BANGOR – Tuesday marked an important day for city officials and residents. Under sunny skies, staff unveiled the first of five outdoor sculptures planned for the downtown district.
Zack Emenhiser, 18, of Bangor, was chosen to create the first sculpture, which was uncovered on Tuesday July 26 in a ceremony at Charles Park, located at the east entrance to the city center at Monroe and Center.
His metal sculpture depicts the sun setting over the waves of Lake Michigan, with the words “Bangor, the gateway to the lake”, in reference to the many visitors to Kalamazoo who pass through Bangor en route to the beaches of Lake Michigan at South Haven. .
“I think it’s just amazing,” Bangor resident Renee Ward of the sculpture. She was one of dozens in attendance for Tuesday’s unveiling in Charles Park.
Emenhiser, who graduated from South Haven High School in May, was chosen to create the first sculpture because of his experience creating an outdoor sculpture for the entrance to the high school’s athletic facilities last year, and for his interest to use his welding skills to create art, according to Lynn Farmer, acting mayor of Bangor City Council, who led the outdoor sculpture program for the city’s downtown district.
“He’s quite the artist,” she said.
Emenhiser, the son of Jennifer T. and the late Brad Emenhiser, is finishing his associate degree and Lake Michigan College and plans to attend Ferris State University to earn a degree in welding engineering technology. He works as a welder at Riveer Corp. in South Haven since he was a sophomore in high school. Jon Dow of Riveer, did the painting and powder coating for the sculpture.
Emenhiser said he spent the past two months creating the artwork in his studio at home.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to create this sculpture,” he said at the unveiling ceremony.
Two other outdoor metal sculptures, created by South Haven artist Kathy Kreager, are set to be unveiled next week, according to Farmer. One, titled “Summer Dance,” will feature a dragonfly, while the other, “Frolic,” will feature a little girl chasing butterflies.
In addition to the Emenhiser sculpture, the four remaining sculptures will line Monroe Street (M-43 highway), two on each side in the downtown district, according to Farmer.
The outdoor sculpture program is adapted after the South Haven program, in which artists submit proposals. Companies or individuals then undertake to pay for the sculptures, which are then mounted with a plaque bearing the name of the donor.
Lakeshore Plumbing chose to sponsor Emenhiser’s sculpture.
The exterior sculptures are just one of many improvement projects being undertaken in Bangor, according to City Manager Tommy Simpson.
“It’s part of our downtown improvements,” he said. “We have just started improving sidewalks throughout the area.
Other infrastructure projects include improvements to the city’s water and sewer system, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., according to Simpson. “It will start in September,” he said.
The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to spend $1.5 million to rebuild the 2nd Street Bridge over the Black River in September and the Hamilton Street Bridge in the spring of 2023, while Center Street, Monroe Street north to the city limit, will be resurfaced in the spring of 2023, with a $250,000 grant from MDOT’s Rural Task Force Fund.