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. 

Slow Flint MI x1O posting until May

Entire UBT 1st Study Model

Hi. Just in case you had begun to worry about the lack of Flint Mi x 10 progress in the last few weeks (yeah. I know you have not really been thinking about it but I like to imagine someone would), I have been working on an installation for Houston Texas for April 14. You can check out the details at

I promise that once I finish the UBT project, I’m back at Flint MI x 10. Also, if you have short film or video that you would be interested in screening, let me know.   

Tags: ubt mtaa

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. 

2 for 1 Hot Wings

In last week’s The Pasta is Terrible post, I started Flint, MI x10 Project #9 - Respond to “the pasta is terrible” comment on Google Maps for Chevy In The Hole. “  

View Larger Map

In an example of why the Internet is a strange space to make pubic art, the author of the original “the pasta is terrible” review showed up in the blog’s comments. Matthew Woodson (aka VonWoodson), talked a bit on how he ended up posting the Chevy in the Hole review. He noted Come for the pasta but stay for the Thursday 2 for 1 hot wings” and "This place will take your order and never deliver it. This has happened more than once !!!!!!" as responses I proposed that made him laugh. I’m glad Woodson showed up as I have spent some time in the last months imagining the person who left the comment. Disgruntled former employee and spam bot had crossed my mind. Good to see it was a person in Flint with a sense of humor.
In the end, as no one else weighed on the matter, I gave Chevy in the Hole 4 stars and went with Woodson’s pick of the hot wings review.  Everyone loves Hot Wings.

When I posted the review, Google encouraged me to be the first to post an image. As I like to consider myself a visual artist, I thought this might be a good idea. After a quick image search for “hot wings” and some photoshopping of my favorite result, I posted this image as well. 


Google said that it was reviewing my image and would let me know when it was approved. I fear I might have gone one step to far.

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.   

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.  

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)

Tags: flint mi mtaa