New website offers insight into the public art throughout the region

The sculptures and murals you see around the Great Lakes Bay Region provide more than just a nice backdrop for our daily lives.

Art in public spaces reflects our history and culture, according to a 2018 Why Public Art Matters report published by Americans for the Arts.

“Public art humanizes the built environment. It provides an intersection between past, present, and future between disciplines and ideas,” the report reads. “Public art matters because our communities gain cultural, social, and economic value through public art.”

Now, a pilot program dubbed the Public Art Passport, helps you understand the stories behind the art throughout the region.The Passport includes pictures as well as Google map locations for individual pieces of art in Bay, Saginaw, and Midland counties. It also explains the stories behind the art.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum – in cooperation with arts agencies throughout the region and with funding from the Jury Foundation of Saginaw – is spearheading the project.

Geoffe Haney, Collections Manager at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, says the goal is to educate people about what’s in the community and encourage them to visit the art in person, when possible. Originally, Haney says he hoped to include about 30 pieces in total.

“We blew way past that,” he says, laughing. Delta College alone lists 22 places. The Marshall Fredericks Museum lists another 19.

“I actually just emailed myself two more pieces I found over the weekend,” Haney adds.

Additional pieces likely will be included on the website later. For now, Haney is focused on getting word out into the community about the pilot project. You can find information on the Public Art Passport website and on Facebook.

“We’re looking at having a tool for the Great Lakes Bay Region where people can not only explore public art that’s in our communities, but also be aware of the arts and cultural organization that exist in this area,” Haney says.

The website includes a tour of art in Bay City, Midland, Saginaw, Delta College, and at Saginaw Valley State University. It also includes a listing of some of the arts and cultural organizations in the area.

In Bay City, the sites listed include the Paul P. Harris sculpture near the Pere Marquette Depot; the Madonna Mural at the corner of Center Avenue and Adams Street; the Greek God as Astronaut mural on the facade of Jakes Corner Lounge; A Talk with Nature mural on the side of Zef’s Coney Restaurant; the World Friendship Ring in Wenona Park; the Sacramento Steamship Rudder in the Kantzler Arboretum; the Before the Bay sculpture at 401 Henry St.; the Bay County Boys sculpture near Sage Library; the Greek Goddess statue also at Sage; the Wonderous Worlds sculpture at the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library; and the Delta College Sculpture Walk.

Looking ahead, Haney hopes to expand the project and include links to even more public art. For now, though, he’s asking people to explore the website and let him know about any gaps in information.

“At this point, if anybody sees any of the things that are on there right now and has more specific information they can fill in, that would be welcome,” he says.

In the future, Haney says he the Passport may include links to points of interest, such as local restaurants, for visitors.

“We’ve got a lot of good things happening in these communities that people should be aware of,” Haney says.