New sculpture unveiled for Art Park

See ‘Petal Parts’ and tour studios during ‘Artober’ Oct. 24

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 19, 2015

 Artist Richard Gage stands with his sculpture, “Petal Parts,” which is now on display in the Hazel Park Art Park. The sculpture previously was displayed in Royal Oak.

Artist Richard Gage stands with his sculpture, “Petal Parts,” which is now on display in the Hazel Park Art Park. The sculpture previously was displayed in Royal Oak.

Photos by Andy Kozlowski

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HAZEL PARK — While it’s made of steel and stands 13 feet tall, a new sculpture in Hazel Park’s Art Park conveys the delicate curvature and natural colors one would expect from a flower.

True to its name, “Petal Parts” resembles part of a flower and makes the viewer feel like an insect nestled inside. It’s built to capture light and shadow in a way that changes its appearance throughout the course of the day.

“I love it!” exclaimed Hazel Park Mayor Jan Parisi during a dedication Oct. 13. “I’ve known Richard Gage, the artist who made it, for a long time. This is just great.”

Hazel Park opened its first Art Park two years ago in the green space next to Dairy Park, on John R near Granet. Previously, one could find a sculpture made of street signs there, which the city’s Department of Public Works assembled. The signs spanned the city’s history, and the sculpture is now in storage with plans to break ground at additional Art Parks in the future. Exactly when those parks would come together would depend on the availability of grant funding.

At the current Art Park, “Petal Parts” stands where the sign sculpture used to be. There’s also a 1,200-pound concrete table for chess and checkers that memorializes a longtime volunteer, and a bench in memory of another.

“Petal Parts” previously was on display in the butterfly garden near the Royal Oak Public Library. When the lease expired, creator Richard Gage, owner of Richard Gage Design Studio in Hazel Park, decided to move it to the Art Park. Gage and the rest of the Hazel Park Arts Council have been a driving force behind the Art Park, also sometimes called the Art Garden.

“It’s an exciting moment introducing the Art Park in a city that is blossoming and leaving behind old stereotypes and being recognized in new ways,” Gage said during his speech at the dedication Oct. 13. “This sculpture, this place, are like petal parts — one element of many that are coming together to make whole this garden I call Hazel Park.”

Since the Art Park opened in the summer of 2013, the Arts Council has secured 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and attracted the interest of other artists who once worked in private but are now bringing their ideas to the public. The goal remains the same: to integrate art into the landscape of Hazel Park, both indoors and outdoors, in a way that engages people and draws them to the city.

The ultimate goal is to create several such Art Parks in the city, spread around the city like pocket parks, where people can go to relax or be inspired. The parks could also serve as destinations for pedestrians and cyclists. The council also wants the sculptures to rotate so that people have a reason to return for repeat visits.

Hazel Park has been giving people more and more reasons to visit the city. The John R corridor is undergoing a transformation, and efforts to battle blight have picked up across the entire city. Among the new destination attractions are gourmet restaurant Mabel Gray, personally overseen by award-winning celebrity chef James Rigato, and microbrewery and tasting room Cellarmen’s, with more businesses in the pipeline. The raceway has also seen renewed interest with the return of the thoroughbreds last year after a 30-year hiatus, and crime rates are at an all-time low, having dropped dramatically and continuously over the past several years. 

And then there are events such as the successful Art Fair that was held in late August, celebrating the works of artists in and around Hazel Park. This focus on the arts will continue this month with the city’s “Artober” event Oct. 24, in which studios will open their doors to showcase a variety of artwork to the public. One could make an evening of it, visiting Mabel Gray and then taking a walking tour of the galleries, stopping at the Art Park to see “Petal Parts” along the way.

Artober will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. The open galleries include the studio of Richard Gage at 425 W. Nine Mile Road, the studio of Rachael Stokes at 505 W. Nine Mile Road, and the Phoenix Café at 24918 John R Road.

In addition, there will be a gallery display in the glass-fronted vacant business just north of West Coy, at 24715 John R Road, as well as a display at Tony’s Ace Hardware, 24011 John R Road, and possibly a display at the studio of Brian DuBois, which currently is under construction, at 21842 John R Road.

The city is seeking a few more vacant storefronts in which to display art. The idea is to highlight that Hazel Park has studio space available for artists.

Gage said these studios and other destination attractions make up the “garden” of Hazel Park.

“With affordable housing and commercial property, and a progressive and inviting attitude, the people of Hazel Park have nurtured their soil well,” Gage said.

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