Art in the Wild hosts fundraiser for Montgomery Drain project

Even though it might seem like art and science are polar opposites, sometimes they work in perfect harmony. That’s exactly the case with Art in the Wild.

The organization, part of the nonprofit Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council places art in places of environmental renewal, such the Montgomery Drain

Project in East Lansing, Lansing Township and Lansing’s east side.

“Art in the Wild is the birth child of myself and my spouse,” said Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann. He said the goal is use “museum-quality art” to attract people to the project.

The drain project is designed to reconstruct the existing infrastructure and cut down on thousands of pounds of pollution spilled into the Red Cedar River annually from the Montgomery Drain. The art project meets an educational requirement mandated by the federal government for the drain project.

Lindemann’s spouse is Dr. Melody Angel, who chairs the organization.

“We will be raising private funds, through grants and corporate sponsorships and things like that,” Angel said. “This will be zero taxpayer burden to have an art destination placed right here in the Frandor area with the purpose of bringing people here to interact with art, and then teaching them about what’s possible for clean water.”

The Montgomery Drain is being redesigned to prevent pollution of the Red Cedar River.On July 27, Art in the Wild will host an Art Show and Silent Auction at the Potter House. This event is one of several put on annually to raise funds. The auction will be a dual effort to both showcase local artistry and raise money for art and educational displays at the drain project.

“We have emerging artists from 13-year-olds to very recognized and mature artists like Laura and Doug DeLind,” Angel said. “Our featured artist this year is Craig Mitchell Smith.”

Smith is donating an 8-foot tall glasswork statue called “Lilac.”

“It’s something I really believe in,” said Smith. “Art belongs everywhere.”

He said the donation is a chance to bring some of his work back to Lansing.

“I am actually better known outside of my hometown than I am here. So, this is kind of a homecoming for me.”

In all, 34 Michigan artists and two artists from out of state will showcase and donate their work to be displayed in Art in the Wild’s future project.
 “We’ve encouraged artists to put one piece in the art auction, and then have two to four other pieces that they have in the art sale,” Angel said. “In the art auction, we have things in the reserve that start anywhere from $25 to $2,000. And we have things in the sale that go up to over $10,000. So, we have a spread for everybody’s pocketbook, with just some really stunning pieces that any art collector would be glad to have in their art collection.”

Lindemann is confident that drawing people to the site with art is the ideal way to educate them about their environmental impact.

Lindemann posed the question, “Why not bring people down there who would never think about the ecology, but would come because they like art?” Lindemann said the drain’s contaminants come from two types of pollution.

“Point source pollution is that pollution which enters a water stream or a water body and you know where it comes from. It has a point of origin. Non-point source pollution is the pollution that has no source of origin,” Lindemann said. “It could be dog manure or fertilizer on a lawn, or oil from a car, but you don’t know where it is anywhere in the watershed, or where it came from. It’s very difficult to define.”

This problem is not new. Lindemann first heard about it 1995.

Twenty-two years later, Lindemann is slated to break ground in October, and his ambitions are high.

“I’m going to reduce the amount of pollution by 96 percent. Imagine that — it’s unheard of. We’re going to do it because it’s cheaper to filter the water through natural environments than it is to filter it otherwise,” Lindemann said.

In order to create those natural filters, like phosphorous and heavy metal absorbing ponds and wetlands, Lindemann will meet with environmental specialists to devise the most ideal system. The project is estimated to cost $25 million to $30 million, paid for by a special drain tax charged to the watershed’s inhabitants. Construction is also planned out. It is estimated to take about two years.

Once construction on the Montgomery Drain Project is finished, Art in the Wild will set to installing art along the watershed. In the process, it will transform Ranney and Red Cedar parks into public, outdoor art galleries.

“Also, Marshall Music Co. has partnered with us. They have committed to managing a live music venue throughout this art installation every weekend, so there’s going to be little groups of music,” Angel said. “There’s going to be pop-outs on the sidewalk where there’ll be electrification and speakers, just far enough so you can’t hear the next music group.”

Medawar Jewelers partnered with Art in the Wild, also donating a $200,000, 24-foot clock to put on the north end of Ranney Park. Plans are in place to move art from Adado Riverfront Park.

Since April of 2015, the group has raised $2.3 million to the cause, still short of its $10 million goal.

Art Show and Silent Auction

Thursday, July 27 Tickets starting at $30, 6-9 p.m. The Potter House, 1348 Cambridge Road, Lansing

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