Stories indexed with the term ‘artists’

A2: Pillbug Designs

Local artist Missy Orge of Pillbug Designs is featured on the Martha Stewart Living website, with a Q&A and photos of her work – including “ornithologically correct” bird pants and bird socks: Orge describes her epiphany about becoming an artist: “…when complete strangers began buying my pieces, and the reaction in general was so overwhelmingly positive, I realized that art can be funny and cheerful and nonsensical. It doesn’t have to make a statement or break your heart or change your mind.” [Source]

Ypsi: Shadow Art Fair

Mark Maynard has announced that this year’s July 20 Shadow Art Fair in Ypsilanti will be the last. He writes: “Yes, after discussing this eventuality for the past several years, my fellow organizers and I have finally come to a consensus and decided to invoke the nuclear option. It’s been a hell of a run, but, like old Ben Kenobi, we’ve decided that the time is right for us to step aside so that others might flourish in our absence, experiencing the full intensity of the force, which has motivated us these past several years, for themselves.” The fair runs from noon to midnight at the Corner Brewery. [Source]

Column: Good News for Book Artists

A group of people in this city care so much about the art of making books that they’ve launched a center dedicated to it, one that will pass down an artistic tradition while incorporating cutting-edge technologies to widen its boundaries.

Jim Horton, boundedition, bookmaking, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Printmaker Jim Horton at the boundedition studio on May 16 with his Chandler & Price letterpress, made in Cleveland in the 1930s.

Its founders call boundedition a “member-based community resource for the preservation, practice and expansion of the book and paper arts.” They call themselves its managing members: bookseller Gene Alloway, book artist Barbara Brown, graphic designer Laura Earle, printmaker Jim Horton, and product designer Tom Veling, a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer.

They were moved to act when Tom and Cindy Hollander announced last summer that Hollander’s School of Book and Paper Arts would close its doors after the spring 2013 session. The school operated on the lower level of the Hollander’s Kerrytown store for more than 10 years.

Brown, a longtime teacher of bookbinding classes at Hollander’s, reached out to fellow teacher Horton as well as Earle, Veling and others who met weekly at the open studio there. Serious discussions began in February, Horton says, when “we decided that what we’d done at Hollander’s was too good to give up.”

Earle, whose family has been involved with Ann Arbor’s Maker Works, was instrumental in finding a home for boundedition inside the member-based workshop at 3765 Plaza Drive. Maker Works’ managers were receptive to letting boundedition rent some space, and Brown says Earle, her husband and her son “pretty much built the office singlehandedly” – including a set of modular work tables that can be arranged according to the requirements of individual classes.

Brown credits Earle’s energy and determination for the speed with which boundedition took shape. “It would have happened,” she said, “but Laura made it happen now instead of later.”

Ann Arbor’s community of book artists and book lovers got a chance to look around at a May 16 curtain raiser. Tom and Cindy Hollander were in attendance; Horton reports that they’ve given boundedition “a thumbs up” and Brown says “Tom has really been very supportive.”

An open house is coming up on Sunday, June 2, from 1-6 p.m. “The whole community is invited to come out to see the space,” Horton says, “to sign up for classes, to let us know if they’re interested in teaching classes.” [Full Story]

Art Commission Drafts Artist Selection Form

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (March 1, 2011): Marsha Chamberlin chaired AAPAC’s March meeting, and began by welcoming guests: Six students from Skyline High School, who were there for a class assignment, and Susan Froelich, the new president of the Arts Alliance.

Susan Froelich

Susan Froelich, the new president of the Ann Arbor-based Arts Alliance, at the March 1, 2011 meeting of the Ann Arbor public art commission. She was appointed in late February and replaces former president Tamara Real, who resigned last year. (Photo by the writer.)

Froelich – who was a member and former chair of AAPAC’s predecessor group, the commission for art in public places – told commissioners she was just there to say hello, and that the alliance looked forward to working with AAPAC. She passed out bookmarks promoting the A3Arts web portal, which launched last year and features profiles of artists and institutions in the area, along with an events calendar and other information. Finally, Froelich thanked commissioners for their work.

During the meeting, commissioners approved spending up to $2,000 to get an evaluation of the damaged Sun Dragon at Fuller Pool, and to secure a cost estimate for repair or replacement. Margaret Parker, an AAPAC member and the artist who originally designed the colored-plexiglas sculpture, recused herself from that discussion.

Commissioners also discussed a draft of an artist evaluation rubric and interview protocol, and debated whether local artists should be given extra points in the process. Also debated was the definition of local – they plan to continue the discussion at their next meeting.

Nomination forms for the annual Golden Paintbrush awards are now available from AAPAC’s website, with a May 2 deadline for submission. The awards are given to individuals and institutions for their contributions to public art in Ann Arbor.

Scheduling came up in several different ways. A special meeting has been called to vote on site recommendations from AAPAC’s mural task force. That meeting is set for Friday, March 11 at 11 a.m. on the seventh floor of the City Center building at Fifth and Huron. Commissioners also discussed possibly changing their monthly meeting day. It’s now set for the first Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m., but two commissioners have scheduling conflicts at that time. AAPAC’s newest member, Malverne Winborne, reported that he’d told mayor John Hieftje prior to his nomination that the meeting day would be difficult for him, but that had not been communicated to the rest of the commission. [Full Story]

Sculptor Tries to Weld City, University

A William Dennisuk sculpture in progress

A student stands next to the sculpture-in-progress by William Dennisuk, in the studio of the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. When finished, the piece made of bronze rods will be flipped – its base is at the top of the photo. (Photos by the writer.)

William Dennisuk is still waiting for the state to sign off on a public art installation that could dot a stretch of the Huron River with large vase-like sculptures. As he waits, he spends most of his days in a studio, hoping to complete the project before he returns to Finland later this year.

The Chronicle first met Dennisuk – a visiting artist and lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design – when he came to the October 2009 meeting of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission. He described his project, called Vessels, as a way to bring together the city and campus communities, and to raise awareness about how we interact with the natural world.

When The Chronicle dropped by the art school’s studio recently to get an update on the project, Dennisuk said that working through the required approval process took longer than expected. Also taking longer than projected was working through his own learning curve for some new techniques he’s trying with these sculptures.

Although he had hoped to install his artwork in April, now it looks like late May will be a more realistic goal. [Full Story]

In Search of Ann Arbor Artists: A Sojourn

The B.O.B.

An artist in a cherrypicker whitewashes the brick facade of The B.O.B. to prep for painting a mural there. The Big Old Building, known as the "Bob," will be an ArtPrize venue for more than 150 artists, including eight from Ann Arbor. (Photo by Dave Askins.)

Starting on Wednesday and running through Oct. 10, the city of Grand Rapids is turning itself into one huge urban art gallery. The concept is ArtPrize – an art competition open to anyone who wants to enter, at any location offered up as a venue, with a $250,000 top prize that’s awarded by people who actually visit the city and take the time to vote. Another $200,000 will be given out in smaller amounts, also based on votes.

It’s about as public as art can get.

The Chronicle has been covering Ann Arbor’s own public art initiatives, reporting on the monthly meetings of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission, which oversees the city’s Percent for Art program, and tracking the saga of German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, who’s being commissioned – for over $700,000 – to make three art installations at the new municipal center. So the question of how another city in Michigan is promoting public art was a natural one to pursue.

That led The Chronicle to Grand Rapids last weekend.

Over two dozen Ann Arbor area artists are among the 1,200 or more who’ve entered the ArtPrize competition. We hoped to observe artists setting up their work prior to Wednesday’s opening, and to motivate others to make the two-hour trip up I-96 to check out what happens when a city opens itself quite dramatically to art. Here’s a sampling of what we encountered. [Full Story]

“Forth From Its Hinges” Nearly Unhinged

One of the many notecards tacked to the inside of a large, cardboard room in the warehouse at the art show Forth From Its Hinges.

One of the many notecards tacked to the inside of a large, cardboard "room" in the warehouse at the art show Forth From Its Hinges. (Photo by the writer.)

On the opening day of the art show Forth From Its Hinges, the people putting on the show experienced what Steve Hall, one of the main organizers, called “a nightmare.”

The third annual Forth show, like the previous two, was set to take place in a warehouse on Plaza Drive, just off Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township. Hall explained that the organizers held it there with the permission of Jacob Haas, described in the show’s program as their “beloved landlord.”

Hall said they also routinely give the police a call to let them know the show is going on.

“Somehow, this year, word got to the building department and the fire department,” Hall said.

The good news: The show opened as scheduled – it runs through Sunday, July 26. But the saga of those hours prior to its opening is a nail-biter. [Full Story]

A Tearful, Tiara Farewell

Shary Brown, with gifts from her staff and artists of the Street Art Fair, at an awards breakfast on Thursday.

Shary Brown, with gifts from her staff and artists of the Street Art Fair, at an awards breakfast on Thursday. (Photo by the writer.)

“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. [Full Story]

See Ya Around, Shakey Jake


A wire sculpture of Jake Woods, better known as Shakey Jake, inside The Peaceable Kingdom at 210 S. Main Street.

Last week The Chronicle reported that Dream On Futon planned to close next month, and during our interview with owner Doreen Collins, she shared some memories from her nearly 15 years as a downtown Ann Arbor retailer. Among those were affectionate recollections – and several photos – of Jake Woods, better known as Shakey Jake.

She asked us if we’d seen the life-size wire sculpture of him. When we returned a blank look and said, “What?!” she filled us in.

First, some background: Jake died in September 2007. Then in his 80s, he’d been a fixture around town for decades, instantly recognizable in his shades, hat, suit and bow tie, often carrying or playing his beat-up guitar. Everyone wanted to say they knew Shakey Jake. He had his own “I Brake for Jake” bumper stickers. Hundreds showed up for his funeral at Muehlig Funeral Chapel, and many brought instruments that afterwards they played joyously in an impromptu parade in his honor.

Many knew of Jake, but few knew him well. Among those few were Collins and Carol Lopez, owner of the Peaceable Kingdom on South Main Street, around the corner from Dream On Futon. Collins wanted to pay tribute to her friend, and proposed to Lopez that they commission Stef Kopka to create a wire sculpture of Jake, just chilling, as he often did, in a white plastic lawn chair. [Full Story]

A New Constellation on State Street

Three of five pieces that form "Orion," a sculpture by Mark di Suvero installed Monday in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Three of five pieces that form "Orion," a steel sculpture by Mark di Suvero that was installed Monday in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

The Chronicle understands that art can require heavy lifting, but usually that’s meant in a metaphorical sense. Not so on Monday, when workers hoisted 23,000 pounds of steel sculpture in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s new wing on South State Street.

The work being installed was “Orion” by artist Mark di Suvero. It’s the first of two large outdoor sculptures by di Suvero that will be on long-term loan to UMMA – the second, “Shang,” will go up later in the plaza between the old museum and its new building. [Full Story]

Art as a Political Force

Entrance to Saturday's Obama fundraiser.

Entrance to Saturday's fundraiser.

If you’re an artist who’s passionate about politics, and you’re looking to contribute in a concrete way to the presidential campaign, what do you do?

That was the question six local artists kicked around this summer. They’d been meeting as a critique group, but “being a bunch of liberal Democrats, we’d been talking politics, too,” says Leslie Sobel. As for that question, she says, “Well, the obvious answer is to sell art.”

So sell art they did. Saturday night’s Obama Art-O-Rama fundraiser featured a silent auction of donated work from more than 80 local artists. The event was held at the Ann Arbor home of Carl Rinne and Tamara Real, executive director of the Arts Alliance. Before a single piece of art had been sold, they were already halfway to their goal of $10,000. (An update from Sobel came a bit after midnight – their total reached $10,500 for the evening.)

[Full Story]