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“Aviary” sculpture dedicated at Fernwood

Published 5:19pm Sunday, September 30, 2012

“Aviary,” a sculpture by Sawyer artist Fritz Olsen, made a sweet landing Saturday at Fernwood Gardens and Nature Preserve, 13988 Range Line Rd. in Niles.

Donors John and Mary Ann Butkovich spoke at the dedication, which included a wine and cheese reception held in the Bauer Terrace gazebo overlooking Fernwood’s South Vista garden.

“It doesn’t feel like we gave it to anybody,” John Butkovich said. “It just feels like it’s in a new home that we can enjoy also, and we love it here.”

Butkovich and his wife, Mary Ann, had purchased the sculpture for their Union Pier home in the mid-1990s. After moving to South Bend, they decided to donate the work to Fernwood.

Olsen, whose studio is situated in an old barn, attended the event.

“I am pleased ‘Aviary’ found a permanent home in such a wonderful little place. When I created the Aviary series it was about nature and flight, watching birds and something to do with heavy stone and finding a way to make it move gently. I’m just tickled pink that it’s sitting here,” Olsen said.

Olsen and his wife, acclaimed vocalist Martha Carés, moved to Sawyer from Chicago 15 years ago.

“We found ourselves in Sawyer after a day when Martha and I were driving through the countryside and she suddenly yelled, ‘Stop the car, stop the car.’ Having spotted this old barn along a road we had thought led to the lake, she told me that this was to be our new studio,” Olsen said.

They restored a 1930s azalea nursery, installing sculpture gardens and a fine art gallery at 6914 W. Holloway Drive in Sawyer, where Olsen works on his public commissions which include site-specific pieces now in residence at Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago; Westin Resorts; Rancho Mirage in California; Lakeland

Hospital’s Marie Yeager Cancer Center, St. Joseph; Ferris State University in Big Rapids; Victoria Royal, LTD in New York City; Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge Illinois; and the Frankfort Illinois Public Library.

Locally, “Bouquet” a work created of now-extinct Georgian pink marble, was installed at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph in 1999 and a signature work “Sunflower” was added to the City Center in Dowagiac.

Recently, Olsen completed an exhibition of his “Round in Circles” works at his Sawyer studio and will participate in Harbor Country’s fall festivities this weekend. Olsen then plans to concentrate on several private commissions.

To contact Olsen at his studio call 269-436-3003 for an appointment.

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