Novi artist David Barr was cheered by city officials, members of the Novi Historical Commission and many Novi residents at the unveiling and dedication of the much-anticipated "Coasting the Baseline" sculpture he created for the city on Tuesday evening.
The marker, a striking black-and-white granite obelisk measuring ten feet tall, honors the importance of surveying in Michigan's history and features elements of the four systems of land use that collide in our history: the aristocratic, the colonial, the Jeffersonian and the Native American. The four sides of the obelisk tell the story of these four systems in symbols, words and pictures. The marker also includes elements depicting the city's agricultural heritage.
Barr addressed the audience with passion and conviction, saying, "I'm hoping that this is much like an Egyptian obelisk in that there are some mysteries here that you have to think about, that you have to research, that you have to be educated about and that you have to really look into it … everything doesn't have to be explained to you. In fact, you will remember more when you do research than you will anything I may say to you today."
The result of more than eight years of planning by members of the Novi Historical Commission, the City, Barr and others, the marker is the third such monument installed in Michigan communities (the other two are in Northville and Farmington). It is one of many that are planned to span the baseline from Lake St. Clair to Lake Michigan, each one with unique elements honoring the communities in which they are placed.
The monument is located near the entrance of and is placed on a brick courtyard that was built by a local Boy Scout, Cameron Holdaway, his pack mates and their Dads over a period of two days. Holdaway was a Life Scout, and building the courtyard was his Eagle Scout project.
Holdaway was in attendance on Tuesday evening and said, "We laid all the brick for the project in a basket weave pattern to beautify the area and to give people a place to sit and enjoy the monument."
Mayor David Landry, City Council members Terry Margolis, Justin Fischer and Wayne Wrobel, members of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Serivces Department, and members of the library board attended the dedication, as did Roy Prentice, Chairman of the Novi Historical Commission and other Commission members.
Mayor Landry addressed the crowd, thanking David Barr for his contribution to the city.
"We are so fortunate to be able to unveil this project this evening. I like to say that the city of Novi doesn't have a Parks and Recreation Department. We have a Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. And there's a reason we call it that – because we believe that cultural services and art are important. As Mr. Barr has dedicated his life to showing, there is art in everything."