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Michigan Legacy Art Park to host first-ever lantern tour of sculptures

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Kerry Winkler, Michigan Legacy Art Park
An archway marks the entrance to the two-mile art walk. Saturday's lantern tour will be a quarter mile loop which ends at the amphitheater for a bonfire and hot apple cider. (Photo: Kerry Winkler/Michigan Legacy Art Park)

Michigan Legacy Art Park near Thompsonville will be illuminated by lantern light this weekend.

Organizers hope Saturday’s event brings people a fresh perspective on pieces old and new.

The two-mile long pathway features over 50 sculptures, each meant to start conversations about the pros and cons of Michigan’s history.

One of them, “Mounds,” is a curved concrete wall, meant to bring awareness to the destruction of indigenous burial grounds by industrial development.

Tyler Thompson
The silhouettes are painted on various trees with natural dyes. It will be featured on the lantern tour. (Photo: Tyler Thompson/IPR News)

And then there’s “Logging Camp,” by Patricia Innis — a nod to the lumber workers who fed an economy but also contributed to the mass removal of trees throughout the state.

Innis painted shadowy silhouettes of laborers on trees near the trailhead. She used natural dye by cooking black walnuts and adding cornstarch to thicken the dye.

Innis hopes that when people walk through the park by lantern light on Saturday, they get new perspectives on each piece featured in the tour.

“It actually puts me in mind of silent movies," she said. "Where they always had all this lighting and shadows, it created a whole slightly eerie situation that the shadows actually added to the artistic expression of the artwork. It’s just a whole other level of enjoyment and appreciation.”

Innis, who lives in Kalkaska, has been a regular contributor to the park since 2000.

Also on the tour is the “Pinecone Forest,” a new piece made by Innis and community members.

Pine cones are strung together by twine and clothesline to represent the connections people share to Michigan’s forest.

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Kerry Winkler, Michigan Legacy Art Park
Added this year, the pinecones will be featured in the lantern tour. (Tyler Thompson/IPR News)

It’s also meant to create discourse around the logging industry and the Civilian Conservation Corps who replanted thousands of pine cones in the 1930s.

Winkler calls special attention to a new sculpture featured on the lantern tour: “Two Doors” by Manistee born Leslie Lasky.

“Oh this will be a fun one,” she said. “We’ll walk around it so we can see different shadows out from this. It is a powdered coated steel structure and it looks like there’s windows on each side. And as you go around it, we think you’ll have some great shadows off of it.”

Lasky was a professor of architecture at the University of Washington but returned to Manistee each summer to host classes for six decades before he died in 2021.

Winkler said the design was made to make people think of the different ways they approach things in their lives.

Visitors are encouraged to get close, to be curious and see something new each time they look through the frames.

“Right now in winter you get to see the sculptures in a different way," she said. "Feels a little bit more stark, but you get a little cozier because you bundle up.”

Innis, meanwhile, can’t make it for Saturday’s event, but she hopes people embrace what lantern light brings to the sculptures.

“Seeing it in natural light is one thing seeing it by lantern light might be something totally different," Innis said. "It could just stimulate a different way of thinking about the artwork.”

The tour is Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m.

Tyler Thompson is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.