Traverse City News and Events

Four Sculptures Installed On Boardman Lake Trail; More Art Coming

By Beth Milligan | June 26, 2019

Four new sculptures will be unveiled today (Wednesday) along the Boardman Lake Trail loop – part of a planned rotating exhibition on the TART Trail and one of several public art projects coming to life this summer as the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) takes over management of the city’s Arts Commission.

The Arts Commission will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5pm today to commemorate the installation of four welded steel sculptures by Detroit artist Robert Sestok along the northwestern section of the Boardman Lake Trail. The sculptures are located at the bottom of the hill at the end of Tenth Street next to Oryana Community Co-op, nestled in the grasses bordering the trail (pictured) in a loose diamond formation. The pieces include Machine (2009), Thirdman (2017), Van Brunt St. (2010), and Remembering Gordon Newton (2019). Signage will be installed in the next few weeks to accompany each piece.

The project was done in partnership with TART Trails and the Michigan Legacy Art Park, which lent the Arts Commission Van Brunt St. from its rotating collection and connected the commission to Sestok for the remaining pieces. All four sculptures will be on display for two years, with the intent of using the new concrete pads they’re installed on – paid for by the Arts Commission's Public Art Trust Fund – to host future rotating displays. Brian Beauchamp of TART Trails says that with the completion of the Boardman Lake Trail over the next year, future art installations are planned for around the lake. TART Trails already has funding set aside to help pay for such projects, Beauchamp says.

“There’s a whole plan once the loop is complete to have this Boardman Lake Art Trail, working with the Arts Commission to find other locations for art along the loop that use contemporary sculpture to showcase the history, ecology, and local economy of Traverse City,” he says. “The benefit of art on the trail is you’re creating a draw and destination, but also helping tell the story of the landscape and educating folks about this place. It’s another surprising element that adds to the trail experience.”

Trail users will also soon see another public art project installed near Boardman Lake, this one attached to the outside south-facing wall of the Traverse Area Community Sailing boathouse, called the Gordon and Jean Cornwell Sailing Center, in Hull Park. Through a public request-for-proposals process, Petoskey artist Daniel Roache was selected by the Arts Commission to create a $30,000 sculptural mural that is being funded in part by an anonymous donor to honor a deceased family member. Private donations will cover $20,000 of the project, while the Public Art Trust Fund will cover the remaining $10,000. The permanent work will likely be installed by late summer or early fall.

Several other art projects are also slated to come online as the DDA prepares to take over administrative operations of the Arts Commission. Traverse City commissioners and DDA board members recently approved the transition of Arts Commission oversight from a contracted executive director – a position formerly held by Nate Elkins – to the DDA to save costs and streamline communications, as both the Arts Commission and DDA are divisions of Traverse City government. The DDA will officially take over July 1, though staff are already assisting with projects to assure a smooth transition. DDA Marketing and Communications Director Colleen Paveglio will be the main staff contact for the Arts Commission.

According to Paveglio, other projects underway this summer include Then and Now, which calls for plaques to be installed throughout Traverse City showcasing historical photos of key buildings or locations next to their present-day incarnations. The $1,500 project cost is being split between the Arts Commission/Public Art Trust Fund and the Downtown Traverse City Association, with the Traverse Area Historical Society, The Camera Shop, and Britten Banners assisting with producing the pieces. The target date for installation of the plaques is August.

Colorado artist Bobby MaGee Lopez, who was selected by the Arts Commission through a public RFP process to create over 600 square feet of new mural art in the Clinch Park tunnel, is also scheduled to visit Traverse City in early July to finalize his concept art for the project. The $70,000 mural project – paid for with a nearly $44,000 grant from the GT Band, plus Public Arts Trust Fund dollars and other funding sources – will feature digitally printed replications of Lopez’s original artwork installed on a panelized system attached to the tunnel walls. LED lighting and a speaker system playing audio to accompany the artwork are also part of the proposed installation.

Lopez will do a walk-through of the tunnel on July 9, then meet with local members of the tribal community that evening to gather their ideas and feedback on what they’d like to see from the design. Lopez has said he hopes to pay homage to the previous Anishinaabek art and language on the tunnel walls created by artist Lois Beardslee, as well as weave in themes and imagery including plants and animals, tribal symbolism, body markings and tattoos, and traditional and contemporary attire. Paveglio says Lopez will finalize his artwork by the end of the July. Arts Commissioners are expected to approve RFP packages at their meeting today for the manufacturing and installation of panels, lighting, sound, and other aspects of the mural production, which will then go out to bid. Depending on bid responses and timing, the mural could be installed as soon as this fall, according to Paveglio.

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