There are parents with grads all over downtown today. None of them will be able to enjoy our famous fountain. Why isn’t it flowing? [photo]
The fountain is dry. [photo]
No water flow tonight but this blank piece of metal on a fence gives hope that perhaps there will be explanations soon (a sign?) about the whole installation. But why is no water flowing when we’ve had record rains for weeks? [photo]
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Sept. 26, 2012): In this month’s main action item, public art commissioners formed a task force to explore the possibility of starting a street art program.
John Kotarski made the proposal, explaining that street art could include anything from pedestrian benches to artistic manhole covers – similar to those that have been created in Japanese cities. The effort could involve schools and service clubs, he said, and might evolve into something as popular as the fairy doors found throughout Ann Arbor. Commissioners seemed generally supportive of the idea. The task force will do more research and make a formal proposal to AAPAC at a later date.
Commissioners also moved ahead on a new approach to getting more people involved in the selection of public art. Task forces will be formed in four quadrants of the city, using quadrants that are designated in the city master plan’s “land use elements” section: west, central, south and northeast. [.pdf map of quadrants]
Kickoff meetings for each quadrant are scheduled for October. Connie Rizzolo Brown, who’s spearheading this effort, described the goal of the first meetings as ”very gentle fact-finding missions,” as well as recruitment for potential task force members.
Also in October – on Sunday, Oct. 28 – a dedication is planned for the new mural being completed at Allmendinger Park. The work is by Ann Arbor muralist Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals, incorporating artwork and found objects from students and neighbors. Images from the work-in-progress are currently featured on AAPAC’s website.
Commissioners also discussed concerns about a descriptive sign planned for the Dreiseitl sculpture in front of city hall. Some commissioners feel that the proposed location for the sign detracts from the ability to enjoy the sculpture, while others expressed frustration that AAPAC had not been consulted about the sign’s location.
The meeting also included a variety of updates about projects that are underway. One major item that was not discussed was the public art millage that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot – Proposal B. Although it was alluded to on several occasions, AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin cautioned commissioners that they could not discuss it at the meeting. However, several commissioners are involved individually in the campaign to support the millage – B for Art. Chamberlin, for example, is hosting a dinner for the campaign in October.
At an Aug. 15 special meeting, the commission had voted to recommend that the city council place a millage on the ballot, despite voicing a range of concerns. The millage had been proposed by councilmember Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), who did not consult the arts community or AAPAC before bringing the idea forward. The ballot proposal calls for a 0.1 mill tax for four years to support public art, temporarily replacing the current Percent for Art program. For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: “Art Commission Strategizes as Millage Looms.”
Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Aug. 22, 2012): Two days after the Ann Arbor city council voted to put a millage on the Nov. 6 ballot to fund art in public places, several leaders of the arts community attended the public art commission’s regular monthly meeting to offer support for a millage campaign.
Dealing with the millage wasn’t the commission’s main agenda item, but they did spend some time talking about the need for a separate campaign committee. AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin stressed that the commission itself can’t advocate for the millage, ”but we can educate out the wazoo.”
As individuals, though, commissioners will likely be very active – Chamberlin will be among those organizing the campaign, along with Arts Alliance president Deb Polich, who attended AAPAC’s Aug. 22 session. Mark Tucker of FestiFools was there too, and told commissioners that he and others were brainstorming on free or inexpensive ways to support the millage – including a “surprise” that involves football Saturdays and is “FestiFoolian in nature” to attract media coverage.
Ken Clein also volunteered to help. He was on hand to update commissioners on the status of the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture in front of city hall, as a follow-up to concerns raised in June about the installation. Clein is a principal with Quinn Evans Architects, the Ann Arbor firm that handled the design of the new Justice Center and oversaw its construction. Though delayed, the Dreiseitl installation is nearly completed and will be handed off to the city soon, along with a two-year maintenance warranty.
The sculpture is the largest and most expensive project coordinated by the commission, and the first one approved under the Percent for Art program. The two newest public art projects were added to the pipeline at the Aug. 22 meeting, on unanimous votes. They’ll eventually be located at: (1) Forest Avenue Plaza, next to the Forest Avenue parking structure near South University; and (2) a future roundabout at Ellsworth and South State.
In a written report, commissioners were given an update on available funds in the Percent for Art budget. Of the $1.668 million balance, $856,997 is earmarked for projects already approved by AAPAC, including $400,000 for artwork at the East Stadium bridges and $150,000 for Argo Cascades – but aspects of those projects are still under review by the city’s legal staff. That leaves $810,276 in unallocated funds. The largest amounts are in revenues from sewer projects ($451,955) and street millage projects ($241,951).
The commission also finalized its four-year strategic plan, and moved ahead on a new effort to involve residents in planning for public art in each of four quadrants in Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Feb. 9, 2010): In a three-hour meeting that included some heated exchanges, members of AAPAC reviewed public art projects in various stages of development, including those for West Park, Fuller Road Station, Hanover Park and the new municipal building.
An update on Herbert Dreiseitl’s work for the municipal building revealed that two interior pieces – originally part of three pieces proposed for the site, but set aside because they came in over budget – are being reconsidered. Dreiseitl plans to resubmit a design and pricing for the two interior pieces later this month, and is expected to return to Ann Arbor in mid-April to work on the already-approved outdoor sculpture in the building’s front plaza.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, AAPAC members debated how best to get input from the public, with some members questioning the effectiveness of repeating an event that last year drew 30 people.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Jan. 12, 2010): A portion of AAPAC’s first meeting of the year was spent looking back at 2009 – and their success in December defeating a challenge to the Percent for Art program.
But while reporting on city council’s vote against cutting public art funding to a half-percent, AAPAC chair Margaret Parker wasn’t feeling complacent: “I think we can expect a similar [challenge] to happen in the future.”
The commission discussed several other projects, including the status of the Herbert Dreiseitl sculpture recently approved by city council. He has not yet responded to queries asking him to modify two additional pieces of art – it’s unclear if those pieces, originally planned for the interior of the new municipal center, will move forward.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Nov. 10, 2009): Based on the recommendation of Sue McCormick, the city’s public services administrator, the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission will be forwarding a resolution to city council for approval of only one of three art pieces by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl.
The city has already paid Dreiseitl for the design of three pieces for the city’s new municipal center, also known as the police-courts facility, being built next to city hall. But it will only be the outdoor piece – a storm water fountain and sculpture – that city council is expected to vote on at its Dec. 7 meeting.
City council was originally expected to vote on the Dreiseitl project at its Nov. 16 meeting. According to AAPAC chair Margaret Parker, the delay in voting on the outdoor piece, which currently has a budget of $728,458, was due to McCormick’s concern over unanswered questions that require additional input from the municipal center’s architect as well as Dreiseitl. McCormick had pointed to unresolved issues with the two indoor pieces in deciding to leave them out of the vote completely, Parker said.
Raising questions about higher costs and design changes, members of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission on Monday tabled action on one proposed art installation for the new municipal center, set conditions on another piece, but recommended approval of the largest work of art by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl.
The $841,541 budget submitted just last week by Dreiseitl for the three pieces of art – including design fees already paid to him – exceeds AAPAC’s original cap of $750,000 for the project. AAPAC had set aside another $250,000 for other public art projects on the municipal center site, and plans to use part of that amount to pay for Dreiseitl’s project.
Even at the higher cost, Dreiseitl has warned that creating all three pieces for that price will be “challenging” – and some commissioners said they should consider providing more funding, if it’s necessary to achieve his vision. The complete vision was unclear on Monday, however, since AAPAC did not have final drawings for his proposed two interior wall pieces.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Oct. 13, 2009): In a move that came as a surprise to some commissioners, the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission was asked at its Tuesday meeting to schedule a special session this Friday to vote on the Herbert Dreiseitl art project. The project is a three-piece installation planned for the new municipal center, which includes a large waterscape sculpture in the building’s outdoor plaza.
However, the city still doesn’t have a final budget or final designs from the German artist – those will likely be provided by Thursday afternoon, according to Katherine Talcott, the city’s public art administrator. It’s also possible that the Friday meeting will be postponed, if information isn’t provided in time. The meeting, which is open to the public, is tentatively set for noon at the City Center’s 7th floor conference room, 220 E. Huron St. [Editor's note: At around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, the city clerk's office contacted The Chronicle with the news that the Friday meeting would be rescheduled. UPDATE, Oct. 16, 2 p.m.: A special meeting of the municipal center task force has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19 from 1-2:30 p.m. at the City Center's 7th floor conference room, 220 E. Huron St. Also on Monday, a special meeting of the Public Art Commission is set for 5:30 p.m. at the same location.]
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Sept. 8, 2009): Herbert Dreiseitl, the German artist recruited to design three art installations at the city’s new municipal center, is coming to Ann Arbor next week to answer questions related to his proposed nearly $800,000 project, which has not yet received approval from the city.
Unlike his previous trip, Dreiseitl won’t be meeting with the public. His agenda includes meetings with businesses in Tecumseh and Hammond that might serve as fabricators for his artwork. That includes a large illuminated water sculpture for the plaza facing Huron Street, and two smaller wall installations inside the building. He’ll also be meeting with city staff and architects for the municipal center, among others.
Katherine Talcott, Ann Arbor’s public art administrator, said the city hadn’t yet paid Dreiseitl for his design work, and that they wouldn’t deliver the $72,000 check for that work until they received more information from him, including detailed cost breakdowns for the project.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Aug. 11, 2009): The art commission made no decision at its monthly meeting on whether to recommend German artist Herbert Dreiseitl’s proposed art installations at the new municipal center, saying they need more details, including cost estimates. However, they debated another aspect of the center’s public art: Whether to put out a nationwide call for artists to compete for additional art installations there. Some commissioners spoke in favor of supporting local artists instead, and others were concerned about spending another $225,000 on municipal center art – in addition to nearly $800,000 budgeted for Dreiseitl’s work.
Although he was born there, Herbert Dreiseitl doesn’t belong to Germany. He doesn’t belong to Norway, Australia or Singapore either. He belongs to the planet.
That’s what Dreiseitl – the artist the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission hired to create a public art installation at the new city municipal center – told the audience at a presentation on Monday morning at city hall.
“As a person, I always feel home where I am,” Dreiseitl said.
The controversy over the municipal center project – especially the fact that AAPAC isn’t using a local artist for the nearly $800,000 project – drove Dreiseitl to make those remarks as he presented his designs for the artwork during his recent visit to Ann Arbor.
He spent most of the day on Monday in public and private meetings about his work, including a morning session with city staff and art commissioners, a public reception and a formal presentation to city council.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (July 14, 2009): A big chunk of Tuesday’s art commission meeting focused on the upcoming visit of German artist Herbert Dreitseitl, who’ll arrive in town this weekend. Where will he stay? When can the public see his designs for the municipal center? How can you score one of the buttons shown in this photo? Our report on Tuesday’s meeting will provide answers to all these questions, and more.
The meeting also introduced The Chronicle to a new vocabulary word – “scuppers” – and included a talk by Susan Pollay of the Downtown Development Authority. To find out which piece of public art she describes as a “sad little sculpture,” read on.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (July 6, 2009): The word “public” covered much of the ground of this past Monday’s meeting: public art, public land, public input.
The council got an annual report from the Public Art Commission highlighted by a reminder that Herbert Dreiseitl will be visiting Ann Arbor on July 20 to introduce plans for the storm water art he’s been commissioned to design for the new municipal center. The designs have not yet been accepted.
The council also heard a report from the Greenbelt Advisory Commission on a slight strategy shift in the use of $10 million of public money so far to protect 1,321 acres of land. The council also approved a resolution to preserve the First & William parking lot as public land.
The discussion of another parcel of public land, the library lot, led to long deliberations on the wording of a resolution to establish an RFP (request for proposals) process for development of the site – below which an underground parking structure is planned. At issue was the timing of the RFP and the explicit inclusion of a public participation component in the process. The deliberations provided some insight into how councilmembers work together when the outcome of their conversations at the table is not scripted or pre-planned.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (June 9, 2009): Ann Arbor Public Art Commission members spent their regular meeting this month discussing their annual plan and budget, as well as hearing reports from their public relations, planning and projects committees. They also discussed German artist Herbert Dreiseitl’s upcoming visit to Ann Arbor, during which he’ll discuss his plans for the municipal center with AAPAC and the city.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (May 12, 2009): Members of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission spent much of their recent monthly meeting talking about their plan for the next year and projects they should tackle. They also discussed upcoming events, including AAPAC’s open house on May 21, a joint meeting with the DDA board on May 26, and the Golden Paintbrush awards on June 1.
Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (April 14, 2009): Much of Tuesday’s meeting focused on issues related to communication, and in particular how it related to the controversial Herbert Dreiseitl project for the city’s municipal center.
And though his visit wasn’t discussed at length, the German artist is coming to Ann Arbor on July 20 to present his designs to the commission and city council. Using funds from the Percent for Art program, the city is paying $77,000 for his preliminary design work, but would still need to sign off on the entire project, which is estimated to cost around $700,000.
There will be a public reception for him, said Margaret Parker, chair of the art commission. It’s not clear whether the commission will see his designs before he arrives, but they might try to vote on the project and take it to city council for approval while he’s here, she said, adding that details about his visit have yet to be finalized. Before he arrives, the commission also plans to have an open house for the public on May 21, to talk about their mission and goals.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Part II (April 6, 2009): We’ve already summarized council’s deliberations on the A2D2 rezoning effort in a previous report.
Here we focus on other business handled by council and topics raised during public commentary at that same meeting. Much of it was related to streets – whether it was vacating them, closing them for special events, or repaving them. The other major theme, as reflected in comments from the public, was public art.
We also include some evidence that the art of the handwritten thank-you note is not dead.