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“Progress”: National Poetry Month Project at the Red Hawk Bar & Grill

March 30, 2016

In celebration of National Poetry Month 2016, Stamps faculty Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo and Jim Cogswell have teamed up with poet Linda Gregerson to create a colorful vinyl window mural to occupy the windows of the Red Hawk Bar & Grill at 316 South State Street in Ann Arbor.

For this installation, Gregerson selected a poem by Marianne Moore (1887-1972), titled “Progress.”

If you will tell me why the fen
Appears impassable, I then
Will tell you why I think that I
Can get across it, if I try.

In the installation, the poem is configured to span the two front windows of the restaurant, in versions readable from both the interior and the exterior, surrounded by visual elements designed in response to the poem and its architectural context. The poem and its visual counterpoint are unexpectedly encountered in the windows of a restaurant adjacent to a bustling university campus - diners sit at windows gazing through its text at busy street life outside, while passersby take in a poetic panorama punctuated by diners at their leisure.

The Poetry Month project joins the Ann Arbor landscape at an iconic location, created by local talent, fabricated by a local business, Imagecrafters, Inc., and funded by the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. The collective work of all those involved — from writers, to artists, to fabricators and local business owners — highlights the unique cultural resources of our city and makes visible the vital relationship between the University of Michigan and the City of Ann Arbor. 

Event / Installation Dates

The public is invited to the Red Hawk for a celebration of the installation on April 8 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  The creators—Linda Gregerson, Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo, Jim Cogswell, and fabricator Dave Michalak—will be on hand to meet visitors and discuss the project.

The collaborators are deeply grateful to the management and owners of the Red Hawk for their enthusiastic support for this project, and to the Stamps School of Art & Design for funding to make it possible. 

The installation will remain up through the month of April, coming down in early May following Spring Commencement.

About the Project Collaborators

Linda Gregerson
Linda Gregerson’s honors include a Guggenheim fellowship, four Pushcart Prizes, a Kingsley Tufts Award, and the selection of her book of poems Magnetic North as a National Book Award finalist.  Her poetry has appeared in the Atlantic, The New Yorker, Poetry, the Yale Review, and many other publications.  Her most recent collection, Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) received high praise in reviews published in the New York Times Sunday Book Review and in the The New Yorker.

Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo
A designer, educator, writer and curator on the subject of design, Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo is Professor of Art & Design in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. His work is represented in the permanent collections of museums, archives and libraries, most notably the American Institute of Graphic Arts Design Archives; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution; the American Association of Museums; The Denver Art Museum; and the Library of Congress Permanent Collection of Design and Rare Book Collections. He has published Paul Rand: Modernist Design; curated the exhibition and co-authored the publication Word+ Image: Swiss Poster Design, 1955-1997; and curated the exhibition and edited the publication Bruno Monguzzi: A Designer’s Perspective. Currently, Franc is preparing his next book, Rudolph deHarak: An American Designer.

Jim Cogswell
A nationally exhibited visual artist with a broad range of interests, Jim Cogswell is Arthur J. Thurnau Professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. While primarily a painter, his studio practice includes sculpture and ceramic tile, video animation, stage design, multi-media installation, and publicly sited murals using materials as diverse as rubber stamps, adhesive shelf paper, and machine-cut vinyl. In his work he has collaborated with poets, dancers, musicians, composers, a biostatistician, a historian and anthropologist, astronomers, cosmologists, and with space science, computer science, and mechanical engineers. Public art projects located in Ann Arbor include Enchanted Beanstalk (2011), a vinyl window installation covering eight floors of the Mott Children’s Hospital, and Meanwhile O Reader (2008), a mural painting commissioned for the Washtenaw Community College Bailey Library. He is currently preparing a vinyl window installation for the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, based on objects in their collections (2017).  A number of other publicly sited works can be found around the University of Michigan campus.

Dave Michalak of Imagecrafters, Inc.
A family run and local screen-printing, cut vinyl, and engraving signage shop in Ann Arbor since 1980, Imagecrafters has worked closely with Jim Cogswell on installations using computer cut vinyl graphics of increasing complexity since 2004.  Dave Michalak, son of owner/operator Vickie Peterson Michalak, fabricated the eight floors of vinyl for Enchanted Beanstalk (2011) at the Mott Children’s Hospital, River Tattoo (2014) at Grand Valley State University, Meanwhile, More Light (2008) for the UM Department of Astronomy on Dennison Hall, as well as many other projects.  Imagecrafters is a source for southeast Michigan manufacturers and businesses seeking product labeling, corporate identity, promotional needs and more.

“Progress”: National Poetry Month Project at the Red Hawk Bar & Grill

digital rendering, 2016