Public Art & Design Projects

Public Art & Design


In partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (AADDA) and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (AAPAC), The Arts Alliance is facilitating the selection and installation of artwork by local artists on power boxes throughout downtown Ann Arbor. Projects like PowerArt! exist across the country, and have led to a decrease in vandalism where installed. The vinyl material used to wrap the artwork around the boxes is resistant to graffiti, and if necessary the vinyl panels can be replaced if damaged.

Artworks by artists in Washtenaw County are submitted for PowerArt! consideration via scheduled calls for art. A jury of artists and community members select the top works, a portion of which go to public vote. The jury’s top choices, combined with the winners of the popular vote, are printed and installed onto power boxes at street intersections. Each artist receives $1,450 for their artwork.

In its pilot phase, eight works were selected, with two being installed in each merchant district within the AADDA.

We expect to run additional calls to install artwork in future rounds. Those interested in submitting artwork should subscribe to our Cultural eNewsletter to be notified about future rounds.

For a map of installation locations click here.

Canoe Imagine Art 

Canoe Imagine Art is a public art project that celebrates the history and attributes of the HuronRiver and the City of Ann Arbor park system using repurposed canoes as inspiration. Four works of art were selected through a juried and public vote process for installations in City of Ann Arbor parks along the Huron River during the summer of 2015. Each selected artist was awarded a $5,000 honoraria plus recycled canoes for their installation. Canoe Imagine Art is supported by the City of Ann Arbor’s Public Art Commission and Parks and Recreation Department and the Michigan Council for Art and Cultural Affairs.

Canoe Imagine Art includes four temporary installations along the Huron River in Ann Arbor. The photos below feature these installations:

Bandemer Park: Tulip by Ray Katz
Broadway Park: Turbine by Missouri State Western University artists J. Neil Lawley, Heather Andrews, Jake Proffit, Dustin Lafromboise and Hausman Metal Works.
Island Park: Canoe-vue by Jeff Zischke
Gallup Park: Canoe Fan by Victoria Fuller

Further collaboration for this project comes from: Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department, Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Huron River Watershed Council, Stantec, Saladino Construction, Community Music School of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor District Library and Wolverine Rental.

MI Art Tours App

Virtually explore public art throughout Michigan and navigate guided tours, including the Canoe Imagine Art and PowerArt! projects using the MI Art Tours app brought to you by The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA).

MI Art Tours will help you discover public outdoor works of art and culture in Michigan and show you the work nearest to you. It will provide information about the artists, as well as photos of the piece. The app will also give you directions on how to travel to see the work, by car, bike, or walking. MI Art Tours expert curators, like the Arts Alliance, have put together “tours” to help you discover work from around the entire state including Canoe Imagine Art and PowerArt! tours.

Download the app today to get started:



ReImagine Washtenaw

Commissioned by Washtenaw County, The Arts Alliance developed the public art & design plan for the ReImagine Washtenaw Avenue project in accordance with the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant as a part of the ReImagine Washtenaw Corridor Improvement Study.

The ReImagine Washtenaw Avenue Public Art & Design Plan was informed by 11 community focus groups and two public surveys administered by The Arts Alliance from 2013-2014 in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti Township, the City of Ypsilanti and Pittsfield Township.  More than 750 community members participated.

Outlined in the plan are the findings from the focus groups and surveys as well as recommendations for future art and design along the Washtenaw Corridor, including the following:

  • Public art & design is important. The surveys showed that 80% of participants believe that public art and design is an important element of a rich and vibrant community.
  • Community involvement and transparency for public art & design. A community driven project that allows individuals to have input and participate with the process is essential to the success of installed pieces and design elements. Future public art and design projects should also consider how local community members can and will interact with the [artwork or design elements] – both during the creation process and upon completion.
  • Identify and publicize existing public art & design elements. Community education through a variety of avenues… should strive to identify and celebrate the public art and design elements that currently exist and encourage community members, developers and designers to think more creatively about how unique design elements – from paint colors to bike racks – can enrich the county by making public spaces more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission appreciates that everyone deserves to live with dignity, in safety and with beauty. As plans are made for the North Maple Estates and Lower Platt neighborhood redevelopments, the Commission contracted The Arts Alliance to help current residents impact the design of their future home: a pleasant, healthful, artful and green residential community that reflects their history, culture and dreams.

With the goals of being respectful and sensitive to the complexity of moving residents to temporary housing during construction, building trust and helping the residents impact the design of their future home, The Arts Alliance conducted resident gatherings, including cultural advisors, translators, storytellers, photographers, videographers and visual artists to allow residents to share their stories and provide input for the developments’ public art and design. Based on the residents’ input, The Arts Alliance created the Ann Arbor Public Housing Public Art and Design Infusion Plan, to inform the design and construction of the North Maple Estates and Lower Platt neighborhoods.