Billboard promoting Grand Rapids and its “hot art.” [photo]
University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting (April 15, 2010): Under the high ceilings and crystal chandelier of an historic hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, university regents and administrators gathered Thursday for their monthly meeting in a venue designed to recognize UM’s ties with the western part of the state.
Though most of the meeting entailed presentations and reports – focused on UM programs with links to the Grand Rapids area and western Michigan – the regents also unanimously approved several action items, with little discussion.
Increases for parking permit fees – 3% in each of the next three fiscal years – were set, as was the transfer of the Henry Ford Estate to the nonprofit Ford House foundation. The estate had been given to UM in the 1950s along with land that became the university’s Dearborn campus. Regents also approved a major expansion of the Institute for Social Research building on Thompson Street.
During public commentary, two leaders of the lecturers’ union spoke to regents, charging that UM lecturers are being asked to shoulder an unfair burden as the university tries to cut costs. The union is negotiating with the administration for a new contract – its current contract expires May 15.
After the meeting – held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel – regents, executives and staff headed over to the nearby J.W. Marriott hotel for a reception hosted by the UM Alumni Association.
Starting on Wednesday and running through Oct. 10, the city of Grand Rapids is turning itself into one huge urban art gallery. The concept is ArtPrize – an art competition open to anyone who wants to enter, at any location offered up as a venue, with a $250,000 top prize that’s awarded by people who actually visit the city and take the time to vote. Another $200,000 will be given out in smaller amounts, also based on votes.
It’s about as public as art can get.
The Chronicle has been covering Ann Arbor’s own public art initiatives, reporting on the monthly meetings of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission, which oversees the city’s Percent for Art program, and tracking the saga of German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, who’s being commissioned – for over $700,000 – to make three art installations at the new municipal center. So the question of how another city in Michigan is promoting public art was a natural one to pursue.
That led The Chronicle to Grand Rapids last weekend.
Over two dozen Ann Arbor area artists are among the 1,200 or more who’ve entered the ArtPrize competition. We hoped to observe artists setting up their work prior to Wednesday’s opening, and to motivate others to make the two-hour trip up I-96 to check out what happens when a city opens itself quite dramatically to art. Here’s a sampling of what we encountered.