- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) - Two local artists want to make sure that the generosity of donors to St. Joseph’s lighthouse restoration project shines outward.

“I wanted it to be a little bit more than a sign. I didn’t want it to be just a square with names on it,” artist Jerry Catania said before the recent unveiling of the glass and metal sculpture that will be installed near the North Pier. It will recognize donors to the Lighthouse Forever Fund, which is seeking to raise $2 million to restore the structures.

Bob Judd, chairman of the Lighthouse Forever Fund, told city commissioners that space on the sculpture will be reserved for the names of those who donate $500 or more.

Judd announced that the Upton Foundation has recently pledged $150,000, according to The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph ( http://bit.ly/1rkpath ).

Other major donors so far include Aubrey K. McClendon and his wife, Katie Byrns McClendon, who have pledged $100,000.

“We’re an eighth of the way there,” Judd said.

Catania, from Water Street Glassworks, and Josh Andres, a metal sculptor, were selected from four bidders, including companies in Grand Rapids and Farmington Hills, to create the sculpture that will be paid for by the Lighthouse Forever Fund.

Catania and Andres previously collaborated on the glass and metal art works that are installed at each hole of the Golf Course at Harbor Shores.

Catania grew up in St. Joseph and is emotionally attached to the lighthouses, as are many residents and visitors.

“The lighthouses have been my beacon all my life,” Catania said. “From when I was a little kid fishing off the piers, to now, walking out to watch the sunsets. They are part of my consciousness.”

The relief sculpture of glass, stainless steel and aluminum will represent the sky, the sun and the lake, as well as the lighthouses, Catania said. Glass embedded in the sculpture “will let it glow where the lenses (of the lighthouses) would be. And the names (of the donors) would be the sky.”

He anticipated that the donor wall would be about 5-feet wide and 6-feet tall, depending on how many names are included. Space can be included for future donors, he said.

Judd said the sculpture would be placed where people on the sidewalk or driving past would be able to see it.

City commissioners were pleased with the design, but wanted to make sure it would fit with the natural setting and not block the view of the beach and lake.

Commissioners asked that a city crew cut out a plywood mock-up of the sculpture before their June 9 meeting, so that they could see how it would be positioned.

“This is important. This is not going to move once it is put in there, God willing. Everybody wants it to be right,” Commissioner Jeff Richards said.

The city of St. Joseph took possession of the lighthouses on the North Pier last year, after they were declared surplus by the federal government in 2008. The lighthouses were built in 1907 and need extensive work to preserve them, particularly the red-and- white inner light.

Money for continued maintenance will come from the city’s general fund.

The wall will be installed after the $2 million is raised, possibly by spring 2015. Construction is projected to take place next year, and the North Pier, accessible from Tiscornia Beach, will be closed during that time.

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Information from: The Herald-Palladium, http://www.heraldpalladium.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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