First in front of Kiwanis. ”Art Car” convertible with Florida plates parked in front of Kiwanis is covered with thousands of keys, many of which are complex car keys. Wish I had a photo of it.
Billboard promoting Grand Rapids and its “hot art.” [photo]
Blowing giant bubbles in front of the art museum. [video]
Southeast corner “art” bicycle rack has zip-tied sign: “Scheduled for removal.” [photo] A short poem in honor of this metal ring’s relatively brief service to our cycling community: Removal leaves us broken-hearted; in the end t’was over-arted.
Ann Arbor city council meeting (Aug. 4, 2011): In the early part of the meeting, mayor John Hieftje effectively headed off a debate that might have otherwise unfolded among councilmembers on the relationship between the taxes collected for street and sidewalk repair and the city’s public art program. The mayor announced that he’d be nominating Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) to serve on the public art commission as a replacement for recently resigned commissioner Jeff Meyers. And Hieftje went on to say that in September he wanted to take a longer look at the city’s public art program.
That assurance was enough for now to hold off a council discussion of an explicit restriction on the street/sidewalk repair tax – a restriction that would prevent those tax monies from being used to pay for public art under the city’s Percent for Art program. At the meeting, the council approved ballot language for Nov. 8 that will ask voters to renew the street repair tax (at a rate of 2.0 mills) as well as to approve an additional tax to repair sidewalks (at a rate of 0.125 mills).
But no discussion took place on a possible restriction on those monies in connection with public art. It’s technically possible for the council to revisit the issue at its next meeting, on Aug. 15, which falls one day before the ballot language must be filed, according to the state election statute.
If the discussion of appropriate funding mechanisms for public art is pushed to September, it will join another topic the council voted at its meeting to postpone for two months – termination of the city’s contract with RecycleBank. That company administers a coupon-based incentive program in connection with the city’s new single-stream recycling program.
It was a year ago, in July 2010, that the new single-stream system replaced Ann Arbor’s decades-old dual-stream system. Councilmembers questioned the evidence that RecycleBank’s program had any significant impact on residents’ recycling behavior. The measure needed an eight-vote super majority of the 11 councilmembers, and based on deliberations, there were only seven clear votes to terminate. But instead of voting, the council postponed the issue.
The council did take action on a related recycling issue, voting to increase its annual contract with Recycle Ann Arbor, which empties the curbside recycling carts set out by residents. The increase was set for $107,000 a year and was meant to offset diminished revenue that Recycle Ann Arbor was getting under the contract, due to a smaller number of carts being deployed in the city.
In other business, the council gave final approval to changes in employee benefits. It also approved terms of a contract with Steve Powers, who on Sept. 15 will become the city’s newest employee as city administrator. Highlights include a $145,000 base salary and participation in a 401(a) plan instead of the city’s pension system.
Allen Creek was the geographic focus of two items on the agenda. The council approved another extension to the purchase option agreement with Village Green – for the City Apartments project to be located at First and Washington. The council also approved a general expression of support for the idea of constructing a greenway in the Allen Creek corridor.
The council also approved revisions to the proposed Burton Commons housing development, located on Burton Road near Packard and US-23. And receiving initial approval were changes to the boundaries for the city’s five wards.
Highlights of council communications came from Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). Smith alerted her colleagues to possible legislation she’d be bringing forward in the future that would restrict video surveillance. Kunselman announced that he would eventually be bringing forward possible revisions to the city’s ordinance that governs how its downtown development authority operates.
A highlight from public commentary was praise heaped upon the Ann Arbor police chief, Barnett Jones, by a representative of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR).
One summer, Lea Detlefs spent her time going to a mixed martial arts gym where the rest of the clients were male. She recalls an atmosphere of homophobia. They blasted music with lyrics she found sexist. But she never complained.
“I was afraid to speak up,” Detlefs said. “I couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
Detlefs – a facilitator from CommonGround, part of the University of Michigan’s social justice education program Intergroup Relations – shared that anecdote with a group of students as an example of how sex, among other things, can put up invisible walls between people. The students had gathered at the UM Alumni Center to identify, discuss and break down those barriers artistically as part of the University Musical Society’s Freedom Without Walls project.
The idea for Freedom Without Walls started with one partition in particular: the Berlin Wall. In November 1989, Germans took sledgehammers to the wall dividing their capital. Now, in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the Wall’s fall, as well as of the UMS presentation of the Berlin Philharmonic on Nov. 17, students will design public art installations meant to tear down the less visible walls that still exist in their southeastern Michigan communities.
“We live with your art every day of our lives,” Shary Brown told a group of artists from the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, “and that’s a tremendous gift you bring to us.”
There was lots of mutual affection at an awards breakfast on Thursday morning for artists and staff – a breakfast which included possibly the largest bowls of hard-boiled eggs in town. Brown praised the people who sweat the details for this four-day cultural marathon, but this year the awards event also included an emotional send-off for Brown herself, who is stepping down from the role of executive director this year.
“Not only in this show, but in our industry as a whole, Shary’s been a big influence,” said artist Dale Rayburn, as he presented Brown with a bouquet of fresh flowers, an album of cards and a “wad of cash” collected from artists.
By the time The Chronicle arrived at the Ann Arbor Art Center’s studios at 220 Felch St. on Wednesday afternoon, it was less than 24 hours after the center had made its “free stuff” posting on Freecycle and Craiglist – but much of the initial batch of furniture set outside the building had already been picked over.
Inside, quite a bit remains, including ceramic molds, low-fire glazes, unclaimed finished pottery and other items. And over the next few days, they’ll be setting out more furniture for the taking, too.
The center sold its 11,000-square-foot building to ICON Creative Technologies earlier this year, and is consolidating at its 117 W. Liberty location. Taking a break from packing, ceramics studio manager Suzanne Poulton told us the new studio space at the Liberty Street building is about half the size of the Felch Street property, so they need to unload quite a bit. For anyone interested in picking up some deals, the Felch studios will be open from 1-8 p.m. every day this week.
Bill and Matt Ransom clearly are experts and take their work seriously, but there was plenty of good-natured ribbing between the father and son when The Chronicle peeked into their cloistered workspace on the 8th floor elevator lobby of the University of Michigan Hospital. When Matt poked his father with a tape measure while Bill was slathering tile mud on the wall – Bill just kept on working.
The Ransoms were installing an 8×10-foot mural designed by Motawi Tileworks, one of 14 “Tile Quilts” – each one unique – that the hospital has commissioned from Motawi since 2005. It’s a project that started out small but has now become a signature part of the building, and a kind of artful wayfinding system for patients and visitors.
The Chronicle heard about the recent installations at an Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting, when commissioner Elaine Sims reported to the group that another set of murals was going up in January. Sims is director of the Gifts of Art program at the University of Michigan Health System, which is responsible for the project.
It could be a little unnerving being watched by a few dozen over-sized papier-mâché creatures, but luckily The Chronicle was not alone: Saturday’s FestiFools open house drew more than 100 people to its studio across from Crisler Arena, a cavernous room scented with the odd yet not unpleasant mixture of glue and pancake batter.
The two-hour pancake breakfast event was a thank you to volunteers, and a preview of work being done for the third annual FestiFools parade, held this year on Sunday, April 5.
A bewigged Mark Tucker, who partnered with Shoshana Hurand in 2006 for the first FestiFools parade, said the group had recently been told by the University of Michigan that they could have the room as a permanent site – good news, since their first location was a garage on Felch Street, and they’d previously been told by UM that this space in the Campus Security Services Building was temporary
Photographing artists setting up their installations for the next Gallery Project show seemed like exactly the right thing to do, given that the exhibit is all about places where you can pose and be photographed. On Monday, Myra Klarman was the photographer and The Chronicle tagged along to hear a bit more about “Step Right Up!” – a fundraiser for the nonprofit gallery with an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 12.
Several artists were working in the gallery when The Chronicle arrived. …
Many readers of Teeter Talk will have surely seen Yourist Pottery Gallery’s sign from the Plymouth Road side as they’ve headed into or out of Ann Arbor across Broadway Bridge. A smaller number will have seen the signage from the more lightly traveled Broadway Street side. And some readers will have also seen the place from the inside. Last Friday, I took the totter to the potter: Kay Yourist.
Navigating a 12-foot long board amongst some really pretty pottery is not for the faint of heart. But we managed to do it without wrecking the place, preserving the perfect safety record of the totter to date.
Skeptics who think I must have busted a pot or two are invited to verify for themselves that the floor is not littered with shards of broken pots–when Yourist Pottery hosts its annual holiday sale. The opening reception for that (including wine and appetizers) is Friday, 5 December from 6pm-9pm.