Just 15 minutes west of Ann Arbor, Chelsea is a charming enclave that continues to punch above its cultural weight. It has Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theater and excellent restaurants, including the Common Grill and Smokehouse 52 BBQ. It has “Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights,” an eleven-week free summer musical event downtown, and it has the River Gallery. The River Gallery is in the middle of its second decade of operation, owned and directed by the redoubtable, indefatigable force of artistic nature, Patti Schwarz.
Among her many projects, Schwarz is in charge of SculptureWalk Chelsea. This is year ten of SculptureWalk, the annual public arts project and juried display of 12 exceptional works of large-scale sculpture standing on specially conceived high profile concrete plinth-pads around downtown. It is sponsored by the Chelsea Downtown Development Authority, the City of Chelsea, “Sounds and Sights” and the River Gallery, and it’s all for the joy and contemplation of visitors and townies alike, including you. The new show opens on June 9 and runs through May 26, 2017. I’ll be there for the opening because that’s also the kickoff for Sights and Sounds and a chance to join the artists for the special annual gala reception. I love gala receptions, don’t you? June is our best month for strolling, so don’t wait until the steam bath of July or the icebox of winter to appreciate this delightful happening.
Art of all shapes and sizes
The artwork is created by local, regional and nationally renowned sculptors and 3D artisans, like Mary Angers. Ms. Angers was born in New York City and has resided in Long Beach, New Jersey for the past 20 years. She works in 2D and 3D media as well as video, television and computer generated work. She has exhibited her public artwork extensively in Manhattan, France, and California and is known especially for her work in laminated glass, aluminum and iron. Angers earned her bachelor degree in art at Rutgers, her bachelor of fine art degree at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and her master of fine art degree from the New York School of Visual Art. I find her curvilinear metallic proportions enthralling, and I’m not alone. It’s rumored that she is so successful she has nearly paid off her student loans.
Another artist I’ll be looking for is Ohio-based Calvin Babich. Babich made a midlife career change, became a stone-mason and eventually a stone sculptor. He creates large-scale stone pieces, fountains, and distinctive water features. His entry at last year’s ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids was an audience favorite, and is now in the pond in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum. ArtPrize is a favorite venue of several of the SculptureWalk exhibitors, a testament to the esteem in which the Walk is held, given that the Walk gives each artist an honorarium of $600, while first prize at ArtPrize is $200K.
I’ll also be looking for the work of Todd Kime, an architect who runs his custom residential design firm, Kime Design. Ten years ago he set up an art studio, “Sight,” to promote his art and that of his wife, Nancy. One of my favorite of Kime’s sculptures is “XYZ” a giant, graceful, welded steel zipper. And keep an eye out for Pam Reithmeier’s work. She is a Toledo native with a master’s degree in special education. She always dabbled in art and when she retired after 34 years of teaching she got into art full time. She has won various awards for her sculptures displayed throughout the Midwest. She currently serves as the president of the Toledo Area Sculptors Guild. I think you get the picture: SculptureWalk Chelsea is more than worth the fifteen minute drive west of town.
The SculptureWalk runs from June 6 to May 26, 2017,
with an opening reception during Sights and Sounds, June 9.
For more information, visit chelsearivergallery.com.