Thursday, May 05, 2011

Volunteers needed to help build Sculpture Park in Calumet, starting May 7

By Michele Bourdieu

Main Street Calumet and sculptor Tom Rudd hope -- with the help of volunteers -- to turn this small lot on Fifth Street in Calumet into a "Sculpture Park." The site was formerly a restaurant that burned down. In the background is the rear wall of the Calumet Theatre. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- Sculptor and Calumet resident Tom Rudd is working with Main Street Calumet to turn a small, empty lot into a "Sculpture Park" on Calumet's historic Fifth Street. Assisted by David Sarazin, a student intern from Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design, Rudd hopes to turn the small empty space behind the Calumet Theatre and near Ace Hardware into a "pocket park" location for outdoor sculpture.

This is a model of what the "Sculpture Park" might look like when complete. (Photo courtesy Tom Rudd)

If volunteers show up with a few tools and some materials, work on the park will start this Saturday, May 7.

"Tom and David will be on-site at 9 a.m. Saturday as part of Main Street Calumet's annual downtown clean-up," said Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director. "Volunteers are encouraged to bring rakes, shovels, and work gloves and assemble at the Sculpture Park site on 5th Street (across 5th Street from Ace Hardware) or at the Agassiz Park Pavilion at 9 a.m. this Saturday, May 7th."

Main Street Calumet will have coffee available at the Agassiz Park pavilion and also hot dogs around noon for volunteers who help with the clean-up and with the "pocket park" site.

"Unfortunately, this (Sculpture Park) effort was not funded by the Keweenaw National Historical Park Heritage Grant program, but Main Street Calumet's Design Committee's efforts will not be deterred," Tikkanen noted.

Rudd is asking that local residents help with a materials inventory of items available to use for construction of the park, such as sandstone blocks for the back wall.

"I know there are piles of stones, bricks, and metal around the area that we could use for this project," Rudd said.

Tom Rudd explains what needs to be done to the walls of the potential park and why he hopes to have a wall in the back so as not to disturb Calumet Theatre activities. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Even if people don't have the items on hand, they might know where unused materials are. With that information Rudd or Main Street Calumet could approach the owner, Rudd added. Rudd is a member of the Main Street Calumet Design Committee.

One of the first steps will be to re-do the stone walkway.

"We have to take all these stones out, level the area, put sand as a base, and then replace a good number of the stones," Rudd explained.

Sculptor Tom Rudd, right, and Finlandia art student David Sarazin work on digging up the stones in the pocket park so that the walkway can be re-done. (Photo courtesy Tom Tikkanen of Main Street Calumet)

Rudd also hopes to have pedestals to anchor the sculpture so it can be alternated.

"What it comes down to is assisting in making Calumet an art destination," Rudd explained. "We already have four or five galleries, the theatre, the Calumet Players. There's a lot of cultural activity."

Rudd created such a sculpture park in Detroit's inner city and says it has been very successful.

"The people in the neighborhood are caring for the park and the sculpture," he said.

Rudd is especially known for his stone sculptures of fish. The park in Detroit is known as "Fish Park" because of a big stone fish that he carved. Located in the middle of the park, the large fish is one of a series that he calls "Monuments to Minnows."

"It's sort of a metaphor for the common man: You're not really a minnow. You're a big fish," Rudd says.

He also likes to design Japanese dry gardens.

Rudd has also done external sculpture for Western Oregon University, Grand Valley State University and several cities in southern Michigan. In December 2011, the city of Frankenmuth, Mich., will exhibit one of Tom’s fish.

Anyone wishing to help with the project can show up this Saturday at 9 a.m. or contact Tom Tikkanen at Main Street Calumet by emailing or by calling (906) 337-3246 (337-MAIN).

Click here for the Main Street Calumet volunteer page to read more about how you can help with their projects.

Editor's Note: Read more about Calumet residents Tom Rudd and his wife, artist Margo McCafferty, as well as their talented children, in Keweenaw Now’s June 2, 2010, article, "Artists McCafferty, Rudd create, teach, join Keweenaw community."


Iso said...

It would be nice if the integrity of all the hard work and foundation of the park could be kept intact. For those of us who originally had permission from the village & worked three summers to turn the vacant lot into a park, not to mention all of the generously donated materials, it would be appreciated if the new park were designed in conjunction with the existing work.

M&M&T said...

You are right, and the originators of the park will be recognized for their hard work, persistence, materials acquisition and placement. As for the design, the original concept of a park to show sculpture has been maintained although simplified to allow for the exhibition of larger and varied outdoor artworks .
The utilization of on-site materials has been foremost in our plans. These materials are presently being removed and stockpiled to be used in forming level accessible pathways, sculpture sites and landscaping areas.

Thank you all for your initial original participation. Please feel free to to contact me with your ideas or concerns, and you are always welcome to assist in the grunt work.

Tom Rudd

Keweenaw Now said...

Thanks to both of you for your comments!