Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mt. Clemens' Art Center gets outdoor wing

Grant adds park for sculptures to inside renovations

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A $100,000 Cool Cities grant will allow the Art Center in Mt. Clemens to complete an expansion of its building and open an outdoor sculpture gallery.

The Bath City Art Park will be located on the grounds of the Art Center, at the southeast corner of Macomb Place and southbound Gratiot. The outdoor gallery will feature sculptures from local artists and should open in late September.

"This is validation of everything we've been talking about," said Michael Gielniak, Art Center executive director.

The grant was announced last Thursday as part of the latest disbursement of Cool Cities money. Twenty-two other Michigan cities received grants the same day.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm started the Cool Cities initiative in June 2003, with the goal of keeping young adults in Michigan by enhancing communities.

The Art Park exhibit will connect with a trail that guides visitors through downtown Mt. Clemens. They will see other sculptures as part of the city's Art in Public Places program.

The outside will not be the only vibrant part of the center, however. Renovations of the interior of the building -- a 100-year-old former Carnegie library -- have been going on since September 2005.

Plans for the center call for four levels, with galleries for pottery, community artists and historically themed works, as well as a kitchen for culinary arts.

The center will have air-conditioning and humidity control, meaning it won't have to close on hot days.

It also will have an elevator, making it accessible for people with disabilities.

Even though the Art Center has received $300,000 from the state to help with the renovation and expansion of the building, most of the financial backing for the center has come from private donations.

When renovations are done, the center will be known as the Anton Art Center -- in honor of Mt. Clemens businessman Gabe Anton and his donations.

"I think every community should have a cultural base," Anton said. "We've been very fortunate to have the Andrew Carnegie building."

During the renovations, the Art Center's offices have moved two blocks east on Macomb Place.

"Hopefully the grant will put a spotlight on downtown," Gielniak said.

Contact DEONTAY MORRIS at 586-469-4902 or dmorris@freepress.com.

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