A popular Jackson County trail is decorated with art thanks to a local doctor

JACKSON COUNTY, MI – Kevin Lavery has always wanted to give back to his community and adding life to a popular Jackson County is one way he’s doing it.

Lavery is a semi-retired Jackson ophthalmologist affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Blake Woods Medical Park. Throughout his life, his family has always had an appreciation for art, and Lavery said he even had a hidden desire to someday be an artist.

But, while he said he doesn’t really have the abilities to create art, he can support artists, which is why he came up with the idea to help decorate the Falling Waters Trail, 3720 Weatherwax Drive, with sculptures.

Related: New sculptures are dressing up this Jackson County trail

“We hope it brings people joy. I mean, that’s our goal,” Lavery said. “Especially all ages, we want kids to look at art. Some of these pieces are meant more for a younger age group that they can look at this and they’ll see something totally different.”

Eight new sculptures were installed along the trail Tuesday, Oct. 18, and will be there until fall next year.

This is the second year, this has happened, as Lavery approached Jackson County officials in 2021 with his idea to bring art to the county trail. All the sculptures are loaned from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative and sponsored and fully paid for through the Lavery Family Foundation of Jackson.

The Midwest Sculpture Initiative, formed in 2004 by Michigan sculptor Ken Thompson, runs the program in which can rent artwork for a year, with the option to later buy the pieces. The group’s mission is to provide outdoor sculpture exhibitions to demonstrate how visual art affects quality of life and economic development, according to the group’s website.

The eight sculptures on the Falling Waters Tail now range in size and shape and were selected to provide “something for everyone,” Lavery said. They include sculptures of dolphins, a woman with wings and hearts and a large arch made from metal oak leaves.

“This piece (the arch) was made for here, with Under the Oaks in Jackson County,” Lavery said.

People walking the trail also will see some additional sculptures. Of the eight sculptures rented and installed on the trail last year, two — “Ter Mors” by Gregory Mendez and “Triumph II” by Mike Sohikian — were purchased either by Lavery, or through an anonymous donation, Lavery said.

Additionally, one sculpture was donated by former Jackson County resident and artist Mark Muhich, who created a yellow-turning sculpture in honor of his mother Marjorie Truman Muhich.

Muhich described his mother as optimistic, bright and with a great sense of humor and someone who was adored by the community, which he said is why he donated this piece.

“My mom was really a pillar in the community here and a lot of people knew her and loved her because of her spirit, and this is sort of reminds me of her spirit,” Muhich said. “We could have sold it, but I thought maybe it would be really good if it were in the public domain.”

Many bikers and walkers on the trail have stopped to enjoy the new sculptures on their journey, including Stephanie Mygrants of Spring Arbor Township, who views the art during her regular walks on the trail.

“I think it’s kind of livened it up,” she said. “Sometimes this (part of the trail) kind of gets boring. So, it’s something different to look at.”

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