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Published: Wednesday, 2/27/2008

Ottawa Hills' sculpture garden indicates shape of things to come

BY MIKE JONES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
'The Ark,' foreground, by Andrei Rabodzeenko is one of 11 pieces currently displayed in Arrowhead Park, which adorns a primary entrance to Ottawa Hills. 'The Ark,' foreground, by Andrei Rabodzeenko is one of 11 pieces currently displayed in Arrowhead Park, which adorns a primary entrance to Ottawa Hills.
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There were some folks who shrugged at the notion of displaying sculpture at the eastern entrance to Ottawa Hills and others questioned its practicality, but the display has grown in popularity each year and notices recently were sent to artists seeking submissions for possible display this year.

It will be the fifth year public art has been on exhibit at what is known as Arrowhead Park in the village - the triangular section formed at Secor and Indian roads and Bancroft street.

What had been a plot of grass and weeds now supports 11 sculptures of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Three of them have been purchased from earlier exhibits by the Ottawa Hills Foundation and are on permanent display. The others will be returned to the artists who created them and they will be replaced by a new group of eight that will be on display through this year.

Cindy Niggemyer, event coordinator, said the popular local display has led other communities to copy the village's effort.

"It's been very successful and is a great asset to the entrance to the village," Ms. Niggemyer said.

She noted that people from Canton, Mich., visited the local site and has a revolving display of sculpture of its own and is in about to launch its third annual display in the Detroit suburb.

'Homage to Matisse' by Mike Sohikian is among works in the park. While three of the sculptures are permanent, eight will give way to others this year. Coordinator Cindy Niggemyer says other communities have copied the sculpture garden. 'Homage to Matisse' by Mike Sohikian is among works in the park. While three of the sculptures are permanent, eight will give way to others this year. Coordinator Cindy Niggemyer says other communities have copied the sculpture garden.
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Kevin Gilmore, Ottawa Hills mayor, said he has heard a few complaints about one or another specific sculptures, but overall the response has been favorable. He said the space is a primary entrance to the village.

Mr. Gilmore noted that a panel of council members is meeting with members of the sculpture committee to set up long-term display guidelines. For this year's display, the foundation asks for weather-resistant sculptures that use "cutting edge" techniques and technologies.

Ken Thompson, a sculptor and owner of the Flatlanders Sculpture Supply and Art Gallery in Blissfield, Mich., said the Ottawa Hills display has acted as an "inspiration" for some other displays in the area. He's active in the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, which promotes public art. He has had a sculpture in each of the Ottawa Hills displays and his business has been responsible for the artworks' installation.

"Every year we hear a few grumbles from some people, but by and large the response is positive. It's a very nice place for a public exhibit," Mr. Thompson said.

Marc Thompson, village administrator, said there are talks about new signage at the Ottawa Hills entrance that will not only identify its limits, but also draw attention to the exhibit.



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