Sculpture artist

Sculptor Colette Pitcher is introduced by Ludington State Park Manager Jim Gallie Saturday, May 31, 2014, during the dedication of "Community Cooperative," seen in the background, at the park. It is the latest sculpture on the Mason County Sculpture Trail and the first in the state park.

HAMLIN TWP. — A small crowd gathered near the Sable River across from the office of Ludington State Park in the park Saturday evening where the latest feature of the Mason County Sculpture Trail was dedicated.

“Community Cooperative” celebrates the beauty of nature and the joy it brings, and it aptly describes both how the sculpture came to be placed in Ludington State Park, and how the Mason County Sculpture Trail is growing.

Jim Gallie, Ludington State Park manager, noted the sculptures along the trail represent what life in Mason County is about, and now with the addition of “Community Cooperative,” the county’s natural resources are represented, too.

“This sculpture represents what we love about the natural resources of Mason County and, more specifically, the resources of Ludington State Park," Gallie said. "Walking the park’s trail, it is not uncommon to see an old, dead snag of a tree that could be home to an owl or porcupine or other forest creature. And, as anyone who has ever stayed at Ludington State Park knows, we have our share of raccoons,” he quipped to smiles from the audience.

He thanked the Mason County Cultural Economic Development Task Force, headed by Dr. Bill Anderson, for approaching the park about the possibility of placing the sculpture, funded John H. Helstrom of Muskegon, in the memory of the Luxford, Plank, Fountain and Helstrom families.

Anderson recounted the history of the Sculpture Trail that started at Waterfront Park with a sculpture garden of public art that deemed completed in 2011. Part of the idea of the sculptures is to add an attraction for visitors and residents alike, he said, noting residents can enjoy the sculptures year-round.

He called it a coup for the Mason County Sculpture Trail to have a sculpture in Ludington State Park — the queen of Michigan State Parks. “For those who live here, this park is a treasure, “ he said, and he thanked Gallie for being so open to the idea and so good to work with.

The trail will continue to grow. “We will be gathering again and again and again,”Anderson said, as new sculptures are added.

Colette Pitcher of Greeley, Colorado, created the piece and described the process, noting in essence its sculpted three times.

The sculpture tells a story of respect, of getting along and reuse as the community of animals uses the old tree as their home.

Pitcher thanked the park and the Mason County Cultural Economic Task Force for recognizing public art is a great attraction and an economic driver.

“Thank you for having us in your wonderful park,” she said.

Timothy Schreiner, Michigan Department of Natural Resources district supervisor in the parks and recreation division, closed out the program, noting the name of the sculpture is a fitting one “for a piece of part in this place.”

He said it is “our responsibility to take care of our natural resources and enhance them,” adding that’s what the sculpture does to this already very popular park.

For more photos and the complete story, see Monday's Ludington Daily News