Is It Art?
The group did manage to get some useful feedback through online surveys and one-on-one meetings. When Bob Miller set up a booth at the Green Fair in June to show off the designs and explain the process, says Leff, "85 percent of [the people who stopped] were positive about at least two out of the four. Their whole perspective on the project changed."
When all the surveys were complete, city public art administrator Aaron Seagraves tallied the votes. "Adding all the sources of feedback," he emails, "the 4th choice was Mr. Volkan Alkanoglu's proposal by a handful--though it was more like one [clear winner] with a three-way tie for second place."
Widgery won the popular vote--and also impressed the task force. "Look at the etchings within her work," says Eli Cooper, the city transportation planner. "What she described as she presented her materials was that these were actually images of trees in Ann Arbor, that she had photographed trees in the [Nichols] Arboretum and in other areas in the city."
"I loved her presentation, and I loved the models," says Wiltrud Simbuerger, who recently completed a U-M PhD in architecture. "When I think of that site, it's not a site where I think in terms of trees. It's a lot of car traffic, cement, and asphalt."