Saturday, January 14, 2012

Flint Owl Letter

The latest post of flint mi x10 has appeared. We are reposting it here with permission from the artist.

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 National Gallery of Art’s 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 singed 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.