Harbor Country Public Arts Initiative
By Patti Eddington
Dewey is, quite simply, a charmer...
He’s amazingly tall, and with that tousled ginger mane and those abs of aluminum, the ability to ride a unicycle even while he’s reading a book . . . well, this young man has got the chutzpah to hold an entire city in thrall.
“We are so happy to have him,” says Julie Grynwich, director at the New Buffalo Township Public Library, of Dewey, the colorful, whimsical and popular sculpture that has found a very visible home on the facility’s lawn. “We’ve had only positive response to him and he’s become a community mascot. When he was first placed here one older gentleman came into the library actually skipping and said: ‘I just feel so happy!’ ”
THE BENEFITS OF ART
Happiness, education, art appreciation, all are the thrilling by-products of the ongoing effort by the Harbor Country Public Arts Initiative (HCPAI) to bring a spectacular outdoor art presence to the area.
A grassroots effort by a group of artists and community leaders, the initiative has, since 2010, placed nine gleaming conversation starters throughout Harbor Country with more on the way.
“The cultural and economic benefits to a town which has public art are significant,” says Angela Reichert, one of the seven members of the eclectic HCPAI board, which also includes graphic designers, photographers, city council members and civil engineers.
An artist herself, and co-owner of the WOW Gallery in New Buffalo, Reichert calls the modern sculptures “approachable and not controversial.”
“Harbor Country is comprised of eight communities and we eventually want to see art in all,” she adds.
“LOOK MAMA, SCULPTURE”
To date, beautiful and memorable marble, aluminum, stone and steel works have been installed in Three Oaks, New Buffalo and Chikaming Township. A sculpture will also soon grace the city of Sawyer.
Financing for such an extensive effort has been an interesting meld, consisting of fundraising efforts like Give Back dinners at the Bentwood Tavern located at the Marina Grand Resort in New Buffalo, and grants from organizations including The Pokagon Fund.
For three years the popular HCPAI Wine Tasting and Bird House Auction has also been a huge boon. Artists from around the country delve deep into their veins of creativity to construct avian abodes which this year included an elegant marble structure, an ode to Dr. Seuss, a birdhouse atop a birdhouse, and even a funky birdhouse/outhouse.
Many of the cunning little creations brought in hundreds of dollars each, and some went for more than $1,500. Discovering that artists are often willing to lease their artwork, has also helped make the HCPAI dream come true.
Most importantly, the response to the installations has been heartwarmingly rewarding, Reichert says.
“The comments on our Facebook page have been amazing. One Three Oaks mother said she was traveling with her young child in the back seat and he said: ‘Look Mama! Sculpture!’ For kids to notice it, well, that’s just awesome.”
only the beginning. The sculptures that have already been installed are
considered Phase 1. There isn’t an end in sight and -- in more ways than one --
the sky is the limit.
Country Public Art Initiative
P.O. Box 96
New Buffalo, MI 49117
Patti Eddington is a freelance journalist from Michigan who has a giddy interest in not only the visual, culinary and performing arts, but the art of living a Beach Coast lifestyle.