Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 19, 2012): Just over two weeks after the Ann Arbor city council voted to halt spending on the Percent for Art program, public art commissioners held their regular monthly meeting and discussed implications of that council decision. The moratorium on spending lasts until April 1, 2013.
Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, briefed commissioners on a Dec. 11 meeting of the city council committee that will be making recommendations on the future of Ann Arbor’s public art program. The committee’s work comes in the wake of a failed public art millage that voters rejected on Nov. 6. That committee includes councilmember Sabra Briere, who attended AAPAC’s Dec. 19 meeting as well.
At the meeting, Briere participated in a discussion with commissioners about the source of funding for a hanging sculpture to be installed in the lobby of the Justice Center. AAPAC and city councilmembers have been under the impression that the $150,000 project – called “Radius,” by Ed Carpenter – was part of the city’s Percent for Art budget. However, it now seems that’s not the case, based on communications from the city’s chief financial officer. The news stunned commissioners, who noted that the project appears in the budget summaries they regularly receive – including one provided in the Dec. 19 meeting packet – as a line item, under “Court/PD Facility.” [.pdf of December 2012 budget summary]
By way of background, during the May 7, 2012 city council meeting when the Radius project was ultimately approved, councilmembers debated the issue for about an hour. Specifically, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to investments in the city hall building. Her amendment failed, with several councilmembers – and assistant city attorney Mary Fales – arguing that the public art ordinance prohibits the transfer of public art funds to other funds.
A new, different understanding that seems to have emerged is the following: The money for public art in the Justice Center building budget was not set aside as an application of the public art ordinance, but rather was set aside administratively – in February 2009, well after the building fund had been established. The building fund had been established prior to 2007, when the public art ordinance was enacted. So the 2009 set-aside was made in the spirit of the 2007 public art ordinance, applied in some sense retroactively. In a phone interview, Briere told The Chronicle that this is the understanding she has of the situation. And in response to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves on the council’s public art review committee – confirmed he had the same understanding. That understanding has implications for use of the balance of the $250,000 that was set aside for Justice Center art.
In other action at the Dec. 19 meeting, commissioner John Kotarski expressed concern about AAPAC’s task force process, after attending a recent session for the East Stadium bridges project. He didn’t feel the task force is getting sufficient administrative support as it works to select up to five finalists from a set of 36 submissions. To help, he proposed allocating $5,000 to hire a consultant who would serve as a curator to conduct an initial vetting of the artists. The suggestion did not gain much traction among other commissioners, at least for this project, though the idea of a facilitator seemed well-received.
Kotarski updated commissioners on a course that Roland Graf, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, will be teaching this coming semester called “Public Art and Urban Intervention.” Graf intends to make assignments related to public art in Ann Arbor and on the UM campus, and it’s expected that students will eventually make presentations of their projects to AAPAC.
Kotarski also was the catalyst for a review of AAPAC’s long-term strategic plan for fiscal 2013-2016, prompting commissioners to identify the status of each objective. Several objectives are on hold, pending the outcome of the city council’s review of the overall Percent for Art program.
The council’s pending action also has resulted in some uncertainty regarding AAPAC appointments. Terms for Cathy Gendron and Connie Brown expire on Dec. 31, 2012. They’ve agreed to continue serving until the council makes a decision about the Percent for Art program. The vacancy left by the resignation of Theresa Reid in November remains unfilled. Nominations to AAPAC are made by the mayor and confirmed by city council.
City Council Action on Public Art
The meeting began with Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, briefing commissioners about a Dec. 11 meeting of a city council committee. The five-member committee is tasked with making recommendations on the future of Ann Arbor’s public art program. It was the committee’s first meeting since the full council created the group on Dec. 3, 2012. At that same meeting, the council also voted to halt the spending of funds accumulated through Ann Arbor’s Percent for Art program – except for projects that are already underway.
The committee consists of councilmembers Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4). Chamberlin attended the Dec. 11 meeting as an observer, as did AAPAC member John Kotarski and Aaron Seagraves, the city’s part-time public art administrator. [See Chronicle coverage: "Council's Public Art Committee Begins Work."]
Chamberlin characterized the meeting’s outcome as formulating next steps and assigning tasks to gather information that will inform the committee’s decision-making. She has offered to help provide material that’s already been collected by her, Margaret Parker and Susan Froelich, including information about similar public art programs in other cities and states. Chamberlin noted that Parker and Froelich did significant research as part of setting up the Commission on Art in Public Places (CAPP), the predecessor to the Percent for Art program.
Another outcome of the committee meeting is that Kunselman plans to draft a resolution for the council to make a request of the state attorney general’s office – likely via state Rep. Jeff Irwin – for an opinion about the legality of Ann Arbor’s current approach to funding public art.
The council committee will next meet on Monday, Jan. 7 at 4:30 p.m. – just before the city council meeting that night. The meetings, located at city hall, are open to the public. In response to a query from Connie Brown, Chamberlin said she didn’t think an announcement about the first meeting had been posted on the city’s website. She said she’s been told by the city administrator that the only posting requirement is that a notice is posted in the city hall lobby – “I walked right past without seeing it,” she said.
There’s no formal role for AAPAC to play in this process, Chamberlin said. However, she added that to the extent that AAPAC can provide resources to the committee, “I’m happy to do it.” Meanwhile, AAPAC is on hold regarding future projects, though work is continuing on efforts that are already underway. [.pdf of AAPAC project tracker]
Chamberlin said it’s premature to assume that the Percent for Art program in the future will have more money, or less. “We just don’t know what the outcome will be,” she said.
City Council Action on Public Art: Outreach
As part of the city council’s Dec. 3 resolution on public art, one of the resolved clauses gave direction for outreach efforts related to three projects that are already underway, for artwork at (1) the East Stadium bridges; (2) Argo Cascades; and (3) a rain garden at Kingsley and Ashley.
The resolved clause states:
That with respect to the above three mentioned projects, AAPAC will engage in significant and robust public engagement described as follows: Directly contact appropriate local organizations, including but not limited to Homeowners Associations and Neighborhood Associations, that may be especially interested in or affected by these projects and hold two or more public forums at which interested organizations and individuals shall be provided information any may offer suggestions and opinions on the proposed art project. After each public forum, provide a report to City Council summarizing the information provided and the comments received from the public;
At AAPAC’s Dec. 19 meeting, commissioners brainstormed on how to respond to this directive. Marsha Chamberlin noted that outreach efforts already are included in AAPAC’s annual plan and long-term strategic plan. And in his written report to the commission, Aaron Seagraves included this recommendation: “Hold at least two Public Engagement meetings to be coordinated with the artist selection process for the public art projects at the Kingsley Street rain garden, East Stadium Blvd Bridge and Argo Cascades, at the time of: the walk-through and formal site visit of the multiple finalists; the presentation of the multiple design proposals, before a final artist is selected; or, a presentation by the final artist, before a final design is completed.”
Sabra Briere suggested that AAPAC take advantage of A2 Open City Hall, a relatively new online feedback mechanism. She thought commissioners would benefit from soliciting feedback, pointing out that there’s a distinction between feedback, input and engagement. Bob Miller, who serves on the task force for East Stadium bridges, indicated interest in using A2 Open City Hall for that project.
John Kotarski advocated for a series of “intense” public meetings with artists, describing the concept as a “listening tour” and “presenting tour.” Rather than one community meeting, AAPAC would arrange a series of meetings – like a breakfast with business leaders, a lunch at Rotary, and a walk-through of the site where the artwork would be located. The intent would be to introduce artists to the city, and introduce the city to the artists, he said. The amount of interactions could vary, depending on the scale of the project, but he felt it was important to include some aspect of this approach for all projects. It’s important for the artists and their proposals to be presented to the public, so that people can challenge, ask questions and engage the artists about their work, he said.
There was discussion among commissioners about the practicality of this approach, especially for out-of-state finalists. Cathy Gendron also objected to the idea of artists being brought in at the same time, saying that was setting them up in a competitive situation that wasn’t appropriate. But bringing in each artist separately would be time consuming for the person who would coordinate these meetings. There was also the issue of cost, although some commissioners noted that travel costs could be paid for out of the honorarium that finalists receive.
Kotarski felt it could be an ideal that they work toward, even if they don’t achieve the scope that he envisioned.
Gendron observed that there were several public meetings associated with the Herbert Dreiseitl project, yet many people still had an impression that there hadn’t been any outreach. “We did reach out to the public,” she said, “and it wasn’t enough.” She felt it was important to formalize these efforts.
Chamberlin didn’t think AAPAC or the city staff had the manpower to carry out all of the suggestions, but thought that the options could be part of the guidelines for task forces, to use as they felt appropriate.
Outcome: There was no vote on this item, but Aaron Seagraves was directed to provide a list of outreach options to the task forces that are working on these projects.
Funding for Justice Center Artwork
Saying that the issue had recently come to his attention, John Kotarski raised a question about the source of funding for the hanging sculpture that’s been commissioned for the lobby of the Justice Center. AAPAC has been under the impression that the $150,000 project was funded out of the Percent for Art budget. However, it now seemed that this was not the case.
Responding to Kotarski, Aaron Seagraves – the city’s public art administrator – told commissioners that the sculpture by Ed Carpenter is being paid for out of the Justice Center’s Percent for Art set-aside. His statement was followed by a discussion that revealed some uncertainty about that.
By way of background, the city’s public art ordinance was created in 2007 and requires that all city capital improvement projects include 1% for public art, up to a cap of $250,000 per capital project. For capital projects that aren’t suitable to have public art incorporated into them, the 1% is “pooled” for use in some other public art – which must be related to the purpose of the funding source. For example, the fountain outside the new Justice Center and city hall, designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl and tied into the site’s stormwater management system, is funded with money pooled from 1% of some sanitary sewer projects, drinking water projects, and stormwater management projects.
As an additional piece of background, during the May 7 city council meeting when the Radius project was ultimately approved, councilmembers debated the issue for about an hour. Specifically, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to invest instead in the city hall building. Her amendment failed, with several councilmembers – and assistant city attorney Mary Fales – arguing that the public art ordinance prohibits the transfer from public art funds to other funds.
At this point in the Dec. 19 meeting, Ward 1 city councilmember Sabra Briere – who attended as an observer – showed AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin an email that she had received earlier that day from Tom Crawford, the city’s chief financial officer. Crawford was responding to Briere’s attempts to clarify the funding source. From his email:
The attached resolution is where council approved the radius art as part of the JC project. It is listed in the project budget as % for art but is and was never part of the % for art fund. It was administratively included in the JC project after the project was started. It has always been administered by the % for art folks which is where the confusion may be. [.pdf of Briere's email chain] [.pdf of February 2009 resolution for Justice Center construction] [.pdf of Justice Center cost estimate]
Seagraves again stated that the Carpenter piece – called “Radius” – was being paid for out of the Justice Center’s Percent for Art budget, not out of the Percent for Art pooled funds. He said he’d check with Crawford again to clarify that.
But Connie Brown noted that Crawford’s email states that the funding has nothing to do with the Percent for Art set-aside. Briere responded, saying that Crawford’s “answer is obscure to me.”
In a telephone interview with The Chronicle, Briere sketched out her understanding: The money for public art in the Justice Center building budget was not set aside as an application of the public art ordinance, but rather was set aside administratively – in February 2009, well after the building fund had been established. The building fund had been established prior to 2007, when the public art ordinance was enacted. So the 2009 set-aside was made in the spirit of the 2007 public art ordinance, applied in some sense retroactively. And in response to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) confirmed he had the same understanding.
At the Dec. 19 public art commission meeting, Briere explained that this issue has emerged because she’s been pushing to find funding to pay for moving the current security station in the building’s lobby to a different location, farther from the entrance. She doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to call the lobby “public space” if the public has to pass through a security checkpoint or be buzzed in by the police department.
She had received a message the previous week that there was no available funding in the Justice Center’s budget to make this change. At the same time, she said, councilmembers received word from the city administrator, Steve Powers, that Carpenter’s sculpture was not funded by the Percent for Art program, “which for many of us was a bit of a surprise.” So now she’s pursuing the possibility of shifting the funding for the sculpture into the Percent for Art program – so that the funds now allocated for the art from the Justice Center budget can be used to move the security checkpoint.
Several commissioners seemed stunned that there’s any question about the funding source for Carpenter’s work – because they had always worked on the assumption that it was part of the Percent for Art budget. In the budget summaries they regularly receive – including one provided in the Dec. 19 meeting packet – the amount shows up as a line item, under “Court/PD Facility.” [.pdf of December 2012 budget summary]
Cathy Gendron noted that Sue McCormick, the city’s former public services administrator, had always emphasized that the Percent for Art funding was revenue neutral – meaning that the 1% for art was taken from a project’s construction contingency fund. The understanding was that the Carpenter project was funded from that 1% of the Justice Center project. “So I don’t see how anyone could not construe [Carpenter's] project as part of Percent for Art,” she said.
At AAPAC’s Dec. 19 meeting, Brown pointed out that this is not an issue that commissioners could resolve. Chamberlin agreed to follow up with the city administration to clarify the budget.
Support for Task Forces
Early in the Dec. 19 meeting, John Kotarski referred to an email that he had sent to commissioners earlier in the month, and indicated that he’d like to discuss it. [.pdf of Kotarski's email] Based on an exchange between Kotarski and Marsha Chamberlin, it appeared that they had communicated about the issue of task force support, and that Chamberlin had preferred to defer the discussion until AAPAC’s January meeting. Kotarski felt the topic should be addressed sooner. So the commission discussed it at the end of the meeting.
Kotarski’s concern was that AAPAC’s task forces weren’t receiving enough administrative support for their work. His concern stemmed from observations of the task force that’s selecting artwork for the East Stadium bridges. The city received 36 responses to a request for statements of qualifications (SOQ), and the task force had met on Dec. 14 to select finalists, who would then be paid a stipend to develop a full proposal. Task force members include AAPAC commissioners Wiltrud Simbuerger and Bob Miller, as well as Nancy Leff, David Huntoon, and Joss Kiely.
From Kotarski’s email:
The group of citizen volunteers assembled are smart, enthusiastic, and committed to providing for our city a well thought out evaluation of these public art proposals. But, I do not think we have done everything we can to scaffold their efforts so that they can be successful. I spoke with two of them after the meeting and they were frustrated in not having a clear understanding of what to do and not enough time to do it. These task force members would welcome professional help. In fact, they thought a professional curator would be a smart way to develop the SOQ and select the finalists. Spending $5K on a consultant to get three stellar finalists seems to me money well spent.
It may be difficult to start from scratch on this project but we need to rethink how we can use professional curators to scaffold our citizen volunteers moving forward on other projects. On this project, I think we should recommend hiring a consultant to sort through these proposals and arrive at 5 finalists from which the task force can select three that we will recommend offering an RFP/stipend to. I also think we need to refine details of the public forum listening tours and presentation tours that have have been proposed earlier. These forums are part of the art ordinance amendment proposed by Council Member Briere and we should consider them for the Stadium Bridges project. Making these careful steps forward seems the prudent thing to do while the program is under intense scrutiny by City Council.
Additionally, Aaron may feel threatened by this proposal but I think he should be aware that we believe he is working as hard as he can. In spite of his hard work, he may need more direction and supervision from his supervisor or advice from a paid professional. I would welcome an open and frank discussion of these issue before our next meeting.
At the Dec. 19 meeting, Kotarski reiterated the points of his email, citing the approaching mid-January deadline to select finalists, the size of the project – with a total budget of $400,000 – and the short time that task force members have been given to review SOQ responses.
Connie Brown, who also attended the task force meeting, said she had a different take on the situation. She didn’t see intense frustration, but thought it had been an issue with facilitating the discussion. An extension of the deadline would help, she said, but she didn’t think a curator was necessary. Kotarski said that a paid facilitator would be great.
Cathy Gendron supported the idea of moving the deadline, but was reluctant to hire someone while asking others on the task force to volunteer their time and expertise. “That seems unfair to me,” she said.
Chamberlin noted that Kotarski’s email had generated a fair amount of discussion among commissioners, and everyone agrees that materials from the 36 responses should have been sent to the task force well in advance of their meeting, with at least 10 days to review. She said she’d met with Aaron Seagraves and they’d talked about how to support the work of the task force better. An email will be sent to task force members, explaining the next steps in the process, she said, so things are back on track.
AAPAC could revisit the task force process when the next project comes up, she said, adding that her view of a curator is that it would remove the process from the public realm, which would not be good. Miller said he’d be interested in exploring Kotarski’s idea of bringing in someone to help with the task force work, but it’s not something he’d want to implement at this point.
Simbuerger said she’d welcome a facilitator, either someone from AAPAC or city staff. Gendron suggested Connie Pulcipher of the city’s systems planning unit. Pulcipher has facilitated AAPAC retreats in the past.
Seagraves said he’d spoken to Kotarski about this issue, and took Kotarski’s “constructive criticism” to heart. He agreed that bringing someone in to facilitate would be great – both for him and for the task force. Seagraves added that he had full confidence in the people who’d be selecting the artist.
Kotarski said he simply wanted to ensure that the group is extremely successful, and that AAPAC rethink its task force process for future projects.
At the urging of John Kotarski, commissioners spent a portion of their Dec. 19 meeting reviewing the status of their 2013-2016 strategic plan. [.pdf of strategic plan] The plan, developed earlier this year, lists four goals with several objectives under each goal.
The status of the objectives is indicated in italics, based on the Dec. 19 discussion:
Goal A: Ann Arbor will substantially increase the number of public works of art throughout the city through the annual assignment of funds and an expedited project development and artist selection process.
Objective 1: At the beginning of each FY, the Percent for Public Art funds will be divided to fund public art within each of the four city areas [quadrants], beginning with FY 2013. Status: Funding has not been divided in this way.
Objective 2: Each city area will have a minimum of one active public art project per year. Status: There is not yet an active project in each quadrant.
Objective 3: The mural program will be continued as an AAPAC program and at least one mural will be added in each city area during the years of this plan. Status: The mural at Allmendinger Park was completed in the fall of 2012.
Objective 4: In 2014, at least one new public art program will be selected for city-wide implementation. RFPs will be distributed to expedite this new program (select one artist to produce a public art design, or public art series), that can be produced in each of the city areas. Status: On hold, until the city council decides the future of the Percent for Art program.
Objective 5: By the beginning of FY2015 an art-on-loan program will be developed to further increase the public art experience in the city. Status: On hold, until city council decides the future of the Percent for Art program.
Objective 6: An RFQ will be developed by December 2012 so that an Artist Registry can be developed and expanded on an annual basis. Status: This project is in process.
Goal B: AAPAC will diversify public engagement and participation in the selection of Public Art by establishing an standing task force in each of the city areas to recommend public art projects therein. (The city areas will be based on the “land use areas” from the City of Ann Arbor’s Master Plan, Land Use Element, 2009)
Objective 1: Task Forces for each city area will be approved by the commission no later than October 15, 2012 and serve a term of one year and will be comprised of the at least one resident of the quadrant, one business person whose business is in the area, a commission member, and an artist. Status: On hold, until the city council decides the future of the Percent for Art program.
Objective 2: An inventory of current public art will be completed in the second quarter of FY2013, no later than (December 2012) so that future projects can be develop with this consideration. Status: This project is underway.
Objective 3: Each Task Force will report to the commission with a priority list of new locations for art by December 2012. The list will take into consideration the area’s land use, density, built features, open space, city property and neighborhoods. Status: On hold, until the city council decides the future of the Percent for Art program.
Objective 4: The selection of a site/project for FY 2014 will be completed by the Commission by the third quarter of FY 2013 (no later than March 2013) for implementation at the earliest feasible date. Status: It’s possible this could occur, depending on the outcome of the city council’s decision regarding the Percent for Art program.
Goal C: AAPAC will increase the public understanding, appreciation and support of public art through consistent public relations and education efforts.
Objective 1: Identify and prepare for 2 events per year in which information about the city program can be disseminated and interested parties identified. Status: Commissioners felt that this has been achieved for fiscal 2013 via public meetings held in each quadrant this fall – though most meetings were not well-attended.
Objective 2: By Spring, 2013, establish a sign program for artwork so that each work gives the artist’s name and explains the work in terms of artistic and educational purposes. Status: In the works, but not much progress made.
Goal D: Pursue private funding for public art.
Objective 1: By the beginning of FY 2014, develop a plan for the public to donate to support the development of public art and begin implementation. Status: No formal plan has been developed, though John Kotarski indicated that some discussions on this topic have occurred recently with Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Marsha Chamberlin noted that former AAPAC member Margaret Parker is working on this goal, too.
Cathy Gendron expressed some frustration, given the uncertainty of the Percent for Art program’s future. “We’re not in charge of our destiny,” she said. Kotarski asserted that AAPAC needed to hold itself accountable to its strategic plan, even if they simply explain why certain objectives aren’t achieved. He felt they should develop a plan as to how they would achieve the objectives that haven’t been reached.
Marsha Chamberlin wondered whether this might warrant another retreat, but no decision was made about that.
Throughout the meeting there were several updates on public art projects that are underway. Here are some highlights.
- Justice Center: Work on the hanging glass sculpture for the lobby of the Justice Center – by Oregon artist Ed Carpenter – is moving ahead, and the structural engineering is completed. The sculpture, called “Radius,” was approved by the city council in May of 2012 based on AAPAC’s recommendation, with a budget of $150,000. [See discussion of funding source earlier in this report.] Members of the projects task force are: Margaret Parker, Elaine Sims, Bob Grese, Laura Rubin, Margie Teall, Ray Detter, Maureen Devine and Karl Daubmann. Carpenter is working with city staff to secure permits and to make arrangements for the planned installation. The fabrication of the artwork will begin within the next month and will be complete approximately two months after fabrication begins. Expected installation: March or April of 2013.
- Argo Cascades: A statement of qualifications (SOQ) was issued in early December for this project to place artwork in the city park along Argo Cascades, with a deadline of March 6. [SOQs for the city are posted online here.] AAPAC approved a $150,000 budget for that project in April of 2012. Task force members are John Kotarski, Malverne Winborne, Cheryl Saam, Margaret Parker, Cathy Fleisher, Bonnie Greenspoon, Julie Grand, and Colin Smith. Expected completion: End of 2013.
- East Stadium bridges: The city received 36 responses to an SOQ for artwork along the new East Stadium bridges, and a selection panel met earlier this month to begin evaluating the submissions. It’s likely that a mid-January deadline to select finalists will be extended. [See discussion about this issue earlier in this report.] The $400,000 budget for that project was recommended by AAPAC in March of 2012. Task force members are Wiltrud Simbuerger, Bob Miller, Nancy Leff, David Huntoon and Joss Kiely. Expected completion of project: End of 2013.
- Kingsley & First rain garden: A request for proposals (RFP) was issued in November for artwork to be included in a rain garden at the city-owned lot at Kingsley & First. [RFPs for the city are posted online here.] A pre-submission meeting was held on the site, and responses are due on Jan. 10. Task force members are Connie Brown, Jerry Hancock, Claudette Stern and John Walters. The project has a budget of $27,000. Expected completion: August 2013.
- Forest Avenue plaza: A meeting was held Dec. 5 with task force members and city staff to discuss a public art project for the plaza, located next to the Forest Avenue parking structure near South University. AAPAC voted at its Aug. 22, 2012 meeting to move ahead on it, with a budget of up to $35,000. Task force members are Bob Miller, Marsha Chamberlin, Maggie Ladd, and Amy Kuras. Chamberlin indicated that more people will be added to the task force as the project moves forward
- Mural program: 40 responses to statements of qualifications (SOQ) were received to create a pre-qualified pool of artists for future mural projects. [.pdf of SOQ-835] AAPAC had approved this approach at its June 27, 2012 meeting, to facilitate faster development of mural projects. Task force members are Wiltrud Simbuerger and Connie Pulcipher. No additional murals will begin until the city council determines the future of the Percent for Art program.
- Sign for Dreiseitl sculpture: Quinn Evans Architects are working on a sign explaining the water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl, located in front of city hall. The work is being done as part of the firm’s existing contract with the city. Quinn Evans has provided a range of services related to construction of the Justice Center and renovation of city hall, including oversight of the construction and installation of the Dreiseitl sculpture. The Ann Arbor firm’s contracts with the city, as amended over the past few years, exceed $6 million.
Communications & Commentary
During the meeting there were several updates and other items of communication and commentary.
Communications & Commentary: Working with UM Students
John Kotarski reported that he’d been working with Roland Graf, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, who will be teaching a course starting in January called “Public Art and Urban Intervention.” The course, with about 20 students, will explore placemaking strategies and the reinvention of public space in Ann Arbor and the UM campus, Kotarski said. As a first assignment, Graf intends to have students compare two Ann Arbor public art projects: The sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl in front of city hall, and the mural by Mary Thiefels at Allmendinger Park. Another assignment will be to give students an actual request for proposals (RFP) and ask them to respond to it and make a presentation to AAPAC. Kotarski thought the RFP for the artwork in the Justice Center lobby would be perfect for that.
The third assignment would be open-ended within a certain budget range, asking students to share their view about what makes good public art in the 21st century using Ann Arbor as a canvas, Kotarski said.
Marsha Chamberlin ventured that these student presentations to AAPAC would be interesting for the general public, too. Kotarski suggested trying to schedule the presentations in city council chambers, where they could be broadcast for Community Television Network. He said he’d report back with updates.
Communications & Commentary: Terms
John Kotarski said he knew this would be Cathy Gendron’s last meeting, and he wanted to applaud her work on AAPAC and thank her for her service, which “went above and beyond what was necessary.”
Marsha Chamberlin noted that terms for both Gendron and Connie Brown ended on Dec. 31, but she hoped they would both stay another three months until the city council makes a decision about the public art program’s future. Both Brown and Gendron agreed, though Gendron pointed out that she’ll be out of town during much of that time. She also said that she’ll eventually need to hand over files and other work she’s done as part of AAPAC’s public relations committee, giving that material to whoever will be taking her place on the PR committee.
Both Brown and Gendron have served two terms on AAPAC. They were most recently reappointed by the city council in November of 2010. Neither the city’s public art ordinance nor the commission’s bylaws indicate a limit to the number of terms that can be served. However, the bylaws do address the issue of serving after a term has expired:
Section 5. Members whose term has expired shall hold over and continue to serve as members of AAPAC until a successor has been appointed. Consistent with City Code Section 1:171, no member shall be allowed to hold over for more than sixty (60) days beyond the appointed term whether or not a successor has been appointed, except that City Council may extend terms for periods of ninety (90) days upon the recommendation of the Mayor and vote of at least six (6) members of Council.
Section 6. Consistent with City Code Section 1:171, the Mayor shall notify City Council of the expiration of a member’s term at least thirty (30) days prior and shall present to City Council all proposed reappointments no later than sixty (60) days after the expiration of the term. [.pdf of AAPAC bylaws]
Both Gendron and Brown were nominated at the council’s Dec. 17 meeting for reappointment – as was Tony Derezinski – to serve terms ending Jan. 20, 2016.
There is an existing vacancy on AAPAC, following the resignation of Theresa Reid in November. No one has yet been nominated by mayor John Hieftje to replace her. She had been appointed in February of 2012 for a term ending Dec. 31, 2015.
Communications & Commentary: Online Map of Public Art
Aaron Seagraves reported on plans to develop an interactive online map that will display the city’s public art. It will be part of the city’s collection of online maps, and include details like a project’s location, artist, and a photo of the work. Next steps include determining what information to display, completing that information for each work of art, and selecting photos.
Communications & Commentary: Thomas Partridge
Thomas Partridge spoke during both opportunities for public commentary, describing himself as an advocate for public art. His mother had been an artist, he said, specializing in painting on china. He advocated for a shift in spending away from well-known artists and instead focusing on K-12 arts education. He argued that there should also be more cooperation with other local governments, with the state, and with public institutions.
At the end of the meeting, Partridge criticized the commission, saying that its faulty strategy had led to the failure of the public art millage in November. The commissioners aren’t connecting with the majority of the public, he said, in terms of the selection of location, type of art, and amount of money spent on the Herbert Dreiseitl sculpture in front of city hall. More should be done to improve public art at city hall, he added, describing the current building as “drab, drab, drab.”
Commissioners present: Connie Brown, Marsha Chamberlin, Cathy Gendron, John Kotarski, Bob Miller, Wiltrud Simbuerger. Also Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator.
Absent: Tony Derezinski, Malverne Winborne.
Next regular meeting: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. at city hall, 301 E. Huron St. [Check Chronicle events listing to confirm date]
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