoning attorney with the law firm Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz & Gilda, LLC.  She has more than 20-years of experience in land use in the public and private sectors.  Ms. Carrier served as Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board from 2010 to 2014, and as a Hearing Examiner for Montgomery County, hearing rezoning and special exception cases, from 2001 to 2010.

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    Hiroshi Jacobs

    An award-winning architect and artist living and working in the Washington DC metropolitan area. He is the founder of HiJAC, a trans-disciplinary art and research practice that stretches between architecture, art, and technology. In addition to his work with HiJAC, Hiroshi is an Associate Principal with Studios Architecture, an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, and a member of the Board of Directors for CulturalDC.

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    Jo Ella Williams

    Jo Ella Williams is a freelance Artist with over 8-years of professional experience. Her artistic style stems from growing up in a black and Indian Hindu mixed household, and she is heavily inspired by the leadership of women in her family. Jo’s principle artistic style uses forms of traditional South Asian artistry, such as human and deity sculptural designs and Mughal paintings. As a community Artist, she has done artistic designs and planned for the public festivals that include sculptures in Fiji, Texas, and Florida. She has coordinated a total of 48 festivals over the last 8-years. One of her proudest accomplishments includes working on the Festival of India that travels to every major city in the country – where she helped commission and build the second largest Jagannath sculpture/ deity in North America.

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    Lee M. Goodwin

    I am a Maryland fine art photographer specializing in landscape photographs of the Middle Atlantic area, including the Chesapeake Bay, Washington D.C., and the Maryland and Virginia countryside. My photographs have been featured in more than a dozen solo exhibits, and more than 50 juried and invitational group exhibits. My photographs are on permanent display in the Maryland State House of Delegates Offices, the National Institutes of Health, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and the Aquilino Cancer Center, and are held in private collections in the U.S. and overseas. Sales of my photographs have raised thousands of dollars for charities such as the C&O Canal Trust, Rachel’s House and Critical Exposure. When not pursuing my avocation as a photographer, I make my living as a renewable energy lawyer, representing owners and investors involved in the development and financing of solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects.

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    Mansur Abdul-Malik

    Mansur Abdul-Malik is an integral member of the NHPF Development Team. He manages multiple aspects of the acquisition and development process for many affordable multifamily housing projects in both Washington, DC and South Carolina.

    During the acquisition process, he works with the acquisitions team to perform investment and market analyses, complete due diligence, obtain and structure financing, and create the redevelopment strategy. During the development process, he oversees the schedule, development budget, and risk management plan, as well as compliance, and communication with stakeholders. With over six years of real estate experience in the redevelopment and management of affordable and market rate investments, he has an in-depth understanding of real estate finance and the development process. He has participated in over $100 million in real estate transactions and has overseen capital improvement projects totaling over $350 million.

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    Suzan Jenkins

    Public Arts Trust Steering Committee Representative

    A leader in the non-profit arts and culture sector having served in executive positions at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and the Recording Industry Association of America.

    A Peabody Award winning producer of the radio series Let the Good Times Roll for Public Radio International, Jenkins has been recognized for her leadership and entrepreneurial endeavors, including by the Gazette of Politics and Business, Women Business Leaders of Maryland, Jazz Alliance International, the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival and Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. As co-founder of the Nonprofit Energy Alliance, Jenkins is the winner of the 2012 Washingtonian Green Giant Award.

    Jenkins is an Executive Coach and serves on the Board of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Nonprofit Montgomery; as a mentor for Women of Color in the Arts; on the Community Advisory Council of WETA and on the American University Arts Management Advisory Council. Jenkins has been a fellow of National Arts Strategies: Chief Executive Program and a former Board member of DataArts, previously known as the Cultural Data Project. Jenkins holds an Honorary Degree in Public Service from Montgomery College, MD; a BS in Psychology and Management, and an MBA from the University of Maryland.

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    Valentina Nahon

    Valentina Nahon is an architect and museum professional with a passion for art. She is the director of the design & development department at Glenstone, a museum located in Potomac, MD, that is free and open to the public. She creates meaningful experiences for the visitors by fully integrating art, architecture, and nature on its nearly 300-acre setting. Ms. Nahon is responsible for the museum’s capital improvement projects and design & implementation of the master plan, as well as all exhibition designs and art installations.

    She played a major role in the design, construction, and art installations related to the 2018 Glenstone expansion, which offers a new 240,000-square-foot building, two dining experiences and a new arrival sequence set on an additional 130 acres of land. In addition to the 50,000 square feet of interior exhibition space, the expansion includes outdoor sculptures by major contemporary artists Michael Heizer, Robert, Gober, Charles Ray and duo Janet Cardiff and James Bures Miller.

    Valentina was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Miami, Florida. She earned her M. Arch from Florida International University in 2012. She is now a resident of Montgomery County with her husband and daughter.