“The Peacock,” by Arthur Kraft, was recently installed in front of the Southfield Public Library by the Southfield Public Arts Commission. The piece is part of the Northland Art Collection.

“The Peacock,” by Arthur Kraft, was recently installed in front of the Southfield Public Library by the Southfield Public Arts Commission. The piece is part of the Northland Art Collection.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Art commission provides update on new Art Walk, numerous installations

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published November 28, 2018

 “Pioneer Family II,” by Andreas Drenters, was placed at the Mary Thompson Farm, on Evergreen Road.

“Pioneer Family II,” by Andreas Drenters, was placed at the Mary Thompson Farm, on Evergreen Road.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

SOUTHFIELD — There’s a lot of new art around town.

The Southfield Public Arts Commission stopped into the Nov. 19 City Council meeting to provide an update on its various new art installations around the “Center of It All” and to highlight some upcoming projects.

The commission is made up of 11 Southfield and Lathrup Village residents, and its goal is to promote the arts in Southfield through physical works of art in public places throughout the city.

Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said in a previous report that the commission does not take any money out of the city’s budget to fund projects. Instead, the commission raises money to purchase the artwork through fundraisers, grants, donations and private sponsorships.

The group rescued many artworks from the former Northland Center.

After the mall closed in 2015, the city stepped in to seal the fate of the mall’s various art pieces.

Built in 1954, Northland Center, on Northwestern Highway, was one of the nation’s first suburban malls. Eight months after a judge ruled that Northland Center would close, the city of Southfield announced the purchase of the mall.

The city announced on Oct. 7, 2015, that it had purchased the mall from the court-ordered receiver for $2.4 million and planned to demolish, remediate and sell the property to a qualified developer.

Siver, who spearheaded the creation of the Southfield Public Arts Commission, said in a previous report that when he heard the art would be sold at an auction, he knew he had to act fast. The city secured a low-interest loan of $500,000 for the art pieces.

After the city secured the 11-piece collection, the commission launched the Free the Bear development campaign to raise funds to pay back the loan, get the art out of storage and have it placed around the city. The fundraiser included both a public crowdfunding component and corporate underwriting.

Planner Kyle Bryce highlighted the commission’s accomplishments throughout 2018.

He said that this year, the Northland piece “The Prophet,” by Sorel Etrog, was placed outside City Hall after a granite base was added.

“The Crowd,” by Gio Pomdoro, another Northland piece, was placed in the lobby of 2000 Town Center. A granite base was also added to that piece.

Bryce also discussed Red Pole Park, which officially opened in August. The park is the first in a series of outdoor “rooms,” or spaces.

“Most recently, we installed ‘The Peacock,’ by Arthur Kraft, in the library circle,” Bryce said. “This required extensive renovation on the little feathers of the peacock, and we had to reconstruct the base for the figure. It’s now flying high.”

In addition to the Northland collection, the group has received donations, most recently “Pioneer Family II,” by Andreas Drenters.

“At council’s suggestion — because of the metallic farm implements of which it’s constructed — we put it at Mary Thompson Farm,” Bryce said.

There are numerous installations planned for the future as well, Bryce said. The Northland piece “The Pegasus,” which is a series of Pegasus figures, is currently undergoing restoration and is slated for installation on Northwestern Highway.

“Something we’re very excited about is ‘Moby Dick,’ which had its own fountain at Northland. It has currently undergone restoration and is ready to go in the library fountain, which is also being completely restored,” he said.

The piece was scheduled to be installed at the library in late November, but that was postponed due to the weather.

In April, the commission displayed a Lily Saarinen exhibit at the Michigan Modernism Expo.

“We kind of displayed the damaged pieces intentionally to raise awareness for what we do. We’re trying to take these damaged pieces and fix them up and get a new home for them,” Bryce said.

Commission members also put together a brochure for residents to tour the installed pieces, called the Southfield Art Walk. It outlines a walking path around the municipal campus that highlights the artworks. The brochure can be found at City Hall.

Delores Flagg, the commission chair, said the group is also moving forward with educational outreach and is working with officials in the Southfield Public Schools district.

Councilman Dan Brightwell said the council plans on including more updates at meetings from the city’s various boards and commissions.

“I just want the residents to know that when you tune in, you’ll not only be getting a council meeting, but an education on what our various boards and commissions are doing in 2019,” Brightwell said.

For more information, visit cityofsouthfield.com. Information on the Southfield Public Arts Commission can be found in the Planning Department section of the website.