I can't seem to find any parameters in either recent_items() or get_items to select on public items. Seems like an important function. Before I go and change get_items in my Omeka install, I wanted to make sure that I'm not missing a simple way to show only recent public items.
Oops, I guess we can disregard this. I didn't realize that being logged into the admin will display public and not public items when you view the public site.
I guess this should be a feature request instead: either remove this confusing behavior, or make it much clearer and explicit. :)