flint jpg landscapes

March is here and with a few of the Flint MI x10 projects underway, I’ve been touring around the city thinking about the next step. I’ve noticed a small collection of screen shots growing in a folder on my desktop.  So, for this week, I thought I would just photoshop some of my favorites for you. Think of them as postcards. Enjoy. 

Also, here is the ongoing map of  Flint MI x10 sites with the photo locations marked. 

View flintmix10 in a larger map

Oh, if you have a favorite site in Flint to photograph, let me know. 

The Pasta is Terrible

With winter finally here in NYC and a deep chill in Flint, today is a good day to be inside surfing the Internet. It seems like the right time to begin Flint MI x10 Project #9

Respond to “the pasta is terrible” comment on Google Maps for Chevy In The Hole.

Before we dig into the pasta and the hole, here are a few Flint MI x10 updates.

It has been a few weeks since I mailed the DADA catalogue to the Flint Public Library. Still no word of it making it to the shelves. I’m not going to worry about it yet. This may just be the nature of the work. Some Flint MI x 10 projects will end with - and It went to Flint  and was never seen or heard from again.  But, for now, I still have some hope it will show up.
From the last post on planting Pumpkins seeds in Flint, Shaun Smakal noted on the Flint Public Art’s Facebook page that the Flint’s Hardness Zone was just updated for the first time since 1990 by the USDA. It is now 6a (-10 to -5).  I’ve heard a few reasons for the update. I’ve heard USDA folks say that we’re better at modeling weather patterns now or our last data set was in the 70’s and it was unusually cold back then.  And, of course, we might want to consider the gigantic elephant in the room. It’s hard to avoid the thought that this is another sign of global warming. In any case, and for any reason, it might be time to consider what a warming planting zone might mean for the next 100 years.

And now from plants to the plant, also know as Chevy in The Hole. 

First, some here is a brief history from the Land Bank Report  - Reimagining Chevy in the Hole

Flint first became known as the nation’s Vehicle City in the late 1800s for its wagon and carriage industry, and later for the automobile industry. Chevy in the Hole was the manufacturing center of Chevrolet Motors, part of General Motors, in the early 1900s. When General Motors was at its peak in the 1950s, the company employed 89,000 in Flint and around 8,000 at Chevy in the Hole. Chevy in the Hole and its workers also made national history in the labor movement when the United Auto Workers’ Sit-Down Strike occurred in 1936-1937

Most of the buildings at the site were torn down in the 90’s with the last operating facilities shutting in 2004. On May 12, 2011, the city of Flint took control of the 103 acre site , now one of America’s largest brownfields, with the goal of converting it to a low maintenance green space.   

In December of 2011, while doing RnD for the Flint , MI x10 project, I came across the then lone user review on Goolge Maps for Chevy in the Hole.  The review/epitaph for this nationally historic site simple stated “The pasta is terrible.” 

I had a friend who placed art, pop culture and the Internet on a high pedestal. She did so with an intelligence and insight that always dropped my jaw.  She held one Golden Rule for culture and I have tried to keep this standard in my life. The rule - “Never step on a punchline.”  

So, be it intentional on unintentional comedy or tragedy, I have taken the task to reply to “The pasta is terrible” review. With respect and love to the city, and an apology to user name “VonWoodson” for stepping on their line, here is my short list of possible review responses. Each one is lifted from the literary sub-gene “online restaurant user reviews.”

1. Come for the pasta but stay for the Thursday 2 for 1 hot wings.

2. explain to me how I managed to blow $100 on drinks the other night

3.  Here is where you can eat pasta and it feels “light.” The dishes have the optimal ingredients and prepared so precisely. A very modern decor, a good place to take out of town friends, or family of any age. Can be a wait to get in so best to get a reservation, they are very popular! It is very fun to get the pasta prepared in the cheese wheel. You would think it would taste very “heavy” but it was somehow creamy and light and wonderfully smooth with a sharp cheese bite - you should try it!

4. This place will take your order and never deliver it. This has happened more than once !!!!!!

5. Third day at this place. Waitress laughed away the discount request.

6. I’ve dined in twice so far and did takeout once. I’d like to see some flowers on the tables and maybe a candle.

7. the bartender did not like us, probably because we were on a pub crawl and had stopped for dinner.

8. There has been many severe zombie attacks in this area!

9. Best flavor I ever experienced

10. ..and such small portions.

Since October a few more reviews have join VonWoodson and I think I’m ready to weigh in as well. So, just to open this up, let me know which one to go with or post your user review in the comments below. 
Of course, it might be better to say something like “Site of UAWs’ Sit-Down Strike 1936-1937” or ”looks like a good location to build a public park”  I’ll leave that up to you. Whatever everyone likes, I’ll post on Google Maps next weekend.   

Begin, Begin

flint, mi

In the early 90’s, I studied sculpture at a grad school outside of Detroit. The school, Cranbrook, was a good fit for me. Although sitting in my studio reading and building all day long was great, the school itself was a bit isolating. Built in the mansion district of Bloomfield Hills, the school is literally a walled in utopic mid-century Arts and Crafts garden with a seemingly minimum one hour drive to escape. Once the cold and snow started (mid-November), only an occasional run to the distant 24 hour big box lumber supple store seemed worth it.
As it was my first time away from home and I had art on my mind, the isolation seemed fine. When I did get restless and needed to escape the garden, I would jump in my station wagon and drive North to the flea markets in Pontiac and Flint. Walking the maze of aisles lined table after table with worn and used stuff calmed me. Objects and people felt solid there in a way the big box lumber store or the walled in academy did not. 
One night last fall I ran into a friend in Brooklyn. She said she was working on a public art proposal for the city of Flint. We talked about the city and I told her about the flea market and the winter skies. She asked if I was interested in contacting Stephen Zacks who was organizing some projects in the city. After dragging my feet a bit, I emailed Stephen and told him about my work in the collaboration MTAA and my fondness of Flint. I said I was interested in remotely sending Flint a set of public sculptures and performances. He sounded interested and said if I could fund it myself, he could offer some help with resources and contacts in the area. I said perfect and sent him this list of possible artworks.

So, for the next 12 months, I will be thinking of the city and people of Flint Michigan. I have no order of production for the list of 10 artworks nor detailed plan for them at this point. I do have a faith in a process. I have a site, a goal, some people, the Internet and, as 2012 is a leap year, 336 days. I hope to post here once a week or so to let you know how it is going. 

If you are near Flint and would be interested in working on one of the projects or just want to say “hey”, send an email to mriver (at) mteww.com

Tags: flint mi mtaa