2023 Golden Paintbrush Awards


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2023 Golden Paintbrush Winners 

The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Golden Paintbrush Awards; Embracing our Differences and CultureVerse. The Golden Paintbrush Awards were nominated by the community to recognize the creativity and talent of artists and organizations that have contributed to the cultural and aesthetic richness of Ann Arbor in the form of public art. ​​

Community Voice Award

Embracing Our Differences is the winner of the 2023 Golden Paintbrush Community Voice award. The Community Voice Award, selected by community vote, took place online this past fall. 

“The Public Art Commission thanks our ​judges and everyone in the community who voted and is helping shine a light on the artistic creativity in our community," said Sophie Grillet, a member of the Public Art Commission. “The Golden Paintbrush recognized qualities including creativity, craftsmanship, and community involvement, exemplified by the work of Nancy Margolis and the team behind Embracing Our Differences," added Peggy Leonard, also of the Public Art Commission.   ​

Embracing Our Differences 

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Embracing Our Differences (EOD) Michigan is a nonprofit organization in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Their mission is to use the power of art and education to expand consciousness and open the heart to celebrate the diversity of the human family. It was founded in 2021 by Nancy Margolis, who saw a need to expand the community conversation around diversity using art.

EOD held their first juried outdoor art exhibit in 2022. The art consists of 16'x12' billboard-size posters which are mounted in parks in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Each piece in this ongoing project explores the theme of “enriching our lives through diversity." EOD's year-round education initiatives, featuring age-appropriate curriculum, represent the most important aspect of their efforts – reaching and impacting the lives of thousands of students and teachers locally and around the world.

Committee Discussion - This installation meets all the criteria for judging:  creativity/craftsmanship; civic engagement; and visible and sustainable. The materials are high quality, it engages the community by using local artists of all ages and is highly visible in two community parks that are well-trafficked. Being a large-scale installation that is outdoors at Gallup and Riverside parks allows an impact and accessibility that is rare. creativity and craftsmanship. The exhibit features local, national, and international artists. This effort provides a place to see creativity from across the globe and home. The organizers truly work to engage all ages and have free tours each week of the work. Very visible large pieces and they work to hand the pieces in other locations after the exhibit.


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The CultureVerse mission is to serve the local and global community by expanding opportunities to access and experience projects, storytelling, and creative expressions of artists, educators, students and preservations. CultureVerse provides technology, training, consultation and other resources in order to create equitable and sustainable opportunities. In addition, CultureVerse aims to bridge the gap between creator and community so all people may be enriched by every expanding breath of art and knowledge.​

Aubrey Martinson, Executive Director

Committee Discussion - This organization deserves recognition for fulfilling its mission statement to have an impact on both the community and local artists. Although less visible and accessible than #1, it potentially can create a powerful source of interaction between artists and their community.  (Case in point is its role in helping to put together the Embracing Our Differences project.). They were nominated for specific projects: say yes fest and sandcastle petals. Description of these art happenings describe active community engagement on Main Street and at their gallery. They are incredibly innovative & creative with their technology making art accessible to a lot of people. They also host incredibly creative artists in their space, bringing a lot of variety and diversity with their engagements. They are supportive of community artists and initiatives. They have hosted free engagements during Youth Art Month, open to all ages. They have tried to connect the artwork from kids in the Ukraine experiencing the conflict with kids here. They continuously support local artists who excel at engaging the community. If you bring an idea to them, they are always open to supporting in whatever way possible. Through their technology they work to share artwork and experiences all over the world. Their work preserves and shares various artworks and experiences. ​

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the Golden Paintbrush Award?
The Award is given to individuals or organizations whose involvement in public art exemplify excellence, collaboration, and add a bit of magic to life in Ann Arbor.

2. Is the Award for visual art only?
No, all and any of the arts are eligible for nomination. Categories are: General; Virtual/Online; and K-12. There will also be an uncategorized People's Choice award.

3. Is the Award given to people or projects?
A project is selected by the judges, but people are awarded for their role in the project. A primary award, plus certificates for participants will be given to the winners. (See 6.)

4. Who can nominate for the Award?
Anyone can nominate projects, artists, or organizations. You do not have to be an Ann Arbor resident. Your nominee must be located within the city, and the project have not been completed more than 36 months prior to the deadline.

5. How do I submit a nomination?
Nominations can be made on the AAPAC website during the nomination window. The plan is that winners for that year will be awarded in late spring, followed by recognition at a City Council meeting. If you miss the deadline, you can submit your nomination for the next year.

6. Who is eligible to receive the Award?
A project or organization is given the award. Individuals who create, work on, finance, or support a creative project will receive a certificate. The awardees do not have to be residents of Ann Arbor.

7. Can I nominate myself?
Yes, you can nominate a project you created or worked on as long as the project is located within the City.

8. How many Golden Paintbrush Awards will be awarded each year?
Up to four projects each year will be awarded a Golden Paintbrush Award. The number of certificates awarded per project will be determined by the judges.

9. Who judges the nominations?
A panel of up to five judges will be chosen by the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission. The judges represent local residents and leaders in the arts, education, and business communities.

10. How will the nominations be judged?
Nominations will be judged on craftsmanship, visibility, creativity, impact, civic engagement, and sustainability (including ease of maintenance if relevant). The People's Choice Award will be judged by voting on the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission website.

11. What will I receive if my project is awarded a Golden Paintbrush?
You will receive a certificate and a specially commissioned tile at a City Council meeting. AAPAC will publicize the event and encourage local media to do so.

12. Can I receive more than one Golden Paintbrush award?
The award is for a creative project, so it is possible for one person to receive more than one certificate. There is no limit, including within each year.