Turning utility boxes into public art in downtown Dearborn

There is a romantic vision of an artist that exists, one where they are disheveled and covered in paint, working in their studio for hours, absorbed in their work and perfectly cut off from the outside world – if only for a few hours. .

Public art projects help us connect with the artists who make art, by putting the artist at the center of the public’s attention. Working on a public art installation, the artist is subjected to curious onlookers commenting on his work, having to answer all kinds of questions. There is value in this process, mutually beneficial for the artist and the audience.

“It was a beautiful day,” said Drouillard. “The farmer’s market was going on, there was live music – I like it when there is a lot of activity. ““I had been doing art for a long time, exhibiting in galleries and art fairs. I kind of fell into public art a few years ago, ”says Temperance, Mich., Based artist Biz Drouillard, who made his debut in the public art world with a few projects at Toledo.

“I didn’t think I would like the outside distractions. But I really liked it. Being outside of the studio, I found these challenges really exciting. Now I am building my career on public art projects.

Drouillard was one of the three artists selected for the ZAP! Art Project, a partnership between the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, the Dearborn Community Fund and the Padzieski Gallery. The group of artists selected for the project is completed by the mononym Shadia and Becca Simmons from Dearborn.

From dull to fabulous

The Zap ! Art Project transformed three electrical boxes in downtown Wagner Park, taking the necessary but, say, boring pieces of infrastructure, and turning them into works of art. The artists gathered on Friday, September 10 to paint their public artwork, applying layers of color over the standard utility green.

“It was a beautiful day,” said Drouillard. “The farmer’s market was going on, there was live music – I like it when there is a lot of activity. I have met a lot of people and even had a few people come up to me and ask me to paint murals for their businesses.

Artist Shadia at work.It’s music to the ears of Sasha Corder, coordinator of the Padzieski Gallery, located in the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center and managed by the Dearborn Community Arts Council. The gallery was one of the main partners of the ZAP! Art Project, responsible for coordinating the call for artists of the project and managing the application process.

Public art aligns with the mission of the Padzieski Gallery, which is free and open to the public. Corder hopes that projects like ZAP! and the recently completed mural on the side of the Blick Art Materials store in the east of downtown Dearborn will lead to other public art projects throughout the city.

“I really want to see more public art in the city, so that more companies donate their space for the murals. People have empty space to fill and we have artists to fill it, ”Corder explains.

“We are creating a community and a network between the commercial side and the artistic side of the city.

Partnerships are essential

The Zap ! Art Project was a true partnership between different organizations in the community, explains Emma Woodyard, executive director of the Dearborn Community Fund. The West Dearborn DDA first approached the community fund with the idea at the end of the summer, the community fund facilitating the project and the Padzieski gallery organizing the artists.

“I have always been a strong supporter of partnerships. I think we can do a lot of things that way, ”said Woodyard.

More than 20 artists applied for the project and a design review committee selected the last three. The three artists selected for ZAP! each received a stipend of $ 1,000 for their work.

Although Drouillard and Shadia have previous experience in public art and mural work, this was the first such project for Becca Simmons, a resident of Dearborn.

“This is another great thing about ZAP! – this created new opportunities for artists who had never done large-scale work before, ”Corder said. “Talking to people while they are looking at you and painting at the same time is a challenge.”

Simmons and his ZAP! wall.Create equitable access

There are a few other utility boxes around Wagner Park, and Woodyard says they could be turned into works of art someday as well. In fact, any number of utility boxes across town could receive the same treatment.

“As you go through the community, utility boxes are a natural place to put something of interest. It makes sense, ”says Woodyard.

“We are always looking for new ways to promote public art. We will soon be walking around both city centers and identifying other potential places for public art, and not necessarily just murals.

Woodyard points to Grand Rapids, where the internationally renowned ArtPrize competition and festival takes place each year. While there are no plans for a festival of this magnitude, that doesn’t mean Dearborn can’t make a name for himself for his commitment to public art in his own way. The idea is that bringing more public art, and more permanent public art, to Dearborn will only help attract more people to the city and improve the quality of life for those who are already there. And it can come in the form of murals on the side of buildings, utility boxes, and whatever else you can imagine next.

“I love any kind of art that is unexpected, that induces a feeling. With public art, putting it right in front of people’s faces is sometimes the easiest way to bridge to art, ”says Corder.

“This is the raison d’être of Dearborn, to make art fair for all. Maybe you don’t have a car or money and can’t get to an art gallery or museum. Public art gives access.

Source link

About Margaret L. Portillo

Check Also

Artist fights to demolish illegal studio in field

An artist is appealing an order to illegally demolish the studio he built in the …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *