‘American Dogs’ to be unveiled Friday at dog park

Art Vision Alpena aims to beautify the city

Courtesy Photo An “American Dogs” sculpture set made by award-winning artist Dale Rogers will be unveiled directly following the Thomas Stafford Dog Park dedication Friday. Above is a photo of Rogers’ iconic creation, featured in many cities across the U.S.

The City of Alpena and Thunder Bay Arts Council invite the public to a dedication ceremony for the Thomas Stafford Dog Park on Friday, followed by the unveiling of Art Vision Alpena’s “American Dogs,” a pair of large metal pooches that will oversee their mammalian counterparts as they scamper and play at the dog park. The event will be held at North Riverfront Park located directly behind the Alpena Post Office, beginning at 5:15 p.m., according to a press release from the City of Alpena.

The Stafford family donated money to help upgrade the original plans for the dog park as a memorial to their family patriarch, Thomas Stafford, who was the manager of F.W. Gilchrest lumber operations for nearly 30 years.

Don Newport donated the money needed for the “American Dogs” sculpture set, created by artist Dale Rogers of Haverhill, Mass.

“Continuing to build the quality of life that we experience as a result of living here in Northeast Michigan is a goal that we all share,” said Don Newport. “What the Stafford family has done to make the creation of the dog park available to all of us with these critters is a very special step forward in achieving this goal and it is a honor to be a small part in helping to make this park more visible to our community through this sculpture project.”

Newport’s love of dogs and the arts combined as inspiration to get involved with this project.

“Dogs have always been an important part of my life and with all the craziness that seems to be going on, it is such a delight to come home each day, open the door and know that a friendly, wagging tail will greet me,” Newport said. “It is a pleasure to join with the many folks that have made this park and these sculptures a reality for our area.”

Rogers has been featured in Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize, winning the Urban Space category in 2012.

“The American Dog has proven to be my strongest and most iconic sculpture to date,” Rogers states on his website. “The profile of the dog is very much of a muttigree, but I have had many people tell me it looks exactly like their particular breed of dog. It strikes a strong emotional pull with many clients. Therefore, when I started to contemplate the idea of creating a large-scale public art exhibit, my American Dog made the most sense for choice of sculpture. Historically, dogs have made positive and lasting impressions with people and I hoped that my sculptures and the exhibit would do the same.”

For more about Dale Rogers Studio, go to www.dalerogersstudio.com.

“I am honored that my large sculptures enhance many public spaces across the nation for visitors to enjoy,” Rogers said.

“Given Dale’s state and national recognition for quality public art, it’s so cool to have a set of his works represented in our expanding collection of public art sculptures here in Alpena along the Bi-Path,” said Tim Kuehnlein of Thunder Bay Arts Council.

He and Augie Matuzak are project managers for Art Vision Alpena. Other members of the Art Vision Alpena advisory committe are Chris Witulski, Cindy Johnson, Justin Christensen-Cooper, Midge Connon and Judy Dawley.

“Art Vision Alpena is the continuation of what Thunder Bay Arts Council started with the sculptures around town,” Matuzak said. “So this is kind of a 10-year plan for public art sculptures around Alpena.”

A brochure states, “Art Vision Alpena is the continuation of a dream started back in the mid 70s by the Thunder Bay Arts Council as the Alpena Sculptured Bi-Path Project.”

The project’s main concept is the fusion of art, recreation, and nature, while providing an inviting landscape for both residents and visitors.

Matuzak said the group has a goal of installing two sculptures in Alpena each year. If funding is attained, the plan is to unveil another sculpture in the fall.

Proposed sculpture locations have been selected in relation to proximity to the Bi-Path so walkers, bicyclists, runners and the like can enjoy them, as well as proximity to roadways so drivers can enjoy them as well, Matuzak said.

“The whole idea is to make Alpena a destination for public art, so when someone comes to visit, there are some things to go see,” Matuzak added. “It gets them out and gets them moving around the town.”

In addition to Newport, many businesses provided in-kind work and donated materials for the “American Dogs” project. The following organizations contributed to this project: City of Alpena, Besser Foundation, the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, Industrial Image, Inc., Thunder Bay Electric, Inc., L&S Transit Mix Concrete Company, and Bedrock Contracting and Excavating.

Kuehnlein emphasized the generosity and helpfulness of both Bedrock and L&S Concrete.

“Bedrock was incredibly helpful,” he said. “They are big players in this project. They did the foundations for us. And the materials to help construct those foundations came from Fitzpatrick’s Hardware. … And L&S donated all the concrete. A lot of key players were involved.”

To donate to Art Vision Alpena, contact the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan at 989-354-6881.