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Doubling down on Art Park

In this 2019 photo, Ishpeming High School students Taylor Longtine, left, and Dawson Lawry stand by artwork they created with fellow student Abbi Bruhnke. Officials hope a Patronicity crowd-funding effort will allow the addition of four more art panels, along with benches and a trash receptacle to the park, which is located on Division Street near the Ishpeming High School. (Journal file photo by Christie Bleck)

ISHPEMING — Ishpeming residents may have noticed the transformation of some vacant lots along Division Street in the last two years into an art park. Now locals have the chance to double their monetary contributions to the project through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Patronicity crowd-funding platform.

The park, which has been funded and supported by several local and regional organizations, now has the opportunity for $6,000 in matching funds through Patronicity, if it reaches its fundraising goal by Dec. 15, an MEDC press release states.

To date, the local fundraising component has raised nearly $3,000.

The funds would provide two benches, four art panels, a trash receptacle and more landscaping.

Efforts to beautify the area and transform it into a public space has taken the joint effort of the Marquette County Land Bank Authority, Ishpeming High School, the City of Ishpeming, the Community Foundation of Marquette County and the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, the release states.

“What were once blighted structures and empty lots is now a space to display student artwork and highlight the rich cultural history of Ishpeming, while safely gathering in an outdoor space,” the release states.

MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman called art parks “places for reflection” where “recognition of local talent and culture” can take place.

“The Hematite Art Park in Ishpeming will create that space while also providing an artistic outlet for area students,” Wildman said. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places Program.”

For Ishpeming Public Schools’ students, the project represents both a learning tool and creative outlet, Superintendent Carrie Meyer said

“With the absence of an art program at our middle and high school, we are grateful that our students have the opportunity to express their artistic ability with the art that is displayed at the park,” Meyer said. “I appreciate the efforts of the land bank authority, Anne Giroux, and community members who have supported this project.”

Student artwork will be displayed on panels matching signage used along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, which is just a 10-minute walk away, according to the release. The connection to an existing public amenity, strengthens “the sense of community in downtown Ishpeming,” the release states.

In addition, Meyer said students from the Ishpeming High School Advanced Construction Class are hard at work creating a gazebo for the art park as part of their curriculum.

Marquette County Land Bank Director Anne Giroux said the park is not only a creative space for Ishpeming High School students, it also serves as a creative space for the community-at-large “to relax and enjoy the artwork of local students.

“This funding would allow the park to be completed and serve as an outdoor space for all to enjoy,” Giroux said in the release.

For additional details on the project or to donate, visit www.patronicity.com. For more information on the Public Spaces Community Places program visit https://patronicity.com/puremichigan.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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