Frank Balluff never thought he would leave a lasting impression on his hometown through art. But when a friend tagged him in a Facebook post about a public art grant for the city of Charlotte, Mich., Balluff decided to put his artistic ingenuity to the test and apply.
"I didn't think I had a chance of getting the grant and just applied for practice," says Balluff, a graphic design and business major at Olivet College. "Surprisingly, I got it. I was really excited. It's really cool that LEAP and PNC are providing this opportunity for artists around Michigan."
Balluff was accepted in May 2016 to create a public artwork through the Public Art for Communities Grant
funded by the Lansing Area Economic Partnership and PNC Foundation. Within weeks, he was planning, ordering materials, and welding together the steel that would form a new outdoor sculpture for the small city just southwest of Lansing. In late January 2017, the city unveiled the new sculpture erected at the corner of Lovett St. and Cochran in downtown Charlotte.
"For me, Charlotte is a tight-knit community with a lot of unity," says Balluff. "My design represents people coming together to form something bigger and stronger. It's the story of the underdog."
Balluff's sculpture consists of three separate stainless steel towers that stand side-by-side in a triangular layout. Each tower is made of one-foot cubes stacked on top of each other, representing individuals coming together to form a strong, unified community. Towers stand at nine, 10 and 11 feet, with the variation in size symbolizing growth and diversity.
"It's a crazy feeling to drive by there now every day, and seeing it out there," says Balluff of his sculpture. "It gave me a lot of confidence in my artwork, and opened my mind for a lot of projects down the road. That's why this program is so great. It gives artists that that stepping stone. I'm happy I could take the test and prove myself."
Charlotte joins 11 communities and 22 projects that have received $10,000 each in LEAP funding, with additional support from the PNC Foundation.
Since 2012, the Public Art for Communities Grants program has focused on enhancing mid-Michigan's rich arts and cultural atmosphere and its ability to attract new business and talent, and to spur long-term economic growth.
"LEAP's Public Arts for Communities Grant program has been hugely successful in conveying the unique character of the tri-county area," says Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. "LEAP, along with the support of our partner the PNC Foundation, is committed to making this region home to a global community with stellar talent and top business."
LEAP seeks to add three more sculptures to the region in 2017, and is accepting requests for proposals
for the next round of Public Art for Communities Grants until 4 p.m. on February 28, 2017.
Source: Frank Balluff, Emerging Artist; Lansing Area Economic Parntership
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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