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Posted on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Argo Cascades art project: Public invited to meet 3 artists before they submit designs

By Ryan J. Stanton

The three artists being considered for the Argo Cascades public art project will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Aug. 3 to meet with the public.

City officials said there will be multiple opportunities for interested residents to speak with the artists and give input before designs are created.


A pair of kayakers enters the Argo Cascades on Saturday, June 29, on the Huron River in Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The artist finalists are:

  • Jann Rosen-Queralt — a site-specific artist and educator at the Maryland Institute College of Art, she was the lead artist for a large art installation at a Seattle wastewater treatment facility.
  • Andy Dufford — a Colorado artist with Chevo Studios, he completed a pedestrian plaza design along the Ogden River in Utah as part of an effort to restore blighted sections of the river.
  • Mags Harries and Lajos Heder — a married couple based in Massachusetts that has completed more than 30 public art installations with budgets up to $6 million.

The artists will be at the Farmers Market meeting with members of the public from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. before taking a tour of campus and downtown. The public is invited to hear the artists give presentations of their past work from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Workantile, 118 S. Main St.

In the afternoon, the artists will walk through the Cascades to learn about the site. Then another "meet the artists" event will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Argo Canoe Livery.

The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission selected the Cascades as a location for public art. City officials said the artwork will have a natural appearance and not interfere with park amenities.

A selection panel, with membership that included residents of the nearby neighborhoods, reviewed more than 50 submissions for the project and selected the three finalists.

The artist finalists will be asked to develop a design proposal for the location. Their initial designs will be received by the selection panel in the fall.

According to a request for artist qualification statements that went out in March, a budget of $115,000 has been established for the selected public art project. The budget must include all artist fees, materials, design, engineering consultation, insurance, travel, fabrication and installation.

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.



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

What would an art installation add to this beautiful, natural river area? NOTHING!

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

That's not the point. The point is spending public money for "superior" things.

Marc Stephens

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

Not a single local or Michigan artist is deserving of having their works publicly displayed in Ann Arbor??? Why the NOT? My vote is a big NO on this then.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

At this point, local artists know it would be futile.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Nicholas Urfe- Please tell me how many local artists submitted proposals and how you know who they are?

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Ask them why they haven't done the work to submit proposals, like the selected artists did.

Cornelius Nestor

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Real art is very important, but "public art" is almost unremittingly dreadful or trivial (or, if the artist is particularly canny, both), so there isn't much reason to expect anything from this proposal that we'd like to look at. Committees spending other people's money have a libido for buying so-called art that no private citizen would buy with a dollar of his own. Therefore, I suggest asking the "artists" to submit sealed bids with the understanding that the lowest will be taken. This would be the only criterion. After this little race to the bottom is over, the rest of the money could be spent on something else.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

Being from Michigan is not a disability. Michigan artists do not need special accomodations. Their work either passes muster, or it doesn't.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Whose muster? The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission regularly sends our tax dollars out-of-state in an effort to chase elitism. And Ann Arbor tax payers have yet to get their money's worth.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

They needed somebody like Banksy who would add a few rocks to the cascades-call it art and watch the people celebrate his genius. Wait, somebody already started stacking rocks down there. Art problem solved!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

What's wrong with the art spray-painted on the railroad trestle? That's made by local artists, isn't it?

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Ha-ha. Celebrate it.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

It's nice that they scheduled all of these events between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm so that those of us who have jobs cannot attend. Bravo. Well done.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

To be fair it is on a Saturday when most people are off work, obviously that does not apply to everyone, but it would be impossible for the city to find a day/time that allowed every resident to attend. Hopefully the large time block will give many a chance to at least participate in part of the events.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I was in Scottsdale recently. They have some fabulous art downtown. I enjoyed looking at it multiple times. I don't know whether public or private funds paid for the art.... I like art but I am against using public funds to pay for it when other services (road repairs and upkeep of fire hydrants, for example) are not being delivered. I am against redirecting mileage money specifically designated for road repairs towards art projects and also think that doing so may be illegal.... Regarding this particular project I am wondering what is going to be done regarding the graffiti artists who keep damaging structures in Argo Park. I walk through that area regularly. I've seen the vandals. Some are in their twenties. Once one of the vandals even had on a footband similar to one required of a person on house arrest. The vandals aren't all bored teens.... I hope that the City doesn't spend a lot of money on art that will get ruined.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

The vandals are just getting in the spirit of providing more Public Art


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

What a waste of money.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

This is worthwhile - art represents the human spirit and is a good thing to have public funds pay for it. I much prefer spending on art over wasted funds elsewhere. Has A2 considered Benini? He has a sculpture ranch near Johnson City, TX. It's world renowned.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

"I much prefer spending on art over wasted funds elsewhere." Why should it be mutually exclusive? I'd prefer the option of not wasting on art AND not wasting elsewhere.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

So who's spirit is represented by the Hurinal?

Usual Suspect

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Downtown at city hall, we spent all kinds of ridiculous money on "art" that consists of water flowing over a man-made structure. However, at the cascades, where we already have water flowing over a man-made structure (along with very nice grass, trees, etc), there is apparently a need for more "art." It takes a very special kind of person to see things this through this logically-corrupt mindset. A very special kind of person.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

A kind of person that is spending the money of other persons.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

I would like to address the majority of you on this comment section who disapprove of our tax money being spent on public art, in this location and in others - stadium bridges, rain garden, etc. This money has not yet been spent; it is the responsibility of the AAPAC to decide how much to spend, select the locations, artists, design, and pass their recommendation on to city council. City Council is the final say on IF this money is spent. If you, like I do, think that spending this much money on public art, with questionable results (think city hall fountain, city hall umbrella light, west park trees) is not the right thing to do, you have to step up, outside of this comment section, and participate in the process. Attend these meetings, meet and greets and public hearings; take the on-line surveys, write a letter and let your opinion be known, where it counts. Contact your city council members and the mayor and ask them to vote no on funding these projects. Attend a city council meeting and speak at the open sign-up session. Choose representation that will say no to wasteful expenditures of your tax dollars. It is clearly not enough to complain on here, GET INVOLVED if you want this to stop. That being said, I support public art, when done well and done in moderation. But that isn't our case and won't happen here, without more public involvement. Somehow, find a way to participate. Thanks for your time.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Who says critics of Ann Arbor's Public Art programs in these pages have not taken most of the steps you outline. I only support Public Art if it is paid for by individuals who want to pay for it. I think it is morally wrong to force everybody in the community to pay for it through taxation. Public Art is luxury and not an essential city service.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

DJBudSonic, Excellent Point! While I'm not sure I agree with your points of view on public art, etc., you're dead on about the need to get involved. Commenting in is NOT getting involved. Too often it's just complaining. Bravo!

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Idiotic waste of the taxpayer's money! Art does not belong in what should be a Natural Area.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

I'll be at the meet and greet - look for the person with the 'No more $$$ for public art" sign.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

Excellent idea, but expect certain people to look the other way....


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

see more below

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Now that is the kind of public participation that is sensible.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

How about something architectural?

Rork Kuick

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Maybe a bronze of rowers collectively pointing middle fingers downstream. Put it by the dam.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

How is this funded, after the defeat last year?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

No, I voted against the new proposal. The fact that it maintained the old and possibly illegal "percent for art" was an unpleasant side effect. Apparently the council agreed since they have since disbanded that as well.

Peter Klaver

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Did we all vote in the same election last November? There was a ballot proposal to replace the current "Percent for Art" program with a millage, and that was what was defeated. So we voted to keep the existing program.

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

City Council and the Mayor did a sneaky end run around the November electoral defeat of taxpayer support for City Art. City Art can still be funded if it is 'baked into' a city project. What an outrageous defiance of the public will by the left-wing special interests City Council!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

They are using up the $845,000 that council voted not to return to the general fund.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

I wish that I could view previous artwork by the other artists who were not selected, especially those from Ann Arbor and elsewhere in Michigan. In fact Ryan Stanton can do his readers a service by publishing the names of all artists who responded to the RFP and their locations. I would not mind seeing the RFP wording itself. Previous selection of an artist based only on prior works has not proven successful as is evident from the Herbert Dreiseitl sculpture that blights the front of the Municipal Building or the upside-down umbrella in the building's lobby.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Yes, where is the RFP?? I don't recall seeing it posted anywhere.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Isn't the natural setting art enough ?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

So since they aren't natural the cascades may already be art? Sweet! That's $125K that can be put toward something actually useful.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Art is inherently, and profoundly the opposite of a natural state. Not that the Cascades are natural.....


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Ugh. I really don't want to see some cheesy, non-local art awkwardly perched atop some rocks as I go through the cascades. The rocks and plants are already beautiful. This is a really undesirable idea, as most other commenters will surely agree., PLEASE insert a poll into these articles for our opinion so that we can show city hall how much this is a bad idea.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

So the city invited the public to comment on this proposed installation--without providing a "None of the above" chocie on the Web site--and then just ignored the numerous comments asking that no art be installed here? What was the point of asking for comments in the first place?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

PattyinYpsi, this was and is a "red herring" to lull ann arborites into thinking that their input actually mattered. when it doesn't. (btw, I've lived in Ypsi for 7 months now, just love it!!!)

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

The point of the Poll and this whole exercise is not to respond to public opinion but to reward special interests who want public art and employment for artists.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

@Tano: When there was such a large number of vote comments asking for no art installation in this particular place, the city might have reconsidered the whole idea.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

To see which ones were preferred.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

That's what I saw when I looked - the majority of the comments said "it doesn't need your art".

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Couldn't there have been a contest among only Michigan artists? That would have ensured a Michigan winner. There are several in the immediate area - think John Rush for instance.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Nicholas Urfe I seem to be your fan today. I love supporting local artists and encouraging art among school children. I hate the extreme negativity of the comment section. Given all that, it is disappointing, indeed, with all of the UM art community, that there were not local applicants. Perhaps these installations will inspire local people to rise to the occasion. (Now I'm girding for the down votes. haha.)

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Why should they stack the deck to help artists who cannot otherwise compete in an open competition?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Bubba, you sum it up perfectly. WHY ask us peasants for our input when in the end, these people are going to do exactly what the (bleep!!!) they want?!?!

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

How about a making art out of all the bent tire rims from all the pot holes around town

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

"Help! We aren't spending nearly enough billions subsidizing every facet of automobile ownership and operation! My car is being persecuted!"


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Yes, Nicholas, the potholes are all part of hizzoner's cunning plan to discourage automobiles in the Glorious People's Democratic Republic of Ann Arbor. The potholes are there to encourage us to support hizzoner's beloved choo-choo trains and bicycle paths.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Nicholas Urfe I like your comment! I never thought of pot holes as traffic calming strategy but I guess it works.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Slow down and they won't bend. Also, by driving slower you'll be able to avoid the potholes.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

The cascades are already interesting and visually pleasing on their own; I don't think we need art installations in that location. I'd rather improve other bland, boring places with some cool art. Places where an installation can really make a difference.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

I appreciate the links Ryan. All three artists have done some marvelous installations.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Click on the names of the artists in the story.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Can the rest of us have the links?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11 a.m.

Boy, what a long time after that public art millage, and we still see hundreds of thousands going to to public art projects, including what I believe was close to a million just to administer the percent for art program into its death. And still no clear stoppage on public art being paid for by our taxes; now they expect to have the public art cost "baked in" to projects, which as far as I understand means they can spend as much they want on it. I'd like to see a "we're not using tax money for public art any more" statement. That's what I'd like to see. An apology and refund for the hurinal and security-guarded chandelier would be nice, but


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

Once again, local artists not selected. Hopefully this will not be a monstrosity like the $750,000 "water feature". Ugh!!!!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

No, what IS real work is dealing with the Ann Arbor Art Mafia. Not worth it to most local artists who are sick of dealing with them. Too bad for Ann Arbor.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

They could have applied. But that's real work. We're not going to beg them to participate.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:21 a.m.

A large art instillation at a waste water facility ...perhaps a huge baby ruth...115 k nice chunk of our change and as usual no local artists ...

Marc Stephens

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

The cascades are not a 'waste water facility'. I do agree about the lack of local artists being a problem.