Installation underway for large fish sculptures in this city rain garden, a project paid for by the now defunct Percent for Art program. [photo] Sculpture Joshua Wiener is working on site. [photo] Also here are Bob Miller and John Kotarski of the city’s public art commission, WEMU reporter Andy Cluley, landscape architect Patrick Judd of Conservation Design Forum, and Jerry Hancock, the city’s stormwater and floodplain programs coordinator. [photo] [photo]
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Aug. 28, 2013): The only major action item for public art commissioners was approval of Joshua Wiener’s design for artwork in a new rain garden at the southeast corner of First & Kingsley.
His proposal entails creating white metal images of five small mouth bass, in varying sizes, that appear to be emerging from the landscape and pointed toward the Huron River. Two of the sculptures will be large enough to serve as benches.
Because the artist’s contract of $23,380 is less than $25,000, it does not require city council approval. The sculptures would likely be installed during the spring of 2014.
Commissioners also received several updates during the meeting, and reviewed a new spreadsheet designed to track more effectively current and potential projects. [.xls file project tracker] Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, reported that a selection panel picked Catherine Widgery of Cambridge, Mass., as the artist for a major public art project on the East Stadium bridges in Ann Arbor. However, the panel is asking Widgery to revise her proposal before presenting it to AAPAC and the city council for approval. The project has a $400,000 total budget.
Other updates covered projects at Argo Cascades, the city’s wastewater treatment plant, Arbor Oaks Park, a memorial for Coleman Jewett at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, and the “Canoe Imagine Art” community project. Additional potential projects were mentioned, including possible artwork for the new bike share program and the public skatepark, which is now under construction at Veterans Memorial Park.
Commissioners also viewed a short video produced by Ashlee Arder, one of the newest members of AAPAC. The intent is to promote the commission and the city’s public art program. The video is already available on YouTube, and Arder plans to post it on the commission’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account, @AAPublicArt.
The meeting was attended by six of the seven commissioners, including Marsha Chamberlin, who participated via conference call. There are two vacancies on the nine-member commission. At the city council’s Aug. 19, 2013 meeting, Devon Akmon was nominated to fill one of the vacancies. Akmon is an Ann Arbor resident and the new director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. At its Sept. 3 meeting, the city council is expected to vote on Akmon’s confirmation to AAPAC .
No name has been put forward publicly for the second vacancy. One of the two vacancies resulted when Tony Derezinski was not reappointed. The other stemmed from Wiltrud Simbuerger’s resignation earlier this year. Her term would have ended Dec. 31, 2013.
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Nov. 30, 2011): At their final meeting before the city council convenes on Monday night (Dec. 5) to consider changes to Ann Arbor’s Percent for Art program, public art commissioners debated how to respond – particularly to a temporary funding cut – and expressed different views on what their role should be.
Former board chair Margaret Parker, who was instrumental in creating the Percent for Art program in 2007, argued passionately that commissioners should be strong advocates for it. Saying she didn’t believe councilmembers really understood the issues that AAPAC is facing and that the currently proposed changes represented an “incredible kink in the road,” she urged commissioners to attend Monday’s city council meeting and speak against the proposed changes during the public hearing.
Parker also argued that the council should double the budget for administrative support to public art projects – from 8% to 16%.
As she’s done in the past when the proposals to cut Percent for Art funding have been floated, Parker is trying to mobilize people in the local arts community. She has sent emails urging people to lobby councilmembers, including a bullet-point “fact sheet” related to the program. [.pdf of Parker email] [.pdf of "fact sheet"]
Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s current chair, questioned whether commissioners should “pick a fight” with city council, and said she felt that councilmembers did understand the issues clearly. Noting that she had attended previous council meetings and also communicated with councilmembers privately, Chamberlin wasn’t convinced that turning out yet again would be effective.
The councilmember who has in the past advised AAPAC about the sentiment on council – Tony Derezinski, who also serves on AAPAC – did not attend the Nov. 30 meeting.
Malverne Winborne pointed to political realities at play, and said that AAPAC needs to be realistic about the situation – other programs are being cut, too. If the council decides to get rid of AAPAC, he said he wouldn’t fight that. “Decommission me – what the hell,” he quipped.
In addition to an extended discussion on city council’s proposed changes to the Percent for Art ordinance, commissioners voted to move forward on two projects: (1) public art in a proposed rain garden at the corner of Kingsley and First, and (2) a partnership with the Detroit Institute of Art’s Inside|Out project, which involves installing framed reproductions from the DIA’s collection at outdoor locations on building facades or in parks.
Commissioners were also briefed on a range of other projects, including the latest on a mural at Allmendinger Park. A task force has selected four finalists for the $10,000 project: (1) Robert Delgado of Los Angeles, Calif.; (2) Bethany Kalk of Moorehead, Kentucky; (3) Jefferson Nelson of Liberty Center, Ohio; and (4) Mary Thiefels of Ann Arbor. The artists will submit preliminary concepts for potential murals on Dec. 8, and from those, the task force will recommend one for AAPAC and the city council to consider.
Commissioners also changed the date for AAPAC’s final meeting in December – to Dec. 13, when they’ll hold a follow-up discussion to their Oct. 26 working session. That October session, intended to prep AAPAC for its presentation at a Nov. 14 council work session – focused on challenges facing the Percent for Art program, and possible solutions.
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.
At its July 5, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved several water-related items.
The council approved a permeable surface alley project in the Burns Park Neighborhood – the alley connects Wells Street and Scott Court, running parallel to and between Lincoln Avenue and Martin Place. The porous pavement will allow rainwater to soak through the surface, reducing runoff. Money for the $121,139 contract with Audia Concrete Construction Inc. on the $200,000 project will come from the city’s stormwater capital budget. But that will be repaid as a loan from the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and will include 50% loan forgiveness. The use of stormwater funds on road construction was a practice that was criticized during the public hearing held at the council’s June 20, 2011 meeting, on the increase in stormwater rates.
The council also approved a $25,440 contract with Conservation Design Forum to design and construct a rain garden on the property at 215-219 W. Kingsley Street. The rain garden is meant to alleviate some of the flooding that occurs there during heavy rains. The parcel has drawn the curiosity of Chronicle readers due to its boarded-up house and the prodigious amounts of water that accumulate there during heavy rains. At its Nov. 15, 2010 meeting, the council accepted a FEMA grant that will help pay for the demolition of the structure to aid stormwater remediation efforts.
The council also approved a level-of-service study for its drinking water distribution system with AECOM. The outcome of the study will be a recommendation for a sustainable level of service for the city’s water distribution system, and determination of how much investment it would take to achieve that level. The study would also help the city decide, for example, which water mains should be replaced first. The council had tabled the resolution at its May 16, 2011 meeting after amending out a $10,550 contingency in the $208,984 contract. Later in that same meeting, at a session reconvened on May 31, the council took the item up off the table and postponed it until July 5.
In support of the study, city staff prepared additional documentation for the July 5 vote.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]