Art and culture on the rise in St. Johns

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The St. Johns splash park sculpture.

The St. Johns splash park sculpture.

By Kenedi Robinson
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

ST. JOHNS — Art brings a lot to a community like St. Johns that typically doesn’t have much of it. With the help of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), the city can begin to add that art and culture to their community and share wit ith generations to come.

LEAP is a group of “leaders” who either help create businesses or help improve existing ones.

“The display of public art and growth of art and culture overall sends important signals to the global talent (including that at MSU) who are deciding whether to stay and/or come to our region to take jobs,” Robert Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP said in an email.

Every year they give away an art grant for $10,000 through their Public Art for Communities program that allows certain communities to put up different works of art in the community where ever they please, depending on who applies for it according to Trezise’s email.

St. Johns applied for this grant in 2015 and was chosen to receive the funds to do the project. As of October 2015, the statue is in place in front of the recent addition of St. John’s splash park according to Dave Kudwa, Community Development Director.

The project didn’t use more than approximately $9,999.57 according to the Pubic Art Proposal submitted by the artist himself.

The artist happens to be a St. Johns resident by the name of Ivan Iler. Iler owns his own shop in St. Johns called Hammer in Hand Custom Cycles.

The St. Johns splash park sculpture.

The St. Johns splash park sculpture.

Iler submitted a Public Art Proposal to do the piece and it was everything that LEAP might need to know and more. Included in the proposal was his resume, why he wanted to be the artist for the project and multiple sketches on what he saw for the project.

The piece is a metal splash of water appearing to be spouting up water in front of mint plants, which happens to be the city’s symbol, that appears to be growing out of the ground. It stands directly in front of a colorful spray park and fits its’ surrounding seamlessly.

“The idea that people will see and interact with my work long after I’m gone inspires me more than anything else,” says Iler in his proposal.

Some of the St. Johns residents like the idea of new art in St. Johns. Some think it’ll be educational and bring more people to their city.

“I think it’ll attract a lot of new people and improve the appearance once the spray park is done,” said Alyssa Rubie, a waitress at the Main Street Cafe.

A lot of residents also hadn’t known there was a statue yet and were interested in this being one of the many changes that the city seems to be making lately

“Most people don’t even know there’s an Art Council here, so the fact that the city gets a grant to put up public works, I think, is really beneficial, especially to people like us who’s mission is to bring art to the people of St. Johns,” said Ashley Jackson, Art Director at the Clinton County Arts Council.

Typically, cities are only allowed to apply for the grant every three years, however, according to Kudwa, St. Johns was able to apply for the grant two years in a row due to low applications the following year and they got it.

In addition the splash of water statue, there was a statue of a shark fin put in at the depot a few years back.

Kudwa also says that there are more projects on the way to improve the quality of art and culture in St. Johns.

There will be a mural added to one of the buildings in downtown St. Johns that will be made out of tile. The plan is to have kids from the local school each paint one tile to be put into the mural. This mural is one of many that will be put up around the city.

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