The village is currently seeking artists to beautify the back sides of two buildings along the Lakeside Trail nonmotorized path.
To date, more than $36,000 has been donated to the project. By meeting the $30,000 grant match goal, the state’s Economic Development Corp. kicked in an additional $30,000.
“We are off and running with $66,000 for (artist) commissions, materials and maintenance of two village business buildings — our first two canvases,” said Angela Stanford-Butler, director of the village’s Downtown Development Authority.
The first two walls on the proverbial easel will be the Cruise & Travel Experts building, 301 W. Savidge St.; and Plantenga's Cleaners, 217 W. Savidge St.
“We've raised the money to ensure that we can pay for this, now comes the exciting part,” Stanford-Butler said. “We are situated right in the middle of a really robust, vibrant arts community, and yet, we don't have any public art to show for it. With this call for artists, we're looking forward to seeing the best that local artists have to offer.”
Sgt. Jason Kik, who is in charge of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office’s Spring Lake/Ferrysburg unit, has been trying to get the idea of public art up and running in the village for almost two years. The idea stemmed from a “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” report compiled by Deputy Corey Allard.
“We know that public art is a crime deterrent and has been used to prevent crime in other communities throughout the United States,” Kik said.
Studies show that public art adds not only to neighborhood beautification, but by drawing visitors it brings in more eyes watching the area. If the art has actual eyes in it, it can create the sense that the area is being watched.
Stanford-Butler said the Art in the Park committee, which includes local artists and village representatives, decided not to request a certain theme.
“Our preference is to encourage artists to visit the sites,” she said. “One faces the Whistle Stop Pocket Park (playground). While that may be a consideration that an artist wants to pursue, we certainly aren't requiring it. I think that any artist will want to consider his or her audience, which will be varied. The trail is multi-use and is visited by every age range.”
Stanford-Butler encourages artists to consider their painting style and the painting surface.
“This is about artistic expression and the vision that artists have for the area,” she said. “We're very excited to see what our local artists have in mind.”
Submissions will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. May 10, and will go through three rounds of review: a community engagement meeting for resident review, an Art in the Park committee review, and final decision by Village Council based on input from both groups. Chosen artists will be notified in late May.
The call for artists and online application can be found at visitspringlakemi.com.
Stanford-Butler expects the public art to be unveiled in early October.