My Culture Source story about Ann Arbor’s PowerArt! public art project

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L to R: “Legato,” Sophia Adeline Zhou; “People in the City,” Xiang Li; and “Pedestrian,” Tim Gralewski. (Photos by Allison Buck, courtesy of The Arts Alliance.

Ann Arbor has figured out a way to make the mundane beautiful while also supporting local artists.

How? By wrapping up drab traffic signal boxes in vinyl reproductions of locally produced artworks.

“They’re so pretty, but it also really makes the ones that aren’t decorated stick out more,” said Allison Buck, program director of The Arts Alliance, which proposed and oversees the project. “When you walk past a plain one, you think, ‘What about that one? And that one? Those should have art on them, too.’”

Phase two of Ann Arbor’s proposed three-phase public art initiative, called PowerArt!, ended in mid-July, covering 17 more signal boxes in artworks that were selected by a local jury composed of artists and community leaders (13), or by public online voting (4). The artists whose work was selected for PowerArt!’s second phase are: David Zinn, Tim Gralewski, Cathy Jacobs, Xiang Li, Thomas Rosenbaum, Bruce Worden, Sophia Adalaine Zhou, Parisa Ghaderi, K.A. Letts, Nawal Motawi, Mia Risberg, Bryan Oxender, Yiyi Zhang, Katharine Downie, Walter Griggs, Leslie Sobel, and Jill Stefanie Wagner. (Zinn, Rosenbaum, Zhou, and Letts had work selected for PowerArt!’s first phase as well.)

PowerArt!’s pilot phase began in May 2015, with eight boxes throughout downtown Ann Arbor receiving a makeover. Each PowerArt! artist—who must live, work, or attend school in Washtenaw County—received $1,450 per work. Organizers hope that in addition to highlighting local artists, the program will dissuade people from taping flyers to the boxes or tagging them with graffiti.  READ THE REST HERE


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