Works of fine art are usually associated with quiet museums, pale gallery walls, whispered voices, and security guards keeping patrons as far away from the art as possible. Picture instead works of art surrounded by trees and flowers, hung on historic outdoor brick walls, with kids running by, loud laughter ringing out, and the smells of food wafting from nearby restaurants floating through the air.
The City of Saline Arts & Culture Committee and Saline Main Street have come together to make this wonderful vision a reality. With the installation of their second round of art, Art Around Saline is becoming a welcome fixture in an increasingly arts-savvy community.
“The Arts and Cultural Committee came up with the idea after looking for a number of years for a public art display that would showcase local artists,” says Cindy Baxter, a member of the Arts & Culture Committee. “With Carla Scruggs from the Parks and Rec, the DIA InSide Out program was applied for during the Sesquicentennial and had been turned down. So we adapted the idea to our need for a public art display.”
There have been two rounds of art that have gone up around Saline this year. The first group of pieces was selected from work submitted in January for a one-year exhibit. A jury, made up of members of the Saline Main Street Design Team and the Arts and Culture Committee, selected the first four pieces to be displayed around the city. Then, in mid-May, those pieces went up around town, but not without some struggles. Exhibiting works of 2-D art in an accessible way in an outdoor space came with many different elements to consider.
According to Baxter, “Since the program was a pilot project we had a number of things to work out. We needed to find a printer to print large exterior weatherproof pieces, figure out how to make frames and install the pieces and we had to secure locations for each piece. Riley Halenbaugh from Main Street was great at getting our locations set from the property owners. Steve's Custom Printing has been excellent for handling our printing. Bruce Westlake and myself worked on the frames. The frames are made from PVC molding and stained to look like wood. Bruce and Ron Ely installed all the pieces.”
While many of these obstacles were overcome, funding the project was something else to consider. Thankfully, the Arts and Culture Committee’s budget was able to cover the first four prints, frames, and installation costs. When a second phase was considered, however, the Committee looked to another source for funding.
Washtenaw County’s Community Tourism Action Plan (CTAP) is, according to their website, “a yearly, on-going tourism marketing and community development investing program benefiting Washtenaw County.” It was to this organization that the Arts and Culture Committee turned for funding of Phase II of the Art Around Saline project. Through a grant received from the CTAP, they were able to fund the printing, payment to artists, and means to hang another round of art in the downtown area. According to Baxter, “The grant also includes funding for developing a map which is in the works.”
A few weeks ago, the Phase II pieces were installed around town. While the practice had been to put the artwork up on walls, Phase II had two pieces that were installed in the midst of trees and greenery in the parking lot behind Carrigan Cafe/Mac’s Acadian Seafood.
All of the artists in the Art Around Saline project are from the Saline area, and their works represent a wide variety of subject matter and media. Kathe Suddendorf’s “Flea Market Find” is done in colored pencil; Nancy’s Murray’s “Great Egret”, Joanne Porter’s “Midas Touch”, and Julie Daleiden’s “Taylor Jacobsen” are done in watercolor (the latter especially fitting, considering Jacobsen’s long history of teaching watercolor in Saline); Wynton Kirkpatrick's "Infinity House" is watercolor and ink; Earl Mitton's "Monarch Butterfly" is a photograph; Jill Stefani Wagner’s “Golden Light” is done in pastel; and Kay Cassill’s “Birds of a Feather #3” and Sandra S. Difazio’s “Sutherland-Wilson Farm” are oil paintings. Whether it’s a jar of colorful marbles, a majestic bird, a bunch of bright flowers, a portrait, or a light-filled landscape, each piece is a uniquely original piece with a taste of Saline mixed in.
And this isn’t all that we will be seeing from the Art Around Saline project. “We hope to expand the program next year to include an event open to the public such as a viewing of the submissions or an unveiling party,” says Baxter.
For more info, please visit: