The fountain is dry. Any explanation? [photo]
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Oct. 24, 2012): After three public forums held earlier this month as part of a new community outreach effort, AAPAC members got an update on those meetings and talked about how to increase participation.
Turnout was lower than hoped – as only one resident attended the meeting held on Oct. 22 at Clague Middle School, though about 10 people came to a forum at Bryant Community Center the previous week. A fourth event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Open @Mack cafeteria, 920 Miller Ave.
John Kotarski, who had attended all the forums, felt the events had achieved their purpose of achieving a presence in the community, and introducing residents to different kinds of public art. Bob Miller advocated adding an online element for soliciting more input. Commissioners discussed the possibility of using the city’s new A2 Open City Hall, a blog-type feature that allows people to get information and give feedback on specific projects.
Commissioners took action on other projects, voting to approve a $910 budget for the dedication of a new mural at Allmendinger Park – an event to take place on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 2-4 p.m. The mural was designed by Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals, incorporating artwork and found objects from the community.
Also approved was the location of a sign for the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture in front of city hall, though there was concern about the placement of a fence there. The city has decided to put the mesh metal fence on a section of the pedestrian bridge overlooking the sculpture. Some commissioners are frustrated that this safety issue wasn’t raised earlier, when it might have been addressed by the sculptor as part of the site design. Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, noted that Dreiseitl intended people to interact with the water that runs down from the fountain. “What’s driving this process – the aesthetics of the piece or risk management?” she asked. She ultimately abstained from the vote, stating ”I want to go on the record of being ornery about this.” It was approved by all other commissioners present at the meeting.
Commissioners were also updated on a range of other projects that are in various stages of development. The process has begun for soliciting artists for work at the East Stadium bridge and for an ongoing mural program. The deadlines for submitting statements of qualifications (SOQs) are in November. Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, expects to post another SOQ – for artwork at Argo Cascades – next month. And legal staff is reviewing a request for proposals (RFP) for art at a rain garden being built at Kingsley and First.
Seagraves also reported that installation of a $150,000 hanging glass sculpture at the Justice Center lobby will be delayed a few months, until March or April of 2013. Fabricators selected by the artist Ed Carpenter aren’t available to do the work as soon as expected.
Another potential project emerged during the meeting. Chamberlin noted that the city has about 100 old aluminum canoes that it’s planning to get rid of. She said that Cheryl Saam, facilities supervisor for the city’s canoe liveries, had raised the possibility of using the canoes for some kind of community art project. After getting feedback from other commissioners that this is an idea worth pursuing, Chamberlin said she’d work up a more formal proposal for consideration at a future meeting.
As part of the Oct. 24 meeting packet, AAPAC got a budget update of Percent for Art funds, showing a balance of $1.533 million. Of that, $847,104 has been earmarked for previously approved projects, leaving about $686,000 unallocated. [.pdf of budget summary]
One notable topic was not discussed at the meeting – a public art millage that’s on the Nov. 6 ballot. Several commissioners are involved in advocating for the millage, but have taken a conservative approach to dealing with it during their regular business, and AAPAC meetings have not included discussion on the topic since the August 28, 2012 meeting. That approach stands in contrast to a recent park advisory commission meeting, when one of the park commissioners spoke during public commentary to urge support for the parks millage renewal.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (July 25, 2012): A push for greater public engagement was a theme throughout the July AAPAC meeting, with John Kotarski – one of the newer commissioners – proposing several ways to get more public input.
At Kotarski’s suggestion, commissioners considered three items related to AAPAC meetings: (1) adding a second opportunity for public commentary; (2) changing its meeting times; and (3) alternating the locations of its meetings. Kotarski also raised the possibility of recording the proceedings to be broadcast on Community Television Network (CTN).
The additional public commentary – offering speakers a second three-minute slot at the end of each meeting – was ultimately approved. Less enthusiasm was expressed for pushing back meeting times to later in the day. AAPAC meetings currently start at 4:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month, and are held in the basement conference room at city hall. Kotarski proposed moving the meetings to different locations throughout the city, such as schools or other public sites, to make it easier for more people to attend. Commissioners had reservations about that idea too, nor was there much support voiced for a suggestion to record the meetings for broadcast by CTN. Kotarski plans to bring a specific proposal on these items to an upcoming meeting.
Another proposal by Kotarski – to include support for local sourcing as part of AAPAC’s strategic plan – was rejected by other commissioners. Some commissioners felt the idea didn’t fit into a strategic plan, because it was not an action item. Others questioned whether local sourcing of art projects was within AAPAC’s purview, because the commission doesn’t have authority over the city’s purchasing policies. They’ve also been advised that they can’t put geographic constraints on their selection of artists, and felt this would apply to sourcing, too.
Ultimately a four-year strategic plan was approved without Kotarski’s revision. The plan’s goals, in summary form, are: (1) increasing the number of public art pieces throughout the city; (2) diversifying the public engagement and participation in selecting public art; (3) increasing the public’s support and appreciation for public art through PR efforts; and (5) pursuing private funding for public art. More detailed objectives are provided for each of the goals.
Kotarski also was unsuccessful in convincing other commissioners to support an endorsement policy for non-city-funded art projects. AAPAC passed a resolution stating that the commission would not make endorsements – and Kotarski cast the lone dissenting vote. In a separate item, Kotarski joined his colleagues in a unanimous vote to establish an SOQ (statement of qualifications) process that creates an artist registry/database. The intent is to streamline the selection of artists for future projects.
During the July 25 meeting, commissioners were updated on several ongoing projects, including a follow-up on concerns raised last month about the Dreiseitl installation in front of city hall, artwork at a planned rain garden at Kingsley & First, and the status of security checkpoints allowing access to a hanging sculpture in the Justice Center lobby.
There were no updates for some projects because those projects are still being reviewed by the city attorney’s office. Several commissioners expressed frustration at the length of time these reviews are taking. One commissioner wondered what tools AAPAC can use to influence the process, perhaps by appealing to another level within the city administration. AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin agreed to draft a letter on the issue, and to discuss it with city councilmember Tony Derezinski, who serves on the commission but has not attended its June or July monthly meetings.
Action was deferred on proposed projects for public art at two locations: (1) a plaza next to the Forest Avenue parking structure near South University; and (2) a future roundabout at Ellsworth and South State. Commissioners wanted more time to visit those sites. They also debated whether to postpone action until task forces are formed to represent four quadrants of the city – it’s part of a new approach they’re planning to take to help guide the selection of projects and ensure that all parts of the city are represented.
The commission is likely to get more advance notice of possible projects, as Aaron Seagraves – the city’s public art administrator – will now be attending meetings of the capital improvements plan (CIP) team. The CIP is relevant to the art commission because funding for the Percent for Art program comes from the city’s capital projects – with 1% of each capital project, up to a cap of $250,000 per project, being set aside for public art. The CIP also indicates which major projects are on the horizon that might incorporate public art. By identifying such projects, AAPAC can start planning the public art component as early as possible, as part of the project’s design, rather than as an add-on.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (June 27, 2012): A written report from the public art administrator – explaining why there’s been no water in the Dreiseitl sculpture in front of city hall – led to a broader discussion at AAPAC’s June meeting about that signature piece of public art.
Commissioned by the city from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl and dedicated in October of 2011, the work was designed to use rainwater collected from the roofs of city hall and the adjacent Justice Center. But water has flowed through the fountain only sporadically. The original water pumps clogged and malfunctioned, and are being replaced with a new pump. Yet even when that new pump is functioning, the two tanks, which can hold a total of 2,300 gallons of water are currently dry, and no water is available at this point to run through the sculpture.
Saying that people have asked him why the fountain isn’t working, commissioner John Kotarski asked whether Dreiseitl intended the sculpture to reflect the seasonal rain cycle. Kotarski said he previously hadn’t heard that narrative applied to the sculpture, until it was mentioned in the report by Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator. Kotarski was appointed to AAPAC well after the sculpture was approved.
Cathy Gendron, who was serving on AAPAC when the project was recommended for approval in 2009, said her expectation had been that water would be a standard part of the piece. She wondered whether something had changed during the engineering process. She noted that it was the first project undertaken by the commission after its formation as part of the city’s Percent for Art program. [It is also the city's largest public art expenditure to date, costing over $750,000.]
Kotarski praised the project, calling Dreiseitl a world-renowned sculptor and noting that Ann Arbor now has something in its public art collection that other cities would love to have. But he called for a full report of the project ”with all of its glory and all of its warts,” so that AAPAC could find out and learn from what has happened.
Commissioners agreed to compile a list of questions to be forwarded to the project’s design team. There was no formal action taken regarding the kind of report that Kotarski requested.
Later in the meeting, commissioners did take action on two items related to AAPAC’s mural program: (1) approval of the final design for a mixed-media mural at Allmendinger Park; and (2) approval of a statement of qualifications (SOQ) to seek potential artists for future murals.
Also at the June 27 meeting, AAPAC vice chair Malverne Winborne made a strategic planning proposal that he had first floated at the commission’s retreat in February. The idea is to approach a plan for public art by looking at quadrants of the city, to help guide the selection of projects and ensure that all parts of the city are represented. Commissioners were supportive of the general concept, but ultimately tabled the item for further discussion at their July 25 meeting.
Two other items were tabled until that July meeting: (1) a discussion on a possible endorsement policy for privately funded art projects; and (2) action on two new proposed public art projects, at the Forest Avenue Plaza in the South University area, and at the future roundabout at South State and Ellsworth.
Commissioners also discussed plans for AAPAC’s participation in the July 16 Townie Street Party. The event is hosted by the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair as a kickoff to the annual art fairs, which run this year from July 18-21. AAPAC has a table in the “Creative Connections” tent. Hannah Nathans, a University of Michigan student intern with the city, has painted a five-foot-tall poster evoking a well-known mural on East Liberty Street by Richard Wolk. It’s intended to be an interactive feature – people can poke their faces through cut-out holes and get their pictures taken.
Ann Arbor public art commission (Sept. 28, 2011): Commissioners spent a portion of their monthly meeting discussing details of the Oct. 4 dedication of Herbert Dreiseitl’s bronze sculpture, the city’s largest public art project to date funded from the Percent for Art program.
The installation was still underway – blue glass lights embedded in the elongated metal panel hadn’t been wired, and water wasn’t yet flowing over the sculpture. But those elements are expected to be in place by Tuesday evening, when the German artist will be among those gathering on the plaza in front of city hall for the dedication ceremony. [Dreiseitl and members of the design/fabrication team have been testing the lighting and water flow, but it will be formally "turned on" at the dedication ceremony.]
The Percent for Art program was also a topic of discussion at AAPAC’s Sept. 28 meeting, in light of recent proposed action by the city council. A council resolution sponsored by councilmember Sabra Briere – who attended AAPAC’s meeting but didn’t formally address the group – would explicitly exclude sidewalk and street repair from projects that could be tapped to fund public art. Briere’s proposal would also require that any money allocated for public art under the program be spent within three years, or be returned to its fund of origin. The council ultimately postponed action until their second meeting in November, following a working session on the Percent for Art program that’s scheduled for Nov. 14.
In the context of those possible changes, Margaret Parker made an impassioned plea for her fellow commissioners to increase their efforts at public outreach. Many people didn’t know about all the work that was being done through the Percent for Art program, she said. By not getting their message out, she cautioned, ”that can be the undoing of all the work that we’ve done.”
Updates on several projects were given during the meeting, and commissioners took one formal vote – giving approval to set up a task force that will select public art for the East Stadium bridges project. Other projects in the works include a mural at Allmendinger Park, artwork in the lobby of the new justice center, a possible partnership with the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Inside|Out program, and public art for a rain garden to be created at the corner of Kingsley and First.
Parker also made a pitch for a possible way to fund temporary art – such as performances or short-term exhibitions – that can’t be paid for by the Percent for Art program, as stipulated by city ordinance. Rather than describing it as temporary art, she said, perhaps AAPAC could characterize such temporary work as promotion for public art in general, or tie it to promotion of a permanent piece, like the Dreiseitl sculpture. There was no action taken on this idea, other than an apparent consensus to explore that possibility further.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Aug. 24, 2011): Briefly discussed at AAPAC’s August meeting was the possibility of increasing the number of members on the city’s public art commission – a move that would require amending Ann Arbor’s Percent for Art ordinance. Though commissioners expressed support for the idea, they ultimately tabled it in light of a possible upcoming city council working session on the public art program.
The working session has been discussed as potentially taking place on Sept. 12. But Tony Derezinski – a city councilmember who is AAPAC’s newest commissioner and who attended his first meeting on Wednesday – said he hoped to push back the commission’s presentation to the city council until a later date. [As of late Aug. 29, no city council working session has been scheduled on the city's Legistar system.]
Derezinski characterized it as an extremely important opportunity for AAPAC to convince the council of the value of the Percent for Art program, noting that he has defended it twice when other councilmembers previously proposed cutting it.
Margaret Parker, a local artist who’s served on AAPAC since its inception, suggested making the working session presentation after the formal dedication of Herbert Dreiseitl’s water sculpture in front of city hall – so councilmembers will first have the chance to “bask in some glory” of the program’s efforts, she said. The dedication is being planned for early October, to coincide with Dreiseitl’s next trip to Ann Arbor to oversee the sculpture’s installation.
The Dreiseitl work, costing more than $750,000, will be the second completed piece under the Percent for Art program, which was created in 2007. During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners also discussed the possibility of using public art funds to buy existing artwork, rather than only commissioning pieces, as they’ve done to date. Although Parker expressed some concerns, they agreed to explore this approach as a way to quicken the pace of public art acquisition.
Commissioners also discussed several projects that are in the formative stages, including artwork for the proposed Fuller Road Station, a mural for Allmendinger Park, and a possible artwalk along the Huron River. A previous recommendation for a mural along the Huron Parkway, near Huron Hills Golf Course, has been postponed, based on negative feedback from residents.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (July 27, 2011): For the second month in a row, Ann Arbor’s public art commission had too few members to achieve a quorum and didn’t take any action at Wednesday’s meeting. But commissioners discussed a range of projects already underway.
One issue: How to proceed with recommending a replacement for Jeff Meyers, who resigned from AAPAC in June, mid-way through his three-year term. The main concern among commissioners is who can take over leadership of a new mural program that Meyers had initiated. Margaret Parker indicated she’ll also be leaving the commission in the coming months, creating another vacancy on the nine-member commission.
The mayor, John Hieftje, is responsible for making nominations to AAPAC. Those nominations also require confirmation by the full city council. On Wednesday, AAPAC commissioners discussed the need for better communication with Hieftje, and said they hoped to find out what criteria he was using to make the selection – the most recent appointment Hieftje made to AAPAC was done without their input, after he rejected someone they’d recruited. Communication has also been lacking regarding Meyers’ resignation – in a phone interview with The Chronicle following AAPAC’s July meeting, Meyers said the mayor hasn’t acknowledged his resignation.
In other topics at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners briefly discussed a written update they’d received about the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture being built for the entrance to the municipal center. Installation is still on track for next month.
Also in August – at city council’s Aug. 4 meeting – winners of the annual Golden Paintbrush awards will be honored. AAPAC selected the winners, who are recognized for their contributions to public art, via an online poll last month. This year, winners are: (1) Krazy Jim’s Blimpie Burger, for the Snow Bears sculptures they build each winter in front of their business at Packard and South Division; (2) Mary Thiefels and Treetown Murals for the mural outside the Alley Bar along West Liberty; and (3) Peter Allen & Associates, for rock sculptures on North Main Street.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (June 22, 2011): With only four of their nine members present, the commission didn’t have a quorum for its monthly meeting – but no major votes were on the agenda, so the meeting consisted primarily of updates.
One of those updates included a report that Jeff Meyers, a commissioner who has launched a public mural program, no longer wants to take the lead in that effort. The pilot program has proposed creating murals at Allmendinger Park and on a retaining wall along Huron Parkway. Because of low turnout at two recent neighborhood forums about the murals, city staff now plan to post an online survey to solicit feedback about the locations.
The commission also got updates on several other projects, including a large water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl that’s on track for installation in August. Large bronze plates are being cast at a firm in Warren, Michigan, and site work is continuing in front of the municipal center, where the sculpture will be located.
The commission is also seeking members for a selection committee to choose additional artwork for the lobby of the justice center – the new building at Fifth and Huron that’s adjacent to city hall. (Together, the buildings are known in some circles as the “municipal center.”) A statement of qualifications/request for proposals for the lobby art has been issued, with a deadline for responses extended until Sept. 1. The previous May 31 deadline did not yield sufficient responses for the project, which has an artist’s budget of up to $150,000.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (May 25, 2011): Wednesday’s AAPAC meeting began with introductions – commissioners were meeting the city’s new public art administrator, Aaron Seagraves, for the first time.
Seagraves, who started his job earlier this month, had already attended a neighborhood forum for a proposed mural project at Allmendinger Park – five residents showed up, he reported.
That low attendance reflected one theme touching several topics throughout this month’s AAPAC meeting – the need to get the word out about various public art projects. Three nominations had been received so far for the annual Golden Paintbrush awards, with a deadline of May 30. And only two people had responded to a request seeking artists for public art in the lobby of the city’s new municipal center, at the corner of Fifth and Huron. A deadline for submission has been extended through mid-July, in hopes that additional artists will respond.
Commissioners also got updates on the Herbert Dreiseitl sculpture – expected to be installed in front of the renovated city hall in August – and on plans for public art in the proposed Fuller Road Station. Though Fuller Road Station hasn’t been formally approved, a task force is working on placing public art at the structure. The station will be a large parking facility, bus depot and possible train station that would be jointly built by the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan.
Finally, commissioners wrapped up the meeting with their only action item: Electing Malverne Winborne as vice chair.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (April 27, 2011): Commissioners were taken aback at their April meeting when told by city staff that a mural program – one that’s been in the works for months – might need to be delayed.
At issue was the fact that the 2011 annual public art plan, which includes the mural pilot program, was never officially approved by Ann Arbor city council. Though the plan was approved last year by AAPAC and forwarded to city staff, it was never placed on council’s agenda.
Some commissioners questioned whether approval of the plan is needed, noting that the West Park public art project – which was also in the 2011 plan – moved ahead and was actually completed last fall. Ultimately, it appears the mural program can move forward with plans to hold public meetings regarding proposed sites in Allmendinger Park and along Huron Parkway, but no contracts can be signed with artists until the council approves the newest annual plan – for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1. AAPAC approved that plan at the April 27 meeting.
In other business, the West Park art project was brought up again as a separate item of discussion – commissioners learned that the project had incurred $5,438 more in expenses than had been budgeted, because of unanticipated administrative costs.
The commission also got updates on: (1) the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture, which is expected to be installed in front of the municipal center in August; and (2) public art being planned for the proposed Fuller Road Station.
Commissioners also discussed promoting the annual Golden Paintbrush awards – nominations are being sought to recognize local contributions to public art. Nomination forms can be downloaded from AAPAC’s website, and are due May 30.
In its final action of the meeting, AAPAC elected Marsha Chamberlin as chair, though she did not attend the meeting. She has served as acting chair for several months, and had agreed to step into the permanent role.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Nov. 15, 2010): On Monday, the council postponed action on some major policy questions, but approved six water-related items.
The council approved a $1,168,170 bypass around the Argo dam that will take the place of the current headrace, which is separated from the Huron River by an earthen embankment. The bypass will eliminate the portage currently required by canoeists. It would also allow the city to comply with the consent order it has with the state of Michigan that requires the city to address the repair of toe drains in the embankment.
Another item – on the funding of dam maintenance – was in its original form related more closely to the Argo bypass than in its amended version. The council approved a resolution that directed the city administrator to end the payment for repairs, maintenance and insurance of Argo and Geddes dams from the city’s drinking water fund. The shift in dam activity funding will be effective with the start of fiscal year 2012, which is July 1, 2011. An amendment to the original resolution, however, had the impact of leaving intact a previously budgeted $300,000 from the drinking water fund for possible construction of the Argo bypass.
The third water-themed agenda item approved by the council was $553,320 for fabrication of a piece of exterior art – a fountain-like sculpture – that had been commissioned from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl for the new municipal center. Dissenting votes were cast by Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4).
The council also approved the receipt of a $216,723 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for the purchase and demolition the structures at 215 and 219 W. Kingsley Street, which are located in the Allen Creek floodway. The area is subject to flooding during heavy rainstorms. The site will be modified in a way to create a small stormwater retention area, with $72,241 in city funds for the project to be drawn from the stormwater capital budget.
The council approved a drainage easement related to the new underground parking structure being constructed on Fifth Avenue. A final item related to water – in its frozen form – was an authorization to treat the Big Chill hockey game on Dec. 11 the same way that football Saturdays are treated, with respect to vending and parking near Michigan Stadium.
Among the postponed items was a modification to the zoning code to regulate medical marijuana facilities. In conjunction with that postponement, the council also extended a moratorium on the use of facilities for dispensing or cultivating marijuana for 60 days – until Jan. 31, 2011. At the council’s Dec. 6 meeting, it will give initial consideration to a licensing requirement for medical marijuana facilities. Then at its Dec. 20 meeting, it will give final consideration to both the zoning regulations and the licensing proposal.
Also among the postponed items was the conversion of the city’s composting facility to a merchant operation, which would offer a contract to WeCare Organics, a New York-based firm. The proposal on the compost operation will come back to the council at its Dec. 6 meeting. The council also postponed for a third time revisions to the city’s area, height and placement zoning regulations. For another zoning-related item, the council extended a deadline from Dec. 6, 2010 to Feb. 22, 2011 for the design guidelines task force to complete its work.
In other action, the 15th District Court judges will now have a place to sit in the new municipal court facility. A previously twice-postponed item to authorize a budget revision of up to $160,000 to purchase furniture for the court was approved. The dollar amount was reduced to about half that figure, after the court was asked to produce an itemized list of the furniture it intended to buy.
The council also entertained a customary range of public commentary and communications from its own ranks.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Nov. 9, 2010): At a meeting lasting just over three hours, AAPAC commissioners approved a pilot program that aims to add at least two murals per year throughout the city.
Commissioners also discussed how to publicize AAPAC’s first completed project funded by the Percent for Art program: two metal tree sculptures by artist Traven Pelletier, installed at the renovated West Park. A formal recognition of the project is expected to occur in connection with the park’s official re-opening, sometime in the spring of 2011.
There was also discussion about how to pay for repairs of the Sun Dragon, a sculpture at Fuller Pool by AAPAC chair Margaret Parker that was damaged several months ago by maintenance workers. At the suggestion of Sue McCormick, the city’s public services administrator, AAPAC could consider the project as an “asset renewal” – meaning they could treat it as a new project, which would make it eligible for funding under the city’s Percent for Art program. [The Percent for Art program captures 1% from the budget of all city capital projects, to be set aside for public art.] One commissioner jokingly referred to the asset renewal approach as “creative financing.”
AAPAC chair Margaret Parker reported that the final $553,320 funding request for the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture outside of the new municipal center would be voted on by Ann Arbor city council at their Nov. 15 meeting. A task force is working on recommendations for additional artwork inside the new building, with a $250,000 budget. The commission discussed how that might include a venue for displaying temporary installations, like the oversized puppets created for FestiFools, an annual street festival held in April.
The commission discussed how to handle donations of art to the city, in response to a recent gift to the mayor and city council from the Ann Arbor Summer Festival of a large photograph of the event by local photographer Myra Klarman. AAPAC also got updates on the hiring process for a new public art administrator, as well as proposed changes to its website.
This was the first meeting attended by AAPAC’s newest commissioner, Malverne Winborne, who was confirmed by city council in October. Winborne is director of Eastern Michigan University’s Charter Schools Office.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Oct. 12, 2010): In a meeting notable for its brevity – lasting one hour, or about a third as long as typical AAPAC monthly meetings – commissioners got updates on several projects, including the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture at the municipal center and a new public art installation at West Park.
The West Park project is expected to be installed later this month, as part of a major overhaul of the park that’s still in progress. The artwork by Traven Pelletier of Lotus Gardenscapes includes two metal trees that will bookend one of the seat walls facing the park’s bandshell. According to a budget summary distributed at Tuesday’s meeting, the project cost $12,375.
As for Dreiseitl’s piece, the bids from fabricators who’ll actually build the sculpture came in over budget, so to cut costs it will now be made of bronze rather than weathering steel. Quinn Evans Architects, the Ann Arbor firm that’s overseeing the project on contract with the city, also has suggested creating a $12,180 contingency – above the $737,820 budget that city council has approved – to cover potential, additional unbudgeted costs.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Cathy Gendron announced plans to revamp AAPAC’s page on the city’s website, and said that the public relations committee decided not to renew the URL for its external website – annarborpublicart.org – which had been maintained by a volunteer. That site is now defunct. Commissioner Elaine Sims noted that the University of Michigan recently launched a website for its public art efforts, and wondered if AAPAC’s page could contain similar elements. “It’s a wonderful site, but we just can’t do that,” Gendron said, adding that they’re constrained by the template used by the city. They can be more flexible on AAPAC’s Facebook page, she added.
There was some discussion about recruiting new commissioners, and it was noted that mayor John Hieftje recently made a nomination to fill an AAPAC vacancy – not all commissioners had been aware of this action. Though he wasn’t mentioned by name during Tuesday’s meeting, that nominee is Malverne Winborne, director of Eastern Michigan University’s Charter Schools Office, with a background in organizational development. The city council is expected to vote on his appointment at their Oct. 18 meeting. AAPAC will have an additional vacancy when Jim Curtis resigns – he announced his intent to step down in July and has stopped attending meetings, but hasn’t yet officially resigned.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Aug. 10, 2010): Ten minutes past the starting time of Tuesday’s art commission meeting, a fourth commissioner walked in – and a quorum was reached. “So this is the jolly crew!” AAPAC chair Margaret Parker declared.
“It’s August,” commissioner Cathy Gendron noted. “August is always like this.”
The four commissioners were joined by Ken Clein of Quinn Evans Architects, who came to give an update on the large water sculpture commissioned from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, to be located outside the city’s new municipal center. Clein also provided a revised, lower budget for a proposed interior piece by Dreiseitl – a work that commissioners ultimately voted to reject. At last month’s meeting, they had voted against another interior Dreiseitl piece as well.
Instead, AAPAC is directing its task force for the municipal center to revisit other public art options, with a proposed budget of $250,000. That’s in addition to the cost for Dreiseitl’s water sculpture and related expenses, which are approaching $1 million.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (July 13, 2010): A significant increase in cost and several design issues resulted in rejection by AAPAC of one art installation proposed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, and the postponement of another. The votes followed an animated discussion on the proposals.
Commissioners voted to postpone a proposal for artwork in the lobby of the city’s new municipal center – the artwork has a budget of $141,218. They plan to ask Dreiseitl to cap the project at $75,000. With dissent from chair Margaret Parker, they rejected a work proposed for the center’s atrium, with a budget of $73,806, citing concerns over the cost, design and durability of the material.
In other business, the group got an update on their involvement in the proposed Fuller Road Station, with commissioner Cathy Gendron reporting that the project architects have already selected the location, materials and theme for public art on the parking structure and transit facility. “I had no idea that things were so far along at this project,” she said.
And a vote to allocate funds for repair of the Sun Dragon Sculpture at Fuller Pool prompted a broader discussion on how to handle maintenance costs for public art.
Some organizational changes are in the works, too. Commissioner Jim Curtis announced plans to step down at the end of 2010, to devote more time as a board member for the startup Ann Arbor Main Street Business Improvement Zone (BIZ). AAPAC will be recruiting a replacement for him. And Katherine Talcott, who has served as the part-time public art administrator, has signed a new one-year contract with the city – in the role of an art project manager. She’ll be handling the Dreiseitl project, Fuller Road Station and other projects that are assigned to her by Sue McCormick, the city’s public services administrator. The job of public art administrator is being restructured, and has not yet been filled.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (June 8, 2010): With some members expressing frustration at the lack of response from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, the city’s public art commission set a deadline for him to provide information about two interior art installations proposed for the city’s new police/courts facility. AAPAC first asked for the information, including a revised budget estimate, in October 2009.
Also at their Tuesday meeting, commissioners voted on the annual Golden Paintbrush awards, recognizing contributions to art in public places. Winners this year are Abracadabra Jewelry on East Liberty, the University of Michigan Health System, and Tamara Real, president of the Arts Alliance.
The group also discussed how to publicize a public open house set for Wednesday, June 23 from 6-8 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. The event will include a talk by Chrisstina Hamilton, director of visitors’ programs for the UM School of Art & Design who also runs the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speakers Series.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by Lee Doyle, who might be joining the commission. She’s chief of staff for the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Communications and a member of the UM President’s Advisory Committee for Public Art. Doyle is also a founder of the university’s Arts on Earth program, and oversees the UM Film Office. To serve on AAPAC, she would need to be nominated by mayor John Hieftje and confirmed by the city council.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (May 11, 2010): The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission touched on several projects at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, including plans for a June 23 open house, responses to an online survey, and the decision not to accept a bronze horse sculpture that’s been offered as a gift to the city.
The group discussed another sculpture – the Sun Dragon, designed by AAPAC chair Margaret Parker and located at Fuller Pool – which was damaged during recent repair work. The hope is to restore the piece before the pool opens on May 29.
Parker reported that Herbert Dreiseitl was in town last month and used bamboo poles to build a temporary full-scale mock-up of the large water sculpture that’s commissioned for the exterior of the new police/courts building on Fifth and Huron. But the German artist still hasn’t provided additional information regarding two interior pieces for the building, prompting one commissioner to ask, “He’s lost interest, maybe?”
And in reporting on a potential new member to the commission – Lee Doyle, who’s director of the UM Film Office – commissioner Elaine Sims noted that Pierce Brosnan will be making art in public (shooting a film) outside the Law Quad on the afternoon of May 18. The actor is part of the cast for Salvation Boulevard, which is already in town shooting at various sites on campus.
Much of the meeting dealt with more prosaic topics, however: governance, planning and PR.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (April 13, 2010): After several months of discussion, the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission has set June 23 as the date for a public forum, though the format for the event hasn’t yet been determined.
At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, commissioners also discussed the need to publicize two projects: 1) an online survey seeking citizen input about public art, and 2) nominations for the annual Golden Paintbrush awards, which honor contributions to public art. A nomination form can be downloaded from AAPAC’s website.
Commissioners got updates on several public art projects in the works, discussed an upcoming retreat planned for May 12, and approved an annual planning process. They continue to await a response from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, who was scheduled to come to Ann Arbor last week to work on his water sculpture for the municipal center, but was not planning to meet with AAPAC while he was here.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (March 9, 2010): AAPAC commissioners moved ahead on several projects during their Tuesday meeting, selecting an artist for a public art project in West Park, refining an online survey to get feedback from the public, and reviewing a gift policy for people who want to donate artwork to the city.
There’s still no word from Herbert Dreiseitl, the German artist who’s been commissioned to construct a water sculpture in front of the new municipal center at Huron and Fifth. The city has been trying to contact him about two interior pieces for the building. Katherine Talcott, the city’s public art administrator, reported that he might be coming to town in mid-April to work on the larger project, which is budgeted for nearly $740,000.
In other business, commissioners approved a set of AAPAC guidelines that have been under review – mostly by the city attorney’s office – for nearly two years.
The group also hashed out some issues related to a partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. As part of its Fifth and Division street improvements, the DDA has set aside about $60,000 to spend on public art at Hanover Park, at the corner of Packard and Division. They’re asking the art commission to take the lead on that project.