Featuring a vintage chopper, new Ford Road sculptures in place
A vintage three-wheeled chopper that looks like it was plucked from the set of the 1960s film “Easy Rider” is displayed in all its eye-catching glory on the north side of Ford Road, just east of Sheldon.
And a grazing buffalo can be spotted on the lawn near the Ford Road Target parking lot — just a few paces away from a pair of “Squiggle” deer.
The 2023 collection of Canton Township’s Michigan Sculpture Initiative pieces of art are not only unique, they can be yours — for the right price.
The MSI program was developed in 2003 by Blissfield, Michigan artist Ken Thompson to, in part, provide outdoor sculpture exhibitions throughout the Midwest, promote cooperation among art and civic organizations, advance the role the visual arts play in the quality of life and increase economic development.
MSI founder created Canton’s ‘Community Arch’
Thompson is the creator of Canton’s much-talked-about “Community Arch” sculpture that is prominently displayed on the southeast corner of the intersection of Ford and Canton Center roads.
The Ford Road sculptures are delivered annually in early-May and remain on display until April 15 of the following year — unless an art lover wants to add one or more of the sculptures to his or her private collection.
Each sculpture is accompanied by a plaque at its base that includes the sculptor’s name, the sculpture’s title, the price of the piece and information on how to purchase the art.
There is also a QR code on each plaque that helps interested people learn more about the sculptures and their meaning.
Sculptures placed throughout Midwest
Canton is just one of several communities across southeast Michigan and beyond that participate in the MSI project.
Belleville, Detroit and Toledo are also annual participants.
The MSI works in conjunction with Canton’s Downtown Development Authority, whose staff is tasked with selecting up to 10 out of as many as 400 sculpture options to place along Ford Road each spring.
“There are times when people like a sculpture so much they’ll purchase it before the year is up, so Ken Thompson will give us a heads-up that we’ll have to replace the sold sculpture with one of our alternate selections,” DDA Director Amy Hamilton explained last year.
There are at least five MSI sculptures along Ford Road, between Sheldon and Lilley roads.
The priciest of the five is the “Valkyrie” peice located in front of Planet Fitness. It’s suggested retail price is $30,000.
The old-school chopper — titled “Free Wheelin” by sculptor Richard Morgan — can be yours for $7,500.
The pair of “Squiggle” Deer have a price tag of $10,000 and are the creation of Jonathan Bowling, while Ian Thompson’s “Buffalo” has a price tag of $1,500.
A second Ford Road work by Bowling — “St. George” — can be had for $5,000.
‘Chuck’ is special
While all of the art is appreciated, the giant chicken sculpture – nicknamed “Meet Chuck” – situated near Target is near and dear to the hearts of Canton difference-makers like Hamilton. “Chuck” was purchased by the township to pay homage to longtime township icon Melissa McLaughlin, who passed away in 2020.
A former township treasurer, trustee and DDA chair, McLaughlin had a unique fondness for the chicken sculpture, which symbolizes Canton’s rich farming past.
“There is a plaque on ‘Meet Chuck’ that is dedicated to Melissa, who really loved it because of its fun and whimsical tie to Canton’s farming history,” Hamilton said. “We put a QR code on it so people can scan it and learn more about the amazing role she played in making Canton what it is today.”
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