Artist picked to improve park in Marquette

MARQUETTE (AP) — An architect and sculpture artist has been selected to create a seating area and entranceway for the Father Marquette Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Ryan Brayak of Escanaba was chosen from nine submissions to complete the $30,000 project in Marquette, The Mining Journal reported . The half-acre park features a 20-foot bronze statue of Father Marquette.

Brayak said he plans to find inspiration from the life of Jesuit missionary priest and explorer Pere Jacques Marquette, for whom the city and county are named.

“My background research has opened (my) eyes to the interesting and very challenging life which Father Marquette led,” Brayak said. “I plan to draw upon some of the physical artifacts of Father Marquette’s life like canoes, the Great Lakes, and rivers, along with the contours of the site to develop my designs.”

Brayak’s artist statement said he typically works with concrete, wood, stone, metals and reclaimed materials.

Marquette Arts and Culture Center Director Tiina Harris was part of the review panel that chose the artist. She said applications came from around the U.S., including Los Angeles and Chicago, but the panel was happy to have picked someone from Michigan.

The public art initiative is part of a larger effort to improve accessibility, lighting, security, irrigation and visitor experience at the park.

The project is being funded by the Iron Ore Heritage Trail Recreation Authority and a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.