January 19, 2013
Bishop Frederic Baraga passed away 145 years ago on January 18, 1868. He was born on June 29, 1797* in the castle of Mala vas in the Northwestern part of Slovenia, and for over half of the 71 years of his life Baraga covered a vast territory of over 80,000 square miles in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. The history page at the campaign for sainthood of Bishop Baraga explains that:
Father Baraga arrived in the New World on December 31, 1830. For the next 37 years he travelled the length and breath of the Great Lakes area to minister to the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. His first mission (Arbre Croche, 1833-1835) was established along the shore of Lake Michigan at present day Harbor Springs to Cross Village. Fr. Baraga labored two years at Grand River (1833-1835) presently known as Grand Rapids, before moving his mission to LaPointe (1835-1843) and L’ Anse (1843-1853) on Lake Superior. During the summer months, Father Baraga traveled on foot and by canoe. During the winter months, he traveled on snowshoes thus giving him the titles of “Apostle of the Lakelands” and “Snowshoe Priest.” He wrote long and frequent accounts of his missionary activities including a three-volume diary. He also wrote seven Slovenian prayerbooks and authored 20 Native American books which inlcudes his monumental Grammar and Dictionary of the Chippewa Language , still in use today. He was the first bishop to write a pastoral letter in both the English and Chippewa languages.
From 1840 to his death, he ministered to the immigrants who came to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to work in the iron and copper mines of the region. About the same time, he began the practice of rising at 3 a.m. in the summer and 4 a.m. in the winter to spend three hours in prayer, which he continued until the end of his life. His responsibilities grew even greater when he was named bishop of the newly created Vicariate of the Upper Michigan. He was consecrated bishop in Cincinnati on November 1, 1853. The lack of priests and money weighed heavily on his heart. Due to his hard work and dedication, Bishop Baraga was able to report to the Holy See a year before his death that his diocese rested on a firm foundation, with enough priests and churches for the fast-growing area. Sault Ste. Marie was his See City until 1866, at which time he moved to Marquette-a more centrally located and accessible city by both ship and train. In the Fall of 1866 while attending the Council of Baltimore, Bishop Baraga suffered a severe stroke. Afraid that his fellow bishops would not allow his return to the severe climate and remote regions of Lake Superior, he begged the priest who accompanied him (Rev. Honoratus Bourion) to take him back to Marquette. Understanding his bishop wanted to die among his flock, Rev. Bourion practically carried Baraga to the train for the long trip back to Marquette.
There’s a lot more about Baraga there including an excellent tour of Baraga’s life in the Upper Peninsula that I imagine would make a great vacation.
You can have a look at Bishop Baraga right here and read more in the entry for the Venerable Frederic Irenaeus Baraga in Wikipedia where I found the link for an online version of Father Baraga’s 1853 Ojibwe Dictionary. Here’s the direct link to the dictionary. You can read more about the Baraga shrine at Roadside America.
*Coincidentally enough, that’s my birthday too!
December 28, 2012
One of Michigan’s most renowned artists was Marshall Fredericks. He’s well known for the Spirit of Detroit sculpture, but this artist who spent much of his life in Michigan created many public works. Wikipedia’s entry for Marshall Fredericks has this to say about Leaping Gazelle:
This sculpture was the first commissioned work for which Marshall Fredericks was paid. In 1936, the sculpture won first prize in a national competition, and as a result, Fredericks became well known as a public sculptor. Since the gazelle is not native to Michigan, Fredericks made four animals that are, and placed them around the gazelle on Belle Isle. These animals are the otter, grouse, hawk and rabbit. Fredericks sculpted the gazelle in a characteristic movement called wheeling, which is when an animal quickly changes direction while being pursued by a predator.
The Leaping Gazelle is one of the most duplicated of Fredericks’s sculptures.
This particular sculpture is located near the entrance of the Detroit Zoo, one of many Fredericks sculptures on the Detroit Zoo grounds.
Also, I’ve been meaning to post a really cool exhibit that’s currently at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City titled Sketches to Sculptures, Rendered Reality: Sixty Years with Marshall M. Fredericks:
An exhibition of 31 small sculptures and 36 related drawings and sketches that showcases the creative process of Fredericks both as designer and sculptor. From simple pencil sketches to presentation drawings, the creative mind of Fredericks is on display as he transforms two-dimensional ideas on paper into three-dimensional sculptures. While many of the drawings in this exhibition resemble the final sculpture they would become, others only hint at elements of their outcome or point to a different outcome entirely. This exhibition is comprised of four genres that represent most of Fredericks’ work: architectural, commemorative, spiritual and whimsical. The exhibition was organized from the collections of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University.
It includes some very cool maquettes – small, scale models of the finished Fredericks sculptures that are really amazing!
More sculpture on Michigan in Pictures.
September 20, 2011
“Mr. Scott never did anything for Detroit in his lifetime and he never had a thought that was good for the city.”
~ J.L. Hudson
Sometimes when you peer into history, you see things you didn’t expect, and that’s definitely the case with today’s subject. The Cass Gilbert Society’s page on the James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle explains that the fountain was designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert (designer of the US Supreme Court Building in DC) and executed by sculptor Herbert Adams was completed in 1925.
The fountain was the result of a bequest from millionaire playboy James Scott, a figure of much controversy in Detroit at the turn of the century. Detroit’s fountain of mirth from the excellent Rearview Mirror series in the Detroit News tells the tale best of how he inherited his fortune and lived his life and the opposition from prominent citizens and clergy like Hudson and Bishop Williams that a loafer, gambler and vindictive practical joker be honored solely because he was able to plunk down a vast sum for his own memorial. While public opinion kept the project scuttled for years after Scott’s death, influential Alderman David Heineman and others took up the charge, likely seeing how a vastly expensive fountain could enhance Detroit’s island park.
Speaking to reporters gathered in the office of Mayor Philip Breitmeyer, Heineman said: “I can look around this office and see pictures of men who played poker with Jim Scott. I say the bequest should be accepted.” He also recalled that “Jim always liked Belle Isle and loved to see the children there.”
The mayor agreed with Heineman. “I don’t believe the city has a right to insult any of her citizens by refusing a gift for such a good cause,” he said.
In the end, their view prevailed. It took more than l5 years, but Breitmeyer lived to attend the fountain’s dedication in l925. Cass Gilbert, the New York architect who planned the Detroit Public Library, won a competition for design of the glistening white memorial at the lower end of the city’s pleasure island.
See Wikipedia for more on Belle Isle.
June 21, 2011
The Summer Solstice is the yearly moment when the sun’s apparent position in the sky reaches its northernmost point. You can think about it as throwing a ball up in the air – when the ball reaches its maximum height, that’s the solstice! It’s the longest day of the year and the first day of summer and it all happens today at 12:16 PM in Michigan! More about the solstice from National Geographic.
The sculpture above is the Annual Ring by artist Nancy Holt and it shows the moment of the solar noon on the solstice at the. The photo was posted by the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, and they say the annual event includes poets reading, and a drum circle to welcome in summer. It happens today at 1 PM if you’re in the area and you can see more photos of the sculpture in their solstice slideshow!
Speaking of Marshall Fredericks, click his name for some information from Michigan in Pictures about Michigan’s most famous sculptor!
April 23, 2011
The sculpture of the crucified Christ was titled “The Man on the Cross” by the renowned Michigan sculptor Marshall Fredericks. It is made of bronze 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick. It weighs seven tons, is twenty-eight feet tall from head to toe, and the outstretched arms span twenty-one feet. The figure of Christ is attached by thirteen bolts 30″ long and 2″ thick that were made when the figure was cast in Norway.
Fredericks wanted to portray Christ in a peaceful way. It was his dream to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross”. Christ is symbolized just at the moment when He commends Himself to His Father. The sculptor received special permission from the Vatican to omit the crown of thorns and the wound on Jesus’ side.
See more views of the sculpture in James’ Cross in the Woods slideshow.
April 18, 2011
The Detroit Institute of Arts has a collection of over 60,000 works of art across a wide range of media. One of the most visible is their cast of sculptor August Rodin’s iconic sculpture, The Thinker. More than twenty monumental size bronze casts of the sculpture are in museums around the world. Rodin made the first small plaster version around 1880, but the first large-scale bronze cast was not completed until 1902.
The DIA’s version sits outside the museum’s main entrance. It was cast in 1904 and donated to the museum by Horace H. Rackham in 1922. The bronze sculpture weighs about 2000 pounds and sits on a 12,000 pound granite base. You can see more views of The Thinker at the DIA.
April 2, 2011
February 8, 2011
Yesterday was a busy day for Michigan in Pictures as a lot of folks came by to learn more about the works of art featured in the Chrysler/Eminem “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl ad. The Joe Louis Memorial, a shiny clean Spirit of Detroit, the murals of Diego Riviera (which Slate found ironic) and the stunning Fox Theatre have all been touched on here, but there was another sculpture,
At first I thought it was a second work by Marshall Fredericks, sculptor of the Spirit of Detroit and many more iconic works scattered about Michigan. I couldn’t find it under his name, so I widened the net and found Victory, the very first photo that the informative pinehurst19475 ever uploaded to Flickr. The photo was taken in June 2000, and he or she wrote (with my links):
This sculpture is a the base of the tower of the Wayne County Building (formerly the Wayne County Courthouse}, built from 1897-1903 and restored in the late 1980s. This quadriga, entitled “Progress,” is one of two at the building (the other is “Victory”). The sculptor was John Massey Rhind. The Wayne County Building is considered a fine example of Beaux Arts Classicism. To see the quadriga (four-horse chariot) and figures of this sculpture in all their glory, go to the large size version of this photo.
Learn a whole lot about Detroit in Anthony Lockhart’s slideshow.
February 7, 2011
There were a lot of great snapshots from the Motor City in Chrysler’s 2 minute Super Bowl homage to Detroit (and itself) with Eminem, but to me, the most powerful image in this daring ad was the Joe Louis Memorial.
Click above to watch it the ad on Absolute Michigan.
November 27, 2009
I was in the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday and saw some whimsical sculptures and mobiles by Alexander Calder. It didn’t seem like the delicate structures could have come from the same hand. Turns out they did. The Alexander Calder entry on Wikipedia explains:
Alexander Calder (22 July 1898 – 11 November 1976), also known as Sandy Calder, was an American sculptor and artist most famous for inventing the mobile. In addition to mobile and stabile sculpture, Alexander Calder also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry and jewelry.
…In June 1969, Calder attended the dedication of his monumental stabile “La Grande Vitesse” located in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This sculpture is notable for being the first public work of art in the United States to be funded with federal monies; acquired with funds granted from the then new National Endowment for the Arts under its “Art for Public Places” program.
You can get up close with La Grande Vitesse at West Michigan Sculptures (includes a cool 360 degree walk around) and also check out the Calder slideshow from Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. You can also read this article about the dedication from the National Endowment of the Arts.