Preachy and polemical essays trace 25 years of alternative public art, addressing an exciting topic with airless earnestness. Editor Lacy is a conceptual and performance artist, a founding member in the 1970s of the West Coast's Feminist Studio Workshop, and currently dean of fine arts at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Her introduction defines ``new genre art,'' now an established movement of artists who engage in installations in public spaces, collective group endeavors, and activist actions and stand in opposition to what they see as the elitist traditions of museums, galleries, and grandiose public statuary. Essays by a bevy of contributors follow. Mary Jane Jacob, an independent curator, struggles over the medium's attempts to embrace a nonexclusive public. Critic Patricia C. Phillips tries to tackle public art's ``challenge to modernism,'' as well as its failures as a marginalized genre. More cogent are offerings from well-known art writers Suzi Gablik, on the artist's role in society, and Lucy R. Lippard, on the definition of public art; both manage to reach concrete conclusions. Lighter, and most entertaining, is artist Allan Kaprow's first-person account of recruiting inner-city kids for a collaborative project documenting bathroom graffiti in Berkeley, Calif., in the late 1960s. Most helpful to general readers and students will be the book's second half, an alphabetized compendium of both well- and lesser-known works of some 90 artists and collective groups assembled by Susan Steinman (Art/California State Univ., Hayward). Described here: Joseph Beuys's 1974 three-day cohabitation of a New York gallery space with a live coyote; Jerri Allyn's activist ``40 Woman All-Waitress Marching Band'' from L.A. in the 1970s; and New York City's Guerrilla Girls, who raised the art world's consciousness in the 1980s. Essays laden with the verbal clunkiness of the politically correct art cartel, joined by a more useful index of artists and projects.