The Wassenberg Art Center held a ribbon cutting for their Art Park on Friday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
The Wassenberg Art Center held a ribbon cutting for their Art Park on Friday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – The Wassenberg Art Center held a ribbon cutting at the Art Park on Friday, celebrating the work that has been done to beautify the community area so far.

Currently, the Art Park features a pavilion that can be used to host bands, show movies, hold weddings, or for any event. Sculptures including the Ferro Alberro sculpture, a shade sculpture that features color changing lights and will have a plant climbing up it, and Bandit the Thieving Raccoon, who was created by Dave Tonegatto of Michigan, are already in place. The park also features a grain bin that works as a concession stand, a path infused with glow pebbles, a green space, and more.

Wassenberg Art Center Director Hope Wallace said that the Art Park is a great way to get the community out and together.

“We wanted to create engagement and interaction,” said Wallace. “People hang out here; it’s a nice place to be. It’s calming. I see people walking dogs, there are kids in buggies, and kids on scooters.”

“This building was a hub originally and was the heart of the community,” added Wallace. “To be able to celebrate a community’s culture, their identity in a place that has historically been a hub of the community, it [has] benefits times five; it’s huge.”

Wallace expressed the importance of identity and culture and stated that people’s morale is directly tied to their identity and culture. Creating a place in Van Wert that can support culture and identity helps instill inspiration and hope, she said.

In the future, artists from Detroit will be painting a mural on the Quonset building. An interactive sculpture that will highlight the firefly, whose populations are declining, will also be added. There are also plans to paint the ground and for new sculptures to be added when possible.

Wallace encouraged everyone to stop by the Wassenberg and noted that the art exhibits are open and free to the public and that all people are welcome.

“Artists work for a living; they could use the support,” said Wallace. “It doesn’t require a membership to come in. It’s free and open to the public; we’d really like to obliterate the stigma that art is only for rich people. Everybody is welcome.”

On Friday, Wallace thanked the many businesses, organizations, and people who came together to make the park happen.