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Public Sculpture Growing in South Haven

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

The last few years has seen the cultivation of a growing collection of downtown public sculpture created by Michigan artists for the South Haven Center for the Arts' Grow Your Own Sculpture program. Take a walk down Phoenix St. and you will see work near Black River Tavern, Great Lakes Eye Care, N&R Department Store, Johnny's Lakeside Jewelry, Clementine's, and Taste. Each conveys in its own unique way the natural landscape that defines South Haven and the Southwest Michigan coast as interpreted by these artists.

South Haven native Lou Rodriguez fabricated "A Moment of Joy" from steel and used color-shifting paints that shift from green to purple to blue depending on the viewing angle to mimic the iridescent quality of hummingbirds in nature.

Rodriguez took part in local art competitions while growing up in South Haven, and moved on to creating costumes and movie props as an adult. He participated in a local ice carving contest in 2009, and the experience sparked an interest in sculpture. A welder and steel fabricator at RCI Adventure Products in Holland, Mich., Rodriguez transitioned from ice to steel and fabricated his first piece, “A Dragon for Jonas,” in 2010, which finished in the top 25 at ArtPrize—an international public art competition held every two years in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"A Moment of Joy" is in front of Clementine's, 500 Phoenix St., and was donated by Michael Morey and financial planner Paul Hix of the Edward Jones Office of Paul Hix in South Haven.

South Haven sculptor and award-winning artist Kathy Kreager recently completed her third sculpture for the Grow Your Own Sculpture program.

From left, "Summer Breeze," metal and glass, Taste, 402 Phoenix St., donated by the South Haven Downtown Development Authority; "Brilliance," 432 Phoenix St., donated by Dana S. and Teresa Getman; "Life's Garden," in honor of Glen Pietenpol, donated by Chemical Bank (now TCF Bank), 433 Phoenix St.

“Dune Anchor,” by Mark Toncray, was inspired "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."

Toncray lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan and studied sculpture at Southern Illinois University. He 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 Harbor Country Public Arts Initiative in New Buffalo, Michigan, and The Krasl Art Center and The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, Michigan.

"Dune Anchor" by Mark Toncray is located at Black River Tavern, 403 Phoenix St., and is available for donation.

“Surround Me with Sun Wind and Water” by Carolyn Robinson Fink of Portage, Michigan 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.”

"Surround Me With Sun Wind and Water" by Carolyn Robinson Fink is in front of Great Lakes Eyecare, 412 Phoenix St., and was donated by Michael Morey and financial planner Paul Hix of the Edward Jones Office of Paul Hix in 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.” "Faust” is reminiscent of Sauve’s Man in the City sculpture project—forty 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 sixteen sculptures for Benton Harbor and St. Joseph 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.

"Faust" by John Sauve is in front of Johnny's Lakeshore Jewelry, 501 Phoenix St., and is available for donation.

Those interested in purchasing "Dune Anchor" or "Faust" for donation to the City of South Haven or for a private collection, please contact

Artists click here if you would like to participate in the Grow Your Own Sculpture Program.

The Grow Your Own Sculpture program is made possible by the South Haven Downtown Development Authority.

Donate to help the art center continue this tradition of public sculpture in South Haven.

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