The community art project that began on the city square just over a year ago made its way to South Park this week.
“This has been a great collaboration between the foundry, Community Arts Board and the Parks Department,” said Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson.
“Tell Your Story in the Tiles” was the name of last year’s community art project at Arts on the Square.
Sponsored by the Waupaca Community Arts Board, the annual festival features a community art project.
Last year, community members created metal tiles by etching designs in sand cast forms.
Several artists then worked with employees from Waupaca Foundry and the city’s Park and Recreation Department to fill the forms with molten iron.
The idea was to create a sculpture to permanently display in South Park, the city’s oldest park.
The installation follows the completion of the first of an overall four-phase improvement project in the park.
The community art project is set to be dedicated at noon Saturday, Sept. 20, during Fall-O-Rama.
Arts board members, local representatives and foundry officials are expected to be in attendance for the celebration.
“We’d like people who made a tile to be there. It’s a chance for people to see their tile on this,” said Marci Reynolds, the arts board’s president. “We’re just hoping to get a lot of people to come down and have that first look.”
A total of 216 tiles were completed and all were incorporated, whether in the structure or in the cement around it, she said.
The stainless steel structure weighs more than a ton.
The process of moving the structure from Waupaca Foundry’s Plant 2/3, on the city’s east side, started around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9.
The piece made its way down city streets and to the park, where they placed it on top of a circular concrete pad in the park.
It overlooks Shadow Lake and was installed where the old restrooms were located.
“Mike Hemmila has come up with a fantastic design,” Jenson said.
Hemmila, the foundry’s assistant maintenance manager, said the Foundry’s vendors began working on the project last February.
Absolute Supply did the water jetting of the letters and donated some of the materials, he said.
Great Lakes Mechanical rolled the rings and also fabricated the cap for the top of the structure, Hemmila said.
Alliance Industries did the powder coating of all the tiles.
The assembling of the structure began at the foundry in June and took place in the Research and Development Fab Shop.
Andy Grenlie built the rings and also the jig to assemble each one of the ring sections. Dan Hiesler cleaned all the tiles by running them through the mesh belt cleaning machine prior to the powder coating.
Also involved in building the structure at the foundry were Leroy Kaminske, Mark Finch, Jason Mallo, Dan Johnson and Jim Grenlie.
Those involved in the project signed their names inside the piece.
“It wouldn’t be possible unless we had a lot of people involved. I thank everybody who helped out. It’s definitely a group effort,” Hemmila said.
Jenson said the amount of time Hemmila and “his employees at the foundry have spent on this piece has been incredible.”
During the past year, different plans were devised in order to decide how to best display the tiles, Jenson said.
“The Arts board and Mike have been great leaders throughout this collaboration, and they have come up with a great piece that will only improve South Park,” he said. “With the structure having 216 tiles designed by different individuals, families, businesses and organizations throughout the community, it will truly be a community art piece.”
Reynolds said the arts board, Waupaca Foundry and its vendors, Parks and Recreation Department and community members all became part of the vision.
She was one of several people who visited the foundry on Thursday, Sept. 4, to watch as foundry employees worked on it.
“The difference between seeing it on paper and seeing it in real life … it’s so much more artistic looking in real life. You knew that it was going to look like that,” Reynolds said to Hemmila.
She said, “We didn’t have a vision. He really had a vision for it. He knew all the processes and details. It all came together.”
Reynolds also commented on the placement of the tiles.
“The dispersion is perfect. I can tell there’s thought into how they placed them,” she said.
For example, a tile with the foundry’s logo etched into it is right next to one representing Waupaca’s Park and Recreation Department.
She described the spot in the park where the community art structure now rests as being a prime one and said that is what the city brought to the table.
“We had this little idea,” Reynolds said. “It took on this life of its own.”