Daily News Staff Writer

Some saw it as an intriguing piece of art. Others saw it as a look into the past. Still others saw it as an important aspect of revitalizing downtown Ludington.

The sixth of up to 10 planned sculptures in Waterfront Park was dedicated Saturday evening by Joan Schoenherr, the chair of the sculpture selections group and the donor of the sculpture along with her husband, Lee.

“I think it’s marvelous, dramatic, and an exciting addition to Ludington,” said Sheridan Warrick, a summer Ludington resident from California who was on hand with his wife, Betsy, and friend Fran Schauer, of Ludington, to watch the dedication.

The sculpture, “Reflections,” an abstract piece by Russian-born Irina Koukhanova, is a rendering of three sails designed to be “a symbol of Ludington’s past” in the lumbering industry and recreational boating.

Joan Schoenherr said choosing the sculpture was a work in progress. Koukhanova showed her a model with five sails, which was “too busy and had too many lines,” as was a model with four sails. A two-sail version looked too sparse, Joan said, so she and Koukhanova decided on a happy medium with three sails.

“When Joan has a vision, things happen,” said Koukhanova.

Koukhanova said her goal with “Reflections” was to capture “the feeling and spirit of the theme, rather than the actual depiction” while still “keeping elements of it so people can relate to it.”

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“It gives every person the beginning of what to think about,” Koukhanova said. “It goes for the essence of the thing rather than the surface.”

“Reflections” sits atop a rounded, Italian tile base that appears to be a nexus of the wooden planks and lines at the semi-circular concrete sitting area in Waterfront Park.

“Almost like a flower, it opens up from a very narrow base,” Koukhanova said. “Integration to the site is crucial. I didn’t want to impose on the landscape. I wanted to thicken it, not kill it.”

The metal sculpture is different from the others at the park, Joan said, which posed some questions for the committee.

“It’s not realistic like the others in the park. It’s not bronze like the others in the park,” Joan said.

But after some debate, the sculpture committee approved the sculpture in December.

“I’m a traditionalist by nature,” said sculpture committee chair Don Clingan, who admitted he was skeptical when he found out the sculpture was abstract. “Irina has done a wonderful job. (”Reflections”) is aesthetically appealing, and it fits the location extremely well. It tells the story of our waterfront.”

With the committee’s approval secured, then came the “final hurdle,” Joan said — getting Lee to pay for it.

“I’ve been proud of Lee’s generosity,” Joan said. “He’s helped many children … and many people. But art — I don’t think so.

“I was bowled over this spring when he said, ‘I’ll donate it.’”

Next summer, the sculpture committee plans to install a sculpture honoring the carferries of Ludington, a project which will paid for by a grassroots campaign. Clingan said the group must raise more than $150,000 for the sculpture, of which about 60 percent already has been donated.

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