For thousands of years before European settlers came to the Great Lakes, Native and Indigenous people used rods, spears, and nets to hunt fish for their own food, and also to trade. These were the Anishinaabe tribes, such as the Odawa, Saulteaux, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe (Chippewa).
Lake Michigan was their main source for fish. As the settlers continued to settle here, the big lake went by many names. Finally “Michigan” was settled on, a word believed to come from “Michigami” — a Native Ojibwa word for “great water” and home to over 139 native species of fish.
Made of steel and glass accents, Rau’s art is both a tribute to the wonderful fishing heritage of the Great Lakes, but also to the men and women who are managing these magnificent resources and preserving them for the future.
Michigami Down Under was made possible by the Mo & Linda White who dedicate this work to Mo’s father, a commercial fisherman, and by these amazing collaborators:
Jack & Joann Pope · Diane Wilbur & Jim Szalay · Maree & Jim Mulvoy · Tom & Julie Dawson · Mary-Ann Cheney & David Mix · Kathy & Harry Eiferle
For me, as I started on the path toward retirement, there came an unusual and rewarding turn as I discovered the world of metal sculpture. At the age of 60, with encouragement and motivation from my wife, I found my ‘artsy’ side as she often tells people. Today, over 14 years later, I find myself busier than ever designing and creating metal and glass sculptures, while enjoying every moment in my studio.
I have created numerous carbon steel and stainless steel works incorporating added elements of glass for striking contrast and color. Designs may come from an inspirational moment I have, a whimsical thought from my wife, or a request from a client to fill an unusual place in their world with something different. Many of my works have become focal points in client gardens and homes from Crystal Mountain Resort in Northern Michigan, to the far West of Tucson, Arizona.
Prominent works can be found in Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfort, Betsie Valley District Library in Thompsonville, along with the children’s garden of the Traverse City Michigan Public Library.
In 2014 I was invited by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to display my sculpture entry into the Grand Rapids, Michigan ArtPrize Competition outside the entrance of the museum. The following year I was invited to display another sculpture project during ArtPrize 2015 at First Park Congregational Church.
Some of my projects have been displayed at the Elizabeth Oliver Art Center in Frankfort, Jordan Valley Arts Council, the Building 50 art show in Traverse City, and my work is also on display at Twisted Fish Gallery in Elk Rapids.”
— Donald Rau, Jr. 2020 | Thompsonville, MI
Michigan Legacy Art Park recognizes and honors the Anishinaabe people on whose ancestral lands the park resides, ceded in the Washington Treaty of 1836. The Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples’ histories and traditions must always be protected and celebrated. By taking a moment in recognition of their traditional lands each time we enter the park, we can all affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences — and express gratitude and appreciation to the Anishinaabe people for the gifts of their culture to the world.