Clare County Review & Marion Press

Saturday is deadline for art sculpture walk entries

Local artist and sculptor Jeff Best is shown with his engineer/conductor that welcomes visitors to the Clare Union Depot.
A chicken (rooster) has graced the entrance to the Evening Post for many years

By Pat Maurer

Artists interested in displaying a sculpture in Clare as part of the Clare County Arts Council’s “Destination Clare Art Sculpture Walk,” only have one more day – tomorrow (Saturday) – to apply, and be considered, for one of the places available in the City for the event, which begins in the spring.
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Jeff Best’s engineer/conductor sculpture in front of the Clare Depot on Fourth Street, the giant chicken in front of the Evening Post, the Pioneer Woman in front of Clare’s Middle School and the “Pioneer” at the Brookwood Athletic Field as well as several other small sculptures in the Clare Art Alley were the inspiration for this new project, now a reality, to add sculptures to the City.
Since early last year when local artist Jeff Best of the Devil’s Rope Art Studio suggested the project, he and the Clare County Arts Council, Clare Parks and Recreation, and Mid -Michigan Development Corporation worked together, and developed a committee which has been working raising funds and making plans to put together the new sculpture display.
The goal of “Destination Clare: Art Sculpture Walk” was to bring ten sculptures to the downtown Clare area. Plans are to place up to ten sculptures throughout downtown, some on business property and the majority on sidewalks and green spaces owned by the City.
Sculpture Walks feature outdoor sculptures displayed year-round. Artists place their sculptures in the program for one year, and all sculptures are promoted to the public for sale. There are awards including 1st, 2nd, 3rd and people’s choice. A sculpture walk is used across the country to bring sculptures into parks and downtowns. Artists are invited to participate in temporary sculpture walks to exhibit and sell their work.
Sculpture viewers during Clare’s year-long event, which is scheduled to begin in May, will have an opportunity to select a “People’s Choice” by voting for their favorite sculptures. The top People’s Choice sculpture may be purchased by the Clare County Arts Council to be another permanent display in the City, hopefully the first of a series of permanent additions to the art in the City.
The CCAC’s goal is to add another sculpture each year that the Sculpture Walk is held so when a People’s Choice sculpture is selected and purchased by the Arts Council, it will add to a permanent display of art all across the City and make Clare County truly a “destination” for an “art and cultural experience” throughout the years.
“The CCAC aims to promote and provide public art throughout the county that “enhances our natural and cultural environment, reflects community values and the diversity of Clare’s neighborhoods, promoting the vitality of our public spaces and the richness of our history,” Santini said.
Funds for the new Sculpture Walk have come from fundraisers and donations from organizations and individuals, raising $25,000 which is a local match for a grant the CCAC (Clare County Arts Council) recently received, a $675 grant from the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and another $675 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant was awarded through the MCACA peer review process and the CCAC was one of 594 applications to compete for MCACA fiscal year 2022 funding. Local funds were raised through the Community Foundation, patrons, sponsors, application fees, grants a sculpture raffle, artwork sales and other fundraisers.
Carol Santini of the CCAC said the grant funds are for operating expenses, which include Artist fees. “We will use it for the ‘Destination Clare: Art Sculpture Walk’,” she said in an earlier interview.
Once the Saturday entry deadline is past, and the artist applications have been compiled, the next step is for a selection committee (comprised of local artists, business and community leaders) to evaluate each entry for artistic merit, creativity, public safety and durability in an outdoor setting, and select up to ten sculptures which will be placed in various locations in the main corridor of the downtown area for public viewing.
Possible locations that have been discussed for the sculptures include the sidewalk at the Doherty Hotel, at Isabella Bank’s sidewalk, Timeout Tavern’s sidewalk, in front of Cops & Doughnuts, at City Hall, the Clare City Park, the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Pettit Park, 501 Venue sidewalk, Johnston Elevator, Jays Sporting Goods and the Rails to Trails.

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