Local Art Love: Hazel Park’s New Art Park

essentialTOPtempLocal Art Love: Hazel Park’s chazzano game adNew Art Park

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 15, 2015)

In homage to the blossoming of Hazel Park, Richard Gage’s creation “Petal Parts” is the newest piece of the puzzle in the quickly-changing community.  The blue collar inner ring suburb has been forging ahead with an influx of artists, hipsters, hippies and a unique blend of people looking for a place to call home that is both community-minded and affordable.

The emergence of the arts is an important part of this mix, and the signs of it are popping up everywhere.  Mabel Grey is a popular specialty diner with mismatched dinnerware and an artistically eclectic atmosphere and menu.  A long-ignored lumber yard has been transformed into Cellarman’s brewery.  A dog park has been installed.  The school district has had a major POWELLad_01transition in leadership.  The keys to the city have been given to famous marijuana activist and actor Tommy Chong.  And swirling about these stories is an air of creativity that seems to be spreading and bringing out the artsy in every corner of the city.

The Hazel Park Arts Council is a big part of this new atmosphere.  On Monday city leaders and members of council gathered to unveil the community’s new Art Park, located on John R south of 9 Mile next to the iconic Dairy Park.  The park has a stone bench with a chess board on top, benches for sitting and watching the traffic buzz by, unique native landscaping and a brightly-painted Little Free Library where people take and leave books carefree.  And now in the midst of it is Petal Power.

“Hazel Park has finally hit it,” said artist Richard Gage, owner of Richard Gage Studios on 9 Mile and Treasurer of the Arts Council.  “We’re adding more art around town and planning an art walk, and trying to draw out artists to be involved.”  Gage credited the city and Arts 934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners3Council members with all the work that’s gone into the creative wave, but in particular has been impressed with Julie Fournier’s growing of the Hazel Park Art in the Park event to feature dozens of local artists at Green Acres Park for the past few years. “She has done a great job of making the event a celebration of art and not just a commercial, mass produced kind of event.”

Gage’s Petal Power is a tall thin metal blade, triangulating out at it reaches to the sky, with curvy rust-textured pistils topped with metal-layered stamen.  “I don’t like to explain art too much, because I want people to interpret it for themselves,” Gage said.  “But it is made of hand-forged elements, and I did the paint in a very natural way, letting the wet paint run together to give it a graphic element to it.”

Fellow artist Brian DuBois, who also serves on the Arts Council, was on hand for the unveiling as well.  DuBois purchased a building across the street from the Art Park, where he will soon Pledge_side_bluebe moving his businesses –  237am Studios for design work and The DuBois Collection for this furniture and decor work.  DuBois works mainly with wood and metal, but he is bringing in a graffiti artist to create a mural for the side of the building.

While he is excited about the growth of Hazel Park, his biggest fear is speculation.  “I hope people don’t buy property and sit on it,” he said.  “We need businesses going in and being active.”

Mayor Jan Parisi is delighted with the sculpture and the work of the Arts Council, and the influence that the creative environment is having on the youngest generation of Hazel Parkers.  “I have a lot of kids come up to me and say ‘I want to be an artist.’  That’s a good thing.”steele lindbloom ad

The Artober Art Walk will take place from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24th. Art will be displayed at a few open galleries, as well as operating and vacant storefronts. The open galleries include Richard Gage’s studio at 425 W 9 Mile and Rachael Stokes’ studio at 505 W 9 Mile. Artober pieces will also be on display at the Pheonix Café (24918 John R), a glass-fronted vacant business just north of W Coy (24715 John R), Tony’s Ace Hardware (24011 John R), and possibly at Brian DuBois’ studio (21842 John R) which is under construction. The Arts Council is currently seeking a few more vacant storefronts in which to display art, in order to highlight the fact that Hazel Park has studio space available for artists.

Read more stories about Hazel Park at http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/news-by-city/hazel-park-2/.

Read more stories about art at http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/blogs/music-and-art/.

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