The plan for area artwork

I hold in high regard the people who see a need, and jump in to address it rather than waiting for, or expecting someone else to take care of it. Even more impressive are the people who go about that kind of work quietly and don’t do it for attention or the recognition.

Seemingly unrelated, but I promise related, I also fully appreciate sculptures and artwork in public places. Along bike paths, in parks, and on buildings, are just a few of the public places where it is great to see artwork displayed. Recently, a person who is known to jump in and act stumbled across a gap in the community regarding public art, and he jumped at the opportunity to make something positive happen, leading to a new and valuable resource that will soon be available for the community.

The draft document titled “Alpena Sculptured Bi-Path” was created when the need to document, all in one place, information on area public sculptures, art, historic artifacts, architecture, monuments and memorials, was identified while working on another project that involved adding artwork to the bike path. A fact that is probably not well-known is that when Alpena’s bi-path was conceptualized it originally was planned as a “sculptured” path. However, as often happens, the money ran out before the entire vision was accomplished.

There are more than 50 pages in the document with each page containing fascinating information about various aspects of our community. Many of the items featured in the document are from recent years and are probably familiar to you. The Eagle at Besser Museum that was constructed in 2000 and placed in 2009, the covered bridge at the Duck/Island Park which was constructed in 2015, and the Community Mural Project in the Chisholm Street Pocket Park which was completed in 2016 (that was unfortunately and sadly destroyed by wind recently), are a few examples. Other items in the document are very new and may not even be on you radar yet. One example being “The Departure of the Great Blue Herons” on the bike path near the Duck/Island Park which was placed just a few weeks ago. The oldest item listed in the document is the Pewabic Ship Anchor from the 1860s and placed in its current location at Besser Museum in 1974.

The document shares information about the statue that is made of Kaiser automobile parts and about a sculpture that was the first project of the Sculptured Bike Path and is made of cast bronze, rolled metal, concrete, and plastic, and weighs 1,500 pounds. Also included in the document are memorials.

You can read about the eight-foot-tall memorial that reads “Let us hold in honored memory those from Alpena County who gave their all in the service of our Country in its wars to preserve our freedom.” Another memorial listed in the pages of the document includes 167 markers that represent prisoners of war, those missing in action, and victims of Agent Orange. The document also provides information on local historic sites, artifacts and architecture including the site of the oldest Catholic parish between Bay City and Cheboygan and the marker that tells the story of the Carter family — Alpena’s first permanent settlers.

I am not going to tell you which sculptures, sites, historical markers or memorials I am describing. Can you figure them out? If not, once the document is finalized, I recommend giving it a bit more than a glance. The document is going to be valuable for the community because it will allow all of us to better understand our history. It will also allow us to see the relationships between various dynamics in the community, and it will help us understand the value of these pieces/sites to our community.

The person who spearheaded this project is one of those people I hold in high regard. When he sees a project, he takes it on. He is, however, very quick to point out that he did not develop the document alone and that it took more than 30 people to get the document to the draft phase it is in today. Those 30 people likely would not have come together on a project like this without one person’s decision to be the leader of the project. Thank you to him, and all the others who are the type to jump in and make things happen — that’s what it takes to continue to make our community a better place.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.