Muskegon Continues to Be One of Michigan’s Best Destinations for Public Art
Public Art projects continue to pop up all over Michigan. Adding to the culture and tourist appeal of downtowns and public parks, these projects include sculpture, statues, murals, and more. We recently had the chance to check out the first few pieces of what is planned to be a 10 piece collection in Muskegon. The MuskegonCity Public Art Initiative appears to be off to a strong start, and its first four public art installations are quite impressive. Today we will take a look at these four pieces as well as what the future holds, and continue to update this post over the next year or two as more pieces are completed and added.
The first piece is a life-like Mastodon sculpture outside of the Lakeshore Museum Center (430 W. Clay Ave.). “Moxie” appears to be emerging from a manhole and is a tribute to pre-historic Muskegon. A sign near the statue notes that Michigan was home to mastodons 13,000 years ago, the mastodon is the official state fossil of Michigan, and the Lakeshore Museum Center is home to fossilized skeletal remains of a female mastodon found near Rothbury. This exhibit was installed in August of 2019.
“A City Built on Timber” was installed in June of 2020 and honors Muskegon’s lumber industry heritage. Located near the entrance to Heritage Landing (1050 7th St.), it is a patinated carbon steel sculpture made by brothers Erik and Israel Nordin. A sign near this piece lays out the artists’ vision: “Sitting proudly on the timbers in Muskegon, a shining grid inspired by our City’s topography, embedded with deep blue cast glass like the remarkable waters that surround us. Within the grid, spherical clusters represent the diverse elements of our community coming together and together, rising to meet our collective future.”
At the traffic roundabout near Pere Marquette Beach on Lake Michigan you will find “Celebrating Muskegon.” This sculpture by artists John Littleton and Kate Vogel was installed and dedicated in 2021. The plaque next to this piece take a look at what inspired these two artists to craft this unique piece: “Elevated by a strong framework of stainless tel, the circular steel bands enclosing rich colors of thick hand-cut glass represent the strength of Muskegon’s communities, ambition, and dreams. Intertwining with each other, these circular bands also represent the energy of the many individuals who have come together over the history of our community to make Muskegon what it is today.” The green is meant to represent the forests and parks in the area, while the blue represents the abundant waters of Muskegon’s lakes, rivers, and streams.
The Muskegon Rails Project was the fourth installation and features four murals (one on each side of two bridges) on the old railroad bridges over Seaway Drive. You’ll find them between Laketon and Hackley and between Sherman and Broadway.
Two other projects have been announced so far. “OneDrop” will be a “27-foot water-inspired sculpture on the north side of the new VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center” and What Defines Muskegon will be a “mural by award-winning Detroit muralist, Dr. Hubert Massey” on the outside of Mercy Health Arena on W. Western Ave. Both projects were slated for completion in Fall of 2021, so stay tuned for updates. You can find out everything you want to know about this project at https://www.muskegon-mi.gov/.
This project continues a rich history of public art in Muskegon. Downtown is home to many pieces worth checking out, like the Buster Keaton Statue, the Snurfer Monument, and the first William McKinley Statue in the country.