Design Approved for Rain Garden Sculptures

Denver artist Joshua Wiener plans large steel fish sculptures at First & Kingsley site; Ann Arbor public art commissioners also updated on artwork at East Stadium bridge, Argo Cascades, video project

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.

Joshua Wiener, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A drawing of Joshua Wiener’s proposed rain garden sculptures at First & Kingsley. (Image provided in the AAPAC Aug. 28, 2013 meeting packet.)

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.

First & Kingsley Rain Garden

Commissioners were asked to vote on Joshua Wiener‘s schematic design for public art at a planned rain garden, to be located at the southeast corner of First & Kingsley. [.pdf of staff memo, including itemized budget]

At AAPAC’s March 27, 2013 meeting, commissioners had selected the Denver artist to work with landscapers and incorporate public art into a new rain garden at that location, which is in a floodplain. The project has a $27,000 budget, though the artist’s contract would be for $23,380.

Wiener visited Ann Arbor on July 15 to present his design to the public. He gave a presentation at city hall, and attended the Townie Party to talk with community members about the project. His proposal is for sculptures showing the outlines of five fish. They’re small mouth bass, in different sizes, made of white epoxy-painted steel and pointed toward the Huron River. The largest sculpture will be just under 8 feet tall, 20 feet wide and about 5 feet deep. Two of the fish will be large enough to serve as benches.

From the artist’s statement:

The significance of water on this site is represented by having fish on the land. They are emerging to articulate how this rain garden is an extension of the river. The fish evoke water and the shape of their bodies creates waves that give an additional suggestion of water on the land. As the audience passes the piece, the fish will change positions in relation to one another. The sculpture will have a kinetic feel without any moving parts. The fish will appear to be swimming and the outline of their fins will create overlapping waves, adding to the feeling that water is moving on this site. The landscape and the art have been woven together. The plants will be placed in a way that conveys the surface of water with long flowing lines along the same orientation as the fish. There are also shapes in the landscape that suggest shadows of the fish.

Kingsley & First Rain Garden: Commission Discussion

At the Aug. 28 meeting, Bob Miller expressed surprise at some of the items included in the staff memo, which indicated that the artist would need to provide a plan for removing graffiti and proof that the sculptures would remain secure and permanent. Where did those items come from?

Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, indicated that those were the result of questions raised by the task force that had recommended Wiener for the work. [Task force members are Connie Brown, Jerry Hancock, Claudette Stern, John Walters and Jeff Kahan.]

John Kotarski asked about the color of the fish sculptures. The artist had proposed white, but some members of the public had indicated a preference for cor-ten steel, which is a rusty brown. Cor-ten is a more expensive material, Kotarski noted, so that would have meant fewer fish sculptures, but the rusty brown color would stand out more in the winter.

Connie Brown reported that the task force had discussed this issue at some length, but opted to go with the artist’s preference. Miller said his only concern was about the maintenance of powder coating, which is the process that will be used to paint these sculptures. Brown replied that the artist has been directed to provide something that’s as maintenance-free as possible, with the understanding that every kind of artwork needs some kind of maintenance. Wiener will be developing a maintenance program for this work, she said.

Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, pointed out that because the artist’s contract is less than $25,000, it does not require approval by the city council. However, he recommended that AAPAC provide a formal communication to the council about the project.

Outcome: Commissioner unanimously approved Joshua Wiener’s schematic design for the rain garden sculptures.

Life after Percent for Art

Bob Miller, chair of the public art commission, reported that he and John Kotarski had been meeting with Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, to talk about how to move forward following the elimination of the city’s Percent for Art program earlier this summer.

Bob Miller, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Bob Miller, chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission.

From 2007 until this June, the city had funded public art through a Percent for Art mechanism, which set aside 1% of the budget for each of the city’s capital projects for public art – up to a cap of $250,000. However, at its June 3, 2013 meeting, the city council voted to eliminate the Percent for Art approach in favor of one that allows for discretionary incorporation of public art into a particular project.

Now, city staff will work to determine whether a specific capital improvement should have enhanced design features “baked in” to the project – either enhanced architectural work or specific public art. The funding for any of the enhanced features would be included in the project’s budget and incorporated into the RFP (request for proposals) process for the capital project.

On Aug. 28, Miller described the conversations with city staff as positive, but noted that there’s no clear process in place. He hoped to invite Deb Gosselin, who handles the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP), to AAPAC’s Sept. 25 meeting. Gosselin had attended AAPAC’s Feb. 27, 2013 session to explain how the CIP process works.

Life after Percent for Art: Project Spreadsheet

Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, passed out a new spreadsheet to use for tracking public art projects. [.xls file project tracker] The spreadsheet is divided into three categories: (1) projects that have already been approved under the former Percent for Art program, with funding identified; (2) potential projects, either using remaining Percent for Art funds or private funding; and (3) potential capital projects that could be “enhanced” with public art under the new public art program. About $840,000 in Percent for Art funds are unspent.

In the third category, the potential “enhanced” capital projects are in the pipeline for the fiscal year 2016 and beyond. The idea is to identify those projects early on, so that AAPAC can work with staff to incorporate public art into the design process. Examples of those potential projects include:

  • Decorative “stamping” for new sidewalks.
  • Decorative “street access” (manhole) covers.
  • Stadium Boulevard reconstruction, from Hutchins to Kipke.
  • Improvements at the intersection of Dhu Varren & Nixon.
  • Detroit Street improvements.
  • East Ellsworth reconstruction, from South State to Platt.
  • South State Street improvements.
  • Improvements at Cobblestone Farm and Leslie Science & Nature Center.

Projects that have already received preliminary approval from AAPAC, which could be funded with remaining Percent for Art funds, include a mural program, as well as artwork at the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, Arbor Oaks Park, the new roundabout at South State and Ellsworth, and the Forest Avenue plaza. A memorial for Coleman Jewett and a community project called “Canoe Imagine Art” also might be eligible for remaining Percent for Art funds, although the primary source of funding would be from private donors.

Seagraves also listed a range of other potential projects that have not yet received approval from AAPAC. Those include artwork at the Ann Arbor skatepark, which recently began construction, as well as art for the new bike share program, street and sidewalk stamping, utility boxes (signal control cabinets), fences (including a section next to new sidewalks along a stretch of Scio Church Road), and “permission walls” for graffiti.

For each project, the spreadsheet includes a traffic count at the closest intersection, to indicate how visible the location might be. Also indicated is the general geographical quadrant for each project’s location – for example, whether the project is in the southeast, central, north or west quadrant of the city.

Commissioners were supportive of the new approach. Connie Brown asked for information to be added about each project’s potential timeline.

Connie Brown, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ann Arbor public art commissioner Connie Brown.

Nick Zagar asked about the skatepark project. Brown reported that when initially approached, skatepark organizers were “not very receptive” to the idea of incorporating public art into the project’s design. “They might have a different mindset now,” she said. [The skatepark, to be located in the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park, broke ground earlier this month.]

Zagar thought it would be a great location for a “permission wall” – a place where graffiti is allowed. “It seems like it’ll be unpermissionedly tagged up anyway,” he said. Seagraves noted that if art is located in the skatepark, it would be the only public art so far that’s located west of Seventh Street.

Bob Miller suggested a “permission wall” out by Argo Cascades, pointing to the wall under the trestle there that currently is covered with graffiti.

Marsha Chamberlin said she was the impetus for this new spreadsheet, as a way to help push projects forward and allocate remaining Percent for Art funds. She noted that two projects she’s working on that are mostly funded with private donations – the Coleman Jewett memorial and the “Canoe Imagine Art” community project – would benefit from public art funding. If the city commits funds to such projects, she added, it’s easier to raise money from private donors. “Money upfront gets more money.”

She hoped that AAPAC could make some funding decisions soon. “Craig [Hupy] has been telling us since April that we need to pay attention to allocating those [Percent for Art] funds,” Chamberlin said.

John Kotarski reminded commissioners that there are constraints associated with Percent for Art funding. The Percent for Art mechanism set aside funds for public art that were originally designated for infrastructure like roads or utilities. Because the money was taken from restricted funds, a thematic or geographic link must exist between the funding source and the public art expenditure. “It’s just not money that we can allocate at will for something we’d like to see brought forward,” Kotarski said.

Chamberlin pointed out that the spreadsheet indicates what category of Percent for Art funding could be used for each project.

Miller said it might be possible to vote on funding allocations for some of these projects at AAPAC’s September meeting.


Ashlee Arder recently finished a short video to promote AAPAC and the city’s public art program. She had shot footage of commissioners at their June 26, 2013 meeting, as well as at their booth at the July Townie Party.

Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Screenshot from a video by Ann Arbor public art commissioner Ashlee Arder. The film is black and white, with spot color. This poster was part of AAPAC’s booth at the July 15 Townie Party. (Image links to the video on YouTube.)

Commissioners watched the roughly 2-minute video at the end of their Aug. 28 meeting. Arder plans to post it on the commission’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account, @AAPublicArt. It’s also posted on YouTube.

Commissioners also spent part of their Aug. 28 meeting watching a video presentation of national public art projects that have won awards from the Americans for the Arts. Marsha Chamberlin, who participated in the meeting via conference call, gave a brief introduction to describe the annual awards process. The presentation included the award-winning work Cloudbreak by Catherine Widgery of Cambridge, Mass., who was recently selected by an AAPAC task force for a major public art project at the East Stadium bridges. [An update on that project is provided later in this article.]

Project Updates

Several projects were discussed briefly during the Aug. 28 meeting, by way of updates. Additional information was also included in a written report by Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator. [.pdf of Seagraves' report] These projects were either already in progress when the city council temporarily halted spending on public art late last year, or don’t use Percent for Art funds.

Here are some highlights.

Project Updates: East Stadium Bridges

In early August, Catherine Widgery of Cambridge, Mass. was recommended as the artist for public art on the East Stadium bridges in Ann Arbor. She was picked by a selection panel from four finalists who had submitted proposals for the project, which has a $400,000 total budget. [.pdf of Widgery's proposal]

Seagraves reported that the selection panel is providing feedback to Widgery and is asking that she revise her proposal before it’s presented to AAPAC and then later to the city council for approval. Members of the panel are Wiltrud Simbuerger, Bob Miller, Nancy Leff, David Huntoon and Joss Kiely. A conference call with the artist has been scheduled for Sept. 6 with panel members to discuss the proposal. [.pdf of panel feedback]

Revisions to her proposal are due by Oct. 4. Bob Miller reported that the selection panel is trying to focus her work on the connections between East Stadium Boulevard and South State Street, which runs below the bridge.

Seagraves indicated that Widgery’s revised proposal would likely be presented to some of the city’s boards and commissioners for feedback, before presentation to AAPAC. Connie Brown praised the outreach efforts that Bob Miller and John Kotarski have already undertaken for this project. They’ve made presentations to various groups, including the Ann Arbor District Library board and the park advisory commission, among others. The intent is to create community buy-in before a project is finalized.

Project Updates: Bike Share Program

Seagraves reported that he met with staff from the Clean Energy Coalition about a new bike share program that CEC is managing, with a targeted launch of April 2014. They talked about the possibility of including public art at the bike share station locations, he said, or possibly on the bikes as well. The CEC team is interested in drafting a proposal to present to AAPAC in the future, he said.

A detailed presentation about the program was made to the Ann Arbor District Library board on Aug. 19. See Chronicle coverage: “Library Board Briefed on Bike Share Program.

Project Updates: Argo Cascades

Three finalists had been selected for artwork at the Argo Cascades, but one of them – Andy Dufford of Denver, Colo. – subsequently dropped out, Seagraves said. The remaining two finalists are Jann Rosen-Queralt of Maryland and Mags Harries & Lajos Heder of Cambridge, Mass. [.pdf of staff memo on Argo Cascades public art]

Aaron Seagraves, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aaron Seagraves, Ann Arbor’s public art commissioner.

The artists came to town in early August to meet with the public – including a presentation at the Workantile on Main Street, and a reception at Argo Cascades. John Kotarski reported that the artists had the chance to kayak through the cascades while they were here, as did he.

Proposals will be due in early October, with presentations by the artists during the week of Oct. 14, with a specific date to be determined.

AAPAC had approved a $150,000 total budget for the Argo Cascades project on April 25, 2012.

Project Updates: Coleman Jewett Memorial

At a special meeting on March 7, 2013, AAPAC had voted to accept a memorial for Coleman Jewett as an official AAPAC project. The original proposal was for a bronze Adirondack chair at the Ann Arbor farmers market. Jewett was a long-time local educator who died in January. After he retired, he made furniture that he sold at the Ann Arbor farmers market. A private foundation has committed $5,000 to create a memorial at the market, in the form of a bronze replica of one of Jewett’s Adirondack chairs.

A memorandum of understanding has been negotiated between the Jewett family, the city, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, which will act as a fiduciary for fundraising. The plan now calls for two full-sized replicas in bronze, at an estimated cost of $15,000 each. Materials for fundraising are being developed. Marsha Chamberlin, who is taking the lead on this project, said about 300 personalized letters to potential donors will be sent out within the next week or so.

The next step will be to write a formal request for proposals (RFP) for doing the work.

Project Updates: Canoe Imagine Art

Marsha Chamberlin has been working on a canoe art project with other local organizations, called Canoe Imagine Art. The project will use old aluminum canoes from the city of Ann Arbor’s Argo canoe livery, which artists and community groups will turn into artwork that will be displayed throughout the downtown in 2014. Partners in the project include the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Main Street Area Association (MSAA), the Arts Alliance, and the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC). Task force members are Chamberlin; Cheryl Saam, the city’s canoe livery supervisor; Shoshana Hurand of the Arts Alliance; Mary Kerr of the CVB; Maura Thomson of the MSAA; and Laura Rubin of HRWC.

Seagraves reported that a formal agreement has been reached between the city and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, which will act as fiduciary for the funds raised on this project. Fundraising materials are being developed.

Project Updates: Arbor Oaks Park

The first task force meeting for possible artwork in the Arbor Oaks Park is set for Sept. 5. At AAPAC’s June 26, 2013 meeting, commissioners approved setting up an exploratory task force for this project, located in the Bryant neighborhood on the city’s southeast side. Members include public art commissioners Malverne Winborne and Nick Zagar; Derek Miller, deputy director of the nonprofit Community Action Network (CAN); and CAN board member David Jones.

It’s being conceived of as a community art project, Seagraves reported.

Project Updates: Wastewater Treatment Plant

Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, had approached AAPAC earlier this year about the possibility of incorporating public art into the wastewater treatment project. The city is building a new wastewater treatment facility and renovating its existing facility in Ann Arbor Township, at 49 S. Dixboro Road. [.pdf of memo describing the wastewater treatment plant renovations]

Hupy had noted that of the remaining amount in the Percent for Art funds, much of it – about $448,000 – came from wastewater-related projects, and must be spent on public art with a “nexus” to wastewater.

John Kotarski is taking the lead on this project. He reported that he met recently with Hupy and Earl Kenzie, manager of the treatment plant. He’s also been in touch with the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum and University of Michigan, about possible participation in this project. The intent of any artwork would be to “train, teach, entertain and inspire,” he said.

Commissioners talked about the possibility of taking a field trip to the plant site, which is still under construction.

Project Updates: Fencing on Scio Church

At AAPAC’s June 26 meeting, Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, suggested a possible public art project related to fencing. The city is putting in sidewalks along a stretch of Scio Church Road, and will also be installing a fence there. The city staff was planning to install the kind of chain link fence that they usually use, but Hupy thought there might be an opportunity for something more creative, if AAPAC wanted to explore that possibility. The construction work would likely occur next summer.

On Aug. 28, Marsha Chamberlin reported that she has collected about 30 examples of different fencing designs used in other municipalities. Bob Miller suggested that Chamberlin could present that information at AAPAC’s next meeting.

Commissioners present: Ashlee Arder, Connie Brown, Marsha Chamberlin (via conference call), John Kotarski, Bob Miller, Nick Zagar. Also: Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, and Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator.

Absent: Malverne Winborne.

Next regular meeting: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. in the basement conference room at city hall, 301 E. Huron St. [Check Chronicle events listing to confirm date]

The Chronicle relies in part on regular voluntary subscriptions to support our artful coverage of public entities like the Ann Arbor public art commission. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle.


  1. August 30, 2013 at 9:25 am | permalink

    So many things about this program that raise questions.

    Why must we have a whole group of structures in a natural area? Very carefully placed and selected art in a natural area can enhance the experience, but the point should be – nature. Not clutter. This looks like too many objects in a small area. And rust-brown objects?

    Why should we have art associated with a wastewater treatment plant? Do you expect crowds of the public, come to watch our sewage? The whole point of public art should be to enhance the places where the public is.

    I’m really, really sorry that Council chose to leave all this in place. Jane Lumm’s efforts to return the money to the originating funds were passed over.

  2. August 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm | permalink

    I like the idea of the downtown canoe art. I saw this idea done very successfully (although it was sheep) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

  3. August 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm | permalink


  4. By Jeff Hayner
    September 1, 2013 at 4:49 am | permalink

    Thanks to the commission members for all their hard work, but it seems that many questionable decisions were made on these projects. Why have two full-size chairs for Mr. Jewett’s memorial, when so many children loved sitting in his child-sized chairs? How about a big chair and a little chair? Seems like a less expensive, more visually pleasing, family-friendly grouping. Are they going to have a little plaque by each chair warning people that the chairs might be extremly hot from the sun and to sit with caution?

    Why are we spending money on canoe art, and potentially over four-hundred thousand dollars on “wastewater nexus” art, when our overworked sanitary and storm sewer systems continue to flood the river and force the closure of the city livery? Could that money be better spent? And what of the families and small businesses that used to purchase those retired city canoes at auction?

    The outreach efforts to “create community buy-in” are the least that can be done, since we as a tax paying community have already “bought-in” to the tune of almost one-million dollars, despite the rejection of the 1% percent for art program at the polls.

    Since Councilmember Lumm’s effort to return these funds to their rightful place was not successful, I encourage her to try again. Perhaps a resolution could be made to halt the spending of the remaining funds on these large, site-based installations (Stadium Bridge, Argo Cascades, Etc.) that are of debatable worth to the city at large, and instead use the funds to endow the Public Arts program for the long-term. Use the time and money to search out patrons of the arts, to build a community network that supports and promotes local artists; and to finance smaller, community-based projects that will be seen and enjoyed by more people.

  5. By Susan Contratto
    September 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm | permalink

    I am an enormous injoyer (is there such a word) of art in the community be it innovative architecture, historic architecture and public installations of all types. In my opinion people with expertise, a trained eye and a background need to be the deciders. The public lottery cannot be as successful, for example, as those who chose the lakeside park art, and other installations in Chicago.

  6. By abc
    September 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm | permalink

    From comment 4 – “…debatable worth…”

    There is much that can be debated, including the cost, but it is true that public art costs a good deal of money. It can also be worthy. But that does not mean that all endeavors to make public art will automatically be worthy, regardless of how much, or little, you may pay for it.

    What the AAPAC seems to miss, over and over again, is that public art (all art actually) needs an audience; which is not synonymous with, “all art needs to be seen”.

    But to have an audience, public art needs to start with a place. If that place is a schoolyard the art may differ wildly than if it is a lobby; depending on the desires of the artist. Duchamp’s ‘fountain’ would have been far less effective if it was anywhere but a museum. As a matter of fact it would have not made sense anywhere else; but then that was the point. By comparison, Picasso’s ‘bull’s head’ and other ‘found object’ sculpture was not a jab to the art world, and museums, and art critics, and makes sense being displayed in other venues.

    William Rush, a Philadelphia sculptor who was America’s first public artist, is said to view public art “as the nexus for gathering”. But this concept goes all the back to ancient Rome where gathering spaces were enlivened with all kinds of public art… or did they become gathering spaces because of the addition of the fountain or sculpture? In any case they either were, or could be, gathering spaces.

    Here we are considering putting public art under bridges, hanging off of the sides of bridges, in round-a-bouts, in wastewater treatment plants, at bike share centers, on a fence on the side of the road, and on sidewalks and man-hole covers. How will any of these become gathering spaces? Without a gathering space there is no audience, and many artists would agree that without an audience there is no art.

    And some of the art that has been made are in weak gathering spaces. The light sculpture is in the lobby of a building with limited access, only visited by people going to court or paying a ticket. The city hall’s fountain sits by the side of a road where few people walk because Huron is a highway and there are few destinations in the area. (BTW I have been watching to see if this plaza and fountain has made a gathering space and I am of the opinion that it has not. I hoped that it would, but whenever I have been there it has been empty and sterile, unlike other outdoor spaces like at the co-op. This, by the way, was somewhat predictable. William Whyte’s work of the 1970’s studying plazas made the observation that choosing between shade and sun at different times of the year is very important. On the south side of city hall all you get is sun most of the day.)

    Please know that I am also familiar with all sorts of urban interventions where artists transform seemingly non-gathering spaces by introducing elements that completely change / contradict / interrupt / etc. the expected patterns of city life. This kind of work is mostly commentary on the urban condition. And while it can be very exciting, it rarely, if ever, is the product of a public arts committee, and I do not suspect that the AAPAC has the cojones to hire an artist to intervene like that in any meaningful way.

    So I have said it before and I will say it again, as patrons of the arts, which is what the AAPAC has set themselves up to be, the AAPAC needs to have viewpoint, but instead they are all over the board. The AAPAC should have an agenda; anything should not be fair game. I think Mr. Rush’s agenda fits nicely for a public arts commission. And were that to be the filter then when the city approaches them with the idea to put up a pretty fence, the AAPAC says go ahead but that’s not us. When school kids want to paint man-hole covers, the AAPAC says go ahead that’s also not us. And when school kids don’t want to paint the man-hole covers, the AAPAC does nothing because painting them will NOT contribute to a nexus of gathering.

  7. By abc
    September 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm | permalink

    After I posted i looked back to see that it went through. The line about having an audience is not the same as just being seen, caused another thought. I realize that this may be a strange concept. It is greatly informed however by considering events like this. [link]

    This article “Pearls before breakfast” from the Washington Post is a great exploration of what it means to have an audience, or not, from the perspective of both the artist and the audience. It is a ‘must read’ article if you have never seen it before.

  8. By Jeff Hayner
    September 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm | permalink

    @ABC Thank you for your comments, you have gotten to the heart of the matter, so far we have had place-decorating, not place-making. Not every project needs to be designed to create a place, temporary or permanent, but that is a strong consideration of its potential worth to the city. As you point out, the Co-op plaza works. Tony Rosenthal’s “Endeavor” and “Alamo” (aka The Cubes) both work in their places. The Cube is iconic, interactive, delightful- and it has held up. Only time will tell for these current works. The costs for this final crop of “1% art” are excessive for the finished product as presented. This is another way to judge their worth. What else could be done with this money, for arts sake? And how can this ill-conceived idea of demanding a nexus to the source of the funds, which seems like a weak attempt to justify the skimming of funds in the first place, be set aside to improve the chances of a successful outcome on the next project?

    It should be clear that I am a supporter of public art, but also a supporter of prudent city spending. I hope that the City Council will consider carefully the worth of these and other projects that are recommended to them for funding by the Public Arts Commission.

  9. By abc
    September 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm | permalink

    “…you have gotten to the heart of the matter, so far we have had place-decorating, not place-making. Not every project needs to be designed to create a place, temporary or permanent, but that is a strong consideration of its potential worth to the city.”

    Actually Mr. Hayner we may be saying different things. I don’t consider spaces under bridges, or the sides of bridges, round-a-bouts, or fences on the side of the road, or any particular length of sidewalk, or any man-hole covers as gathering places for the public. And I do not automatically think they have the potential to be gathering places. So I would not criticize the act of putting art on or near these kinds of things as ‘place-decorating’ since there is no place to decorate… in my mind there is no there there.

    I also don’t think a public arts commission can ‘make’ places but then can enhance them, if they want to struggle with the details. I would criticize the fountain at city hall as being too small, and too boring, and just something that does not make that place better. And yes that plaza is a place. But it needed something a lot more fun to make you go there and the water needs to be much more present; if you don’t go and walk up right next to it you would never know there was even water involved. So you can’t see, hear or barely feel the water. That makes this water feature just a feature. But had they commissioned a better piece it could have enhanced that place.

  10. September 3, 2013 at 12:44 am | permalink

    @ABC I don’t know you from your username, but I suspect we actually are saying the same things. If you want to get in touch with me via my website please do, I always welcome a chance to talk about public art, or any art, for that matter.