‘Art in Civic Center Plaza’ coming to Madison Heights

Applications being accepted for artists to show and sell pieces

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published October 20, 2022

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Renovations have begun at Civic Center Plaza in Madison Heights — a project that will downsize City Hall, revamp the library, and build a new Active Adult Center. And as an added benefit, there will be spaces for artists to share their work.

The program, called “Art in Civic Center Plaza,” will provide exhibit opportunities for residents of Madison Heights, as well as current and former students, and those working in the city. The goal is to create a stronger sense of place while shining a spotlight on local talent.

The initiative will begin as a one-year pilot program, run by the city in coordination with volunteers from the Arts Board. It will debut with six to eight art pieces, chosen by a selection committee consisting of Arts Board members and City Manager Melissa Marsh, and displayed at locations in City Hall and the library from March 2023 through July 2023. 

The library, which closes for renovations this December, will also have its grand reopening in mid-March 2023. If the program is well-received, the plan is to make it a recurring feature with new pieces periodically selected and displayed. The program could also be extended to the city parks and the new Active Adult Center. In addition, each artist can also choose to list their pieces for sale. 

Artists can submit pictures of their artwork by emailing adamowczarzak@madison-heights.org. The city recommends submitting JPG or PDF files since they are easier to share with the committee. The original work’s dimensions will be a consideration for the space available for each piece. Applications are open now through Nov. 30. More details on the program guidelines, application form and artist agreement are at madison-heights.org.

“Once pieces are chosen, we plan to feature each artist in a short video … including the piece name, artist name, and any inspiration or details they have about the work,” Marsh said via email.

She noted that the library’s closure Dec. 16 will allow staff time to package and store its collection of materials and equipment. Renovations will then begin in January and conclude in March. Curbside pickup will be available, by appointment only, from Dec. 19 through March 3. The pickups will take place off the Brush Street entrance, and will include technology items such as Chromebooks and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Interlibrary loans will also be available, which are items that a library user requests for delivery from other libraries.

Work has also started onsite for the new Active Adult Center, which is anticipated to be completed in August. The current Active Adult Center, on John R Road, has a pending competitive sale that has been approved by the City Council and that is currently in the due diligence period.

Marsh said she looks forward to what the art program will bring to the city’s municipal center.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance the walls in our public buildings while featuring local artists and providing the artist with a venue to display their work,” Marsh said. “This creates a sense of space and celebrates our population with expression and color, giving people another reason to visit our public spaces.”

In a series of emails, members of the City Council shared their thoughts.

“The more art, the better,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Quinn Wright. “The opportunity for artists to exhibit their works in newly renovated spaces at City Hall and the library is a win for our city and a win for artists. I look forward to seeing the vibrant displays bringing new life to these areas of our city.”

Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss said that bringing art to public spaces has been one of his top priorities since founding the Arts Board five years ago.

“Our first big project (with the Arts Board) was a photography contest where we had displays up in City Hall, and ever since then, we’ve wanted to put more resident art into buildings like City Hall and our library. This program will do just that, and comes at a time when even more people will want to visit these buildings following our major renovations,” Bliss said.

“Like the murals we’ve been able to fund, this program will bring a bit of beauty into our city buildings and hopefully inspire some of the children who walk past them to create art of their own,” he said. “It will also serve as an ongoing art fair that will showcase the work of our local artists, allowing members of the public to purchase these pieces from the artists once they fall in love with them.”

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, recalled a past event, Creative Art on Fire, where local high school students submitted designs that were painted onto fire hydrants in the city’s downtown district. She was asked to be a contest judge during that event.

“While I was there (reviewing pieces at City Hall), I would talk to people as they were coming in to pay their bills or to get permits. It was a great way to see how art can open up these conversations, with many folks weighing in on pieces they did or did not like. Afterwards, I commented that we should put art up in City Hall to showcase artists and bring more culture to our walls,” Grafstein said. “I’m ecstatic that the Arts Board and staff have found a way to incorporate this into our renovated space.”

Added Bliss: “I personally couldn’t be more excited about this program. Instead of basic mass-market art, we’ll instead be displaying the one-of-a-kind works of the talented artists who live, work and play in our community. Not only is that better for the city from a budget perspective, but it’s better for our residents who will be exposed to our amazing local artists. … It’s an amazing concept that I hope will be ongoing for us for decades to come.”