Baldwin trout sculpture

The brown trout sculpture arrived in Baldwin on the bed of a trailer and was erected Sunday north of downtown. 

BALDWIN — The Village of Baldwin has been a trout-fishing mecca since 1884.

Now, 134 years later, dozens of residents flocked to see what could be the largest trout sculpture in the world — a 25-foot metal marvel erected Sunday.

Sculptor Ivan Iler and his crew of six assistants arrived at the park across from the Lake County Historical Museum, north of downtown Baldwin, with the nearly ton of steel and aluminum art. It was hauled on a 30-foot trailer behind the company truck, from Saint Johns, Michigan.

A boom truck was brought along to lift the sculpture into place. Nearly 50 people braved the light rain and cool breeze to watch the installation. 

After nearly five hours of maneuvering, many bolts secured, and a few dozen rivets in the “wave” skirt around the pole holding the trout up, the sculpture was in place.

Iler is a Michigan-based artist who specializes in metal fabrication and has built several outdoor public art pieces. His “Portrait of a Dreamer” graces Museum Drive near the state capitol building in Lansing. In addition to his work in sculpting, carving, engraving, metal fabrication, (including blacksmith) painting, leather-smithing, drafting and mechanical design, he works as a motorcycle engineer and fabricator at his shop, Hammer in Hand Custom Cycles, in St. Johns.

His reasons for working in metal, making interactive, kinetic, and otherwise unusual pieces of art is simple.

“The idea that people will see and interact with my work long after I’m gone inspires me more than anything else,” Iler said. “The experience of making art is fine, but even more rewarding is seeing how people react to it. Seeing how many people turned out today, and how much it means to this community is humbling. I’ve been building public sculptures for a while, and I haven’t seen this kind of reception — not just to the piece, but to each other. It’s such a great community. This made it feel worth it, more than worth it, to see everybody coming out and wanting to be a part of this, and helping when we needed something, it was just … I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it makes us all feel.”

Next comes the landscaping that will resemble a freshwater stream. Once the project is done, the sculpture will represent the most exciting part of trout fishing — when a hooked fish leaps up out of the water in an attempt to be free.

Read the full story in Monday's Ludington Daily News print and e-Editions

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