Kudos to the group of people who procured a 7-foot metal sculpture for public display in Walled Lake and paired it with a newly planted field of sunflowers in a green cultural initiative. The person who spearheaded the endeavor has a greater vision for an eco-friendly cultural effort. It’s an exciting project that we’re anxious to see evolve, and one we’d like to see imitated in other lakes area communities.
Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Urban Design Committee Member Valerie Kemp deserves much of the credit for the project. Propelled by passion and motivated to stand up for a positive change, Kemp refused to abandon the concept after her pitch for public funding was turned down.
Tony Lucero, owner of Eagle Graphic and Design and a fellow Urban Design Committee member, shared Kemp’s vision and committed to sponsoring a sculpture and donated a plaque to accompany it. The owner of the property occupied by Goddard-Talmay allowed the piece to be placed on its adjacent vacant lot on Pontiac Trail south of Maple.
Michigan artist John Sauvé, whose sculptures have been exhibited in Chicago, New York, Detroit and Benton Harbor, created the modern sculpture called “St. Sebastian,” a silhouette of the Christian martyr slain around 300 A.D.
A field of sunflower seeds planted behind the statue will create a bright backdrop and expand the project’s impact into a green initiative.
On May 29 — the same day Sauvé’s sculpture was erected — Orchard Grove Community Church sent its youth group and families to plant 6,500 organic sunflower seeds throughout the city after property owners gave their blessings.
Kemp also collaborated with the city’s Department of Public Works to use some of the seaweed removed from Walled Lake’s shoreline as compost for the sunflowers, furthering the merger of cultural and environmental sensibilities.
According to Kemp, her vision for Walled Lake includes more public sculptures — perhaps as many as 10, she says — promoting eco-friendly initiatives.
We’re pleased Kemp pushed her vision into a reality, especially at a time when cultural institutions and education have been forced to the back of the line at the public trough. Given the chance and with some more community support, her cultural-green program can enrich the community and raise its spirit.
It’s not a stretch to imagine a proliferation of public art in the community promoting walkability, economic development, and a growing population of young professionals who value both art and green initiatives. Given the chance, the program could make Walled Lake a destination for art lovers and school groups.
Well done, Kemp and company.