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November 10, 2011 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-10

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D The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com I Thursday, November 10, 2011
The City and the Canvas
n What is Ann Arbor's relationship with public art?
by Cassie Balfour, Daily Community Culture Editor

Nov. 10 to 13
"Ain't Misbehavin' " won
an astounding number
of Tony awards in its
original 1978 Broad-
way run. The musical,
an artistic tribute to
the Harlem Renais-
sance and the many
black musicians who
gave it substance, is
opening tonight at Ann
Arbor's Performance
Network Theatre in
a special "pay-what-
you-can" perfor-
mance at 7:30 p.m..

From downtown buildings awash in
spray paint to sculptures erected under
the watchful eye of the City Council,
Ann Arbor is saturated in colors and
ideas. Public art is the pulsating beat
of the troubadours who stake out the Diag
in warm weather. It's the artful bike racks
installed by the city that adorn State Street
and it's the spontaneous poetry scrawled in
Graffiti Alley. Public art is for the people, by
the people.
But that broad definition doesn't really
fit. And the meaning of public art itself is
constantly being redefined, challenged and
The Ann Arbor government has recognized
the need for public art: The Ann Arbor Pub-
lic Arts Commission (AAPAC) is dedicated
to erecting inoffensive works of public art
throughout the city, in various mediums.
Some small businesses have ordered con-
ventional, city-approved murals to be painted
on the sides of their buildings. Yet other pub-*
lit art is more organic and oftentimes more
subversive - done under the cover of dark-
ness, spray-paint can in hand, with lookouts
watching for city authorities. Cathy Gendron,
a member of AAPAC, even said The Rock that
students have covered in splashes of paint for
years is a form of public art.
Mark Tucker, a lecturer for the Lloyd Hall
Scholars Program and a champion of public
art, sees art everywhere - even on Football
"The whole atmosphere is a creative rit-
ual, from the costuming to the tailgates to
the intermission show, with amazing ballet-
inspired showmanship and awe-inspiring
physicality on the playing field," Tucker said.
"(It's) not unlike what you would see if you

were to witness what goes into the fabrication
of a heroic piece of sculpture or a grueling
theatrical rehearsal."
Public art is not just about aesthetics - it's
an integral partof life. And according to Tuck-
er, public art reflects our humanity and has an
impact on the shape and
feel of our society.

AAPAC has facilitated quite a few of Ann
Arbor's more visible pieces of public art, includ-
ing the recently revealed bronze sculpture out-
side the Municipal Center. The wall of bronze
is dotted with blue glass pearls that brighten
up when they collect storm water flowing from

The Ann Arbor City
Council has recognized┬░
the importance of public
art even in times of eco-
nomic free-fall. Staffed
by artists and art enthu-'
siasts, AAPAC acts as a
vanguard for pushing
works of public art. The
Percent for Public Art -
program was created in
2007 by an ordinance'
requiring one percent of
the cost of any publicly-
funded improvement
project to go toward pub-
lit art.
AAPAC is in charge of
commissioningthose one-
percent projects. Accord-
ing to Gendron, the
commission collects feedback from the commu- the Center. The water feature wasn't an organic
nity and the City Council, and generates its own add-on from the German designer of the sculp-
ideas in order to figure out what art project to ture, Herbert Dreiseitl. Rather, money was set
break ground on next. AAPAC tries to be demo- aside for a public water project, and in order to
cratic with its decisions, but there are a lot of comply with the 2007 ordinance, the resulting
stringent rules governing what kinds of public public artwork had to incorporate water.
art can be funded by the city. See PUBLIC ART, Page 3B

If you're yearning for
some surprising and
eclectic artwork, head
to the University of
Michigan Museum of
Art this Saturday, where
the first of the two-part
Curator's Choice exhibit
opens to the public. The
exhibit includes a first
look at prints, draw-
ings and photographs
from a diverse array
of artists, including
Edward Steichen and
Rembrandt van Rijn.

"We can't give up
our core nature
of being both a
compassionate city
but also a city that
has a strong devotion
to the arts."
Tony Derezinski,
City Council Liason

Are you a fan of scantily-
clad muscle men pound-
ing each other bloody?
Are you also a fan of
free things and get-
ting free things before
everybody else gets to
see them? Then come
to Quality 16 tonight
for M-rlicks's latest
sneak preview, a screen-
ing of Tarsem Singh's
"Immortals." The film,
which opens tomor-
row, follows a highly
revised version of the
Greek story of Theseus.
You may not know
Ann Arbor has a sym-
phony orchestra, but it
does - and it's playing
this Saturday at the
Michigan Theater. The
concert also featuresm
an opera performance
of "Rigoletto" that was
widely considered a
masterpiece of classi-
cal lyrical melody. This
rare performance will
be prefaced by Claude
Debussy's "La mer."
Doors open at 8 p.m.
and tickets start at $10.

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