Stories indexed with the term ‘donations’

Public Art Projects Move Forward

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (April 23, 2014): A major public art project for East Stadium bridges will be moving to the city council for approval, following a recommendation made at this month’s Ann Arbor public art commission meeting.

Kristin "KT" Tomey, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

KT Tomey is working on a project to develop maps for walking or running tours of public art in Ann Arbor. (Photos by the writer.)

“Arbor Winds” by Massachusetts artist Catherine Widgery features elevated, stand-alone louvered glass columns that are etched with images of trees – three on each end of the bridges, on the north side of Stadium Boulevard. The same type of louvered glass panels will also be used under the bridge along South State, affixed to the wall of the underpass – five sets on each side of South State Street. The overall project has a budget of $400,000 and has been in the works since 2011. If approved by council, it will likely be installed in 2015.

Commissioners also expressed enthusiasm for a new effort proposed by KT Tomey, who hopes to develop a mobile app for walking or running routes that highlight public art in Ann Arbor and on the University of Michigan campus. As a runner herself, she noted that people look for running routes when they visit new towns. So the app could be used to promote public art both to visitors and residents alike. Her first step is putting together .pdf maps that will be downloadable from AAPAC’s website.

Another new proposal prompted concerns about process. On the day of the meeting, John Kotarski – AAPAC’s vice chair – circulated an email to commissioners proposing that the city accept three pieces of donated art from Jim Pallas, an established Michigan artist and friend of Kotarski’s. The pieces are proposed to be located in the lobby of the Justice Center, in the atrium of city hall, and outside of city hall. Although commissioners seemed supportive of the idea, some expressed concern that the proposal wasn’t following AAPAC’s guidelines for accepting gifts of art, which include setting up a review committee.

Kotarski pointed out that Pallas is 75 years old. He noted that if artists donate artwork before they die, they can deduct the cost of materials from their taxes. But after they die, their estate is taxed on the market value of that artwork. “So these artists, at this point in their lives, have a financial incentive to find a good place for their artwork,” he said. “If we can make that process simple and easy for Jim – and pleasant – then I’m sure he’s willing to go to his friends” and encourage them to donate too.

He reported that the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has offered a $500 honorarium to Pallas for each donated piece. Kotarski said the three pieces have a total estimated value of $100,000. He also mentioned that Pallas’ daughter, a law professor, knows city attorney Stephen Postema and that they’ve “made arrangement to resolve any legal issues necessary to facilitate this donation.”

Kotarski told commissioners that he’s tried to assure Pallas that this will work out, but “that’s why I’m a little nervous giving him these assurances, only to have this fall through at the last minute. That’s not going to be pleasant.”

Marsha Chamberlin said she recognized the benefits of encouraging Michigan artists to donate their work. “But we are a public body, and we have procedures. I just think it’s important that we observe those rules because we don’t want to make an exception for one thing, then hold someone’s feet to the fire for something else.”

Commissioners agreed that AAPAC chair Bob Miller would work with Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, to set up a gift selection committee to review this proposal and make a recommendation to AAPAC.

In other action, the commission approved its annual art plan for fiscal 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014. The plan includes projects that are already underway, as well as proposed capital projects to be enhanced with public art. The ongoing projects are: (1) artwork for East Stadium bridges; (2) public art at Arbor Oaks Park; (3) Canoe Imagine Art; and (4) the Coleman Jewett memorial. The proposed enhanced capital projects are street and sidewalk stamping, painting or stenciling in four locations to be determined, for a total cost of $30,000. The city council would need to approve these projects before they would move forward.

Commissioners also approved applying for a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Fast Track grant. The money, if awarded, would require matching funds in an equivalent amount from other sources for a public art project at Arbor Oaks Park in southeast Ann Arbor, located near Bryant Elementary School and the Bryant Community Center.

Fundraising continues for the Coleman Jewett memorial at the Ann Arbor farmers market, but Canoe Imagine Art has stalled. The community art project is intended as a temporary art display in downtown Ann Arbor using old canoes from the city that would be repurposed as public art. The city had hoped that the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau would take administrative responsibility for the project, but the CVB has declined. Chamberlin, who’s taking the lead on this effort, said that if workarounds can’t be found for some of the administrative issues, “we have to kiss this project good-bye.” [Full Story]

Column: Is Public Education A Charity Case?

If you’re like me, then every January you think to yourself, “This year, I’m going to spread out my charitable giving over the course of twelve months. It would be so much better for my cash flow, and probably it would be better for the nonprofits as well.”

Ruth Kraut, Ann Arbor Public Schools, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ruth Kraut

And then, come November and December, I realize that once again, I failed to spread out my giving – and I had better pull out my checkbook. Writing the bulk of these checks at the end of the year has a benefit, in that it allows me to look at all of my donations at once. But it also means that I’m in a rush and I don’t always take the time to reflect. So this is my opportunity.

Like many of you, we make donations to local, national, and international groups that focus on a wide range of issues. For us, those organizations do work related to health, the environment, politics, women’s issues, Jewish groups, social action, human services, and more.

Although I do give to some groups that, loosely speaking, fit the category of “education,” those entities do not make up a significant proportion of our donations. I confess to a certain ambivalence to giving to such groups – because, in many ways, I’m already a big contributor to public education. And it’s likely that you are, too. [Full Story]

UM: $200M Donation

The University of Michigan announced it will name the athletic campus after developer Stephen M. Ross, following a new $200 million donation from Ross to the university. Of that amount, $100 million is designated for athletics and $100 million will fund the business school, which is already named after Ross because of a previous donation. [Source]

Stamps: $32.5M Gift to UM Art School

The University of Michigan School of Art & Design will be renamed in honor of Penny and Roe Stamps, following a $32.5 million donation to the school from the family’s foundations. The news was announced at the Sept. 20, 2012 meeting of the UM board of regents, who voted unanimously to rename the school. A total of $40 million has been committed to the A&D school, including a $7.5 million match from UM.

The Stamps have already given millions of dollars to the university for a range of projects, including the Stamps Auditorium next to the Walgreen Drama Center on north campus, a commons area at the Ross Academic Center, the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series, the Art & Design … [Full Story]

Art Commission Plans for the Future

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 13, 2011): Marsha Chamberlin, who chairs the city’s public art commission, began the meeting by congratulating her colleagues on the recent defeat of a city council proposal to reduce funding for the Percent for Art program, which AAPAC oversees. “What that means is a lot of work in the next year,” she added.

Aaron Seagraves

Aaron Seagraves, Ann Arbor's public art administrator, goes over some ideas for possible programs to be funded through the city's Percent for Art program. (Photos by the writer.)

Most of AAPAC’s December meeting was spent looking forward to the coming year – discussing how to develop the next annual art plan, which is due to be delivered to the city council in April. Commissioners talked about how to increase the amount of public art funded through the city’s Percent for Art, including putting in place new programs that would expedite the process. Some city councilmembers have raised concerns that few public art projects have been completed since the Percent for Art was created in 2007. The program, overseen by AAPAC, allocates 1% for public art from all of the city government’s capital projects.

So far, only two projects have been installed: (1) a tree sculpture at West Park, and (2) a large water fountain in front of city hall. Updates on several other projects were reviewed at AAPAC’s December meeting, and several days after the meeting, action was taken toward the selection of artists for two projects. A task force for a mural in Allmendinger Park is recommending Ann Arbor muralist Mary Thiefels for that work, with a $10,000 budget. And a task force that’s selecting artwork for the lobby of the Justice Center is recommending Ed Carpenter of Portland, Oregon for that $150,000 project. AAPAC is expected to get more details and vote on both recommendations at its Jan. 25 meeting.

During Dec. 13 discussion of the annual plan, it emerged that there’s been a revision to a key constraint on Percent for Art spending: The aspect of permanence. Previously, city staff had told AAPAC that because all artwork needed to be capitalized, it had to last a minimum of five years. Now, Chamberlin reported, the city’s finance department has revised its definition of “permanent” to a minimum of two years, not five. “That does change things a lot,” she observed.

One item that fits the “permanent” requirement, but posed other concerns, was a proposed donation to the city via local attorney Kurt Berggren. The work is an eight-panel set of gates called the Global Peace Gateway, originally located at a cathedral in Los Angeles. Commissioners discussed several issues related to that donation, including the cost of transporting the work to Ann Arbor and the fact that the gates contain religious iconography. Ultimately, they voted to reject the donation.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned during the meeting: Margaret Parker’s decision to leave the commission one year before her term expired. The news was revealed later in the month at a city council meeting, when mayor John Hieftje put forward a nomination for her replacement – John Kotarski. Parker, a local artist, has served on AAPAC since its inception, including three years as its chair, and was instrumental in creating the Percent for Art program. [Full Story]

UM Regents Applaud $56M Taubman Gift

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (April 21, 2011): Other business at Thursday’s regents meeting was upstaged by a late addition to the agenda – news that billionaire Al Taubman was giving another $56 million to the university.

Eva Feldman, Al Taubman, Judy Taubman

Al Taubman, who recently donated $56 million to fund medical research at UM, is flanked by his wife Judy Taubman, right, and Eva Feldman, a UM neurology professor and director of the Taubman Medical Research Institute. Seated behind them is Kellen Russell, who won a national championship in wrestling and was also recognized by regents at their April 21, 2011 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The donation – to fund work at UM’s Taubman Medical Research Institute – brought his total gifts for that institute to $100 million, and his total overall UM contributions to more than $141 million. He is the largest individual donor to the university.

In conjunction with this latest gift, regents approved the renaming of the Biomedical Science Research Building – where the institute is housed – in honor of Taubman.

In thanking Taubman, board chair Julia Darlow called his gift transformative, and noted that his name has been “stamped” on the university in many ways – at the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, the Taubman Gallery at the UM Museum of Art, Taubman Health Care Center, Taubman Health Sciences Library, and the Taubman Scholars program, among others. Though he did not complete a degree, Taubman did study architecture at UM and has been involved with the institution for decades.

The real estate developer, who’s widely credited with popularizing the modern shopping mall, is not without controversy. Taubman maintains his innocence, but the former owner of Sotheby’s auction house served about nine months in federal prison in 2002 for an anti-trust conviction related to a price-fixing scheme with Christie’s, a major competitor. At the time, university officials stood by him in the face of calls to remove his name from UM buildings.

In addition to announcing Taubman’s most recent gift, the regents handled a variety of other items during their April meeting. They unanimously approved an extension of the maximum allowable tenure probationary period to 10 years, and before voting heard from several UM faculty members on both sides of the issue. Regents also approved several million dollars in infrastructure projects, as well as a new degree program in health informatics.

Chris Armstrong, who made national news after being harrassed by a former state assistant attorney general, gave his last report as outgoing student government president and was thanked by university executives for his leadership. Regent Libby Maynard told Armstrong he’d helped all of them grow during the year.

And during the time set aside for public commentary, students and staff raised several issues, including negotiations with the nurses union, campus sustainability efforts, and a proposal to partner with an Israeli university for study abroad. [Full Story]

UM Regents Focus on Detroit

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (March 17, 2011): At a meeting held in downtown Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac hotel and designed to showcase UM’s partnerships with that city, Thursday’s meeting also included some harsh words from students protesting the selection of Gov. Rick Snyder as spring commencement speaker.

Richard Durance

Richard Durance presented regents with a petition signed by more than 4,000 students protesting the selection of Gov. Rick Snyder as spring commencement speaker. (Photos by the writer.)

Richard Durance, an undergraduate who authored a petition against Snyder’s selection that was signed by more than 4,000 students, delivered it to regents on Thursday, saying that Snyder’s proposed cuts to K-12 and higher education make him an inappropriate choice. Zach Goldsmith, describing himself as the “angry senior” who organized protests earlier this week at the Diag, criticized regents for holding their meeting in Detroit, making it difficult for students to attend and voice their concerns.

After the public commentary, several regents defended the decision, which was made by UM president Mary Sue Coleman and did not require a vote of the board. Regent Larry Deitch said that although he’s a Democrat and personally doesn’t agree with some items in the Republican governor’s proposed budget, he endorsed the decision. And if students decide to protest at the April 30 event, he added, “that’s in the finest Michigan tradition, and we welcome it.”

Regents also heard presentations about three programs focused on Detroit: (1) the Semester in Detroit, a student-initiated program that has participants live, study and work in the city; (2) the Healthy Environments Partnership, a community-based participatory research effort that focuses on understanding and promoting cardiovascular health in Detroit neighborhoods; and (3) Revitalization and Business: Focus Detroit, a new program that’s connecting organizations in Detroit with students at the UM Ross School of Business.

Thursday’s meeting also included a unanimous vote to name The Lawyers Club dormitory in honor of Charles T. Munger, who gave the university $20 million toward renovations of the building, and a vote to approve a $39 million renovation of The Lawyers Club and the John P. Cook buildings – part of a larger expansion and renovation effort at UM’s law school.

And during public commentary – in addition to the calls for protest against Snyder – one of the speakers promoted this year’s TEDxUofM, to be held Friday, April 8 at the Michigan Theater from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The theme – “Encouraging Crazy Ideas” – was inspired by an August 2010 Forbes column written by UM president Mary Sue Coleman. [Full Story]