Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Oct. 24, 2012): After three public forums held earlier this month as part of a new community outreach effort, AAPAC members got an update on those meetings and talked about how to increase participation.
Turnout was lower than hoped – as only one resident attended the meeting held on Oct. 22 at Clague Middle School, though about 10 people came to a forum at Bryant Community Center the previous week. A fourth event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Open @Mack cafeteria, 920 Miller Ave.
John Kotarski, who had attended all the forums, felt the events had achieved their purpose of achieving a presence in the community, and introducing residents to different kinds of public art. Bob Miller advocated adding an online element for soliciting more input. Commissioners discussed the possibility of using the city’s new A2 Open City Hall, a blog-type feature that allows people to get information and give feedback on specific projects.
Commissioners took action on other projects, voting to approve a $910 budget for the dedication of a new mural at Allmendinger Park – an event to take place on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 2-4 p.m. The mural was designed by Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals, incorporating artwork and found objects from the community.
Also approved was the location of a sign for the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture in front of city hall, though there was concern about the placement of a fence there. The city has decided to put the mesh metal fence on a section of the pedestrian bridge overlooking the sculpture. Some commissioners are frustrated that this safety issue wasn’t raised earlier, when it might have been addressed by the sculptor as part of the site design. Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, noted that Dreiseitl intended people to interact with the water that runs down from the fountain. “What’s driving this process – the aesthetics of the piece or risk management?” she asked. She ultimately abstained from the vote, stating ”I want to go on the record of being ornery about this.” It was approved by all other commissioners present at the meeting.
Commissioners were also updated on a range of other projects that are in various stages of development. The process has begun for soliciting artists for work at the East Stadium bridge and for an ongoing mural program. The deadlines for submitting statements of qualifications (SOQs) are in November. Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, expects to post another SOQ – for artwork at Argo Cascades – next month. And legal staff is reviewing a request for proposals (RFP) for art at a rain garden being built at Kingsley and First.
Seagraves also reported that installation of a $150,000 hanging glass sculpture at the Justice Center lobby will be delayed a few months, until March or April of 2013. Fabricators selected by the artist Ed Carpenter aren’t available to do the work as soon as expected.
Another potential project emerged during the meeting. Chamberlin noted that the city has about 100 old aluminum canoes that it’s planning to get rid of. She said that Cheryl Saam, facilities supervisor for the city’s canoe liveries, had raised the possibility of using the canoes for some kind of community art project. After getting feedback from other commissioners that this is an idea worth pursuing, Chamberlin said she’d work up a more formal proposal for consideration at a future meeting.
As part of the Oct. 24 meeting packet, AAPAC got a budget update of Percent for Art funds, showing a balance of $1.533 million. Of that, $847,104 has been earmarked for previously approved projects, leaving about $686,000 unallocated. [.pdf of budget summary]
One notable topic was not discussed at the meeting – a public art millage that’s on the Nov. 6 ballot. Several commissioners are involved in advocating for the millage, but have taken a conservative approach to dealing with it during their regular business, and AAPAC meetings have not included discussion on the topic since the August 28, 2012 meeting. That approach stands in contrast to a recent park advisory commission meeting, when one of the park commissioners spoke during public commentary to urge support for the parks millage renewal.