Exploring our vast country leads to neat experiences and unexpected surprises. One of our favorite things to do is just drive. Once we reach a destination area, Larry will start really exploring to see what he can find.
It was on one of those "drive-abouts" along M2 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, between Marquette and Munising that we passed an unassuming, but interesting sign for a Sculptured Art Park. We were back and forth in that area hitting all the important spots on our itinerary and had passed it several times. One afternoon with some time to kill, we decided to take a look.
What a Surprise!
There is a history to Lakenenland. Tom Lakenen was a construction worker who liked to play around with scrap metal from his job sites to see what he could create. He had no training as an artist or a sculptor, but his natural eye and skill turned out some pretty amazing pieces which he put in his front yard.
Until the local authorities started complaining.
So he put it in his back yard. But they still complained.
He bought some property along the highway and created this park. You can read more about the story, here, and it is really interesting. The feud with the authorities continued for years.
Upon entering the park the first thing we noticed were a number of signs.... One large one said FREE
But there were these signs as well.
The park was Free of Charge to all--except the local authorities who had harassed him for 8 years. They were charged a fee of $5,000.00 per day! One got the impression, there were some hard feelings!
In spite of the signs, Tom is in reality a very giving and generous person, who just enjoys creating art and sharing it with anyone who wants to see it, as you can read in the link I referenced above.
We parked and walked the path, but it was clear that visitors were welcome to walk, drive the half mile route, or ride their bikes. We walked.
The path took us through a variety of sculptures from funny to serious. The shadows made the lighting difficult for our cameras to photograph, but here are a few of our favorites. All the sculptures were made from scrap metal.
|Jumping through Fire|
|One Armed Bandit|
|Mirror Image--look closely. He is combing his hair.|
This is part of a re-creation of the Shot Point Iron Mine that was important to the area. Tom Lakenen came from a line of iron workers, and his art included the mine, office, iron workers, miners and the rail cars that carried the ore.
Lakenenland is open to those who like to create, as well those who like to view art. Along with the sculptures there is a shed where people can build their own projects. Just off the parking lot is a picnic area with a playground for the little ones, a performance center, with a small stage, sound system and lighting, and a fire pit. The message is clear. Lakenenland welcomes visitors.
A small but lovely performance stage
We can't express how impressed we were with this beautiful, and extensive place... all for free.
If you are ever on M2 near Marquette, Michigan, in the winter, stop in. There's a good chance Tom will be there handing out hot chocolate -- free, of course.