Art All Around

Jeff Olson works on “The Performers” near the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center.

Sidle over, cows of Chicago. Swim to the side, sturgeons of Sturgeon Bay. Public art is alive and well in the Village of Egg Harbor, bolstered by the first ordinance of its kind in the county which promotes and funds public art.

Kathy Mand Beck, artist and owner of Dovetail Gallery and Studio in downtown Egg Harbor is one of the members of the public art committee. “I’ve been excited about public art for years,” she says. “We’ve finally got the right trustees and the right people in the community who are supportive. It’s so exciting.”

In July of 2010, members of the committee attended a workshop at the Peninsula School of Art on Public Space/Public Art, which helped the group craft their local ordinance and artist agreements. Selected pieces may be donated to the village permanently or loaned for a period of three to five years. Local donors or businesses are also invited to come forward and contribute towards the cost of a temporary piece, ensuring it will remain permanently.

The first sculpture to be installed is a permanent loan, created by Milwaukee artist Rich Edelman. “Blue Sail,” an airy yet grand homage to wind and water, is mounted on the signature red granite of the Egg Harbor marina. After its unveiling in August 2010, it became an instant hotspot for photo opportunities and a welcoming beacon to boaters and tourists.

Also erected last summer were three kinetic sculptures by David Riemer of Crete, Ill. These copper and brass sculptures stand on a high point in Harbor View Park where, even on a still day, breezes catch each moving piece, creating a mesmerizing spinning effect.

This kinetic sculpture by David Riemer is located at Harbor View Park.

In spring of 2011, the Public Art Committee hosted a reception for county gallery owners and artists to learn more about the village’s program. “So many people came out,” says Egg Harbor Village President Nancy Fisher. “We just had a blast, and new ideas sprang up.” So many new ideas, in fact, that three more public art pieces are slated for spring of 2012.

One of the new pieces will be a large mosaic on the face of the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center entitled “Sunset Melody.”

“We call ourselves Egg Harbor Women Times Four,” laughs Mand Beck, referring to the group of artists she has assembled to create this multimedia piece. “Angela Lensch will do the metalwork, Reneé Schwaller the clay tiles, and Cynthia Board will create stained glass pieces. I’ll be making polymer clay and crushed eggshell tiles,” she adds, referring to the media for which she is best known. “We’re all donating our time and our materials cost. This piece will be on loan for three to five years. When the piece sells, a percentage of the profit stays in the public art fund.”

In addition to “Sunset Melody,” two other pieces will appear in 2012. Judi Ekholm, famed for her colorful and unique landscapes of the county, will create a large mural on the side of the Paul Bertschinger Community Center. And Miles Amorelli of De Pere will create a sculpture of three windsurfers to be erected near Egg Harbor’s newly renovated Beach Park.

Locals are supportive of the initiative. “I’m all for public art,” says Sara Hubner, an employee at Greens n’ Grains. “There’s something whimsical about it….and the motion of the sculptures in the [Harbor View Park] is entertaining for the kids, so the parents can sit and enjoy the view.”

“Blue Sail” by Richard Edelman in on display at Egg Harbor Marina.

“I think it’s a good idea,” adds Peter Kordon of Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese, which sits a couple of doors down from Harbor View Park. “We have people come into the store talking about the art. It promotes our town’s businesses and brings in visitors.”

Fisher is quick to point out that funding for the public art initiative is provided by room tax revenues, not property tax revenues. “We believe it is a great way to use these funds – we think it makes Egg Harbor a fun and different place to be.” Future plans include the creation of an “Art Walk” map which will feature descriptions and locations of public art pieces, enhanced by maps of walking and biking paths.

While Egg Harbor’s public art initiative has already affected its own downtown, it has the potential to make a broader impact throughout Door County. Village officials recently sent copies of their ordinance and other materials to their counterparts in the Village of Sister Bay.

“With their new waterfront renovations, there’s a great opportunity there for public art. We hope they might be inspired by our efforts here in Egg Harbor,” says Fisher.