The last few years has seen the cultivation of a growing collection of downtown public sculpture created by accomplished Michigan artists. Take a walk down Phoenix St. and you will see work near Black River Tavern, Great Lakes Eye Care, Johnny's Lakeside Jewelry, and Taste Restaurant. Each conveys in its own unique way the natural landscape that defines South Haven and the Southwest Michigan coast as envisioned by these artists.
"Summer Breeze" led the way in 2017—a piece fashioned in metal and glass by South Haven sculptor Kathy Kreager that sits in front of Taste at the corner of Phoenix and Center St. Mark Toncray, Carolyn Robinson Finks, and John Sauve are the program's most recent contributing artists under the auspices of the South Haven Center for the Arts and [xxxx] program, Grow Your Own Sculpture.
“Dune Anchor,” by Mark Toncray, was inspired (as are many of his pieces) by "the intersection of our influence upon nature and nature’s influence upon us.” After a thirty year career as a working artist, Toncray creates spare images that are "stripped of complex techniques" borne of "gesture; almost three-dimensional sketches." Wander down to Black River Tavern, directly across the street from Taste, and you can see what he means.
Originally from Chicago, Toncray now lives in Benton Harbor. He studied sculpture at Southern Illinois University and has fabricated pieces for many Chicago-based artists and installed hundreds of sculptures for individual artists and Chicago art expositions. Mark now works as a sculpture conservator and installer with The Krasl Art Center and The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, and the Harbor Country Public Arts Initiative in New Buffalo.
“Surround Me with Sun Wind and Water” by Carolyn Robinson Fink of Portage is in front of Great Lakes Eyecare, 412 Phoenix St. According to Fink, the piece depicts finding purpose and renewal in nature. Fink, a graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design, is a career graphic designer as well as a sculptor of steel. “I hope the person seeing my works might experience a bit of the peace, joy, relief, or hope that I myself feel as I create it.” Financial planner Paul Hix of South Haven purchased the sculpture and donated it to the City of South Haven.
Detroit area sculptor John Sauve created “Faust”—named for the mythical German character who sold his soul to the devil in return for “worldly knowledge and pleasure.” The piece is in front of Johnny's Lakeshore Jewelry on the corner of Phoenix and Center St. “Faust” is reminiscent of Sauve’s Man in the City sculpture project—40 sculptures installed on rooftops throughout Detroit and Windsor, Canada. Suave has exhibited at the Chicago Sculpture International Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, the Krasl Biennial Sculpture Exhibition in St Joseph, and created 16 sculptures for Benton Harbor and St. Joe in the likeness of Muhammad Ali as part of the I Am the Greatest project, designed to help youth in Southwest Michigan learn about community, art, and creative expression.
“Dune Anchor” and “Faust” will be available for purchase and donation to the City of South Haven until next summer. Anyone interested in purchasing one of these pieces please contact email@example.com.
From left: "Dune Anchor" by Mark Toncray; "Sun, Wind, and Water" by Carolyn Robinson Finks; "Faust" by John Sauve