Southfield Welcomes a Whale of a Sculpture, Moby Dick Installed in Fountain
(City of Southfield, Feb. 25, 2019)
Southfield, MI- A refurbished Moby Dick sculpture was installed on Thursday, February 21 in the fountain of the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.
Moby Dick, created by American sculptor Joseph Anthony McDonnell, was commissioned by the J.L. Hudson Company for Northland Mall in 1966. This 1,100-pound bronze sculpture and fountain graced a courtyard in the center of the mall until 2015 when the mall closed. The city of Southfield took possession of the 18-piece Northland art collection, including Moby Dick, in 2015. The collection was purchased for $500,000 through a city-arranged, low interest loan. The Mayor’s Office and the Southfield Public Arts Commission raised approximately $700,000 to repay the loan and has continued to raise additional funds to restore and place the art throughout Southfield.
Most recently, a new initiative has been launched to restore the fountain that is located on the front lawn of the Southfield Public Library which has not been operable for the past several years. In addition to fundraising for the restoration of the Northland art, funds are also being raised to reconfigure and repair the fountain. Moby Dick will grace the fountain in a smaller, more manageable configuration with completion anticipated this spring. Once finished, the restored and reconfigured library fountain will feature new lighting and landscaping with the sculpture as a centerpiece that sprays water. The goal of this campaign is to raise $178,000.
About the Northland Public Art Acquisition
The city of Southfield purchased the public art that was located at Northland Center for $500,000 in April 2015 as a loan from the City that has been recouped by the ‘Free the Bear’ fundraising campaign. Of this amount, $300,000 was provided by the Southfield Public Library and the Friends of the Library. The acquisition included the iconic The Boy and Bear sculpture by the late Marshall Fredericks that had been on display at Northland since the mall’s opening in 1954. Fredericks was one of six artists commissioned by J.L. Hudson to design the sculpture for Northland Center in Southfield, Michigan. At the time it opened in 1954, Northland was the country’s largest shopping center as well as the first regional shopping center. The Boy and Bear was installed in the vestibule of the Southfield Public Library in May of 2016 followed by the installation of the famed Walter Kraft Peacock in the front circle of the library in September of 2018. All of the other art acquired from Northland has been safely removed with plans to install the remaining pieces throughout the city.
About the Southfield Public Arts Commission
The Southfield Arts Commission was established in 2015 to advise the City Council on matters affecting public art in the city. The goal of this commission is to create a stimulating environment that reflects and enhances the City’s heritage, diversity, and character through public artworks integrated in the architecture, infrastructure, and landscape.
For more information or to make a donation, call the Mayor’s Office at (248) 796-5100.