A Schlissel sighting! [new University of Michigan president] [photo]
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.
Giddy doesn’t begin to describe the first time I saw my byline in a newspaper – slobberingly gaga comes closer – and I’m anticipating a similar can’t-help-grinning-stupidly jolt when The Chronicle’s name goes up on the Michigan Theater marquee on Sunday.
As our publication grows, we’re looking for ways to let people know what we do. And we’re looking to do that in ways that make sense for us. For example, you probably won’t see us putting flyers on car windshields in the Walmart parking lot – unless, perhaps, we’re doing it as performance art. What’s more our speed? An ad in the program for Burns Park Players’ “Annie Get Your Gun” in February. I was pretty gaga over that, too.
But when I met with the Michigan Theater’s Lee Berry a few weeks ago over breakfast at the Broken Egg and he told me about the possibility of sponsoring the 1939 classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” – well, the fit seemed just about perfect.
Some Chronicle readers might know Mark Lincoln Braun (Mr. B) for his boogie woogie and blues piano playing – this year’s edition of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs (July 15-18) will mark the 30th year in a row he’s performed there.
This year he’ll also be performing at a children’s cake walk at the Townie Party (July 13) – an event hosted by the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair that has kicked off the fairs for the last four years.
Mr. B is also a cycling enthusiast.
So he’ll be arriving at the Townie Party by pedal power. And that’s how his 350-pound piano is getting there, too – on the back of his custom-made tricycle crafted by former Ann Arbor resident and frame builder Mark Nobilette.
The road to the Townie Party for the tricycle isn’t exactly going to be a spin around the block – it first heads to Flint, then to Lansing, back down to Chelsea and then to Ann Arbor.