About a dozen people–glass artists, installation artists, muralists, interior and graphic designers–turned out at West Park on a cold, snowy February morning to hear city landscape architect Amy Kuras explain the city’s latest “one percent for art” project. As part of a $1 million-plus makeover of the park, three curved, concrete seat walls will be built into the hillside facing the park’s historic band shell. The artists’ assignment: to design an installation that will fit on the walls, be resistant to vandals and weather, and not interfere with the seating or viewing.
Those limitations had the artists thinking hard. “There’s not much funding, figuring the cost per square foot,” pointed out Janet Kelman, a glass artist who just moved to Ann Arbor from Royal Oak. “To do a mosaic would be too great [an expense] given the $10,000 budget for everything.”
Looking around, one artist saw a more dramatic option. “Is there any thought of incorporating the band shell?” she asked. “It is such a beautiful canvas, too.”
“The band shell is staying the way it is,” said Kuras.
“That gray?” asked the artist, practically raising an eyebrow.
“Yep,” said Kuras.
The bandshell, it turns out, is on the National Register of Historic Places–and history trumps art.