BY INGRID SJOSTRAND
HOW DOES A CITY FIND A WAY TO STAND OUT from its neighbors? And how can it highlight its residents and bring them together? The City of Hazel Park is using art as one way to set itself apart.
The Hazel Park Arts Council was founded in 2010 when City Council Members Andy LeCureaux and Jeff Keaton discovered they shared a love of art and wanted to display the work of local artists. Amy Aubry, treasurer of the Arts Council and Chair of the Art Fair Planning Committee, explains the goals of the organization:
“To bring art, in all its forms to our community. This means everything from public art installations with sculptures and murals to finding ways to feature our performing arts such as dancers and musicians, as well as hosting events that feature our local artists and engaging our residents in making their own art,” she says.
In the group’s eight years, they have built an art garden and created three annual events to pro-mote the creativity and craftsmanship of residents. The most permanent of those is the Art Garden, dedicated to former Mayor Jan Parisi and located next to Dairy Park at 21809 John R Rd. It features a sculpture by local business owner Richard Gage, and has a chess table, benches and a “Little Free Library” where residents can take and leave books. The group is working to bring more sculptures and murals to the city.
“This not only beautifies our town but provides work for our local artists,” Aubry says.
Another way the Arts Council brings local art to the forefront is through their events, the largest of which is the Hazel Park Art Fair. Now in its seventh year, the fair is held August 25th and 26th at Green Acres Park.
“Currently we are focused on having between 50 and 70 amazing artists who bring a variety of work to the fair,” Aubry says. “In addition to live music, we have artists that will produce art on-site while you watch, a magician is known to make an appearance or two, and even aerialists. The fair is free, so come join us to see it all!”
Other events produced by the Arts Council include Art in the Park – a free children’s crafting event held during the Growers and Makers farmers market on Sundays through summer and fall – and the Artober Art Crawl where temporary art pieces are installed around Hazel Park throughout the month of October.
Art Council currently has 10 members and Aubry encourages anyone to join, noting you don’t have to be a resident to become a member. Just fill out an application at hazelpark.org.
Aubry and other Art Council members, including its Vice President and City Council Member Alissa Sullivan, praise the city and its residents for their creativity and involvement, and realize they wouldn’t be here without the support.
“The community is so very helpful and supportive – they have embraced our art ‘offerings’ and really seem excited to participate,” Sullivan says. “It’s nice to bring things to our community that other communities have – art fairs, bazaars, murals, free kids art. I’m proud to be a part of that!”