Michigan Legacy Art Park to Host First-Ever Lantern Sculpture Tour

The Michigan Legacy Art Park near Thompsonville will be illuminated by lantern light this weekend.

Organizers hope Saturday’s event will give people a fresh perspective on coins old and new.

The two-mile-long trail features more than 50 sculptures, each meant to spark conversations about the pros and cons of Michigan’s history.

One of them, “Mounds”, is a curved concrete wall, intended to raise awareness of the destruction of indigenous burial sites by industrial development.

The silhouettes are painted on various trees with natural dyes. It will be presented during the lantern tour. (Photo: Tyler Thompson/IPR News)

And then there is “Lumberjack Camp,” by Patricia Innis – a nod to the woodworkers who fueled an economy but also contributed to the massive felling of trees across the state.

Innis painted shadowy silhouettes of workers on trees near the trailhead. She used a natural dye by baking black walnuts and adding cornstarch to thicken the dye.

Innis hopes that when people stroll through the park by lantern light on Saturdays, they’ll get new perspectives on each piece featured on the tour.

“It actually reminds me of silent movies,” she said. “Where they still had all this lighting and shadows, it created a bit of an odd situation that the shadows actually added to the artistic expression of the work. It’s just a whole new level of fun and appreciation.

Innis, who lives in Kalkaska, has been a regular contributor to the park since 2000.

Also on the tour is the “Forest of pine cones”, a new piece made by Innis and members of the community.

The pine cones are tied together with twine and a clothesline to represent the connections people share with Michigan’s forest.

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Kerry Winkler, Michigan Legacy Art Park


Added this year, pine cones will be featured in the lantern tour. (Tyler Thompson/IPR News)

It is also intended to create a discourse around the logging industry and the Civilian Conservation Corps which replanted thousands of pine cones in the 1930s.

Winkler draws special attention to a new sculpture presented during the lantern tour: “Two Doors” by Manistee née Leslie Lasky.

“Oh, that will be fun,” she said. “We’re going around it to see different shadows from there. It is a powder coated steel structure and it looks like there are windows on each side. And as you go around it, we think you’ll get some great shadows from it.

Lasky was a professor of architecture at the University of Washington but returned to Manistee every summer to teach classes for six decades before dying in 2021.

Winkler said the design was meant to get people thinking about the different ways they approach things in their lives.

Visitors are encouraged to approach, be curious and see something new each time they look through the frames.

“Right now, in winter, you can see the sculptures in a different way,” she said. “It feels a little more austere, but you get a little more comfortable because you bundle up.”

Innis, meanwhile, can’t make it to Saturday’s event, but she hopes people will enjoy what the lantern light brings to the sculptures.

“Seeing it in natural light is one thing, seeing it in lantern light could be something totally different,” Innis said. “It might just stimulate a different way of thinking about the artwork.”

The visit is on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.