Does Ann Arbor still have a public art commission?
Yes, and we’re:
- Seeing the completion of projects started before the public art fund was de-funded
- Advising city staff on projects that may have a public art component
- Determining how the commission moves forward
A quick recap: I was appointed about a year ago, during the same city council meeting where public art was de-funded—having an Irish sense of humor has proven useful.
The one remaining big project from the old budget is the Stadium bridges project. There have been a couple of planning issues regarding lighting and foundations, but the plan is still for a late 2015 installation. If the art piece had been considered and chosen prior to construction, foundation and electrical work could have been done during construction. This is the idea behind “baked-in” funding for art.
There are three other projects the commission is involved with, and a new one for an elevated water tank on Manchester Road in Ann Arbor.
- The Jewett memorial is a set of bronze adirondack chairs to be installed at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market commemorating Coleman Jewett, who was an admired local educator, and a fixture at the farmer’s market for years selling his chairs. This project is largely funded by private donations and grants, with commissioner Marsha Chamberlin acting as program manager. The project is nearly completely funded—”everything but the plaque”, and the city will be considering next steps soon.
If you’d like to help complete funding, you can make a donation via the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation: http://www.aaacf.org/about-aaacf/aaacf-funds/special-project-funds/coleman-jewett-chair-project
- Canoe Imagine Art, which is being managed by the Arts Alliance. Three pieces have already been chosen, with one more to be chosen by the public from 3 finalists this February — I’ll be sure to share a link when I have one. The plan is for a public celebration in July 2015 to coincide with Huron River Days. The project differs from its initial conception in that the installations will be in Ann Arbor parks instead of scattered around downtown, and the parks will decide where they go. The city also reserves the right to keep them up. Commissioner John Kotarski was one of the jurors, and I concur with his delight in the quality of proposal submitted by artists. Most are interactive in some way, and will make a great addition to the parks.
- I’ve been selected to be a juror for another project managed by the Arts Alliance, “PowerArt!“. The first of three phases involves wrapping 8 traffic boxes around downtown Ann Arbor with canvases that display the work of local artists. The jury will select 6 submissions, and the public will select the remaining 2. Again, when I have a link, I’ll share it. The jury will take place in February, and the celebration will be in May 2015, followed by two months of community response before moving on to the next phases.
The Manchester Elevated tank is up for repainting, which came up back in 2012 as a potential project in 2013.
This is the first example of “baked-in” art, where the city identifies a project that may lend itself to public art prior to engaging the commission. The plan is very similar to the water tower on Plymouth road, where there will be a public request for designs, a jury will choose finalists whose submissions will be put to a public vote, with the winner being recognized. The commission had questions about the pros and cons of various materials (paint vs. vinyl), and made project suggestions that largely mirrored the previously successful project on Plymouth road. The project manager for the job will be handling the logistics behind managing design submissions, etc.