Comments on: Commission Works on Public Art Planning it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Mary Morgan Mary Morgan Mon, 03 Feb 2014 18:56:16 +0000 Regarding the history of rubrics to evaluate potential public art: Yes, AAPAC has previously developed a rubric that was different from the one now being used. That original effort was led by Malverne Winborne, who didn’t seek reappointment. This new version is the result of last year’s city council decision to end the Percent for Art funding mechanism, and replace it in part with a different funding link to the city’s capital projects. AAPAC will be recommending which capital projects should also have public art “baked in” to the design. So city staff suggested that AAPAC develop a new rubric based on the one that staff uses to prioritize projects for the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP). The staff member who oversees that CIP process, Deb Gosselin, has met with AAPAC a couple of times, most recently at their Oct. 23, 2013 meeting.

That October meeting was the last regular one they’ve held until the one on Jan. 29. The regular meetings in November and December were cancelled, although AAPAC did have a retreat in December that I couldn’t attend because of scheduling conflicts with another public entity I cover. The retreat was held on Dec. 4 at the Gallup Park meeting room. AAPAC also held a planning session on Jan. 22 – Dave Askins attended that because I had another schedule conflict, and we didn’t write up a report on that meeting. It focused on doing a “dry run” of the new rubric, which had been drafted by Aaron Seagraves with help from other city staff. The rubric might have also been discussed at the Dec. 4 retreat, but I don’t know.

Based on my observations and on what Dave described to me of the planning session, commissioners are aware of the tensions that you highlighted in this new process. I think that’s one of the reasons they struggled with the evaluation of projects on Jan. 29, and why they intend to revise it.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Mon, 03 Feb 2014 18:20:30 +0000 Re (3), Mr. Hayner, I hope your comment “…I saw Mr. Miller and Sally Hart Petersen meeting this past week…” was not meant to imply something nefarious. I, too, met with Mr. Miller this last week. It is my understanding that he met with a number of Council members. We had a nice chat and I found him to be well informed.

The effort to return restricted funds to the accounts from which they originated is a compromise. As you may recall, Council member Lumm tried to accomplish this last year but was unable to attract sufficient support. There is no guarantee that the compromise will attract enough support this year.

Every compromise requires each side to give up something they might otherwise want. This compromise will allow the previously approved plans to proceed while returning about $839,000 to the appropriate restricted accounts. It is not perfect, but it may just be possible. I hope that it does not offend you that members of Council with divergent views are looking for that middle ground.

By: abc abc Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:25:18 +0000 Mary,

Back in a thread from an article dated October 3rd, 2011, we had a discussion about an evaluation rubric that had been proposed for use in determining which proposal might be better than another. That rubric had been proposed by the AAPAC Committee in March of 2011 but was never adopted. I was then a little surprised to read in this report that they now have a new rubric and are trying to use it. Had they drafted this at a past meeting and I missed it being reported? Or is this the first time it is being seen? Do you know who wrote it? I did note that it said ‘draft’.

From the article, “The draft rubric includes seven categories, with scoring on a scale of 1-10: (1) distribution of art throughout the city; (2) locations of high use and high visibility; (3) placemaking; (4) integrated artwork (whether artwork can be integrated into a project or location); (5) partnerships; (6) funding; and (7) programming – whether a school or other organization could develop programs related to the artwork.”

I cannot help but notice that if you look at the whole rubric (the pdf) that the first item has the goal to “Ensure artwork is installed broadly across the city and is decentralized”. The second item has the goal to “Provide the best opportunity for the most people to experience public art”. Of course the two goals are in opposition to one another; if the projects are decentralized they will not provide the best opportunity for most people to experience them.

I point this out because even if you want this endeavor to succeed, whether with public or private funds, there are serious structural problems with how these projects are being evaluated. For example, the goal for rubric item #3 is to, “Provide for the transformation of a place, through art, by addressing the meaning and significance of the place’s identity”. But one of the, as yet unbuilt, pieces is to decorate the space under a bridge. Spaces under bridges have been enhanced with art (graffiti) all over the country for decades and decade and none, in my opinion, has become ‘a place’ as a result; and some of the graffiti is really quite good. These spaces can yield some interesting photographs but I would contend that none rise to the level of being transformed into a place, mainly because they were never designed to be places. They are still just spaces underneath a bridge. And there is $400,000 set aside for this project.

Trying to force art through this rubric, like the last, is a fool’s errand. Forcing art through any rubric has issues; re-watch that scene in “Dead Poets Society” where Robin Williams makes the class tear out the introduction in their poetry books.

Robert Hughes wrote,” Pleasure is the root of all critical appreciation of art…”

By: Roger Kuhlman Roger Kuhlman Mon, 03 Feb 2014 05:58:44 +0000 I have no idea why certain people think it is all right to force all property owners in Ann Arbor to pay for Public Art if they do not wish to do so. Public Art is clearly not a basic city service that should be funded by everyone in Ann Arbor. It is a luxury item that should only be funded by voluntary individual choice!

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Sun, 02 Feb 2014 18:09:56 +0000 I bet something is in the works for this Monday, I saw Mr. Miller and Sally Hart Petersen meeting this past week over a pile of paperwork – hopefully they were working out a way to return the skimmed money to it’s rightful place. We also need to kill the two projects that are in limbo, for the Stadium Bridges and the Argo Cascades. No need to spend $550,000 just because $21,000 was squandered on the selection process to date. Cut our losses, and terminate those contracts.

The public art commission had until Feb. 1st to devise and present a plan, and it has not done so. Part of this plan should have been identifying sources of funding outside of tax dollars to insure the future of the program. This has not been done, either. Enough is enough. Thank you for your service, goodbye.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Sun, 02 Feb 2014 03:20:40 +0000 Well put, Vivienne. Many people enjoy art; that doesn’t make the present scheme good, for the reasons you capture so well.

Thank you also for articulating the exact issues without resorting to sweeping negative statements about anyone’s character, intentions, or human worth. I wish this kind of public utterance were more common.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sun, 02 Feb 2014 01:29:57 +0000 The original vision for Percent for Art was bold, if poorly executed. The premise was that winning communities could attract success (as in new investment and tourism, plus a sense of place and quality of life) by expressing a high-toned sensibility to art. And also create opportunities for local artists to find employment and venues. The idea was to have stunning works that would inspire the soul and would create a timeless identity for Ann Arbor.

So what do we have as current aspirations? Vinyl wraps on transformer boxes. Manhole covers. Sidewalk stamping.

Please, let’s kill this sad thing. It has become funds in search of an application.

No reflection on the citizens who have given their time and thought to serving on the commission. The program had conceptual and structural problems from the beginning, stemming in part from the awkward attempts to avoid the illegalities based on the Bolt decision. That forced the program into attempting to show relevance of the money diverted to the programs affected.

Let’s have sewers and stormwater mains, not “artistic” manhole covers.