Why is there seemingly year-round construction going on in southeast Michigan? Due to the fluctuating weather patterns throughout the year, the concrete sidewalks and roads crack and fall apart at, frankly, an unacceptable rate. It is now extremely rare to spend a day in any part of metro-Detroit without being near the sound of jackhammers and road crews! And, as you may have heard, this soon will be presenting a major problem for the otherwise picturesque and tranquil area of downtown Birmingham. HOWEVER, the Birmingham Shopping District has come up with an ingenious way to spruce up the eyesore that will surely accompany the Old Woodward reconstruction. It is the Birmingham Construction Art Contest
The construction will be focused on the section of Old Woodward spanning from Willits to Brown. Already now started , the project will most likely last into September. Of course, this presents a problem for the city, considering that summertime is the high point of almost every social activity for us residents. It just simply will not do to allow a projected three thousand foot barricade of construction - to not only clutter up the sidewalks and streets - but to take away from the luxury and ambiance of our city!
And so, the idea to form an art contest around the construction seems a brilliant way to involve our community in a public works project, as well as make the best of an unfortunate situation. The idea is to assemble local artists to paint and decorate individual spaces along the barriers to enhance the overall aesthetics of the area. Artists will be given approximately 16 days beginning on April 25th to design and paint their designated spaces, at which point a public jury will begin judging each piece. A winner will then be selected. Although the artists are instructed to design their area in relation to the overall theme “Pave The Way”, individual interpretations of the theme are encouraged. Each space given will be about eight feet wide and four feet tall.
An interesting aspect of this competition is the allowance of all types of media, not just merely paint. The range of different art supplies that will be used still remains to be seen, but the committee has specified no artwork is to protrude more than six inches from the base of the art itself. Even so, this aspect should still encourage the artists to think in three dimensions, and will certainly ensure some unique designs.
Artists can apply for up to 3 spaces, meaning they could conceivably design 3 separate spaces, or combine them to make for a larger piece. Each piece must be waterproof as they will remain outdoors for the duration of the construction. The winning pieces will be displayed throughout downtown Birmingham when the contest is over, and every piece, regardless of finishing spot, will become property of the Birmingham Shopping District. Applications must be submitted to the BSD by 4/6/18 and the application form can be accessed here.
Living in Southeast Michigan comes with the acceptance that one will be close to construction seemingly everywhere. But our city has cleverly devised this art contest as a way to let the people take charge of this. Most other towns would likely accept the economic hardship and eyes sores of orange plastic barrels, but not Birmingham!!! And anyone visiting the area this spring/summer will still be able to appreciate endless fun and exciting activities to choose throughout the city...