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Each year the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (AAPAC) recognizes outstanding contributions to public art in the community with its Golden Paintbrush Awards, presented this year on June 1 during the public portion of the Ann Arbor City Council meeting at City Hall.
Award recipients for 2009 include the Great Lakes Ecosystems Mosaic Murals at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Bob Grese, Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, came up with the vision for a project that would celebrate the unique habitats and flora of the state. Artist Yulia Hanansen designed the murals, and 47 volunteers from the community, including both skilled and untrained glass artists, completed the eight mosaic panels that now glow with gem-like colors from a previously bare brick wall at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. Grese, who imagined the murals as a way of building interest in and encouraging conservation of the great diversity of ecosystems found in Michigan, is delighted with the response of visitors: "Every day, I see people admire the panels as they walk into our building. They reach out and run their fingers over the textures and talk about which one is their favorite."