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Nov 13, 201812:40 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Tech, art, and design of ‘smart’ cities converge through Wisconsin company

(page 1 of 2)

Six weeks ago in the art-conscious town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a somewhat eclectic group of technologists, architects, city planners, fabricators, and artists of all persuasions got together to talk about the future of art and how it can transform public settings.

Given that Southwest city’s affinity for all things creative, perhaps that’s not surprising — except the gathering of about 170 people from around the world revolved around CODAworx, a young Madison company.

Co-founded by serial entrepreneur Toni Sikes, CODAworx is becoming the Amazon of the commissioned art economy. By connecting artists and designers with opportunities that range from private building projects to public works of art to specialty commissions, CODAworx is matching talent and utilizing technology to streamline an often-complicated mating dance.

“I really think this is the most important thing I have ever done in my life,” said Sikes, who built other arts and publication companies in the past. “There has always been commissioned art, but there wasn’t an organized, tech-based way of bringing together the supply with those who had the demand. We’re the hub, the connectors, for all types of people within the industry.”

CODAworx is short for the “collaboration of art and design,” an apt acronym for a company that touches about 17,000 artists and 10,000 possible buyers and people with a stake in the industry, which includes consultants, city planners, architects, and museum directors.

The presence of people who care about the importance of art in planning buildings, parks, urban spaces, and cityscapes is a major part of what makes CODAworx tick. The company’s leadership advocates for what artists bring to the world, of course, but they’re especially passionate about how art in all forms creates value in otherwise hum-drum or even dangerous settings.

“Art in our public and private spaces helps us fight ordinary buildings, ordinary streets, ordinary cities. We celebrate the extraordinary,” reads a passage from “CODAworx Manifesto.”

Sikes takes it a step farther when she talks about the use of all types of technology to create works of art around light, sound, artificial intelligence, and other interactive effects.

“The traditional arts world has, for the most part, overlooked what’s happening with technology enabled art,” she said. “It can have the effect of raising the value of real estate. It creates spaces where people love to work, shop, and live. You can even place the right art in crime-ridden spaces and it can transform them.”

(Continued)

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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