Ferndale DDA looking for public input at art exhibit auction

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published June 12, 2013

 Old parking meters from downtown Ferndale were reimagined by local artists and will be up for auction during the  “ARTWN: Change is Good” benefit event June 21 at the Rust Belt in Ferndale.

Old parking meters from downtown Ferndale were reimagined by local artists and will be up for auction during the “ARTWN: Change is Good” benefit event June 21 at the Rust Belt in Ferndale.

Photo submitted by Chris Hughes

FERNDALE — Art is as much a part of Ferndale as the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Pride festival. From the numerous art shows every year to the many local art galleries and local artists, art is one of the highlights for anyone living or going to Ferndale.

For the past year, Ferndale has been home to 11 sculptures as part of the ARTWN exhibit sponsored by the MotorCity Casino Hotel. With one year left on the temporary outdoor exhibit, the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority is hosting “ARTWN: Change is Good,” a benefit for public art in the downtown area.

The event, to be held from 6-9 p.m. June 21 at the Rust Belt Market on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Nine Mile Road, will allow attendees to vote with money for which two pieces of the 11-piece exhibit will stay in Ferndale. There will be cans set out for each piece to collect the money. A silent auction, cash bar, food and music will also be part of the festivities.

However, the most intriguing aspect may be the live auction, which will feature expired parking meters reimagined by local artists.

“Of the meters we took out with the new parking system, we used the broken-beyond-repair meters to give to the artists,” said Chris Hughes, DDA communications and marketing manager. “Just because they are retired doesn’t mean they have lost their purpose. And just because the new parking system had a few issues doesn’t mean you can’t smile once in awhile and know something good has come out of it with these new art pieces.”

While the name of the event doesn’t directly correlate with the new parking system and how it has been received, Hughes said the DDA’s overall mission is to constantly improve the downtown area, and the new parking system and soon-to-be permanent art structures are part of that.

“Change is good and we sometimes have to embrace in ways we didn’t anticipate it,” she said. “We get a chance to see what artists can do with parking meters and how that relates with what is going on in the city now.

“‘Change is good’ is a mantra we use because things are constantly changing and remind people that it is not good to be the same all the time.”

As for the ARTWN exhibit pieces, voting opportunities will continue through early fall when the top five money generators move into the final round of review. The two permanent selections will be made public in December.

“There are many ways to determine which pieces of art to buy, but letting the public have a say in it was of utmost importance,” DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said. “This event gives the public a chance to really think about what they see and like and which piece they enjoy the most.

“The event itself also gives people a chance to take home some art of their own. The expired, reimagined meters we’ve seen thus far are definitely artistically redefined, and conversation- starters.”

Pieces part of the ARTWN exhibit include the red ram on Livernois Road, a 12-foot sculpture on Nine Mile made of bike parts and several others around town. Hughes said if enough money is raised, more than two pieces might be purchased.

The DDA held a similar event last year to introduce the pieces and took people around town to see the pieces. Like last year, people will have a chance to get a look at the pieces before they decide which ones they want to vote for.

“Art is a tool for economic redevelopment and it helps make downtown a destination and is one of the threads in the fabric of a community,” Hughes said. “We have art all over town, at our bus stops, and it just gives streets character they would not have otherwise. We had a great event last year and raised dollars to go toward the public art fund, and we really want the opportunity to survey people.”

Tickets for the event are $20, which will go toward the public art fund, and can be purchased at www.downtownferndale.com or by calling the DDA at (248) 546-1632. Every ticket includes an opportunity to win a one-year free parking pass to downtown Ferndale.