Growing up on the west side of Detroit, the son of a diesel mechanic and the youngest of four boys, a young Ritch Branstrom observed in awe and wonder the things happening around him. Having older brothers something was always happening in the garage. From an early age motorcycles and cars were fascinating. In his early teens he started making contraptions. Watching his father totally reconstruct the sheet metal on the bottom of a van showed him that with a little bit of scrap metal and patience one could create almost anything.
Marking the entrance to the Walk of Art is a specially designed piece commissioned to Art Brown of Torch Tip Iron Works in Central Lake. While Brown modestly describes himself as “welder” and “blacksmith,” he has, for 18 years, been a prolific producer of decorative and utilitarian architectural art forms.
“In my art works I often show the changes that happen in us and around us – past, present, and future. The colors and shapes represent time and people, as well as the dynamic flow of joy and appreciation of life.”
"My sculpture is the expression of the universal energy that I tap into. This is the energy that flows through and around each one of us. I depend on the natural forces around me to be my guide, the energy of the material, the whisper of the wind, the ancient ones coaxing me onward. It is my privilege to listen. If my visual description is persuasive the viewer will see a glimmer of light radiating from these forms and then look within themselves for meaning creating their own version of this age old story."
Ann Gildner is artist-in-residence at the Iron One Studio in Cheboygan, MI, where the independent artists who are its members design, work and collaborate in making metal artwork. Becca Triumphs is somewhat autobiographical in nature, reflecting the artist's own triumph after surviving breast cancer.
“I began with two gorgeous elements: aged burl and a curvaceous piece of farm implement with a textured patina. Combining these two elements into a coherent design that integrates the inherent nature of each into a new whole was my intent. Trees grow freely in nature; man imposes agriculture; this piece represents the sometimes uncomfortable juxtaposition of the two."
John Goss is a nationally recognized sculptor, specializing in realistic wildlife sculptures created through the use of recycled metals. John is a full time artist operating out of his Northern Michigan studio. His work is displayed at public and private locations throughout the United States.
Of his work, Petrakovitz writes that Botanical Forms is comprised of elements that, when combined, create positive and negative spaces that interact with the environment. It is constructed by welding the elements together with a powder-coated finish. Petrakovitz also has works in public exhibits at the Michigan Legacy Art Park, Fuerst Park in Novi, and in Chelsea, Michigan.
"Most of my sculptures over the past 30 years have been figurative, life-sized and metaphorical. They derive a lot from Folk Art and seem to suggest narratives. With the Seedpod Series, begun in 2004, I have turned to an interest in pure form and in abstraction from Nature. I cannot resist picking up seedpods. I collect them wherever I travel. They prove to me every time that no one can beat Mother Nature as designer. Their diversity is awe inspiring. "
Magnotta created Sailfish to bring awareness to the “depletion of sport fish world wide; [and to] memorialize this beautiful creature and allow it to sail, always, in our vision.” The piece is made of plasma-cut steel. Each scale is attached to the body individually; afterwards, the piece is cleaned, ground, and polished.
This sculpture was installed in the Walk of Art in 2018. “My work as an artist focuses on change. The medium I use to express this is wood. Wood has the characteristic of being able to expand and contract as the moisture in the environment changes.
Jeff Whyman is a St. Louis born Florida artist who works in steel, inspired in part by childhood memories of fascination with the const of the St Louis Arch. A favorite subject matter is the human figure, a consequence, he says, of “my desire to recreate human emotion and depict personality. The Whyman sculpture in Walk of Art is a steel rendering of whimsical little fellow caught (and titled), Off Balance. His work is in public, corporate, and private collections nation wide.
Dewey Blocksma is a Michigan artist who earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Wheaton College in Illinois, and who worked as an emergency room physician for ten years after graduating from Northwestern University Medical School. He is now an artist full-time.
People and Places was installed in the Walk of Art in 2018. “Steel can transform – from a liquid to a solid, a solid to a liquid. The sheets of steel used in this work are welded together to form shapes that merge and twist to invoke a connection between people and landscape. The viewer senses the figurative form but is also reminded of the similarity to the natural landscape surrounding them. The connection is one of reliance – one without the other evokes loneliness. But when people inhabit these spaces, they give it meaning."
Art Rapids was pleased to add two more of Petrakovitz’s sculptures to the Walk of Art in 2017. Of his work, Petrakovitz writes, "Growing up in Detroit I developed an interest in early industrial forms and have tried to humanize the technology in our lives by making sculptures suggestive of industry but softened with figurative gestures."
In 2013, several Northwestern Michigan college students formed MAD (Making A Difference) Cherries for Charity to raise funds for several area non-profits. Terry Berden, owner and founder of Great Lakes Stainless, commissioned this piece. It is now owned by Shoreline Fruit, Cherry Ke and Cherry Bay Orchards.
Sam Soet is a subtractive wood sculptor who currently works in central Michigan. Throughout his life he has studied all aspects of fine art and worked in many construction fields. Sam studied fine art at Ball State University and spent a summer learning the art of wood sculpture from master sculptor Leslie Scruggs. Sam’s work has been shown in California, Indiana, and Michigan.
With over 500 unique designs, the mission of Sporck Tileart is to make ceramic tiles like no one else -- to push the limits of ceramic tile art in our own unique style. Nature and life in the great outdoors inspires our work.
This piece was the last ever created by Wendel Heers before he died, and it was fabricated specifically for the Walk of Art. Heers was Professor emeritus and interim dean of the art school at the University of Michigan. Scott Lankton was the fabricator of this piece.
“This piece was begun with my dear friend Wendel Heers before he died. It is a continuation of many years of collaboration and symbolizes relationships.” The work is fabricated with forged steel with “pass through” holes that have natural stone finials attached.
My interest in carving started when my wife and I were in the Peace Corps in the Phillippines. We visited a mountain tribe in Bagio who carved and sold items in the tourist trade. My reaction was, I can do that, and so it started.
Cannaert writes that Dark Matter is “the negative of a previous sculpture, Bird. I have been playing with the contrast of dull rusty steel and bright and shiny stainless." It is constructed by cutting and welding the elements together.
Matilda was installed in the Walk of Art in 2018. "I love working in clay. I love being in the barn. I watch my animals, the way they interact, how I interact with them. What I observe consciously and unconsciously eventually embodies the clay one way or another."
Of his work, Petrakovitz writes that Blue Sculpture with Yellow Ring comprises “intersecting forms that incorporate negative and positive tentin and balance in conjunction with [its] surrounding environment." It is constructed by welding and hammering the elements together with a powder-coated finish.
Art Rapids was pleased to add two more of Ingraham’s sculptures to the Walk of Art in 2015. His sculpture, The Dancers, was one of the first pieces ever installed in the exhibit, and Lotus was added in 2014.
“My interest in carving started when my wife and I were in the Peace Corps in the Phillippines. We visited a mountain tribe in Bagio who carved and sold items in the tourist trade. My reaction was, I can do that, and so it started. Upon return I started creating items which were incorporated into our living space.