If you’re walking around downtown Ann Arbor this Friday and wondering why metered parking spaces have been converted into rectangular art projects roughly the dimensions of your four-door sedan, you’ve just experienced PARK(ing) Day.
PARK(ing) Day began in San Francisco when a group of activist artists decided to draw attention to issues relating to how the precious limited space in an urban environment is allocated. Specifically the group wanted to draw attention to the sheer volume of land slathered in concrete and restricted to paid use versus the amount that was dedicated to parks and open spaces that the whole public can enjoy.
In a single space, converted into a miniature public park during the first ever PARK(ing) Day San Francisco in 2005, the display showed the absurdity of the public’s priorities with regard to land use and determine utility and access to that land.
Of course, if there are two things Ann Arbor loves, it’s art and activism, so naturally PARK(ing) Day has been a successful outlet for local creatives for several years now.
And it wouldn’t be Ann Arbor if the powers-that-be weren’t in on the fun too. The City of Ann Arbor, Downtown Development Authority, and SmithGroupJJR have teamed up to put on another PARK(ing) Day.
The city recasts the intent of the event, to a certain extent, stating that PARK(ing) Day is “part of an effort to foster collaborations among artists, community members, activists, designers and students to explore alternative uses for street space in our city.”
“Parking Day is a great opportunity to reimagine the potential for expanding public space in our downtown streets,” said Derek Delacourt, City of Ann Arbor community services area administrator.
The two metered parking spaces will be located on the 200 block of South Main Street near Fjallraven and Urban Jewelers on Friday, Sept. 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the past, the DDA has provided meter bags so artists can keep their spots for the duration of the event.
Whether or not other artists will pay out of their own pockets to occupy more parking spots to put up private displays outside of the city’s collaboration will remain to be seen until Friday.