New art installation in Hazel Park will feature thousands of flowers

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 16, 2020

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HAZEL PARK — A new walk-through art installation in Hazel Park — opening soon with three back-to-back events — will surround visitors with countless golden flowers.

The Marigold Project, which was being assembled after press time, is a community-wide initiative in Hazel Park. Half of the participants and businesses involved are from Hazel Park, but there are also urban farms from the east side of Detroit, and residents from 20 cities in metro Detroit and the surrounding area. The project began in May and will be completed this month.

The end result will be an immersive art installation featuring thousands of marigold flowers. The golden blooms were raised by about 200 residents across metro Detroit, as well as farms, community gardens, and local businesses and schools. The flowers were sowed and nurtured during the past few months.

The project is coordinated by two local businesses — Richard Gage Design Studio, and anhelo anhelo — and the West End Hazel Park Business Coalition. The art installation will come together the weekend of Oct. 23. During the week prior, the blooms are being collected from all of the individuals who volunteered to raise them.

The installation is located in an empty lot between 407 W. Nine Mile Road and Richard Gage Design Studio at 425 W. Nine Mile Road in Hazel Park. Three events will celebrate its completion.


Opening events
First there is a free student opening from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 23, open to families of Jardon Vocational School, part of the Hazel Park Public Schools, as well as families with students in elementary school, middle school or high school in metro Detroit.

Next, from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 23, there is a gala event with a fall abundance market featuring Rivendell Gardens and Deeply Rooted Produce, two of the gardens that have been major growing partners since the spring, with displays showcasing the work they do for food justice and promoting healthy eating — two goals shared by the Hazel Park Public Schools.

We Juice LLC will be selling raw juices, marigold teas and smoothies, as well. There will also be wine tastings and a raffle of gardening supplies to benefit Jardon Vocational School.

Attendees register at Ideation Orange, located at 420 W. Nine Mile Road in Hazel Park. Docents will then escort visitors to the installation during their booked time slot. Parties wishing to reserve tickets at the door will wait until the next available time slot.

The third and final event is the public opening the next day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 24. Visitors arrive directly at the art installation and are registered by an attendant into a waiting area before their viewing time. There will be safely distanced outdoor seating.

Ticket information for all three events is available at wehazelpark.com/marigold-project.

    
The installation
The exhibit itself occupies a footprint of roughly 150-200 square feet, and stands 8 feet tall, with several thousand marigold flowers. It’s a free-standing structure with an entrance and exit. Visitors enter on the Nine Mile side of the lot and exit the sculpture facing the alleyway.

Those who enter the installation will find themselves surrounded by walls of blooms.

“I like the use of ‘golden’ (to describe it) because it is elemental, elevating, valuable,” said Ginny Martin, founder of anhelo anhelo.

Richard Gage, of Richard Gage Design Studio, said that precautions are being taken regarding the pandemic.

“Throughout all of this we want to be clear that we are taking COVID seriously, so Friday and Saturday are timed ticketed events, so we can temperature check and contact trace,” Gage said. “That said, the sculpture is open to the public Sunday, and until we take it down, most likely at the end of the week. If we have cool days and non-freezing nights with no rain, the sculpture could last up to 10 days.”

He added that it’s possible the flowers may wilt sooner, however, so he recommends Friday and Saturday during the gala and opening as the best time to view it, and then Sunday and Monday.

    
Community effort
Gage noted that the decision to involve Jardon Vocational School came about when they realized that Jardon has a student program growing plants in the greenhouse. It was decided that the students could learn from the experience, and the collaboration could help the project grow the massive number of marigolds needed.

The lot itself was donated for use as a pocket park by Allen Rubel, a Hazel Park resident. Previous additions to the lot included a garden and sculpture. When the Hazel Park Arts Council canceled a sculpture walk/alley party, the Marigold Project came about as a way to fill the void.

“I felt there was something I could have fun with, and Ginny was interested and capable,” Gage said. “We had traveled together and experienced the use of marigolds in indigenous communities. The art of (Japanese contemporary artist) Yayoi Kusama was also an inspiration to make this work as an immersive experience.”

Earlier this year, there was an event in Hazel Park for sharpening gardening tools, and this introduced many local growers to the Marigold Project. That tool-sharpening event also served as a fundraiser for Jardon. With the shelter-in-place order from the state, the school began sending seeds to homebound students to grow.

“With as many blooms as we would require to build something significant, we realized we had to seek additional growers. We had 140,000 seeds. We thought to cast a broader net through social media and developed a growers newsletter to offset the isolation COVID imposed,” Gage explained. “We have over 75 growers in Hazel Park, and almost 200 total in the tri-county area. We have supporters of our project out of state and in Mexico.”

He said that even people learning about the project for the first time now can still donate marigolds if they have them.

“We also need volunteers to mount marigolds or help as docents during the two days,” Gage said, directing people to the website, wehazelpark.com/marigold- project.

Martin said that she hopes the art installation will get people to broaden their horizons when it comes to envisioning art as an experience.

“I am interested … in utilizing and being informed by spaces outside of white cubes and commercial fairs. I am working on making connections between spaces dedicated to artwork and feral spaces, community spaces,” Martin said. “The decision (by Gage and myself) to embark on such a long project together with a large and varied community addressed the need to bring life, hope and patience into our daily lives during the severity and solemn mood of the pandemic.” 

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