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Posted on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 5:53 a.m.

3 public art proposals for Ann Arbor Justice Center under consideration

By Ryan J. Stanton

Members of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission have three proposals to choose from when they meet next week to discuss a $150,000 city-funded art installation.

Aaron Seagraves, the city's public art administrator, said the commission will be looking at the proposals at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on the second floor of city hall.

Three artists from around the nation — Thomas Sayre, Ed Carpenter and Ray King — were chosen as finalists for a suspended artwork in the corner of the lobby of the new Justice Center, which stands adjacent to city hall at Huron Street and Fifth Avenue downtown.

After a decision is made by the art commission, the winning proposal goes on to the Ann Arbor City Council for final consideration.

The installation schedule will be up to the artist primarily, Seagraves said. An earlier timeline called for completion by June, but he said September is probably more realistic.

'Radius' by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter's proposal is titled "Radius." It measures 40 feet by 20 feet by 12 feet and is made of dichroic glass, aluminum and stainless steel, with integral LED spot and flood lighting.

"Like ripples from a stone tossed into a pond, 'Radius' emanates outward through the Justice Center lobby, a reminder of the interconnectedness of the public with the agencies serving them, and suggesting a network of cause and effect in the public realm," the proposal states.

Carpenter specializes in large-scale public installations ranging from architectural sculpture to infrastructure design. He works internationally from his studio in Portland, Oregon.

His work can be found inside the Portland Justice Center, Michigan State University's Brody Hall, Rockefeller Center in New York, Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, a U.S. Courthouse in Seattle, Orlando City Hall and many other places.

"Radius is designed to involve as much of the lobby as possible radiating from the southeast corner, visible from inside and outside, day and night," Carpenter's proposal states. "Lighting contained in its hollow center will illuminate gleaming glass and anodized aluminum details, creating elegant views of its expansive forms.''

When sun strikes, dichroic glass elements will project and reflect colored light deep into the space in luminous compositions, slowly moving through the lobby in response to "the art of the sun and the passing of clouds," the proposal states.

Untitled by Thomas Sayre

Sayre is a sculptor based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's the co-founder of a multidisciplinary design firm called Clearscapes, which has tailored its proposal to be unique to Ann Arbor, taking on the shape of the city.

"The concept for the proposed artwork lies within the interaction between place and people, between the physical domain of the jurisdiction of Ann Arbor and the people who are served by the municipality," the proposal states.

"Acting as a structural grid to hold the piece up and allowing it to be suspended from the beams above the ceiling will be a composition of the primary roads which, for the most part, serve as the borders of the city of Ann Arbor. Made of power-coated steel, the roads define the place where both the 15th Judicial District Court and the Police Department serve."

Populating the map will be a complex composition of cut-out figures with outstretched arms, symbolizing the people of Ann Arbor. A large omni-directional light will send light out through the sculpture to create "continually varying light as one moves through the lobby space or around the southwest corner of the building," the proposal states.

"Depending upon one's position, the light will find its way through the soaring people and cast a myriad of shadows and highlights throughout the cloud."

To add sparkle to the overall effect, as well as to create complex shadows on the floor, exterior spotlights from a track above on the ceiling will be used.

Sayre's work can be found in many places, including Nashville, Denver, Oklahoma City, Tucson, San Jose, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Portland, and even Mount Pleasant, Mich.

'Wings of Light' by Ray King

King is a Philadelphia-based artist specializing in suspended sculptures that project and reflect light and color into the surrounding environment.

His proposal is called "Wings of Light." It's a luminous sculpture of two wings, made of stainless steel and laminated dichroic glass, suspended from the lobby ceiling.

Inspired by mythological representations of Lady Justice, often portrayed with wings, it's intended to symbolize justice, truth, protection, mercy and compassion.

"These qualities relate to the ideals of justice to expose the truth, offer protection to victims and merciful compassion to the sinners," King's proposal states.

"I hope to subconsciously inspire those who view it to experience a sense of hope and optimism for the future," the proposal continues. "It is my hope that such an uplifting and ever-changing image will speak to the people of Ann Arbor and those who visit the Justice Center, instilling a sense of beauty and dignity to their everyday lives, and reminding them that life itself is a journey of enlightenment. The elegant sculpture will become a strong and powerful visual landmark, as well as an iconographic image for the region."

King's work can be found in many places, including the Orlando International Airport, Sarasota City Hall in Florida, the Performing Arts Center at the University of North Iowa, University of Utah, University of Wisconsin and Cornell Medical College in New York.

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.



Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

I have never understood why the people of Ann Arbor keep voting in the same mayor and government, only to then complain about what they do?


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

People advocating for local artists. Check with the commission and confirm they got any local submissions, large scale hanging ceiling arts isn't exactly something most artists do.

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, take that money and hire an officer and/or a fire fighter!!! A piece of art won't save me when I'm in trouble...

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

I couldn't have not said it better myself.

Arno B

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

Wow! What talent! I'm sure that "Hotfoot" Hieftje and his enlightened City Council luminairies would get inspiration from trotting along under or beside these creations as they trudge to work every day. Actually I might vote for something more meaningful. Why not put up a statue of Shakey Jake in front of City Hall?

Kai Petainen

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

As much as I was against the HRWC's (they take credit for the the artwork) $750K steel artwork/wine bottle/erection/middle-finger, outside of City Hall -- I'm not against a $150K piece of artwork inside city hall. $150K sounds a lot more reasonable. It would be much more honorable and on the path to a 'higher ground' if one was to choose local artwork for the lobby -- but, it's important to have something on the ceiling. You can still have local artwork in the lobbby, but it would be nice to have something artful on the ceiling and at a 'cheaper' cost than the $750K. Radius reminds me of some artwork on the 6th floor at the Ross School of Business. This type of artwork really benefits from the sun. If sun can come into that section and highlight the artwork, then it's a great choice. Sayre's piece might be interesting and it incorporates the design of the city. But, somehow the graphical representation of it, just isn't as inspiring. I hope the final project would look much more interesting. Wings of Light is pretty, but if I look at it then I'm not sure if it belongs. If Ann Arbor was focused on flight/the sky... then it would seem appropriate. Note -- in the graphic, there is a person walking towards the edge -- I want to shout out, "don't jump!"


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

what gets me is not the art where ever it goes. what ever it is. but spending money for art when things are tough. normal people have to cut back. not the art commission whom has 1.8 mil in the bank. governments are trying to get the best bang for the dollar. not our art commission. i sure wish we could vote whom gets in. i think most of us would vote them all out.

Janet Kelman

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Good job, Ed Carpenter!

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Contact and review Dale Chihuly's work here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Because his work is Genius!!!

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.


hut hut

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

How do we promote local art and artists? The powers that be certainly don't want to do it anywhere else but in the building in which they work. Invest some the the percent for art money to rehab 415 W Washington to create an arts incubator and local performance and gallery space. There has been a whole lot of hot air spewed by the Mayor and several on council on what to do with 415 W Washington. It is publicly owned property just sitting there, decaying from neglect while the new ugly city hall gets the art and the attention. For once, follow thru on something that plants seeds for the future instead of spending money on self gratification.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

One more example of wasted taxpayers money. As others have stated: put this money BACK to the purposes for which it was intended: fixing POTHOLES, infrastructure, etc. How many police layoffs could have been avoided with this money? This is not the time for large chunks of money to be used for &quot;public&quot; art. Take it to the voters, and this project would not survive.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

How difficult would changing the lamps in the Radius chandelier be?

Dog Guy

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

How fortunate that an enlarged display model of the Sonicare toothbrush handle with flashing blue recharge lights was dropped off at the Huron Street curb! If put into the lobby, this repurposed advertisement would look cool, be in proper scale, and promote dental hygiene.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Every time I drive by City Hall and see the absurd &quot;art&quot; with its blinking blue lights, I get a nauseating feeling about the amount of money that wasted. The ability of the art commission to spend the money wisely on art that can truly be appreciated by the public as opposed to something that excites a few has not come through. I like Stephen Ranzini's proposal for a public are display where local artists can rotate their wares, thus encouraging the general public to consider the local artists for a personal piece. Then again, is the justice center the best place for an art exhibit? Who visits the justice center on a regular basis? Those in trouble with the law and local lawyers?

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

I really like, &quot;Radius&quot;. I think it's pretty amazing. Still, I'm quite disappointed to see that AGAIN, they're not using local artists. That makes me sad. We have so much incredible talent in this town. We should be embracing it, and showing it off.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

I wanted to add: I totally agree with Usual Suspect's comment, a few above mine. If this is, &quot;Public Art&quot;, they should be soliciting public opinion about what, exactly, we are using.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

I love public art! I enjoyed "homeless frozen Ann Arborite on a park bench." It looked so real, just like a real ice sculpture! Only fooling myself; just another overtaxed Ann Arborite on an overpriced bench.

Karen Hart

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Public art enlivens a space, makes it more interesting, and provokes discussion. Our city is better off with it, in my opinion, and has been painfully slow at getting to this point. I appreciate the work of the Public Arts Commission and hope they continue for many more years. Each piece being considered for the Justice Center is interesting, but I find my reaction to the Radius piece the most positive, even joyful. Go for it!


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

Its certainly provoked a lot of discussion on if it is wasteful spending.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

What the hell, don't they get it?

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Like I've said before... it's PUBLIC art, paid for by PUBLIC money, so let the PUBLIC choose the art.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

I would like this comment a million times, if I could.

hut hut

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

People don't go to government buildings to see art. They go there to conduct the business of government. Invest in public art where people like to go not where they get punished. This is just more self adulation by those in in power whose shrine is the new unnecessary and ugly courthouse . The City is terribly inept at rolling these things out. They did a terrible job proposing the percent for art in the beginning, they did not formulate a coherent policy and have done a terrible job in selling the concept of public art to the people.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

In the first &quot;Wings of Light&quot; picture, I'm wondering whether the man who is about to walk off the edge of the balcony is part of the art, or did he just come exit a courtroom after being on the losing end of a multi-million dollar settlement?

Ron Granger

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Ann Arbor taxpayers voted against building this &quot;monument to ego&quot; building. Now we find the majority of our art money is being sucked into that bottomless hole. Nobody wants to visit a courthouse, a crime and justice center. Adding art does not change the experience, it just squanders and wastes the art. This building, and any art you put in it, will always be a monument to government excess and ignoring the will of the people.

hut hut

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

People don't go to government buildings to see art. They go there to conduct the business of government. This is just more self adulation by those in power.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

There's an actual position paid by tax dollars for a Public Art Administrator. There's also a Environmental Commissioner. Exactly, how does these two positions relate to providing basic functioning of city government services in lean economic times?


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

What a bunch of junk and a waste of money. Give the council credit though, they're going to do what they want and they could care less about the taxpayers. Elitism at its worst.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

I have an outstanding idea for a truly beautifully art sculpture that the public would both enjoy and benefit from. It would be an outdoor structure of steel and concrete located on Plymouth road. I would name this sculpture "overhead crosswalk"


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

They could save $ 149.000 just go out to Razor back metal salvage on Jackson rd. there are more interesting piles of metal scrap there @ $ 1.00 a pound and a couple cans of spray paint from Stadium hardware...More gluilded &quot; pork &quot; can't polish a turd.....

Townie John

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

How about functional art and redesigning the security area furnishings and seating for officers to blend with the building instead of looking like an airport security line. With companies like Steelcase and Herman Miller and others in the state why not use the creativity of some of the best furniture designers that are located right here.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

What is wrong with these people? Is the art commission trying to impress someone/something with their &quot;worldly&quot; choices? It's a slap in the face to our community that they are deaf to the sentiment of our community. Buy art from a local artist or a Michigan artist. It's a no-brainer. This is wrong on so many levels.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

I vote for &quot;Untitled by Thomas Sayre.&quot; It reminds me of the disintegration of our city streets, and the broken suspensions under our cars. How appropriate.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Council - please stop skimming money from the voter-approved millages to fund your pet projects. If you truly believe in your art and the democratic process, put it in a separate millage and put it up to a vote. As if.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

I don't think my comments need to be submitted for approval. I think is overstepping


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Remember the Grand Rapids Art Prize that Ann Arbor tried to compare itself too? (except that is privately funded) While a local artist, Linda Cole, won a prize for a suspended sculpture called &quot;rain.&quot; I believe I saw a follow up that said it would be going into storage. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It is a perfect piece if the city dosent (which they aren't going to) implement Mr. Ranzini's idea.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

LOL, talking about Ann Arbor city government funded art projects on is like talking about liberal issues on Fox News. I guess $150K isn't as bad as the $750K homeless showering facility...oops, I mean, art project. I bet (especially in this economy) that the City Council could commission a project from someone for a hell of a lot less, and a lot more local. Why not a statue of Hieftje? It could be called &quot;The Thinker, part 2&quot;.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

i purpose hanging a cell like platform surrounded by steel bars with effigy's of the mayor and city council in various poses inside the cell. The symbolism should speak for itself.

Brian Kuehn

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

So just who is going to be enjoying this public art. My last trip to the Justice Center required a trip through the security line and metal scanner. Seems like a bit of a bother to run the security gauntlet in order to appreciate the art work. Perhaps we should re-direct these funds and spend it on art work easily accessible to all.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

well said. I guess you could become a petty criminal then you could enjoy it more often


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

They all suck. Bad!


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

I, too, feel that the City should fill potholes, reduce water, sewer and storm rates before spending money on art. I've also spoken to alot of people and haven't found one person in favor of taxpayer paid art . But I've also come to realize that the people I elected to represent me ARE NOT LISTENING to me, my neighbors, my friends, you... So I'm done complaining and will exercise my right to VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!!! And I will be reminding my friends, neighbors and all of you to do the same. After awhile, talking becomes frustrating and action to replace Council becomes the only option left.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Our money would be better spent on turning some or all of the free space of the interior of the building and its walls into a free art gallery for local artists, where the exhibits rotated through every three to six months. If a silent auction system were also set up for the art being displayed, this would have the added merit of enabling those artists to display and sell more of their art, get more exposure and transform the giant expenditure into something more beneficial for the city's signature art community and the vast majority of the community who never set foot inside the criminal justice system.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

&quot;Beyond wasting tax payer money for art, why aren't we considering the use of a local artist? Another project that will feed the ego of our mayor and city council&quot; Because noted Constitutional Law expect, Ann Arbor's Mayor, has said (but no one in the media challenged him on it) that this would violate the Interstate Commerce Act. He did said he was using legal guidance from 'other cases' not Ann Arbor's specifically. What a failed ex-real estate agent knows about law should be put to the test and have a written legal opinion on restrictions to local artists AND the Public Art program itself.

hut hut

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Postema never writes legal opinions for fear they'll be held against him politically.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

These people that make these decision to spend AA tax money drop the ball again. They must all be knucklehead someone had a great idea a few months ago. Why not have local artist put up their art with a price tag on it and if someone wants to buy it they can. it save AA tax payers money and also helps the local economy. I really have to question the Intelligence of the people that make these decision. But, we can cut police and fireman. If this is a stupid idea please someone educate me.

Les Gov

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Take That Local Artists.......Once again the great leaders of Ann Arbor have said you aren't good enough for them.... Since the City is so against local art work, maybe the City can hire our local artists to monitor the length of time that cars idle. Someone will have to enforce the idle law and it seems that the local artists don't have anything else to do....


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

Is the outside sculpture fully functional? If not, where is the expose'?


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

What a colossal waste of money.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

More money wasted at the $48.6 million &quot;Rog Mahal&quot; boondoggle!


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Liking the word rubbish, and it once again applies here. Not only rubbish to the art, but to the fact that the city sees a real need to send AA taxpayers dollars out of state. We have an abundance of artists right here in Ann Arbor--use them. Or better yet, return the Art funding back to their original destinations--streets, water, sewer, parks, etc.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

Beyond wasting tax payer money for art, why aren't we considering the use of a local artist? Another project that will feed the ego of our mayor and city council.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

The AAPAC has already made it clear that Ann Arbor artists are beneath them.