The “Big Blue X” at 14 First St. is another sculpture installed as part of a partnership between the Macomb Cultural and Economic Partnership and local sponsors.

The “Big Blue X” at 14 First St. is another sculpture installed as part of a partnership between the Macomb Cultural and Economic Partnership and local sponsors.

Photo by Deb Jacques


New sculptures grace streets of Mount Clemens

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published October 15, 2020

 Art pieces from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, including “Seeker Backside” at 148 S. Main St., are installed throughout the south end of Mount Clemens.

Art pieces from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, including “Seeker Backside” at 148 S. Main St., are installed throughout the south end of Mount Clemens.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Solidifying Mount Clemens’ place as an “art city,” the Macomb Cultural and Economic Partnership helped to bring more than a dozen new sculptures to the area recently.

“We see art as being an economic help. If you can help with the visual, then it has an economic impact on the whole community. People are more willing to reinvest,” and it creates a feeling of community, said Ed Bruley, secretary of MCEP.

This is the third year MCEP has worked in the community to find sponsors and locations for sculptures from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative. Julie Matuzak, chair of the MCEP board, said they were happy to act as the point group to find sponsors and locations primarily in the south end of the city for the sculptures, which were installed Oct. 6.

“What we have found particularly helpful is to group them, so people can do walking tours of them and they make a real impact as you drive into Mount Clemens,” she said. “It creates this special atmosphere. We’re working toward Mount Clemens being an art city.”

Mount Clemens Mayor Laura Kropp said she is proud to see the city becoming the “cultural hub of Macomb County.”

“We encourage everyone to come out and visit Mount Clemens and see our art walk through downtown,” she said. “You now see on our thoroughfares beautiful artwork. It really enriches the life of the people of Mount Clemens and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

The sculptures are only in Mount Clemens for a period of one year, unless a sponsor or location purchases the sculpture as a permanent installation. Kropp said the rotation of locations, however, is good for the city.

“Because of the rotation of the sculptures, everyone sees them,” she said. “They become something people seek out to see on their drive in.”

Toni Scola, a manager at Alliance Health, which has been a sponsor of the art in the past and will be again for the 2020-21 installation, said it is exciting to welcome a new piece of art each year.

“It’s fun to drive through the city and see all the different art,” Scola said.

The installation runs from October to October. This year, visitors can spot “Ark” at 276 S. Gratiot Ave., “Starry Night” at 1430 S. Gratiot Ave., “Big Boy” at 200 Grand Ave., “Big Blue X” at 14 First Street, “Audobon Watcher” at the northwest corner of northbound Gratiot Avenue and Robertson Street, “Great Lakes” at 235 S. Gratiot Ave., “Seeker Backside” at 148 S. Main Street, “To BEE or Not to Bee” at 92 Northbound Gratiot Ave., “Homage to Matisse” at Southbound Gratiot Avenue and Belleview, and “Short Jaw Cisco” in Shadyside Park. A piece will be installed later at Alliance Health, 133 S. Main Street, because the planned sculpture had a defective solder.

This year’s sculptures will join two permanent installations from previous years: “Confessions” on the corner of Northbound Gratiot Avenue at Robertson Street and “Pescados” at 115 S. Main Street.

This year’s sculptures are sponsored by Alliance Health — Henry Ford Macomb, Ed Bruley, Randall Chioini, First Financial Services of Michigan, Goodman Sheikh PC, Macomb Cultural and Economic Partnership, Printing by Johnson, Stephen Saph Jr., Julie and Steven Saph Sr., and You Call Bail Bond Agency.

Each sculpture costs $1,800 to rent for the year and is available for sale from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative for anyone that wishes to purchase one for themselves. The prices are listed on the signage for each piece as they are displayed around town.

“Each year we’ve tried to increase the number of pieces and increase the number of people sponsoring,” Bruley said.

The economic benefit of cultural additions to the city of Mount Clemens can’t be understated, Kropp said.

“In the time of COVID, we have found that our downtown has had a lot of walking traffic because people want to be outside and want to enjoy some recreation with their families, and this is exactly the type of programs and things that people want to do outside,” she said. “Our businesses have greatly benefited from that.

“Mount Clemens didn’t lose one business during COVID. We’re extremely proud of that. All of the art that’s in Mount Clemens has really brought attention to us in a positive way ... helped the economic resurgence of Mount Clemens.”

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