Encore June 2018

Page 14


Five Faves

Artist picks Kalamazoo’s top public sculptures by


I’ve lived here for 50 years and have seen many wonderful public sculptures installed, so it’s hard to choose favorites, but I enjoy art in all media. The best works are those that contain unexpected surprises — those worth examining more than once — such as these

local treasures that I’ve picked out. Unfortunately, viewing two of these will be difficult due to the current renovations in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park, but, no matter their status, they belong on this list:

Fountain of the Pioneers Bronson Park

When Justice and Mercy Prevail Bronson Park

Did anyone really like this 1940 concrete monstrosity created by Italian-American sculptor Alfonso Ianelli? Why does it head my list even though it was removed from Bronson Park last month because of its perceived symbolism of the subjugation of Native Americans? Because for 78 years, this sculpture dominated the very place where, not that long ago, indigenous people actually lived, which is often a forgotten fact. Passersby reacted to its crumbling Art Deco style and inauthentic Indian headdress and read into it as symbolism of subjugation. Now that this historic monument is gone, it will be too easy to dismiss unpleasant history that cannot be denied and should never be repeated.

The full title of this 1976 bronze and concrete installation is When Justice and Mercy Prevail, Children May Safely Play. It was created by local sculptor Kirk Newman. It has not actually functioned as a fountain since plumbing problems resulted in shutting off the water to it years ago, but when these eight wonderfully lifelike children are relocated to their new places on the south side of Bronson Park, as part of the park’s makeover that has begun this year, they may once again safely play.

Prospect 1200 Academy Street The late Kalamazoo College professor Marcia Wood designed this 12-foot-

high welded stainless steel piece to contrast sensuous, undulating “feminine” forms with the severe rectilinear lines of the nearby Light Fine Arts Center. It was fabricated in Kalamazoo by David Volosky and Leon Hillman and installed in 1982. The scale of the brushed metallic shapes invites viewers to walk around and beneath them and peer through the openings.

14 | ENCORE JUNE 2018