New public art sculpture created by Detroit artists to be unveiled at Belle Isle Park – CBS Detroit
DETROIT, Michigan (CBS DETROIT) – The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory has much to celebrate. One of Belle Isle Park’s most significant historic structures, the monument reopened to the public last June, and a new public art sculpture was officially unveiled in the conservatory gardens on Thursday.
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Last winter and spring, the original 1904 trusses that supported the conservatory dome were replaced with galvanized steel as part of a major renovation project.
At the August 15 dedication event, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Belle Isle Conservancy thanked the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for their generous $1 million grant, which was the impetus to complete the first phase of the renovation project, and dedicated a newly installed public art sculpture in honor of the foundation.
The sculpture, created by Detroit Design Center co-owners and brothers Erik and Israel Nordin, incorporates a piece of the conservatory’s original truss structure. Detroit artists, inspired by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s contribution to the park, donated the artwork to acknowledge the foundation’s support to the Detroit community. Located in the conservatory’s garden near the east entrance, the public art sculpture, named The Dancer, represents the heartfelt thanks extended to the foundation by the brothers on behalf of the citizens of Detroit.
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“As Detroit artists, we are honored to have had the opportunity to create a sculpture that helps tell the story of the efforts to preserve this important Detroit landmark,” said Erik and Israel Nordin. “We believe that using part of the original historic framework in the artwork was the purest way to pay homage to the genius and architecture of Albert Kahn. We are very grateful to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for making it possible to share the artifact and its story with all who are passionate about Belle Isle and its future.
The $2.5 million renovation project was funded by a $1 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Grant, with the remaining funds coming from MNR’s Parks and Recreation Funds. The foundation has also supported other key park projects, such as the endowment for the construction and start of the Piet Oudolf Garden and Iron Belle Trail.
The first phase of the renovation project included replacing the original 21-foot steel trusses that supported the conservatory’s 65-foot upper dome. The next phase is to tackle critical structural repairs to the original steel trusses of the lower dome. The renovation project will also replace the glass panels in the dome and provide better ventilation to ensure the health of the conservatory’s plant collection. Construction estimates are significant and will depend on partnerships to support this $10 million renovation project.
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