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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Taking the initiative

Old Town installs two sculptures and six artistic benches

by Justin Anderson

Tuesday, Jan. 15 — The Old Town Commercial Association’s Art Initiative project was realized recently with the installation of two metal sculptures and six poetry-inscribed benches throughout the sidewalks of Old Town. Louise Gradwohl, executive director of the OTCA, said her organization had the idea of installing local artwork throughout the city for years, but budgetary restrictions have always kept that idea just outside of the realm of possibility. But thanks largely to the donations from the City of Lansing and Downtown Lansing Inc., the OTCA has moved forward with its initiative.

The two sculptures were created during Old Town’s Scrapfest. “Sound Junkie,” which is located in Turner Park, was created by Team Redhead, and “Building CommUnity” was created by Team Iron in the Blood and sits at the entrance of Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Scrapfest is a two-week event in which teams create sculptures entirely out of scrap. The idea behind team Redhead’s “Sound Junkie” was to create interactive art.

“The inspiration for ‘Sound Junkie’ came from the desire to create something that would show people what can be done with recycled or reused material,” said Jennifer Estill from Team Redhead. “We thought it would be really interesting to create something that people could touch, use and explore.”

Along with the two sculptures, the OTCA has also installed six benches, each inscribed with a different poem from a local artist, said Gradwohl. This project was an idea that the design committee has had but never had the opportunity or the resources to work on. Thanks to the donations, it was an idea that has finally come to life. To obtain and install the sculptures cost about $8,000 according to Gradwohl. Some of which was OTCA money, but a majority of the money was from the grants the OTCA received.

Having permanent artwork in Old Town is just another aspect to help draw people into the community, said Gradwohl. She said that the installation of the poem benches and sculptures have been well received by the community and the artists, and have positively affected the community.
She also said that she’d like to install more sculptures, but the bench quota is full, for now.

“It’s a great step toward place-making,” said Gradwohl. “We are an art-driven community.”

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