‘Pocket park’ planned

CALUMET – The space on Fifth Street is bare, with the exception of snow cover. But hopefully, sometime next year, that will begin to change.

Gallerie Boheme owner Tom Rudd is leading an effort to create a pocket park in Calumet, which would be located on Fifth Street behind the Calumet Theater.

The project began with an earlier group that had done landscaping on the site.

“There was a lot to be done with it,” Rudd said. “They asked if I would pursue it, and I said ‘OK.’ It’s progressing, and I think it will take hold.”

Rudd developed a design for the park three years for the park. He’s hoping to ramp up activity on the park, and is developing a working group (“once you call something a committee, it seems to slow down,” he said). The park will be about 70 to 80 feet long, going back to a brace on the right wall, he said.

“That leaves room for the people in the theatre to unload the scenery,” he said.

Among the features of the park will be sculptures and benches, and possibly an exhibition site for performances. Rudd, a sculptor, said he plans to contribute at least one piece to the park.

He hopes to get more from other sculptors, who would donate their works to the park for a year or so. Ideally, Rudd said, the people of Calumet would eventually find some they liked enough to put in the park permanently.

One objective is to get a grant to fix the wall of the building on the left of the park to ensure the wall is stable.

About $30,000 to $50,000 is needed to complete the park, Rudd said. He said he would like to set up an endowment that would allow the park to rent sculptures.

Before coming to Calumet, Rudd worked for the Michigan Council for the Arts and the Michigan Commission on Art in Public Places, as well as holding a similar post in Oregon.

He and his wife decided to move to the Upper Peninsula six years ago after doing a residency at Isle Royale National Park.

“I said, ‘I think we can live up here,'” he said. “It’s nice, the people are nice. You can make art anywhere, you just have to peddle it.”

The Gallerie Boheme has been open for about a year. Rudd said he is making enough “to keep the lights on.” Some passersby don’t come in despite looking curious about the shop.

“I think I’ll make a shepherd’s crook and drag them in,” he said.

In the 1990s, Rudd set up a similar park to the one planned in Calumet in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, which is still standing. The centerpiece of which is a giant fish. The first week, an unknown vandal tagged the fish with spray paint. Volunteers swooped in to clean it; there hasn’t been any since.

Rudd said the park in Calumet could be a similar focal point for the community.

“If they’re developed properly, and they’re also accessible and friendly, people will enjoy them,” he said.