Outdoor Advertising Meets Art in a Big Way

Five major museums from around the country are offering up their best-known works as part of a nationwide art installation called "Art Everywhere." And the Outdoor Advertising Association of America is at the center of the project.

The problem with an effort to put art everywhere is that you need a lot of canvases. Fortunately, there’s an association that has more than a few available.

The Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a trade group that represents the billboard industry, is investing $500,000 to plaster its members’ giant signs with the works of big-name artists like Edward Hopper and Chuck Close.

And it has a lot of help from the world of museums to ensure the effort is interesting. Five museums—the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—offered up 20 works each from their collections, giving people plenty of options to choose from.

And choose they will—Art Everywhere launched a website this week allowing members of the public to choose 10 pieces of art per day over the next month. The top 50 entries will show up on road signs, in bus stops, and in subway stations nationwide during August.

The artwork varies in style from traditional (an 1821 portrait of George Washington) to timeless (Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic painting from 1930) to subversive (the well-named Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, a 1962 piece of pop art from Edward Ruscha) to even somewhat graphic (Self Portrait/Cutting, a 1993 photo by Catherine Opie that is exactly what it sounds like).

The OAAA says the endeavor reflects its long commitment to using its vast advertising resources in the service of the public.

“At OAAA, we are always mindful of our responsibility toward the spaces we share as citizens,” OAAA President and CEO Nancy Fletcher said in a statement. “We are thrilled that five extraordinary museums are now enabling us to make this unprecedented contribution to the public sphere by bringing America’s artistic heritage directly to the people.”

Sound intriguing? Get a gander at the entries on the Art Everywhere Pinterest page, then visit the Art Everywhere website to cast your votes.

Grant Wood's "American Gothic," one of 100 works of art in the "Art Everywhere" project. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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