LSA freshman Layne Scherer was given the opportunity this fall to transform an ordinary fire hydrant into a work of art reminiscent of Andy Warhol.
Scherer participated in a project to paint fire hydrants in downtown Ann Arbor, started last summer by the Arts at Michigan program in collaboration with the South University Area Association. “I chose (Warhol’s) Campbell’s Soup can because I thought the piece would translate very well onto a fire hydrant, and it is a very accessible image to an average citizen,” Scherer said.
The project originally involved the artistic painting of fire hydrants along the route of The Link, run by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.
“Because many University students were leaving for the summer when the organizers were first publicizing the opportunity last summer, K-12 students in the area painted most of the hydrants,” said Nancy Lautenbach, Arts at Michigan marketing and programs coordinator and SUAA board member.
As there were still 22 fire hydrants available for painting this fall, the organizers of the project decided to attract University student artists.
“I am focusing only on getting U of M students involved,” Lautenbach said. “We would like to see more U of M students participate.”
It all began when members of several of Ann Arbor’s downtown associations attended an International Downtown Association conference in Cleveland, Ohio, last year. Bob Dascola, an Ann Arbor native and University alum, tells of the project’s origin: “We brought this project down from Cleveland. They had professional paint (work) there.
“We discussed it over three hours on the way back and had all the details worked out by the time we got to Ann Arbor.”
Dascola has worked on campus for 35 years as a barber and is now a member of the State Street Area Association.
“It’s important to put back into the community … so that’s what I’m doing, I’m giving back,” he said about his position as co-chair of the hydrant painting project.
“It goes well with the town and gown,” Dascola said of the project’s impact on Ann Arbor. “Different neighborhood associations have called the city about getting permission to do this – it’s turned into a whole community project.”
Even the University athletic department painted four fire hydrants around Michigan Stadium. “The athletic department stole our idea – it’s kind of cute, I’m glad they did,” Bob added.
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