Art Commission OKs Argo Cascades Project

A $150,000 budget for artwork at Argo Cascades was approved unanimously by the Ann Arbor public art commission at its April 25, 2012 meeting. The budget includes an artist contract of up to $115,000, as well as $35,000 to cover (1) a 10% contingency, (2) 10% for administration, and (3) honorariums for up to five artists at $1,000 each, to cover the cost of submitting proposals.

Argo Cascades is the new Huron River bypass near the Argo Pond canoe livery. A task force for the project recommended first issuing a statement of qualifications (SOQ), then narrowing down the candidates to a maximum of five artists who would submit more formal proposals. The task force identified four potential locations for art, including the bridges on either end of the Cascades. The artist who’s eventually selected would have discretion to choose one or more of the locations for the project.

The task force also recommended that the artwork have a “water” theme, and use the bulk of $155,561 that has accumulated from the city’s Percent for Art funds from water-related capital projects. The city’s public art ordinance requires that 1% of all capital project budgets (up to a limit of $250,000 per project) be set aside for public art.

A mission statement developed by the project’s task force states: ”The Argo Cascades public art project will be informed by the historical connection of the urban city and the natural river at this location. The public art here will be a marker of the community’s interest in ‘facing the river,’ as it celebrates the river’s water quality, environmental assets, and recreational uses.”

Task force members are: AAPAC commissioners John Kotarski and Malverne Winborne; Cheryl Saam, the city’s recreation facilities supervisor for the Argo and Gallup liveries; artist and former AAPAC chair  Margaret Parker; Cathy Fleisher, a local resident; Bonnie Greenspoon of the Ann Arbor Rowing Club; Julie Grand, chair of the city’s park advisory commission; and Colin Smith, parks and recreation manager.

The project had been on the agenda for the March 2012 AAPAC meeting, but was tabled because neither of the two commissioners who are on the project’s task force – Malverne Winborne and John Kotarski – attended that meeting. Other commissioners felt they needed more information before voting on a budget.

This brief was filed from the basement conference room at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., where AAPAC held its meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]