Public art is gaining momentum and praise in the Village of Spring Lake — and now, village officials are seeking a sculpture to honor the memory of two local philanthropists.
Artists are invited to submit proposals for a public sculpture that will honor the lives and service of Gary and Victoria Verplank, who were village residents. Gary died in February; Victoria in 2014.
The Verplanks were generous to the community, with both time and money.
“We thought with our first sculpture it would be great to honor the memory of Victoria and Gary Verplank,” said Angela Stanford-Butler, the director of the village’s Downtown Development Authority. “They were such a huge part of the community. Their dedication to the community and everything they did, we feel needs to be recognized.”
The Verplanks’ children recently toured potential placement options with village staff members.
“We went up and down the (Lakeside) trail,” Stanford-Butler said. “There are a couple of tentative locations.”
If the chosen sculpture is small, it could be placed on the east side of the Whistlestop Playground, near Division Street, “because it’s a beautiful, shady, gathering area,” Stanford-Butler said.
If a larger sculpture is decided upon, it could reside on the south side of Lakeside Trail, north of the village’s Central Park.
“It’s wide open, with great lighting, and it’s accessible,” Stanford-Butler said. “It’s a starting point for anybody that parks at the park to start on the trail.”
Artists must also include the approximate cost of their sculpture. Ideally, the project would come in at $20,000 or less, Stanford-Butler said.
Artists Christi Dreese and Joel Schoon-Tanis recently painted colorful murals on the back of Plantenga’s Cleaners and the Cruise & Travel buildings along the Lakeside Trail. Those projects came in at under $20,000 each, according to Stanford-Butler, and were paid for with funds raised for the village’s Art in the Park projects. No taxpayer dollars were used.
“We don’t have a formula for cost per square foot,” Stanford-Butler said. “We’re looking for concepts to come in with a cost. Cost will be a consideration, but it’s not that we have a cutoff and you won’t be considered if you’re too high. If the concept really resonates with the Verplank family and we can’t afford it, we may have to fundraise more — or, ‘Can you downsize this?’”
If the project comes in under budget, Stanford-Butler said the money could be used for an additional mural.
Stanford-Butler said she’s in contact with officials from Hastings for advice.
“They have actually been on a three-dimensional sculpture kick for years,” she said. “They’ve established quite a collection.”
Applications are available online at visitspringlakemi.com, at the top right side of the page.
“The application is a PDF they can download and email back to me,” Stanford-Butler said. “Write ‘sculpture’ in the subject line.”
Stanford-Butler expects the sculpture will be in place by next spring.