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ReVIVE All Zones brings ‘tactical urbanism’ to Ann Arbor

The Studio Kaleidoscape  installation can be found at the intersection of S. State Street and N. University Avenue. Photo courtesy of the Arts Alliance.
The Studio Kaleidoscape installation can be found at the intersection of S. State Street and N. University Avenue. Photo courtesy of the Arts Alliance. (Lee Marshall)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new project managed by the Arts Alliance is redescribing what a cityscape can look like.

Through ReVIVE All Zones, the Ann Arbor-based organization has put out a call to Washtenaw County artists to bring “tactical urbanism” to the city.

In a partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, the Arts Alliance is commissioning four installations around the city.

“Tactical Urbanism” is a genre of art that is low-cost, scalable and ties together community engagement, collaboration and local understanding of neighborhoods.

The temporary installations are meant to organically wear away on their own by November or will be taken down after some time.

The Arts Alliance president and CEO Deb Polich said that the installations are informative and help community members redefine their relationship with the outdoor area around them. The temporary installations will reimagine the four selected spaces around the city.

The project offers a taste of what could be and of how design and placemaking can impact the local area.

“We can live in places that we want to, and sometimes we live in places where we have to. In either case, those locations can be beautiful," she said, adding that places can be both attractive and functional instead of just one or the other.

Yen Azzaro's Zip "Code" installation at the corner of Detroit Street and Catherine Street. Photo courtesy of Yen Azzaro and the Arts Alliance. (Yen Azzaro)

Currently, two installations can be found downtown.

Zip “Code” by artist Yen Azzaro highlights quality-of-life disparities between different areas around Washtenaw County on the corner of Detroit Street and Catherine Street.

A colorful and three-dimensional installation by Studio Kaleidoscape members Natsume Ono, Clare Coburn, Leah Hongand and Mitchell Lawrence is at the intersection of South State Steet and North University Avenue.

ReVIVE All Zones project also has additional impacts. It is an investment in the city and helps with the hardships faced by the arts community.

“We [the Arts Alliance] appreciate that the DDA was in-part responding to the devastated arts and creative industry here in Washtenaw,” Polich said, adding that the pandemic has been difficult for local artists and creatives as revenue opportunities dried up.

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A close up of Yen Azzaro's Zip "Code" installation. The piece highlights quality-of-life disparities around Washtenaw County. Photo courtesy of Yen Azzaro and the Arts Alliance. (Yen Azzaro)

Calling all artists

There are still two more commissions available for project sites and artists are encouraged to apply.

Applications are reviewed by the DDA and the city of Ann Arbor, and selected based on if they fit the application criteria, reimagine the way city spaces look and are fun but thought-provoking.

Polich said there may be wiggle room for how long the two remaining installations interact with the project sites, particularly as the weather changes.

Public art can be prescriptive ReVIVE All Zones isn’t like that. Polich likened the project to opening presents, each application is a surprise. The criteria doesn’t define specifics of what colors, shapes or elements should be used (other than what is already in the city spaces) so artists can be creative with their temporary installations.

Washtenaw County artists can find application materials here.

Find out more about ReVIVE All Zones here.

Part of the Studio Kaleidoscape ReVIVE All Zones installation. Photo courtesy of the Arts Alliance. (Studio Kaleidoscape ; Arts Alliance)

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.