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Posted on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Design for rain garden art project in Ann Arbor to be unveiled Friday

By Ryan J. Stanton

Colorado-based artist Joshua Wiener is expected to present his design for a new public artwork in Ann Arbor at noon Friday inside city hall.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and view the design for the art installation, which is being done in conjunction with a rain garden at the corner of First and Kingsley streets.


The site at the corner of First and Kingsley in Ann Arbor where stone sculptor Joshua Wiener has plans for a public art project in conjunction with a new rain garden the city is planning to reduce flooding in the area. The city demolished a house on the property to make way for the project.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Wiener is an stone sculptor, and his public work can be found in Florida, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

He is currently working on public commissions for San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Denver, Littleton, and Boulder, Colo.

The city issued a request for proposals last November, asking artists to submit ideas for an artwork at the First and Kingsley site. A budget of $23,380 was established for the project.

A selection panel, which included stakeholders from the neighborhood, reviewed more than 20 submissions and selected Wiener. The artist is expected to be on site at First and Kingsley at 10 a.m. Tuesday. City officials said that will be another opportunity for the public to meet the design team and discuss the plan.

The city's Public Art Commission also will be hosting an information table at the Ann Arbor Townie Party from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, where the artist will be in attendance and exhibiting the design.

The city stipulated the artwork must generate community interest in the site and encourage common use of the location.

The goal of the artwork is integrate public art into the features of the rain garden. It was a requirement that it must contribute to the purpose of the rain garden, which is to reduce flooding in the sunken, flood-prone area by increasing the potential for stormwater infiltration.

The city had encouraged artists who work with natural materials and have experience creating lasting earthworks art to apply.

To view some of Wiener's past work visit

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.


Lets Get Real

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

I went and looked at the link to his "work". You've got to be kidding! This "art commission" has to look far and wide to find these "artists". This stuff is awful. Send him back to Boulder, Denver and Littleton and let them live it. I love art, I love stone. If it's a rain forest, make him do something with outcroppings that will fit with the theme, but not this garbage. It reminds me of stuff I see at the Salvation Army store that people bought at the Art Fair because it was so cool and they had to have it - and now they can't stand it. Ugh.

Real Life

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

Those boulders left behind by the glaciers 10,000 years ago look pretty good to me, rather than this "public art" boondoggle. First, you can't beat the "sustainability" message, put on one of those informational placards on the site, explaining what happened here are few years back would put to rest a lot of worry about "saving the planet" and put today's issues into a bit of perspective. The planet's been through a lot fairly recently.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

I saw it, and I encourage anyone who is interested in how your tax dollars are spent to visit with the artist and AAPAC staff at the townie party and see it for yourself. The artist is known as a stone artist, but the design is not of stone, it is a series of metal fish jumping out of the ground. It would not have been my selection, it seems sort of trite, and does not fit the stated goals of the project. The price tag is relatively small, I am thankful for that much.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

There you go again, Ryan.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Since it is after noon, is there any word on the the design unveiling?

Bertha Venation

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

UGH! Looks like something my cat left on the carpet. With all the local talent we have, there is nobody local who can do better???


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

I have visions of a large hot dog in a bun from Mr. Weiner


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Sorry...Mr Wiener.

Arno B

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.


Bertha Venation

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.


Dog Guy

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

. . . with solar-power shakin'.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

What a good idea! This flat land cannot be a rain garden as is because it is too flat. And that is definitely a flooding area. It's great to see that horrendous eyesore of a house removed. I drive around that corner a lot. My understanding is that a rain garden is basically a nice-looking retention pond. This will be a very nice addition to this part of town. The price is reasonable. Has anyone priced landscaping costs recently. Be realistic, people.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

A budget of $23,380 was established for the project. Hmmm,.....more art in the City. Just what we need. Never mind the 800 potholes that the money could have been put towards......:)

Seasoned Cit

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Can't we just move the "thing" from City Hall to the Garden? Less people would see it there and therefore not be reminded of the waste of Public Money.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Brilliant idea!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Oh, I don't know about that. I go around that corner (at First & Kingsley) at least 4 times a week, and try to avoid going past "the fountain failure"!!

social conscience

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Let the Michigan artists eat cake!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

What about upkeep? We have a great parks system that is not afforded the budget to take care of our property. I drove past a playground this morning in Leslie Park and it was a patch of weeds. How many other playgrounds like this exist throughout the city?


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

I think the parks are mowed every 14 days or so. With all the rainfall recently, the weeds grow really quickly.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

"Colorado artist"--not again! Michigan artists aren't good enough? Are they not submitting entries, or do they figure Colorado, Germany, California etc will win out every time? What's wrong with being provincial and using Michigan artists?


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

I'm all for trying to get things like this done by local folks. But the city issued a request for proposals, reviewed 20 submissions, and then a panel INCLUDING FOLKS FROM THAT NEIGHBORHOOD selected the winner. I'm not sure how you can jump to your conclusion without knowing if there were even ANY submissions from Michigan. And if there were, then it was local people who decided they weren't good enough. A sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

So if rocks are art, why are we spending $115K to decorate the Argo "Cascades". Wrong color rocks?? You can't make this stuff up, people!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Do you think they were able to take a picture of the proposed art project onsite, prior to it even being unveiled? A modicum of common sense would probably go a long way...

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

A good point, and it doesn't stop at rocks. The urinal also established that water flowing over man-made installation is "art." The cascades have water flowing over a man-made installation, and it supposedly needs more "art" near it. So I agree with and repeat your question, why do the cascades need more "art?"


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Why not just leave the rocks ? they're natural and save 23K ...and frankly look better than jacobs ladder and the upside down dogwood that cost us $ 1,000,000...and seem to have set the pattern for Oz art...


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Looking at the gallery on his site, he's done some very nice pieces. I don't like all of them, but he certainly has talent.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Boy, Ryan, I hope you didn't use that picture to evoke some kind of enraged knee-jerk reaction from people who would, at first glance, assume those rocks were the proposed artwork. The sad part is, with the performance of the public art commission thus far, that struck me as a possibility. Are rain gardens really enough to curb the type of flooding we've been seeing in Ann Arbor? Googling doesn't show me much in terms of the effectiveness of a rain garden in a downpour.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

I believe Ryan does pander for hits when he publishes his blog. I also believe he shows bias!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Based on the flooding we had last week at this intersection, and the water in my basement, I would answer "No" to your question about the effectiveness of the rain garden.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Actually if the rocks in the photo were the art it would be the best-looking public art to date.