Is It Art?
A Realtor and builder, Miller was recruited to work on last year's unsuccessful public art millage campaign. He wound up as head of the city's art commission, and from there on the bridges task force. In mid July, the group unanimously recommended Yale grad Catherine Widgery's design, which includes bluestone panels underneath the bridge, a transparent, seventy-two-foot-long windscreen along the bridge itself, and lamppost banners, all etched with images of trees. The task force recommendation will now go to the art commission, which will make a recommendation to city council.
As Miller explains, though, this wasn't the wide-open competition casual observers imagined. It was the last phase of a $23 million construction project, and that's how it was run--the "statement of qualifications" issued last October called for artists to submit "bids" to the city's procurement unit.
Thirty-two artists responded. "I think ten submissions from Michigan and about four from Ann Arbor," says Miller. One photographer proposed a large mural. A former Ann Arbor resident who now lives in Texas had "these giant steel stick figures that were really fascinating. That kind of made it up the ladder," says Miller. But in the end, he, too, was cut.