Environment plays a role in new Farmington Hills Public Art exhibit

A 9-foot-tall, drowning polar bear and a “micro point” view of a Detroit neighborhood are among more than 90 pieces of art now on display at Farmington Hills City Hall.

The city’s Cultural Arts Division staff spent a full Saturday in December placing and hanging entries in the 2019-2020 Public Art Program. City officials, artists, and art lovers will celebrate this unique exhibit during a Monday, January 14 reception at City Hall, 31555 W. 11 Mile Rd.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council
Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Staff
Farmington Hills Cultural Arts staff from left includes: Karla Aren, Cultural Arts Supervisor Rachel Timlin, Jessica Guzmán Dunn, and Brooke Samelko. They’re standing in front Farmington Hills Artist in Residence John Martin’s contribution to the Public Art Program. 

Launched in 2010, the Public Art Program was designed to enhance the city’s newly renovated City Hall and to expose the building’s more than 60,000 annual visitors to the work of local artists. Some of the pieces are offered for sale, and Cultural Arts Supervisor Rachel Timlin said the city has done away with commissions; artists keep 100 percent of the proceeds.

“They give us their artwork for two years,” she said. “We’re the winners here.”

Nancy Coumoundouros art
This painting, by retired Cultural Arts Supervisor Nancy Coumoundouros, is appropriately placed with the city’s Treasury Department – where dog license are issued.

Farmington Hills is one of just two Michigan cities with dedicated cultural arts divisions; the other is Marquette. Along with many other arts programs, the Hills Cultural Arts Division also oversees Art on the Grand, a juried art fair held the first weekend in June in downtown Farmington.

Interest in the Public Art Program has grown. It started with 60-70 works, and now art occupies almost every corner of City Hall. Pieces come from all around metro Detroit, and about half of the artists live in Farmington Hills and Farmington.

Over time, the submissions have moved away from traditional themes to more edgy work. In the 2019-2020 exhibit, Timlin said, “We have a lot of environmentally themed pieces.”

“Drowning Ursa Major & Minor Polar Bear”, created by Scott Hocking and John Corbin, draws attention to the record number of polar bears drowning as global warming shrinks the polar ice cap and forces them to swim longer and more often.

Drowning Ursa Major & Minor Polar Bear
Scott Hocking is pictured with Drowning Ursa Major & Minor Polar Bear.

“Although polar bears are excellent swimmers, they rely on ice flows for rest,” Hocking said in his artist’s statement. “Scientists have warned that global warming could render the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2040, likely driving polar bears to extinction.”

Spongebob Squarepants Testing Chimpanzee

Hocking worked with Faina Lerman to create “Spongebob Squarepants Testing Chimpanzee”, also in 2006. It reflects the use of chimpanzees in all manner of scientific research.

“Today, chimpanzees are used predominantly in infectious disease experiments, most commonly hepatitis and AIDS. Once infected, these chimpanzees often remain isolated from other chimpanzees and confined indoors for life,” Hocking said.

Painter Lowell Boileau, a Farmington resident for 21 years, brings his original technique, “Three Color Micro Point”, to the exhibit with “Detroit Winter”, a 48″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas. He uses microscopic dots of only red, yellow and blue paint to create full color works:

Detroit Winter Lowell Boileau

Boileau has exhibited locally, throughout the U.S., Mexico, France, and in Germany, where he was commissioned to use the technique to paint a landscape on a city bus.

Detroit Winter
A detailed look at the unique method used to create “Detroit Winter”.

Monday’s reception includes an opportunity for the public to vote on their favorite art works. The artist who receives the most votes will display additional works in the Rotating Exhibits Gallery. Mayor Ken Massey speaks at 7:15 p.m., and public choice voting closes at 8 p.m.

Learn more at fhgov.com.

Here are a few more of the works on display:

Farmington Hills resident Ellen Leever created “Bunndage”. She began her education as a marine biologist and translates her love of nature into art.
Router Boards
These panels are part of a series that concerns chance and found objects/images. They were rescued and painted by sculptor, painter, photographer and mixed-media artist Marat Paransky, who lives in Farmington Hills. “Polygon A” “Polygon B”, and “Polygon C” are made from modified MDF board and acrylic paint. The three pieces were originally placed under other materials by workers using routers.

These artists all have works on display for the next two years:

  • Richard Adams
  • Jim Aho
  • Gauri Alate
  • Pamela Alexander
  • Robbie Best
  • Michelle Boggess
  • Lowell Boileau
  • Gail Borowski
  • Amy Bowes
  • Elizabeth Buckner
  • Doug Cannell
  • Cindy Carleton
  • Maddi Carpenter-Crawford
  • John Corbin
  • Janna Coumoundouros
  • Nancy Coumoundouros
  • Pamela Day
  • Laura DeLind
  • Jana Dietsch Wingels
  • Nihad Dukhan
  • Marilyn Feather
  • Paulette Gassman
  • Dorothy Griffith
  • Hava Gurevich
  • Ted Hadfield
  • Cheryl Haithco
  • Scott Hocking
  • Paul Into
  • Kyle “RISE” Irving
  • Aric Jorn
  • Lila Kadaj
  • Mary Kondraciuk
  • Sam Kthar
  • Angela Larson
  • Arthur Lazaryan
  • Ellen Leever
  • Faina Lerman
  • Debbie Lim
  • Ann Loveland
  • Anthony Macioce
  • John Martin
  • Kelly O’Neill
  • Neil Ottaviano
  • Marat Paransky
  • Rosa Paulus
  • Cheryl Phillips
  • Robert Piatek
  • Dean Racke
  • MaryEllen Rech
  • Paul Schaefer
  • Fran Seikaly
  • Victoria Shaheen
  • Michelle “Mickey” Shaw-Cyr
  • Rosemarie Simonton
  • Tricia Soderberg
  • Will Stanford
  • Rose Starke
  • Ellen Stern
  • Iggy Sumnik
  • Susan A. Warner
  • Margi Weir
  • Lisa Whitener
  • S. Kay Young

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