Archived Story

Birdhouses instill flights of imagination

Published 8:00am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Buffalo’s Marina Grand Resort is the place to be on Jan. 11. That’s the night the Harbor Country Public Art Initiative (HCPAI for short — and pronounced hack-pie) will hold its 4th annual Birdhouse Auction.

The event features birdhouses decorated by local artists and other creative sorts and auctioned to support the placement of outdoors sculptures throughout the eight communities that make up Harbor Country — Sawyer, Three Oaks, Lakeside, Harbert, Union Pier, New Buffalo, Grand Beach and Michiana.

According to artist and HCPAI member Angela Reichert, the event draws roughly 250 people (its limit) who sip wine, munch hors d’oeuvres and bid on their favorites of the 50 one-of-a-kind houses.

“It’s quite an event,” Reichert said. “It’s a lot of fun. It gets pretty intense at the end as people are bidding on their favorites and trying not to lose them. We’ve had houses sell from $35 to $1,500. It depends on who’s there and how much they love them.”

The Bentwood Tavern, inside the Marina Grand, provides hors d’oeuvres for the auction. Chef Jenny Drilon creates everything from scratch, using quality ingredients, and, when possible, locally produced foods.

“We leave it up to Jenny to create what she’s in the mood to do, and she always does a fabulous job,” Reichert said. “She does a wonderful job. People come for wine and hors d’oeuvres, then stay for dinner.”

Artists range from the well-known to the not-so-well-known, and the birdhouses range from decorative to functional.

“We have new people every year,” said Reichert, who has created her share of houses. “We certainly have some favorites every year that are highly collectible.

“Fritz Olsen did a nice piece last year, and Floyd Gompf has been popular every year. Roger Harvey and Rick Ott have both done some interesting pieces.

“We have a couple of interior designers doing pieces this year, as well as artists that are painters or sculptors, or they may do assemblages of found objects. That’s

popular.

“Harry Borgman from Sawyer did a couple houses. One is painted in the style of the painting of his featured on ‘The Good Wife’ episode last year. They’re lovely.”
HCPAI uses the funds raised to renew leased sculptures and to purchase new permanent pieces. This year, the group is trying to raise money to place a Harry Borgman sculpture in Sawyer.

“We’re very excited about that,” Reichert said.

The Harbor Country Public Art Initiative’s 4th Annual Birdhouse Auction runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

“It’s really a nice event,” Reichert said. “People are starting to  schedule their vacations so they can
attend.

“We hold it in January because it’s post-holiday. People need something to do.

“A lot of people are starting to think about spring and getting their gardens ready, and a birdhouse would be nice for that. We’ve also had people buy the birdhouses and save them for gifts throughout the year for family and friends.”

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