Meyers Resigns Ann Arbor Art Commission

Jeff Meyers, who was appointed to the Ann Arbor public art commission in early 2010, sent a formal notice of resignation last month to mayor John Hieftje, stepping down from AAPAC about mid-way through his three-year term. Meyers had been appointed in early 2010, with a term running through Dec. 31, 2013.  The news was discussed at the July 27, 2011 AAPAC meeting, as commissioners considered who might take over leadership of a task force for a new mural program that Meyers had initiated.

His resignation was foreshadowed at AAPAC’s June 2011 meeting, which he did not attend. AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin had told other commissioners that Meyers wanted to relinquish his leadership of the mural program – she said he felt like the project had stalled. That announcement prompted some commissioners to speculate on whether Meyers was still interested in serving on AAPAC, noting that he hadn’t attended a meeting since April. At previous meetings, Meyers – managing editor of the online magazines Concentrate and MetroMode – had expressed frustration about the program’s progress.

Meyers developed the pilot program as a way to generate more public art in the community. Funded by the city’s Percent for Art program, which AAPAC oversees, it was approved by AAPAC in November 2010, with the intent of creating at least two murals per year in the city. It has an estimated budget of $25,000 this year. Meyers formed a task force, which recommended two sites for the first murals: A building at Allmendinger Park, and a retaining wall along Huron Parkway. AAPAC approved those sites at a special meeting in March, but city staff later determined that the meeting hadn’t been properly noticed, so a second special meeting was called in April and the vote was retaken.

Then, city staff realized that AAPAC’s 2011 annual public art plan, which includes the mural program, hadn’t been 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. [See Chronicle coverage: "What's Ahead for Public Mural Program?"] The council formally received the plan at its June 20, 2011 meeting, when it approved the clerk’s report of communications, of which the plan was a part.

City staff also determined that neighborhood meetings were needed to get input on the sites – those meetings were held earlier this summer. But the city has not yet solicited proposals from artists for the murals, and it’s doubtful that the murals will be completed before winter arrives. Meyers had originally hoped to have both murals finished by September.

The mayor is responsible for making nominations to the nine-member public art commission. Those nominations also require confirmation by the full city council.

This brief was filed shortly after AAPAC’s meeting adjourned from the sixth floor conference room of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report on the meeting will follow.