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Posted on Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

Location undermines effect of City Hall water sculpture

By Letters to the Editor

Skimpy, poorly located and outrageously over-priced are some of the words which begin to describe my reactions as I drive past the water sculpture at the new City Hall on Huron Street. It certainly lacks presence and is about as effective as a Band-Aid on a gray elephant's hindquarters.

Moving it to a less prominent, less obtrusive area might save it from remarks such as mine because it is not necessarily inherently ugly - it is just the wrong location which makes it appear inadequate.

George J. Valenta
Ann Arbor


Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Thank the Mayor of course, but also thank for their editorial support of the waste, mismanagement and cluelessness as well. Wouldn't want to leave anyone out. Lol.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

If the folks in charge of "public art" had wanted this thing to be a talking point, they got their wish. People will be "talking" about this error in judgment for years - or until it rusts and falls out of commission. And the powers that be will not vote to lower the amount of tax money set aside for such nonsense.....


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Hey it's art. You should be grateful the city diverted money dedicated to specific millages to inflict, I mean, provide with what the elite on the Council and Arts commissioner believe will improve your life. Nobody knows why though.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Not necessarily. Art is subjective and this, in my book, is not art. Thanks for playing.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

I generally hate the negativity in the comments here... but I can't deny its validity in this case. I can't help thinking of Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge" when I see that puny little thing.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Stay thirsty my friend!

Kai Petainen

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

I have a solution to this art problem. Ann Arbor has a bunch of higher buildings being built. For each of those buildings, have them pay the usual fees/taxes to the city -- but, for each building that is built, have them buy some public art. Think my idea sounds far fetched? Look at this page on skyscrapers in Toronto.... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> on that page, on the right in the middle, there is a spot called 'art, parks or daycare' it talks about a planning act, section 37 &quot;Section 37, which allows bilders to ask the city for an increase in the height or density of a development in exchange for paying for a community benefit, or simply giving the city cash for such a project. Community benefits include parks, community centres, public art, child-care facilities, streetscape improvements or protection of heritage sites&quot; there's the solution for ann arbor -- charge the parking lots, charge the new high-rises... you'll get your money and you'll get your art.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

Okay, let's make an art based around running water which can only be turned on part of the year (did someone forget this was Michigan?), requires power and regular maintenance (light bulbs, pumped water), and put it in front of a big dated building on a busy road, which sees no foot traffic (save for contractors applying for permits or people paying tickets), right across from the big ugly brown building with no windows. Brilliant. If they were going to put this much money in to a public art project, it should have gone in the middle of a public square, on top of the new parking garage, in front of the library. In spite of having to be shut down half the year, I really don't hate it that much. I agree however, that the location is absolutely pitiful.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

I am by no means an urban planning expert, but to me the Huron facing side of the Hall of Justice does appear a bit schizophrenic. That is to say, where the old and new buildings meet up. Factor in the &quot;fountain&quot; and, well, you have an aesthetic design nightmare. As folks have pointed out, the scale of the new building with its large antenna-like columns in the front and the side clearly don't mesh with the tiny purple lit erect fountain? Couple that with the upside down pyramid that used to be old city hall and you're staring at the design cacophony from the across Huron street. It is a bit mind numbing as to who okay'd these plans? Just my 2 cents.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 12:53 a.m.

when folks from out of town come to visit, its rather fun showing them the new tourist attraction. i drive by... and when they see the small artwork next to the big building, i tell them... that cost $750,000 they look at me with disbelief and think i'm making this stuff up. i try to tell the truth, but no one believes me.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

If only Ann Arbor were the urban center that our mayor wants to make it into, we would all be able to enjoy the fountain as we walk by it. However, since there is almost no reason for any of us to EVER walk there, we will not enjoy it. It would be a nice feature in downtown Chicago or New York.

ralph mcgraw

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

Hey, wait a minute. didn't this site publish a story saying that Ann Arbor was a &quot;smarter&quot; city than Cambridge? Don't we feel smart now? We paid almost a million bucks for a work of &quot;art&quot;, paid to a guy that doesn't even live in the city; we passed a millage to fix sidewalks after a lot of us already were forced to use our own money to fix the sidewalks outside our homes or face tax bill increase .. . . now we have to pay for those who didn't fix theirs; there is still a rapist on the loose in the city . . . . yup, we're the smartest people on the planet.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Ugly and expensive = govt.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

It's way too small. The size could easily be doubled without being too big.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

It would have been just as easy to stick an &quot;I&quot; beam in the ground at an angle and run water to it. We drove by it last night and thought it was quite comical to think that someone would pay 100's of thousands of dollars for that little thing. Problem is the joke's on us since it was our money wasted and the German &quot;artist&quot; is laughing all the way to the bank.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Ok I haven't seen it ( I avoid A2 as much as I can ) so how tall is it ? Going by the pictures I thought it was 10 or 15 ft tall


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

That's a water sculpture? In front of city hall? I thought it was a new pinball arcade. All snarkiness aside, the location is lamentable. I have no reason to walk past city hall, the only time I get to gaze on the art is when I'm stuck in traffic, and I don't think of city hall and its sculpture as a &quot;destination&quot;. The few glimpses I've had of the artwork doesn't make me want to come back for a longer look. I imagine all this is subjective and that's is difficult to visualize the impact of outdoor art before it's installed. Plus, the current displeasure with city council seems to have clouded our ability to appreciate art funded by the city of Ann Arbor. If I believed that city council was doing a stellar job running the city then I just might see the beauty of this piece.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

The city hall employees have a nice summer place to eat lunch since their the only folks with reasonable access. &quot;Make it fine on the taxpayer dime&quot; should be the mission statement of the City of Ann Arbor.

hut hut

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

No kidding. Putting yet another fountain in front of yet another ugly public building on a busy main thoroughfare is the perfect example of status quo thinking from people who are allegedly creative.

Dog Guy

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

Locating it in the second-floor men's room by the city clerk's office would be ideal.

Marge Biancke

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

The piece is lovely, however, the size is out of proportion with the buliding