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Posted on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

4 artists in the running for $360K public art project at Ann Arbor's new Stadium bridges

By Ryan J. Stanton

Four artists from across the country are competing for a potentially $360,000 contract from the city of Ann Arbor to create a new public art installation at the site of the Stadium bridges.

Members of the public are invited to meet the four finalists during an open house Monday at the Ann Arbor Senior Center, 1320 Baldwin Ave.

The event runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


Washington-based artist Sheila Klein used this simple treatment to give the I-5 underpass at Ravenna Boulevard and NE 65th St. in Seattle a fresh look.

Sheila Klein

Aaron Seagraves, the city's public art administrator, said the artist finalists will be in town to visit the project site along East Stadium Boulevard and will be available to speak about their work and the possibilities they see for the site. Members of the public can drop in any time.

The Stadium bridges art project is one of three projects — including artworks associated with the Argo Cascades and a new rain garden at First and Kingsley — that were not affected by the City Council's partial suspension of the city's Percent For Art Program in December.

The chosen artist's maximum contract budget will be $360,000. So far, the artists have submitted examples of past work and resumes.

Design proposals will be forthcoming from the four finalists, which were chosen from a larger pool of applicants, following their visit to the site. Design submissions are due May 9.

The city has identified a few potential locations for the artwork, including a fence between Stadium Boulevard and Rose White Park, the space where White Street ends just north of Stadium Boulevard, the underpass and staircases at State Street, and on both sides of the bridge itself.

"Abutments, sidewalks, and railings can be engaged while the bridge design and traffic safety is not to be comprised," the city's request for proposals stated of the possibility of art on the bridge itself. "Art would be visible mainly for car and foot traffic along Stadium Boulevard."

Seagraves said the "meet the artists" open house will give the public an opportunity to give some feedback about the proposed site for public art. All feedback collected will be available to the artists before they begin working on an initial design for the artwork.

The artist finalists are:

  • Volkan Alkanoglu was nominated in 2006 for the Young Architect of the Year award in the U.K. He was born in Turkey, raised in Germany, and studied architecture in Berlin. He now is a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles and also is appointed as the TVSDesign Distinguished Critic at Georgia Tech. His Atlanta-based firm's artworks have been built and exhibited in public places worldwide, including New York's Union Square Park, the Los Angeles WUHO Gallery and the London Royal Academy of Arts.

    From the artist's statement: "In cooperation with the Public Art Council and city of Ann Arbor, our design strategy for a unique and site-specific artwork at the Stadium Bridge will be an outstanding example of 21st century public art that functions for its occupants, inspires its visitors, and resonates with a global audience. With our commitment to innovation and sustainability, the art project will feature an unparalleled design vision constructed with the most leading-edge technologies and fabrication methods."

  • Sheila Klein, an artist from the state of Washington, designed the award-winning "Underground Girl" subway in Hollywood. She also has completed projects under the I-5 freeway in Seattle, on a pedestrian bridge in Pittsburgh, and a freeway underpass between L.A. and Santa Monica.

    From the artist's statement: "I grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn., a city of extraordinary bridges. I appreciate the beauty and strength of the lacy structure of bridges, the repetition and rhythm, the sculptural procession, the necklace of lights and refections in the water. Lighting has been an element in my work from the beginning; I have combined light with sculpture in my work since 1990."

  • Matt Passmore's San Francisco-based art and design studio, Rebar Group Inc., is known for inventing PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event that temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into mini parks. Rebar's eclectic portfolio explores the social and political dynamics of public space, including works that use transportation infrastructure as both a site and a medium.

    From the artist's statement: "Rebar generates artwork, ideas and design solutions that engage public space, ecology, and the social fabric of the commons. Our clients include public agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and community organizations. Our mission is to inspire people to re-imagine the environment and our place in it."

  • Catherine Widgery, a Massachusetts-based artist, has created several works with public infrastructure, including bridges, and has been recognized multiple times for creating an outstanding public artwork by the Americans for the Arts. She has created public artworks everywhere from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City, Toronto, Denver and New Delhi, India.

    From the artist's statement: "This project interests me because of the variety of sites to be treated and the challenge of finding ways for art to animate and integrate these different locations. I enjoy using existing structures and surfaces and weaving the art concept into these so that the viewer discovers something new each time they move through the space."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


not a billy

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Looking at these comments from the non-Ann Arborite (and loving it) perspective sure makes me wonder if the mayor and his posse have any clue about what their constituents (a.k.a. voters) are saying. One would have to believe that few of the elected officials in AA either a) can read, or b) give a damn about public opinion. My question to the Ann Arbor voters - Who keeps re-electing these self-serving, arrogant, pompous morons? One would think that with a population of 116,000 there would be someone running for election that is willing to listen to the voters. What a unique concept. A helpful hint to those posting on this site - get off the computer and show up for city council meetings and make your voice heard.

Richard Wickboldt

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

The city bends over backward to make a community here for artist and then doesn't give them or other MI artist appropriate consideration. We are just wasting our money on both efforts if we do not fit them together. I think the artist and the money would be better spent on fixing the roads with art work for pavement. We would have a triple play: repaired roads, artwork all over town, employed artist.

Dirty Mouth

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

A few months before the original bridge was removed an artist had painted a troll hiding underneath the bridge. I loved that mural and laughed every time I passed it on my way to work. I bet it didn't cost the city a dime?

Dirty Mouth

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

As an ART connoisseur and participant in the local ART scene I am dismayed that no one from Ann Arbor or Detroit was invited; we very talented folks right here in Michigan!


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

Nothing is more beautiful than a new, fresh, pristine piece of architecture, like this bridge. Why muck it up? Do you want accidents to occur from gawkers, and graffitti artists to mess it up?

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

This is like a pork barrel project ignoring priorities. I keep reading that there is nothing that can be done. What about legally? We've been ripped off from too long from this mayor and his cronies! They should be held accountable for the spending of our tax dollars on things that are not related to priorities!


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

Vote him and his cronies out next time, please! That's the only way!

Laurie Barrett

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

All the examples look like "institutional art"--the kind of stuff you see in airports and lobbies of corporations. When will A2 take a chance and put up something challenging and stimulating, something ahead of the curve? "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" -- at least enough to make it do something more than sit there.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

The mayor and council don't have the guts to put the whole concept of public;y-funded are up for a vote. They know what the outcome would be. Their thinking is that we ignorant rubes can't be trusted with a decision as important as public art; we don't have the intellectual foundation to grasp the profoundness of it. How can the citizens get this on the ballot?

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

You can't lol they're gonna stick to A2 citizens like they always do with no Vas!@ne. Oh the pain the pain lol

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Seriosly Ryan???? City council and the mayor crying about money trying to beg uofm and fleece the state fo this and that crying broke all the way and they're spending money on thi??? If I could cuss on here and get away with it I would. Holy crap. Wowwwwwwwww unreal

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

$360K could go a long way in the police and/or fire department. The Stadium bridges look fine to me as they are.

Pat Ardner

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

Maybe it's time to get rid of the mayor and all council members who think spending $370,000 on STUPID artwork from artists out of state is a good thing. We don't need artwork around the city anyway. We need roads repaired, more police and fire personnel and someplace for the homeless to stay, not art work on a bridge that most people could care less about. It will just be distracting to drivers, and we already have problems with people being distracted trying to use their cell phones while driving.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

That's the only real solution. The voters already told them "NO!" and they're still at it and still not using anyone local while they do it.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:25 p.m. This is so sad it's funny: fyi, just because a public art is "done" does not mean the spending stops. the broken fountain now requires a SIGN...good grief. Sign for Dreiseitl Water Sculpture The issue of developing a sign for the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture has been discussed at various AAPAC meetings for about a year. At the Jan. 23 meeting, commissioners reviewed the proposed sign that had been developed by Quinn Evans Architects and city communications staff. Drawing that shows proposed location for a sign near the Dreiseitl sculpture in front of city hall, facing Huron Street. Commissioners raised several concerns about the sign, which would be 11 inches by 17 inches and located on top of a mesh fence that will be installed at the end of the walkway overlooking the sculpture. The sign is intended to highlight the sculpture's meaning and how it fits into the context of the plaza's rain garden and stormwater management system.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Gee, did Quinn Evans go through a competitive bid for this sign job? No, of course not, because Mr. Ken Clein, Architect at Quinn Evans, is a mayoral buddy and appointee. Now, where is that blank check, drawn on tax dollars? It was here somewhere...

Usual Suspect

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

"The glass spheres bring floating light into the darkness of a physical form while water flows from above to quench the thirst of the earth." Oh, please.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

and how that "resonates" at the exact frequency of empty skulls

Joe Hood

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

But the city can't spare $28K of that to pick up the Christmas trees?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

It's the needles ... He doesn't seem to know that the needles trash your car, plus, your once living tree was probably wrapped or tied for the trip home, but it is impossible to do that on the way out.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

No Joe, the Mayor said you figured out a way to get the tree to your house so you can just figure out how to get it out to the dumping ground on Ellsworth Road. Not sure if taking it on an AATA bus would require paying for two passengers.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

All these people just complaining about how wrong this is. How can I actually DO something about this? I want to get involved, this is absolutely ridiculous...


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

well, we VOTED against it, but that didn't work. dunno...they do what they do. yes, ridiculous.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

This public art commission needs to be completely abolished, and all the public art money needs to be returned to its originating "bucket" or to the people. The city has proven over and over that it is not good with managing projects, picking art, or overseeing the installation of art. This is a huge amount of money wasted, and it's less than HALF what they put into that German-designed never-working piece of chintz in fron the brand new city hall. Everywhere you look, the waste of your money is being shoved in your face, and yet it continues. You know, they ADDED a position to the Art Commission. They are bad at this, and at this point you can't even say their hearts are in the right place. it's time to end it, and public outcry is apparently the only thing that will. We all need to start getting our friends, family, and coworkers together and going to the council meetings, write letters, etc. It's free money for them, so they're not going to stop on their own. This is LUDICROUS.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

How about we repaint the "left turn only" arrow on the street at Hill and Packard that people keep using as a straight through? Or put a sign that no one will see, directly next to the left turn arrow at the same intersection that says "This Lane Left Turn Only." How is there not accidents there every day? I nearly get plowed into by people using that lane as a through lane. How about we also fix the intersections and roads over the bridge at Eisenhower/Ann Arbor-Saline/94 intersections? Why do you need to spend $360,000 for 'art' on a bridge?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

lol I saw 5 cars merge into the straight lane this morning while I was trying to turn left.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

I encourage - implore - all local and Michigan artists who submitted proposals to submit them also to the Community Wall in so we can see them.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

No one has submitted proposals yet. All that's been submitted is resumes and examples of past work.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Just don't you worry. in Ann Arbor, anything that sounds Green or Artisy get lots of money thrown at it regardless of wheter or not it makes any sense. Priorities of this Mayor and his buddies are so far out of wack it is incredible.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Hopefully whoever wins is willing to help pay for my struts and shocks that are already rattling on my car that is less than 5 years old. Why does Ann Arbor have worse roads than Detroit? Pathetic

Dog Guy

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Make a parade float of the Hurinal and continuously pull it slowly across the bridges. Title it "Traffic Calming."


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

You just made my day, DG! Lol


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Mr. Seagraves: I would caution you that if the submissions from these 4 finalists don't result in something absolutely stunning, START OVER. Do NOT pick one of the four just because you narrowed it down to these four.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

According to there is also a position of "Art Project Manager" for the City. There is indeed a "Public Art Empire in place. How many othr paid positions are there?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

I believe that's a reference to Katherine Talcott, the city's previous part-time public art administrator from a few years ago. Aaron Seagraves is now the part-time public art administrator, and I believe he is the only one.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Ryan, is the "Public Art Administrator" a paid position in the city of Ann Arbor? How long has this position existed? What are the credentials of Aaron Seagraves? To whom does he report? I am beginning to sense a "Public Art Empire" growing. Thank you.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

He's been around a couple years. Yes, it's a paid part-time position. I believe he graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts and from the University of Oregon with a master's degree in arts administration in 2009. There is a recommendation on the table to make his position full-time to improve the art program. More on that soon.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Here's an idea.... open this project up to K-12 students in Ann Arbor. Winning artist's school gets the money for their art program. minus a reasonable sum to actually implement the design.

Linda Peck

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Here we go again! I guess some people, or boards, cannot learn from their past. Not only are no Michigan artists in the running, but no Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti artists, and we have many qualified for this art project or any other. It is another unhappy news day on for the art world and the community.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Ryan, can you get the Mayor to explain again how we can't limit these projects to local artists because of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, like he has claimed in the past and exact what legal ruling he used to make this case? He's great at making statements and laying blame without fully explaining or justifying his words. With this new project, now would be a great time to revisit his past statements and have him explain again.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

Are there any " studies" or "planning " for this project? If so you can bet it is a non-competitive bid going directly to a pal.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Sure, show no favoritism when hiring, EXCEPT when it is to the benefit of a few mayoral friends and appointees.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

"The city selects artists based on their qualifications, and that most often seems to lead to out-of-state artists." "Qualifications" is just another vague, meaningless, subjective word that can't be defined when it comes to art. In a City that is into 'buying local', it's amusing to see everyone, including the Mayor, ok with that philosophy when it comes to tomatoes and chicken eggs but not Michigan art. It's as if the Mayor and the art circle has some sort of inferiority complex. If the Mayor thinks it would be illegal to weight the rating factors for City art projects to give preference to Michigan artists, he should request a written legal opinion from the City Attorney. We both know he's not going to do that--just like he was afraid to do it for the Per Cent for Art Program Tax.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

I'm aware of another city in Michigan that has a local preference policy on city contracts where, if I recall correctly, they let local contractors, if they're within 5 percent of the low bid price submitted by an out-of-area contractor, sharpen their pencils and come down to the low bid price so the work goes to the local contractor. I informed the mayor and other Ann Arbor officials of this more than a year ago after one council member remarked at a meeting something like "I wish we could have given the contract to the local company that bid just a few dollars higher" and they seemed surprised and questioned whether such a policy is even legal. Definitely worth looking into further. But this of course is a different situation. These public art projects aren't based on competitive low bidding. The city selects artists based on their qualifications, and that most often seems to lead to out-of-state artists.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3 p.m.

First, why are our tax payer's continually going to out-of-state artists. I know there are many, many fine artists here in Michigan. Secondly, with the very, very tight budget with shortages continuing with the AAFD, AAPD, and streets that need major repairs, are we continuing to spend dollars on art. As mentioned many time, love art, by priorities surely should come first -- safety for Ann Arbor. At at the very least, selecting local artists.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

The more I think about this, the more angry I become. This money comes from tax dollars - our tax dollars. Money earned in Michigan. Money spent in Michigan. And the city won't even listen to it's tax paying residents that not only is this something we don't really want, we don't have any kind of say in how it goes down (or up). Keep Our Money LOCAL.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

This is another unnecessary project at the expense of us taxpayers. Here's why: 1. The bridge itself is a work of art, so nothing more is required. 2. No Michigan artists, so it is not consistant with "Buy Local". 3. Put money into fixing Stadium Blvd. in front of the Stadium. That will do more for the aesthetics of the area. The condition of the street is an abomination. "The right hand knows not what the left hand is doing" applies in Ann Arbor for sure.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

This forum is and should be viewed as a window into tax payer sentiment on issues where are money in spent. It is criminal that council members ignore this feedback and just do what they want. It is the same problem with government at all levels, once they are in there is only one way to get them out DO YOUR JOB!

Retiree Newcomer

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Given the undersstaffing the the AA police and fire departments and the annual shortfalls facing the AA public schools, this sounds like an outrageous sum to be spending on public art. The City Council should get its priorities straightened out, and quickly.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Once again...this should go to a LOCAL artist ONLY....


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

It is appaling that with such great Schools of Architecture and Art and Design at the UofM there are no local arists in this list! Also, as much as I would love to support this project, it seems we cannot afford such luxury at this time when our schools are about to cut their arts programs due to budget cuts. I believe the people should be able to vote on the appropriateness of choosing funds allocation here , to say the least.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Disqualify all four, "buy local" is the mantra of a successful city!!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Use the money for things we need as a city; roads, schools, police, and fire fighters. Don't ask for more taxes if you spend our money foolishly

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Step back and think what a city like Saginaw or Jackson would do if presented with a $360K windfall and remember the difference between wants and needs.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

Can't speak for Jackson, but Saginaw would probably squander it on pension enhancements for short-serving city officials. However, I appreciate your sentiment and agree that this is a lot of money for some eye candy.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Do people really think any local artists would want to step up to this project and then be subjected to this sort of scorn in their hometown? They'd have to be a masochist. On the other hand, I fully agree with private funding of public art. The arts commission could decide WHERE they think a piece of public art should go, pitch it to the money people to raise the money, then the RFP. Could also use the Kickstarter method. Then even those who are NOT captains of industry could contribute.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Did you hear that? UM Art School / local artists? You guys couldn't even paint the side of a bridge if you tried - according to your representatives at City Hall.. Aaron Seagraves needs to be looking for a "fauncie" paid position in one of those other four contending non-Ann Arbor cities. Whoever complained that I was to harsh for calling upon Sabra Briere's electorate to vote her out of office this election (and thus off the Art Commission and Planning Commission and Environment Commission and ...) now has another managerial example to rave and gush about and condemn me for...


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

I will vote her out if I can, however, it won't stop her from serving on the carousel of mayoral appointments that has come to define progress in Ann Arbor. Is it any wonder things stay the same? We have the same two dozen people with their hands in everything, all appointments and "commissions".


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

I love public art, but not at the expense of the basic needs of citizens. It makes me sad we even need to have this discussion. I guess the Mayor and Council don't drive on Ann Arbor roads - $360K would not fix our crumbling roads (Geddes between US23 and H.Pkwy?) - but it would be a better use of funds, especially since that is where this money was supposed to be spent (along with the other buckets that got skimmed). $360K could have so much impact if invested in the community. Instead, we'll get another broken fountain. How very sad.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

I can only echo the sentiments of all those who want to see Ann Arbor public art done by Ann Arbor area artists, of which there are many with great talent.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

When you go to meet the artists, remember to be polite. It is not their fault we are spending half a million dollars on art when we cannot even maintain the roads.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

this is what the art commission does. screw thing up. why art on the bridge.look as it is . it is only a darn bridge. when you drive over the bridge it looks fine. you got the uofm stuff to look at. IT IS ONLY A BRIDGE.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

save the money....

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

They should take the $360K and use it to fix the road in front of the Stadium and Crisler. All that money spent on that new bridge and they couldn't even be bothered to fix the bit of road approaching it. Terrible.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

If local artists want to do the work, they need to apply and go through the process just like any other artist. Submitting the proposals is real work. If they can't do it, they don't get to play.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Most of the local artists are already way too familiar with the City & it's Public Arts Council, and are sick of dealing with the Ann Arbor Art Mafia.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

$350,000 kind'a seems like a bit much for a coat of fancy paint. But then again... City Council and Mayor..... I'm not surprised in the least.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Mayor Hieftje and City Council Members, Please listen to what we're saying, just this once. Thank you.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Public art is inspirational, playful, thoughtful, and makes the mundane enjoyable. Anyone can have a bridge, roadway or stairway -- why not make them delightful? I love that the city invests in public art. These particular artists have widespread experience doing exactly this kind of project -- how lucky we are that they are showing interest in us!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

"inspirational, playful, thoughtful, and makes the mundane enjoyable" - really? you get all this from the broken fountain at city hall? all i get is disappointment.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Not throwing another $360K down the drain would just delight the heck out of many of us.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm all for public art when times are good, the city has fully staffed police and fire departments, and the roads are all in good shape ... but when none of those things is true, public art should be the absolute lowest item on the council's priority list. How many firefighters could we hire with that $360,000? Nine? Ten?

Love A2

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Ditto to what you said fjord! I enjoy art as well, but do not support spending money (let alone exorbitant amounts) on art when other basic needs of the city aren't being met. The powers that be argue that the money is coming from a separate "bucket." That makes no sense at all! Money spent is money spent and it doesn't really matter what "bucket" it comes from. This is just a political game that is being played and those that are playing it must think we are all stupid.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

@Nicholas ... exactly my point. I really do support the concept of public art, but only if there are leftover dollars after all the truly important stuff has been addressed. Theoretically, that *could* happen someday. Not holding my breath, but...

An Arborigine

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Not at the rate AA would pay them. I'd say maybe four hires.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

When have the roads been "all in good shape" When? Ever?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Let's welcome visitors with nice roads, not art work only a few people will see.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

The mayor is trying to get a train so we won't need roads (choo! choo!)


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

AGREE. when people come for a job they drive over the roads. that is on major thing they look at ann arbor. do you think art would make them feel better than better roads.look at the bridge before now look at it again. big difference. art is not a necessity.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

The first artist wins because he worked "resonate" into his description. If it doesn't resonate, we don't want it.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

I suggest they use about 0.5% of that money to come pick up the trees that are still down along every road in Ann Arbor from a storm that came a month ago. If the city does not have the capabilties(staff/trucks/time), find someone who can, i.e the private sector.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Another third of a million dollars down the drain. How's that percent for art "reform" coming along, council?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

......and there is no money to fix Stadium from the new bridge to Main Street? More lipstick on a pig


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Perhaps a big mural showing hundred dollar bills being flushed down the toilet? I was gonna say a urinal, but we already got one of the those....

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

I wonder how many potholes could be filled with that $$$$$$$$$$$$$$


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Every trip in Ann Arbor involves dodging potholes and grinding along on dreadful rough roads (like by the Stadium). Art is great but it's like dessert: have some when the meat and potatoes (roads) are done.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Plato said, "What is honored in a country swill be cultivated there." In Ann Arbor, we love our art, BUT we do not honor our own artists. To be recognized as innovative and creative here, one must be from somewhere else. The "Art Commission" seems to honor people from other states or other countries in its selection of people who can create suitable project for OUR town that portrays OUR culture and OUR lifestyle. And then we wonder why people flee SE Michigan and go somewhere else to succeed. We claim support of the arts, but reject local talent who can deliver equally - if not superior - works of art for OUR city. Somehow the "Art Commission" believes that we must buy 'important' artists work to be a faux cosmopolitan city. Are we embarrassed by who we are? Do we need to pretend to be another city? Why, why, why can't we celebrate and honor our own unique artists? Why can't we support them in their climb to be recognized as 'important' contributors in the greater world of art? Why can't we honor OUR local Michigan artists, influenced by the beauty of OUR state's resources and cultivate their careers? Instead we look at concrete tunnels, glow boxes, temporary parks, and sparkly bubbles done elsewhere, rather than looking at potential designs for OUR project. Who are these people deciding how to make our city the city of ugly art bought with taxpayer - my - money? Can no one think of a design challenge open to all artists? You don't know what's out there until you ask. PLEASE! Give our own artists a chance.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

@Lets Get Real: Excellent post!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

I think public art for the bridge would be great. All of these artists look very good and have wonderful ideas and resumes. I know you all will vote me down, but really it is a good idea and will be an enhancement to the area. I'll duck and cover now....


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

no - the enhancement was the bridge. the art is like putting a $360K cherry on top of it.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

And people wonder where their money goes???????????? Publc safety would be greater/


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

The people in charge of spending your money do not have your best interest at heart. That's a very important and very depressing thing that you have to realize. We have to try to change this. I don't make enough money to have so much of it wasted like this. It's time to have property taxes lowered and some of this money returned to people who need it. They are not doing a good job with it. At all. Why is it taking so long for the "Percent for art" program to get shut down? Who's talking about that vote we had turning don the public art millage? Why did the public art commission staff get ADDED to?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Public art instead of basic essential services and the money goes out of state, unbelievable. I guess that's why I prefer to live outside the city and in a township where they are proud of if adding to basic services, or they maintain them at acceptable levels..


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

Where is the poll asking if we WANT public art on a bridge, whether we WANT to pay for it (I thought the voter said "no"), and do we prefer a Michigan artist to be chosen?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

I can't help thinking how many firemans' or policemans' or teachers' salaries could be paid by this money. Instead, we choose to spend it on a really arty-looking bridge?! Are you serious?! I would love to see a straw poll of Ann Arbor voters and see how many support this kind of expenditure in lieu of actual public services. SHAME.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

I can underbid all of these people. The city would only have to buy me a case of Krylon spray paint, a Magnum 44 fatcap marker, and a case of beer. I'll even throw in the words "sustainable" and "diverse", too!

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

DJBudsonic, who cares if the bridge is ugly just as long as it works! There are so many, many other true priorities!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Please do it. That bridge is so ugly right now it is beyond belief. They needed to spend the art money during the design phase. Graffiti wold be a welcome break of the massive forms of the bridge.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

I would gladly donate for that.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

If we don't like what the city decides on we'll be contacting you. What kind of beer do you like?

tom swift jr.

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

I can hardly believe that people support spending $370,000 on painting a bridge, in a community where our schools are closing, our non-profits that provide such needed services are being shuttered, more and more children are living on food stamps. Paint the darn thing grey, use a local contractor, put away some funds to cover the vandalism that will happen next week and spend the rest of the 1/3 of a million dollars on something valuable, like people!

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

City council priorities.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

Right on tom

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

We would do better to instead have the private sector fund a public rotating art gallery for local artists and protect it from vandals than these wasteful projects. The rotating public art gallery I propose could be largely self-funded from sales of the artwork displayed using a silent auction system with the art being sold to the winner at the end of the display period. The artists could be selected by a juried competition. Think of it as a permanent year-round art fair.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini, your idea makes too much sense for city council! Unfortunately, city council with its illegally funded art fund will not look into your suggestions or other options that other communities use for their art because it's not "Ann Arbor" enough.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

@a2cents: Haha! Yes you are correct. I do have some ideas on how that might work that I plan to explore. One man cannot do much however, and many like minded individuals would need to come together to actually bring this idea to reality. If you are interested in helping me, please do email me at, with the Subject Line "Rotating Art Gallery for Local Artists." Thanks!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Well, you are privatesector... quit typing & get busy.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

"Members of the public are invited to meet the four finalists during an open house Monday at the Ann Arbor Senior Center, 1320 Baldwin Ave." Very fitting, seeing how some of portfolio's presented here sound like 'art' my great-grandparents would have thought was 'cutting edge'. And of course, we couldn't find a Michigan artist--guess the local 'art committee' doesn't think there are artists in this state who are good enough. Business as usual and why the Per Cent For Art programs and the Public Art Commission should be abolished. This stuff is so politically correct it makes you gag.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

They just don't get it ...and the sad part is they don't give a damn's a shame the electorate is dumber than those they put in office...


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

Some of the artists' works are impressive, but City Council is way off the mark by not making use of a local or Michigan artist a priority. Lead by example, if you want more local businesses to thrive in Ann Arbor then use them here.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Public Art Administrator! How about that?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:51 a.m.

For those of you who haven't yet read former Mayor Lou Belcher's excellent comment on this topic, I thought I'd repost it here: "It is time the city government started using "Management by Objective" as our City Councils practiced during my four terms as mayor. Priorities, set by importance, is the only way to operate anything...whether it is a government, a business, a family." "For any city, the government's first priority MUST be the health and safety of it's citizens...just ask them. For example, we set the following top objectives: a police car in front of any address in two minutes...a fire truck in four minutes, waste pick up every week with a sanitary disposal methodology, clean water.....etc. We built the sixth and last fire station to meet the four minute response goal and it is ,in my opinion, very bad policy to dismantle the very infrastructure, that supports, what should be a number one priority." "When the money runs out you stop on the last priority and , if you have money left...give it back to those who gave it to you." "Look, you can help lead the effort for the arts without spending priority tax dollars...we helped create the Summer festival, the Michigan theater,and the Hands on Museum with very little public money and the citizen volunteers took them over and saw to their funding...(doing a heck of a lot better job than the city council could) and we asked the business community to help fund public art (which many did)." "Let's get back to the important things that government was formed to do.....those things that individuals can not do alone." We need a Mayor and members of city council who are in synch with this philosophy!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Excellent -- thank you for sharing.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

@Barzoom is so correct, graffiti vandals will deface whatever art is built quickly. Even the beautiful mural on Liberty near State recently restored at great expense by the building owner was already attacked again. Former Mayor Lou Belcher is correct that the private sector would fund good community projects if asked by the leadership of the city, that is how he saved Michigan Theatre from the wrecking ball, and he started The Hands on Museum with just $10,000 of city money. We would do better to instead have the private sector fund a public rotating art gallery for local artists and project it from vandals than these wasteful projects. As a basic principle, any working capital on hand above the prioritized strategic needs of any entity owned by the City of Ann Arbor ought to be returned immediately to the General Fund. Those needs should prioritized by city council with help from the city administrator by importance across all city funds (also known as separate accounts or "buckets"). For the city of Ann Arbor, the government's first priority MUST be the health and safety of it's citizens, but in this key area we are falling short. Past resolutions of city council have trapped over $80 million of cash in various buckets that could otherwise be legally moved around. We should set the following top objectives: a police car in front of any address in two minutes, a fire truck in four minutes, road repair, waste pick up every week with a sanitary disposal methodology, clean water, waste water and flood water management, etc. Extra money piling up in separate funds and buckets like the 1% For Art Fund burns holes in their pockets and result in boondoggle spending like the $750,000 Huirinal and whatever comes out of this process. It is time to "Drain The Buckets to fund the priorities!

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini, your idea makes too much sense for city council! Unfortunately, city council with its illegally funded art fund will not look into your suggestions or other options that other communities use for their art because it's not "Ann Arbor" enough.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

Have to agree, the money could be put to much better use elsewhere. The "art" budget overall is just absurd to me when basic services are being underfunded. The school system is struggling, roads are horrible, the footing drain program fizzled out, houses on N. main are still standing...etc. Can we please stop trying to put lipstick on a pig and deal with some core issues.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

@Chris W: I totally agree! If had an edit feature I would make that correction now. As you certainly know by your comment, the point is to be able to meet the national standards for fire safety and emergency medical services. Without four fire fighters on scene a medical emergency could be addressed but a fire could not be attacked, to ensure the safety of the fire fighters who must work in teams of two, two inside and two outside ready to rescue the first team in case they run into trouble. Many crews in Ann Arbor now only have three fire fighters per apparatus. Also, "project" should be "protect" in this sentence: "We would do better to instead have the private sector fund a public rotating art gallery for local artists and project [protect] it from vandals than these wasteful projects." Sorry!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

Should be a fire truck *with enough firefighters to actually fight fires* in 4 minutes.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:30 a.m.

We don't need a distraction for drivers or an enticement for grafiti artists. The artistic types that are on the committee who will decide what art will be chosen may forget the practical consdierations. The proposal should get plenty of public exposure and comments before a decision is made.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

The decision has already been made.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:30 a.m.

"So far, the artists have submitted examples of past work and resumes. Design proposals will be forthcoming from the four finalists, which were chosen from a larger pool of applicants, following their visit to the site. Design submissions are due May 9." Translation = we eliminated all the local and Michigan artists from the competition based on their resume and portfolio and not based on actual submissions of what art they would build for the city on the chosen sites. Incredible.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

In order to keep within a budget, even as large as $360,000, an artist must have some vision of what he/she will produce and should be able to provide a preliminary sketch or diagram showing the prospective artwork. Dreiseitl's monstrosity outside the Municipal Building can be used as an example. The artist knew what artwork he could produce for $700,000. I wonder if he were told that he could spend only $360,000 if he would just halve the size of his project. The resulting miniature would be less imposing in front of the Municipal Building which actually may have been preferable to residents of Ann Arbor. Anyway from mind-to-paper should not be difficult and preliminary sketches should cost an artist be of little time and cost and aid art selection immensely.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

It depends on their idea. Many artistic concepts cannot be shown with a simple sketch. In order to catch the attention of potential clients one needs high quality materials, not drawings on a cocktail napkin. I won't spend any time doing drawings or writing up contract language unless I KNOW I have a good shot at a job, otherwise I end up working for free.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

@Clownfish: I think a simple sketch or paragraph describing what they would build would be the key thing to look for, *then* review the resume and portfolio to see if they have a track record or not and can deliver and execute what they propose.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Stephen, I too would like to see more local artists involved, but aren't resume's and portfolios what businesses use to weed out multiple candidates for job position? Would you ask each participant to spend hundreds of hours to put together their concept before they even know if they have a shot at the project? It's not like a contract bid to build the bridge, their are no plans to bid on. When you hire someone, do you ask each person to submit detailed plans of how they would handle each part of their job along with their resume, before they even get an interview? I think you probably weed out dozens of people based on resume and portfolio. I know when I hired I did. (I used to hire 3-6 people a year) Again, I agree with most people here, this should be done by local artists, keep the money local, at least in Michigan, if possible. We have the talent.

average joe

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

One can only wonder how many 'better' ideas will never be submitted by other artists because the city does it backwards. Maybe the 'city art administrator' can only handle four art submissions at a time......


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

What ever is put there won't last long. It'll be defaced with spray paint courtesy of our local graffiti "artists".


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Yes, I'll give Mr. "Saes" about a week.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Stop calling tagging is NOT is VANDALISM....


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:22 a.m.

Why are none of these artists local? My personal vote is for no art there at all, and will say so at the community meeting coming up.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

When is this meeting?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

just once & not loudly, i hope


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:16 a.m.

None of the artists are from Michigan. Way to keep our money local.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

Sorry, the pool of artists should only come from Michigan artists. Any other way is insulting.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Ryan, would love to see examples from the 9 Michigan artists.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

I'm told the city had 32 submissions, including 9 from Michigan artists.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Local artists don't need some form of affirmative action. They just need to do the work to submit their proposals.