horseshoes - project #4

For the most part, being close will not count.

It is almost Thanksgiving and I have only completed 4 of the 10 Flint projects. At this point, finishing all 10 artworks by January 1 seems doubtful. Although I’ve thought about giving myself an extension into 2013,  I will stick to the plan and stop on Dec 31 at midnight.  We’ll see how close we can get.

Flint MI x 10 Project #4. Forge and install a horse shoe for a public space 

jeremy scudder

Above is a photo of Jeremy who is farrier in Upstate New York. My friend Kate visited him at Applegarth and told him about the Flint MI x 10 project.  She asked for a shoe that we could send to Flint MI for good luck.

Here is a short video from Kate’s phone of Jeremy showing the shoe he forged. In the video he also explains what a roadster is. 

Here is the shoe at his shop… 

jeremy scudder

and here is closer look of the shoe sitting on my desk back down in Brooklyn.

Horseshoe for FlintMIx10

For the next journey for this shoe, I will need your help. If you live in or near Flint and would like to have this shoe, please send me an email to mriver (at) with the subject line “roadster” by Dec 15. In the email, let  me know where you would like to hang it and an address so that I can mail the shoe to you.

Ideally, the shoe should hang in a public place but pubic space is an opening idea. This could someplace like a bar, on a street sign or above your front door. As long as people can see it, it works for me. In exchange for the shoe, please send me a photo of it installed.

Also, big thanks to Jeremy and Kate for the luck. 

#3. Attempt to move Flint’s default Google map marker out of current parking lot location to City Hall.

As noted in the last post way way way back in August , I’m running a bit behind with the schedule of completing 10 artworks in Flint before the end of the year. Yes, I have only knocked off 3 of the 10 projects so far.  Yes, I’ve had a busy Fall. Yes, it might not happen. Then again, it might.

So, without without further ado, here is the report on my first attempt to move Flint’s default Google Map marker. 

As noted in the last post, Flint’s default map marker is currently residing in a parking space at the corner of East Court and South Saginaw Street.


By popular request over on the Flint Public Art Project’s Facebook page, I’m going to try to relocate the marker a few blocks South to City Hall. 


I’ve started the move with the a google search for "how does one relocated a google map marker?"

This search brought me the following direction from Google

If you notice that a marker is positioned incorrectly, you can move it to the right spot on the map.

  1. (Optional) Switch your view to Satellite and Show Labels. This allows you to move the marker accurately, as you can see both roads and satellite imagery.
  2. After you search for a place, click the the appropriate info window appears.
  3. If the marker is in the wrong location, select “Move marker” from the “more” drop down menu. Click and drag the marker to the correct location. Use the X to help you place the marker. Consider placing it at the entrance of the location, as this helps improve the accuracy of our driving directions.
  4. Click Save. Google Maps saves your changes.
So, here my screen shots shot of the big move.


and after…


Now then, Google notes that if you move the marker more than 200 ft (which I did) they will need to confirm the move before it starts showing up in the new location. They do not say how long it takes for someone at Google to confirm the move but my guess is a month to about the time when hell freezes over. Which, with global warming in full effect, seems like a very very long time. 
Anyways, if the marker is not over at City Hall by Dec 1, I’ll send Google a reminder note. 
4 down, 6 to go…

Default Location - Flint

Hello and welcome back to FlintMIx10

2012 is now past the halfway mark. Of the 10 artworks for Flint, I have sent the DADA book to the Flint Public Library (#2) and responded to a “the pasta is terrible” comment on Google Maps for Chevy In The Hole (#9) and planted pumpkin seeds culled from friends Catskill garden (#6) 

Yes, it looks like the project is a bit behind schedule. The goal is to complete everything by Dec 31, 2012.  I can only say it is summer and sometimes summer needs to be slow. 

Moving on with the project, let us now turn to #3. Attempt to move Flint’s default Google map marker out of current parking lot location to City Hall.  

First off, here is a screen shot of Google’s map with a default marker for city of Flint from the last week of July. 


and here is a closer look  


and here is the street view


Yes, as of July 2012, the default location marker for Flint is some parking space in a lot at the corner of East Court and South Saginaw Street. It may not be the most interesting site to represent Fint but then again “New York City” is currently some drug store on Broadway.
The idea is to try to try to move the Flint default marker to another location. My first thought for a new location was to just try to move it to down the street to City Hall. 


I also thought that maybe the location could be someplace less formal, like a museum….



or a historic site… 


or in the case of a city that helped birth the automobile, a cross road. 


I’m off to vacation next week. When I get back, we will review how Google accepts edits to location markers. Until then, if you have any suggestions for a new location for the Flint marker, let me know. 

Zone 5b (-15 to -10 Fahrenheit)

With project #2 underway and January coming to a close, it’s time to jump ahead into February’s winter chill.  I’m not sure what project to work on next but with snow falling in Flint right now, it might be time for some indoor winter activities. Before we hunker down in the cold, let’s take a moment to think of the promise of spring.
According to the USDA’s Gardening and Plant Hardennes Zone Map, Flint, like most of Southern Michigan, is classified as Zone 5b (-15 to -10 Fahrenheit).  This classification helps us gauge when to start what seeds at what time of the year. This bring us to the question for the Flint, Mi x10 project - 
When can we plant pumpkins? 

Pumpkins, native to the Americas and traditional stars of Fall festivities, always seemed to me a hearty cold weather plant. The truth is they warm plants like watermelons and tomatoes. As a warm season plant, pumpkins should go in the ground after the last frost of winter.  The trick is that you also need to avoid planting them late or you’ll end up with poor freezing unripe pumpkins at Halloween.
This would be a good time to inform you of an
unfortunate fact in my life. Although I come from generation after generation of German Iowan farmers, I’m a plant killer. The one plant in my apartment, a little cactus named Roxey, just holds onto life in spite.  You name it and I’ve let it go unwatered for weeks in a terracotta pot. 
I think part of the problem is that I’m just not interested in house plants. I mean, what’s the point of an indoor fern? Pumpkins, on the other hand, I fawn over. I like to eat them. I like to carve them. I find them oddly beautiful and full of magic. For me, they are ancient beings who come into the world each Fall. They appear and let us know it is time to say goodbye to Summer’s grace.
It was with some hesitation that my neighbors and best of friends Kate and Mike invited me to plant a pumpkin patch near their cabin in upstate New York. As I have killed a few of Kate and Mike’s plants while house sitting as well as drowning every living thing in their backyard for good measure, I understood their concern. To all of our amazement, as the corn will not take and bugs munch on the tomatoes, a small patch of cooking pumpkins thrives in their garden. Each year, we cull a few seeds for planting  next spring.

k and m garden
Project #6. With seeds culled from friends Catskill  garden plant rouge pumpkin in a Flint public park.
Which brings us back to the question, when can we plant pumpkins in Flint this year? My best guess right now is the first week of May. As the snow falls in Flint, May feels a long ways away.  

Mailing DADA to Flint

It’s the end of January and this afternoon, for $17.27 from a Brooklyn shop, I sent the book off to Flint. Should be there Thursday. Next up, horseshoes and pumpkin seeds. 

Tags: dada flint mail

Flint Owl Letter

On December 18, 1871, W.L. Bancroft sent the president of the Flint Library Association a box containing a folio edition of “Birds of American” by naturalist and painter John James Audubon. This set of hand-coloured life-size prints is still in the collection of the Flint Public Library today. The wonderfully verbose letter of donation from Bancroft concludes with wishes for the library’s future to be “as harmonious the notes of the sweetest in his songster list of nature’s melodists.”
With the goal of writing a 
letter of donation to Kay Schwartz, current Director of the Flint Public Library, Bancroft’s note acts both as guiding dove and cumbersome albatross. How can on compete with “songster list of nature’s melodist?” I’ll be lucky to escape without typos.  

Here is the note I’m sending with the donation of the 2006  DADA exhibition catalogue.
Dear Kay Schwartz, 
Director of the Flint Public Library
My name is Michael Sarff and I am an artist living in Brooklyn, New York. In the early 90’s I attended school outside of Detroit. On the weekends during that time, I liked to clear my mind by driving around Pontiac and Flint.  For some reason, I found it calming.

At the beginning of this year, I started a project called Flint MI  x10. Over the next 12 months, I would like to produce and install 10 artworks remotely in the city of Flint. The works are built in collaboration with the people in the city. You can find out more on the project and look at the ongoing documentation at
I would  like to begin the Flint MI x10 project with this work.
"Give the Flint Public Library a signed hardcover copy of the National Gallery of Art’s 2006  DADA exhibition catalogue. “
It would be an honor if you would accept the donation of this book to the general lending practices of the Flint Public Library. As someone who had little access to artworks growing up, books and magazines gave me a first experience with and information on art. It is my hope that in the donation of this catalogue on DADA, an art movement that impacted the way I understand art and the world, the gift of information and access is passed on.
If the donation is accepted, it would be wonderful if someone at the library could contact me when the catalogue is available on the shelves. In some initial contact with members of the Flint arts community, I understand they would like to check the catalogue out when available and hold some public readings / performances with this text.
In W.L. Bancroft’s 1871 donation letter to the Flint Library Association of the folio edition of John James Audubon’s “Birds of American”, he closes with wishes for the library’s future to be “as harmonious the notes of the sweetest in his songster list of nature’s melodists.”  I would like to end by echoing this wish for the Library, the City and the people of Flint.
My Best Regaurds,

Michael Sarff of MTAA

So, this is the letter I will place in the box with the book next week and mail off to Flint. I hope to post some pictures of the box and of mailing it out. After that, I guess the work is in the hands of the city. 

On Dada and The Public Library of Flint

With the need for x10 to depart from somewhere, let’s start with #2
#2 Give the Flint Public Library a signed hardcover copy of National Gallery of Art’s 2006  DADA exhibition catalogue.

Let us start 161 years ago in America in what will become the city of Flint. On March 22, 1851 a group of women, concerned about the lack of cultural and educational opportunities in their community, met at the home of Maria Smith Stockton. As a result of the meeting, the group adopted a constitution written by Sophia Gotee Jenney that established the Ladies Library Association.


Let us now move the clock forward 65 years from that meeting in Flint and look over to Europe on the brink of WW1. In Switzerland we see the opening of the Cabaret Voltaire, the spiritual birthplace of the art movement DADA.

Cabaret Voltaire - Under this name a group of young artists and writers has been formed whose aim is to create a centre for artistic entertainment. The idea of the cabaret will be that guest artists will come and give musical performances and readings at the daily meetings. The young artists of Zurich, whatever their orientation, are invited to come along with suggestions and contributions of all kinds. -Zurich, February 2, 1916



Now, move forward in time again. Move 95 years later and West to America. In a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York in the Fall or 2011. I’m sitting at my laptop writing down 10 artworks that I would like to build in Flint. I want to start by sending a gift to Flint. This gift should be able to be held and brought home by anyone in the city. The gift can be a book. It should be  a ridiculously large book.

Move forward in time to now. Now for me is 5:51 pm on New Year’s Eve 2012. This will be the past for you. Looking up from laptop, I see my DADA exhibition catalogue.

Now backwards in time a few years and a few miles West to the Museum of Modern Art. I’m wondering around the DADA show. So much stuff. So much text. It’s hard for me to focus on anything but the fact I’m wandering around a museum. Works come in out of focus. I’m happy when I recognize an artwork without reading the text. I might be with my ex-girl friend. She loved to wander around museums with me. I can’t remember. I do remember covertly filming Duchamp’s optic disk. If I find the video buried on some old external hard drive, you will see it below. If not, it is also lost. 

Forward in time and back to a public Library in Flint. In a few weeks, someone will read an email explaining that a person in Brooklyn would like to donate a book about European art movement. Maybe the email says the book is part of an art project called Flint, MI x10. Maybe not. Some people get turned off by that stuff. They think it’s a con or something.

Not sure. Let’s stop for now and write that email in 2012.