Not all public art is bad art, but when public art is bad, it tends to be bad in an identifiable way. In this paper, I develop a Waltonian theory of the category of public art, according to which public art standardly is both accessible to the public and minimally site-specific. When a work lacks the standard features of the category to which it belongs, appreciators tend to perceive the work as aesthetically flawed. I then compare and contrast cases of successful and unsuccessful public art to show that accessibility and site-specificity are features which tend to preclude the other. It is difficult, although hardly impossible, for a site-specific work to remain accessible, and difficult for an accessible work to engage adequately with the site on which it is situated. As a result, while not all public art is bad, the features peculiar to public work encourage a latent tendency toward badness.
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