Explore art outdoors: Take a walk around downtown Sandusky & Vermilion to discover one-of-a-kind art

Public art is for everyone.

That is the philosophy behind the public art that has been making a surge across Erie County, and local groups have joined forces to bring more public art to the area.

Sandusky is home to the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, which is a part of the larger Midwest Sculpture Initiative. Made possible by the Lange Trust of the Sandusky Library, the sculptures are scattered around the Sandusky area.Originally set to leave the area in September, the trust was able to secure the sculptures until June. 

“This temporary sculpture exhibit was graciously welcomed by the City of Sandusky's Parks Department to add to their downtown parks,” says Sarah Prout, Lange Trust chairwoman.

“This public art exhibition has been most successful, so it was continued and even expanded this year by adding Jerzy Kedziora's balancing sculptures. These art pieces from Poland are truly incredible because they are so unique; they are suspended on wires from trees and defy gravity.”

"A Golfer" resides at Mills Creek Golf CourseThe 21 balancing sculptures – on loan from Kedziora’s foundation, the Art and Balance Foundation of Poland – along with the original eight pieces, bring a unique element to its outdoor venue, as they “are a blend of social consciousness, classical sculpture and kinetic energy, which are stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning,” says Stout.

Kedziora developed his own technique to cast the sculptures, which are made of refined epoxy resins with metal dust from a clay mold, explains Stout.

The balancing sculptures can be found in Sandusky's downtown Washington Park, in Shoreline and Lions Parks, at the Sandusky Greenhouse and at the City's Mills Creek Golf Course.

Public art is an important element in a community because of the impact the art can have on residents, according to Prout.

“By making these sculptures freely accessible, thanks to the partnership with the City of Sandusky, these public art pieces can enliven the space around them, start conversations, and provide a positive impact for our community,” Prout says.

The trust plans to bring more public art to the area after the pieces leave the area.

“The Lange Trust hopes to continue the MSI sculptures on the ground as a yearly exhibit with the exchange of the public art pieces in October,”  Prout says. “The Kedziora balancing sculptures will only be in Sandusky until next June. Both sets of sculptures can have pieces purchased that can be given to the city or that can be purchased for a private location.” "Duo" hangs above Shoreline Park

A list of the MSI sculptures, including locations, can be found here. A list of the balancing sculptures, including locations, can be found here.

East of Sandusky, Vermilion is featuring its first public art installation by Main Street Vermilion's public art program, The Postcard Project. The installation consists of 15 mural-sized paintings of vintage postcards, which are on display throughout town. 

“It involved gathering hundreds, maybe a thousand, postcards, some 100 years old, from mostly personal collections and researching the stories behind them and how they relate to the community,” says Marilou Suszko, executive director of Main Street Vermilion.

“We whittled it down to 15 and found 15 perfect locations throughout town and created a beautiful walking tour guide and included a lot of fun history, facts and some legend.”

Local artists Mike Sekletar and Brian Goodwin helped bring Main Street Vermilion’s vision to life, says Marilou Suszko, executive director of Main Street Vermilion.

“[Sekletar and Goodwin] recognized the value in the postcards people sent and how they helped tell the important story of Vermilion as a longtime vacation destination,” says Suszko. “The postcards themselves were art, all illustrated in a number of styles. We tossed around a number of ideas on how to portray the postcards and settled on what you see in town today.”

The group chose this as its first public art installation because “it resonated with people of all  ages,” says Suszko.

“Many of the postcards depicted places like Crystal Beach Amusement Park and Dance Hall, that created memories for a generation now very grown up,” she says.

“For younger people, the postcards tell the story of what used to be in places that no longer exist, like the old library, McGarvey's and the original lighthouse."

Public Art Vermilion, committee within Main Street Vermilion, chose a public art piece because of its many benefits to the community, Suszko notes. 

“In itself, public art creates community,” Suszko says. “It can take an ordinary space and turn it into something beautiful, interesting, amusing and create a destination or gathering place for people who live or visit here. 

“We know and have seen through the success of The Postcard Project that public art is a good investment and can have an economic impact. It draws people in not only to enjoy the art but to support local businesses while they are here.”

Suszko also says that public art can encourage a wide range of educational opportunities, “It challenges, entertains, creates questions, stirs the imagination and helps people enjoy their surroundings,” she says. “We believe it creates and enhances the small town character of Vermilion and helps create a sense of place, authenticity, and the characteristics that make us unique.”

The group plans to incorporate more public art into the Vermilion community in the future, Suszko says.

“We have developed an ongoing plan to add public art to our community because we recognize and appreciate its value,” she says. “Currently we are working on adding some form of art to the Main Street Park under development. But as with any project, it's being approached slowly and thoughtfully by both our Public Art Vermilion and the city. In the meantime, our goal is to call attention to the possibilities and potential of public art, from visual to performing arts, in Vermilion.”

Visitors can purchase a keepsake tour guide that includes a map to each location with a brief history about each mural at Main Street Vermilion, 685 Main St. Profits from the tour guide will benefit Public Art Vermilion and future projects. Souvenir postcards are also for sale, with proceeds benefiting future public art projects.