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Posted on Mon, May 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Artists seeking city contract for art installation at Stadium bridges to present ideas June 7

By Ryan J. Stanton

Four artists from across the country are coming to town June 7 to present their proposals for a new public artwork at the site of the Stadium bridges in Ann Arbor.

The artist finalists for the project will be presenting in person inside the council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., from 2 to 6 p.m.

The public is welcome to attend.


Local, state and federal officials, as well as representatives of the business community and others, gathered on May 14 to officially dedicate the new East Stadium Boulevard bridges that span State Street and the nearby railroad tracks.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The contract the artists are competing for is worth potentially $360,000, based on the budget for the project established by the city's Public Art Commission.

The schedule for the artist presentations is as follows:

2 p.m. Presenting Artist: Sheila Klein

Sheila Klein, a Pacific Northwest artist who in 2000 designed Underground Girl, a subway station in Hollywood that continues to be recognized as an award-winning artwork.

3 p.m. Presenting Artist: Matt Passmore with Rebar Group

Rebar Group / Matt Passmore, a California firm, recognized as inventing PARK(ing) Day, a temporary event that transforms metered parking spaces into a park.

4 p.m. Presenting Artist: Volkan Alkanoglu

Volkan Alkanoglu, nominated in 2006 for the Young Architect of the Year Award in the U.K. and is a faculty member at Southern California Institute of Architecture.

5 p.m. Presenting Artist: Catherine Widgery

Catherine Widgery, an award-winning artist who has created more than 30 site-specific artworks in the U.S. and Canada; her work has been featured on the cover of World Sculpture News magazine.

Each artist presentation is expected to last about 30 minutes and there will be additional time for questions. Feedback from the audience will be collected.

For two weeks following the artist presentations, the design proposals will be displayed at the project site and at city hall. The Public Art Commission selected the Stadium bridges reconstruction site and the adjacent Rose White Park as a location for public art.

The commission believes the location of the site and its diversity, in terms of traffic patterns and usage, makes it an ideal backdrop for a highly visible public art project with the potential to become a landmark for the city and its residents. A selection panel, with membership that included residents of the neighborhood, reviewed more than 35 submissions from artists around the country.

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.


Woman for all Seasons

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Good comments everyone...and Veracity- Thank you for your insightful questions. I am a local artist. I have submitted many proposals to the city for art projects and none of them were seen by the committee. The only artists that are allowed to be presented to the committee have been "pre-selected" by an unidentified group. This is true of all Ann Arbor Public Art projects. I did not submit anything for this project because I knew that the same thing would happen. I have presented proposals for: Fourth Ave Parking Garage, West Park Band Shell, and Argo Cascades and have been eliminated each time prior to the actual art committee seeing my proposals. In the case of the Fourth Ave Parking Garage, I submitted three proposals on a 3D model of the garage. When I went to pick up my artwork several months later, it had been smashed and the envelope with my proposal had never even been opened. You might think my artwork is pretty terrible for it to have been treated this way. But I have over 150 mural installations across the U.S. in places like Google and Domino's Farms. Recently, I won the Whole Foods Detroit mural competition. Over 100 muralists submitted art for this (it was open to local Southeastern artists only) and the committee saw each and ever one of them. They didn't have someone in a back room eliminating entries prior to the committee seeing them. So if you want to know why you are not seeing any local artists for A2 projects...ask the people in the back room.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

There is no shortage of decent artists that would do this project for a fraction of what our fearless leaders have chosen to spend. Incredible how spending other peoples money is without limits


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Commission an art student to donate a piece of their work I'm sure they would at least donate their time for the publicity and honor of having something created in the city Sure would be a lot cheaper that way


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

In all honesty that bridge really doesn't need art, it's beautiful the way it is You risk junking up with a piece of art?

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

This money would be better spent putting another couple beat cops downtown and off campus. It does seem that our art money will be finding its way to a new home on the coast (or another country... like the water project). Good thing we are rolling in dough and can afford to be so generous.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Hey, the cost of living in california is expensive.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

Maybe the kids walking to Pioneer can partake of the art and reflect on how much more satisfying that is than having a ride to school.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

it is called a bridge. cars go over and under. who is going to look at art worth 365k. I am sure we have better use for the money. the city voted art on this years election. why not just give up and go away.

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

If someone crashes while looking at the art... how stupid is that.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

As an artist, I am passionate about what I do, as many professionals are passionate about their work. However, as I spent a lifetime training as an artist (painting lessons starting at age ten, continuing until I earned my BFA in Painting...numerous low-paid positions as an "artist in residence" at five different universities, as well...I deserve to make a living as an artist. I do not work "at cost". I can't afford it. (artists eat and pay bills, as well.) I have always used an agent to sell my work in Chicago and New York, where people appreciate my efforts, and are willing to pay for it. I really hate defending public art on this thread. Few people here know or understand that art feeds the soul. It is tragic that all people can complain about on this thread is that their blessed tax dollars are being used to make their city more liveable and urbane.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

@Julie - you need to place a large portion of blame on your elected officials. I know for me that their underhanded method of funding the art - by skimming from already-approved millages - is one of the major reasons that I object so strongly. Their semi-bogus "public art" vote last fall only made things worse as they tried to dissemble about what the results meant.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.


Usual Suspect

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Brad, it has made my life in Ann Arbor much, much more liveable. Just the other day I was about to move somewhere else, but then I remembered the fountain. The fountain! How can I leave the fountain? The fountain made me stay! My soul has been fed!


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

I have also sold some of my pieces as "public art". You would be quite surprised at how many small cities and towns have public art that is, at least partially paid for by tax dollars. BUT. I have never heard of so many people condemn the entire idea, as I have on this blog. I must keep reminding myself that these posters are not representative of the entire city of Ann Arbor. I have never heard so much whining and complaining about just about everything as I have on this blog. I stopped reading comments a while ago, as it was simply depressing. If you do not like what is going on, or decry the fact that there is an Arts Commission at all, then, for God's sake, get involved in your local government. Put your money where your mouth is and sit in on Council meetings, or ask to observe the Arts Commission at work. Better yet. Run for public office and take the heat for a change, instead of dishing it out all the time.

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

The idea that everyone deserves to make a living at whatever it is they feel they should be doing (no matter how unrealistic) is absurd. However, I wish you well in whatever business you can generate for yourself that doesn't come from force or coercion (which is to say TAX MONEY).


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Quick poll. Has the fountain outside City Hall made Ann Arbor: 1) More livable 2) Less livable 3) More laughable

Usual Suspect

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

"I deserve to make a living as an artist." But that does not obligate anybody to give you money. If you can find somebody to pay you for your art, then fine. But we also deserve to object to how money that was taken from us is spent. "Few people here know or understand that art feeds the soul." Oh, please, stop it.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

julieswhimsies- And every artist believes that his/her creations are beautiful and superior to every other artists' works. I am sure that each artist struggles to understand why art collectors do not buy exclusively from him/her. But I am irritated when another person or group of people selects art for me to look at and charges me for it without allowing me to reject it. This is a happening in Ann Arbor.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

That 3/4 MILLION dollar fountain was a pretty expensive meal for my soul, and left a bad taste in my soul's mouth. I think art's great. I think it's great those folks in NYC and Chicago can afford to buy yours, and that you can make a living off it. How about you pay for the next fountain, feed your soul (and another non-local artist's mouth for the bext 500 years) with that. Maybe the NYC and Chicago folks you mention are happy because they're getting art they want with their money, not having someone steal their money and buy the art for them, whether they approve of it or not. ...and for the philistines who can't comprehend how great art is, perhaps it makes sense that the city leaders DON'T waste their money on it. What are you planning, forcing them into some kind of epiphany with their own money?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

I would totally support local artists, and supporters of local artists, who might want to get together and protest this event. This is local money right? It should stay local. smh. Welcome to "Pwned by UofM and Decorated by Artists From Not Here, Hope You Don't Blow a Tire." Oops, I mean Ann Arbor.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

There were four finalists from 35 submissions. Any idea how many of the other 31 are from Ann Arbor or Michigan?


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Thanks, Ryan. I must have missed that. So from what you're saying it sounds like zero Ann Arbor artists made submissions.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

I reported in March that the city had 32 submissions, including 9 from Michigan artists.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

OK, seriously - has any of the coverage ever indicated how many local artists made submissions?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

That would be a great poll question. "Should Ann Arbor publicly FUNDED art be" 1) From an Ann Arbor artist 2) From a Michigan artist 3) From a US artist 4) Who cares?

Usual Suspect

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

What possible improvement could be made to a bridge that already has a plaque with the names of the Mayor and City Council members on it?

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Put the "art" in front of the plaque.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

More art when the city is running on cut services and bad roads? Perfect. And to make it even more unreasonable it's gonna be from a non local vendor? cant get any better. Go council! Go Mayor Hieftje! Another amazing decision from an amazing city government.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3 p.m.

We need much more police & fire proctection, the roads are a disaster, basic services are in decline. The answer to these basic governing issues is Art on bridges?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

What a surprise, artists that would do this for 10% and do a good job, but no when spending other peoples money, money is no object. OZ indeed.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Why, why, why? 1.) why art on a bridge? To distract drivers? 2.) why bother doing it with artists from elsewhere? 3.) why are we still doing this when we voted it down? If we're going to do should be local artists, otherwise it is not US.

Charles Curtis

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

This a ridiculous waste of money. We had to drive on that crappy bridge for an extra year so the city could get money for artwork. I'd rather have leaf collection back, or a road repaved, a cpl more police officers or firemen. Priorities in the city are as well placed as the school district. Lets continue to steal tax money away from what is needed and spend it on fluff. Balance the budget and stop cutting things to spend on artwork, and then the is no local or michigan artist even in mix. Blame goes to the voters.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

At the exact time that the city is planning on how to spend $360K to beautify a bridge overpass, they are contemplating leasing school property to an advertising company to erect ugly electronic billboards just to bring in $100K a year to the school budget. Isn't the solution here obvious?


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Yes, two separate organizations, but both supported by our tax dollars. Is it too much for taxpayers to expect some consistency among these government entities and even some coordination? This ridiculous notion of separate and sacrosanct budget "buckets" is inefficient and precludes the proper prioritization of spending.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

City budget vs. Ann Arbor Public Schools budget - 2 separate organizations.

Charles Curtis

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Dont forget about the coop windmill for over $1mill, they got lots of our money to waste on everything but what is needed.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

I agree that it remains to be seen whether the artwork will actually beautify the bridge, but at least that's their intent. My point is that they are willing to spend $360K in taxpayer money to ostensibly beautify an overpass while simultaneously considering creating an eyesore on school grounds in order to make $100K.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

No, they're spending $360K to put art on the bridge. You can't look at that thing outside City Hall and hold out any hopes of "beautification". The same people will be deciding on this.

Arno B

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.



Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Thanks, pbehjatnia - at last I get it. Those guys on the freeway ramps are performance art.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Why not just have a living local drunk stand at the ridge and call it performance art?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Regarding the graffiti issue, cameras would help solve that problem, as long as there were enough of them and they were in a place that could not be reached or destroyed. However, with all the technology out there in terms of new types of paint and construction surfaces, there had to be a way to design those bridge surfaces that would be less friendly to graffiti, which amounts to spray paint. This should have been part of the design process. Better to spend the $360,000 for "art" on a better design that would inhibit graffiti or on cameras.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Who pays for art? The term "Starving Artist" exists for a reason. Most of them will do their work for free for the love of their craft.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

$360,000 for murals or whatnot to be paid to artists from everywhere except Michigan in a city that cries it cannot fund police, wants to shut more firehouses, and has roads that are in poor repair. The most perfect example of this irony is the remaining portion of Stadium in front of the UM Stadium itself, of all places. From the bridge to Main, that portion of road was bad and made worse by all the trucks and machines that used it during the bridge construction. For some reason, that portion was left undone. $360,000 would go a long way towards fixing that. AA and UM students could be asked to provide artwork for the bridge for the cost of paint and supplies. They would get something lasting for themselves and a tie to the community and a project on their resumes. Instead, we prefer to fund out-of-towners who have no sense of the community and no sense of its ideals. We end up with statuary more reminiscent of toilets in front of City Hall among other "quality" work. This is an example of why people want the art fund repealed. It's really intended to let the Art Commission hob nob with fellow elitists from around the world on the taxpayer dime. Will these artists do a good job? Probably, but an opportunity to invoke the Community and get its youth involved is tossed out the window--all at a hefty monetary expense. Shame, again, on the City and its "Art Commission".


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

"From the bridge to Main, that portion of road was bad and made worse by all the trucks and machines that used it during the bridge construction. For some reason, that portion was left undone. " Thank you for pointing that out. It's incredible that the city would allow that portion of road to continue to deteriorate while spending $360,000 on ART on this bridge! Thank you! Am I surprised? No. Look at the condition of roads all over the city, thanks to skimming off the road maintenance funds for "public art." The reason? Complete incompetence.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

If recent history is an example, it will be ugly.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Is this money from the percent for art proggram? Because I trhought council voted to RETURN that outstansding balance to its respective buckets. Was this amount already committed before the vote on that (a la "let's rush to avoid the right to work")? Also, to those speaking of imminent graffiti, it has already happened. I suspect they put a pretty penny into cleaning it up for the "dedication." You can still see a very large something not completely whited over on the wall to you right if driving towards 94.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

No, it's their final fling with our virtually purloined tax dollars. They're like a little dog that got ahold of a sock and they just don't want to let it go. Surely not just to please us taxpayers.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Nice looking bridge. Hope they installed cameras so the city can catch the graffiti vandals once they get started....especially if expensive public art will be installed near or on the bridge.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Who specifically is on the Public Art Commission, and what are their qualifications for making this kind of decision? A lot of money is involved and this is the time for the public to know who is making this decision. More transparency. Not everyone can make the presentations. Can AA dot com provide a list of the members and their qualifications to make decisions about public art projects?

Al Feldt

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I would love to see the bridge painted to look lie a set of very large LEGO blocks of various colors built into the shape of a bridge. I saw this someplace in Germany and the effect is stunning, unforgettable, and hilarious all at the same time. This is truly pubic art at its finest and most folksy level.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Is this sort of what you are taking about Al? They are all over Detroit:


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

"Pubic art"? Oops.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

I have a vote: NO art by this bridge -- it looks great as it is.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Some questions. Is the site selected ideal for public viewing? How many pedestrians walk by this area daily? Will the artwork be a dangerous distraction for drivers traveling along Stadium Boulevard? How was the contractual fee of $360,000 for the artwork determined? Why announce the fee before artists submissions are received? Perhaps the city can purchase fine art for less than the sizable amount offered. Now that amount will represent a target. What, if any, effort was extended to inviting local artist participation? How was notification distributed to our artist population? Can rejected submissions be viewed by the public with permission of the artists, of course? I hope that this artwork presentation is not just for show with the actual contract "wired" for a specific artist of interest by the most influential Art Commission member or the group as a whole. The Art Commission has a history of this type of behavior going back to Herbert Dreiseitl, IMHO.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Thank you, Veracity.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Wow! They're all cool, but Sheila Klein's work is fabulous. Can't wait to see what they're submitting.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

I don't understand why people aren't proud of the fact that national artists are interested in our little burg and want to showcase their art in such an out-of-the-way location (I mean, you have to decide to come to Michigan, it's not on the way to anything). It's not like local artists couldn't compete in the first place. Maybe Ann Arbor doesn't deserve public art, the way some of our citizens whine about it.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Proud? Interested? Get real. They want the MONEY! And that money shouldn't be wasted on luxury items when we're BROKE.

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

It's all about the benjamins


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

They're coming to our "little out of the way burg" to land that $360K. And it has nothing to do with "deserving" it - we're having our pockets picked to pay for it. It isn't like we "won" it for making all those top 10 lists.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I think that they are less interested in "showcasing their art" than they are in the paycheck.

Richard Wickboldt

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:23 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.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I'll take the lack of a response as a no.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Do you have any facts to support your contention that MI arists are not being given "appropriate consideration"? Can you name one proposal from a MI artist that you feel did not get fair consideration based on the merits of the work?


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

I agree with the tone of the comments - I would love to see A2 Schools or UM student work here. However, a more pressing concern is the fact that the bridge finishes are already falling off - the past weeks, a gentleman has been repainting the metal rails after the paint failed. Seems a little soon, doesn't it?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

Nicholas You forgot to hit the tongue in cheek button! I painted a metal handrail at my mother in-laws 10 years ago. Hasn't fallen off yet! Since when does a sroke of temporary painy take longer to apply than a stoke of permanent paint?

Usual Suspect

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Appropriate consideration of Michigan artists would be exclusive consideration of Michigan artists,


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

careless handling?; kids "grinding" on them between graffiti outings?

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

The initial paint may have been temporary. Long term adhesion of paint on bear metal is very difficult. The prep and materials are also very expensive.

Homeland Conspiracy

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

A2 Schools or UM student might even do it for less $$$$$$$$$$$ or free

Hugh Giariola

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Ann Arbor's Stadium Bridges: For when local artists just won't work out. >>>>sarcasm font<<<<<


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Why are there no local artists in this group. Know there are tons of locals who could do a marvelous job. Very disappointed once again in city government.

Usual Suspect

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Unfortunately, locals have learned their chances of being considered worthy for these projects is nil.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

"You snooze, you lose." Did those "tons of locals" submit proposals?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

Only in OZ....$ 360k for professional ( ? ) tagging....Duh....


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:46 a.m.

Why are we not putting more energy into finding local artistis to do this project? It is hard to believe with all the talented artists in A2, that someone couldn't produce something of quality.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Nicholas...Referring to my comment above based on the past perhaps they figured it would be just a waste of time

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

They are welcome to apply, same as anyone else. If they won't make the effort, then why would you want to pay them?


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Agree with the shortage of funds, this should be at the bottom on the list.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

LDN.....Based on history Ann Arbor does't use artists from Ann Arbor or Michigan for that matter