Art for Our Sake

Art for Our Sake
August 7, 2019 paperlesslion
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Over the next ten days or so, passers-by can watch as a new mural reveals itself in downtown Ann Arbor.  Gracing the west-facing wall of The Pretzel Bell Building at 120 East Liberty Street, the mural is the creation of Detroit-based artist Jesse Kassel.

The project was initiated by the Art in Public Committee at the Ann Arbor Art Center (A2AC). Committee member Larry Nisson cites the building’s location as a boon for the project’s visibility. Nisson is an executive coach, real estate investor and glass artist, as well as a longtime A2AC supporter and volunteer.

“We love the impact that will be created as so many people—locals and visitors—experience this artwork,” says Nisson. “When a community is engaged in public art, it’s a sign of deep resilience. Public art uncovers different aspects of how we thrive together.”

On behalf of the Art Center, Nisson found a project partner for the mural in the building’s owner, Edward Shaffran. “We approached Ed with the idea,” says A2AC’s CEO Marie Klopf, “and he generously stepped up to commission the artwork.”

Shaffran, a real estate professional devoted to downtown Ann Arbor’s history and future, has held multiple positions as a community leader, including as a member of Ann Arbor’s Downtown Development Authority. “The mural is a great way to demonstrate that creativity is one of our community’s most enduring and valuable public assets,” Shaffran notes.

The Art Center remains involved to facilitate the project’s completion by working with the artist during the mural’s installation, part of a series of public art projects A2AC is spearheading.

Kassel, whose work has been exhibited locally and internationally, takes inspiration from vintage advertisements and graphic design. “I am drawn to projects like this one that unite a rich cultural context with a historic façade,” Kassel says.  “The design for this mural is inspired by Ann Arbor’s culture, amenities and history.”

The mural is expected to be completed by mid-August.

The image above is a detail from Science Lab, a work by Jesse Kassel.

About the Ann Arbor Art Center
For 110 years, the nonprofit Ann Arbor Art Center has been sparking creativity in people of all ages, backgrounds, and artistic abilities. Our mission is to be a contemporary forum for the visual arts through education, exploration, collaboration, and exhibition, and to engage minds, expand perspectives, and inspire growth in students of all ages, teachers, artists, and the community. We are empowered to carry out our mission through the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations who believe in the value of our work, and in creativity’s essential role in sustaining and elevating our common experience. In fulfilling our mission the Art Center serves as a regional hub for the visual arts and prioritizes the longstanding partnerships we cultivate as a keystone for Ann Arbor’s healthy ecosystem of cultural and civic life.