David Barr and Beth Dwaihy-Barr Receives Legacy Award

IMG_3174(1)On June 15, supporters of Michigan Legacy Art Park traveled from across the state to Novi, Michigan to attend the 2013 Legacy Gala – an annual award event and signature fundraiser for Michigan Legacy Art Park. The Legacy Award is bestowed annually by Michigan Legacy Art Park during this special event to recognize those who have made a positive impact on Michigan’s arts, history or culture.

David Barr and Beth Dwaihy-Barr are the recipients of the 2013 Legacy Award for their extraordinary contributions to the arts and culture in their own community, the state of Michigan – and the world. David Barr is a sculptor who, for over fifty years, created a body of work that includes hundreds of wall-hanging structurist reliefs, sculptures for public spaces (such as Transcending in Hart Plaza, Detroit), works for private collections, massive global projects (such as The Four Corners Project) and Michigan Legacy Art Park. David’s studio was in Detroit for fifteen years until he realized he needed nature as a source of inspiration. In 1977 he bought 4 acres of land in rural Oakland County (now Novi) and in 1979 built his home, a contemporary structure that has become the centerpiece of his own art park. David’s career as an artist, instructor, author and global thinker has crossed borders around the world, bringing people and ideas together. The love of his life, Beth, has been David's companion, inspiration and artistic collaborator throughout his career. As a professional dancer and instructor of dance, Beth has touched the lives of many through her art.

IMG_2976(1)The City of Novi has also recognized the artistic contributions and the inspiring home environment David and Beth have created. Looking forward to the cultural and diverse future of Novi, their city council voted unanimously to purchase David and Beth’s property and home with the intent of it becoming the city’s cultural center in several years. In the meantime, David and Beth will continue to live in and enjoy their home.

In the 1980’s, Barr became intrigued with questions such as: How do we experience state histories? Is it enough to experiences them through books, museums, fairs, re-enactments, and educational presentations? Are there ways of bringing history into a more vibrant experience? As an artist, Barr noticed that what was missing from these conventional responses to convey history was a way to experience history in a natural environment and in an experience intensified by the arts. Barr did not know of any “park” for the arts that highlighted the natural beauty of the grounds representative of Michigan. It was within these constraints and concerns the seeds of Michigan Legacy Art Park took root.  

IMG_3140(1)Thanks to David’s vision, the Art Park opened in 1995 as a nonprofit organization. Today, over forty sculptures share the stories of the people, events and natural resources that continue to shape the legacy of Michigan. The Park is located on a 30-acre wooded preserve leased from Crystal Mountain for $1 per year. Looking to Learn, the extensive K-12 education program of the Art Park, serves hundreds of students from around the state each year. The sculptures are valuable starting points for studies in history, geography, science, and environmental studies.

In support of the growing sculpture collection, education programs and other mission-driven activities of Michigan Legacy Art Park, nearly $30,000 was raised at the 2013 Legacy Gala. Of this amount, just under $12,000 was the result of a special appeal for donations to purchase a new six-passenger, all-terrain golf cart for the Art Park – the first step toward implementing the Park’s new Master Plan which focuses on preserving the rustic and artistic character of the Park while making it easier for more people to access the Park’s cultural and educational programs.

IMG_2926(1)Special thanks to the City of Novi for hosting the Legacy Gala, the Novi Parks Foundation for hosting the sponsor reception, David Landry, former mayor of Novi, for giving the keynote speech on the power of public art, all of the volunteers who planned and implemented a beautiful and meaningful event and these generous sponsors:





Stockade Labyrinth

Roger and Joanna Garrett Fund


Five Needles

David Mix and Mary Ann Cheney



Anonymous Board Member

Bill James, Inc.

Laurence and Patricia Booth

Crystal Mountain

D&W Mechanical

Bob and Jane Holdeman

Bob and Ginny Istnick

Tom and Judy Lewis

Marilyn Wheaton and Paul Duffy

Maurice and Linda White



Tom and Julie Dawson

Kathy and Harry Eiferle

Fifth Third Bank

Dennis and Alyce Helfman

Marathon Flint Oil


Michigan Labor History Association

Veronica Sanitate and Bill Middleton

Joanne and Joe Murphy

Clay and Jennifer Pearson

Jack and JoAnn Pope

Steven and Jennifer Schneemann

Terry and Michael Tarnow

Ima Williams


In-kind Sponsors

Fifth Third Bank

Novi Parks Foundation 

Shaw PPC Design



To watch the tribute video that tells the story of David and Beth’s life work, visit www.YouTube.com/MILegacyArtPark and select the video titled Barr Legacy. Planning for the 2014 Legacy Gala including the selection process for the 2014 recipient of the Legacy Award is in progress.


Previous Legacy Award recipients:


In 2012, Bob and Jane Holdeman were honored with the Legacy Award for their lifelong commitment to advocating for the arts in the life of the individual and in their community. As an architect, Bob’s work is prized for achieving harmony with nature and a sense of place. Jane iscommitted to access to the arts and literature. In addition, Bob played a significant role in helping to found Michigan Legacy Art Park. http://youtu.be/GiJv4AOuNgo

In 2011, Gov. William and Helen Milliken were presented with the award. Gov. Milliken’s reputation stands as a protector of civil rights, the environment, and the arts, who got things done through legislative consensus and cooperation. Helen Milliken has been a powerful voice for public support of the arts. http://youtu.be/bciOeD_2b4o

In 2010, the Legacy Award was presented to George and Althea Petritz who were among those that helped establish Buck Hills ski area and later took sole ownership of Crystal Mountain.Over the last 60 years, the Petritz family has left a lasting imprint on the economy and culture of Benzie County, not only as business owners but as engaged members of the community.

In 2009, the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II were the first to receive the honor in conjunction with the installation of David Greenwood’s Fallen Comrade, a tribute to the P-51 Mustang fighter plane that the Tuskegee Airmen flew bravely into battle. http://youtu.be/t_PmWp8zdvw


About Michigan Legacy Art Park

Located on the grounds of Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, offers an unparalleled experience of art, nature and history. Forty-five major works of art line 1.6 miles of hiking trails that wind through a 30-acre preserve of wooded hills. The Art Park inspires artists to create sculptures that interpret Michigan's history. The Art Park is a unique cultural and recreation destination.

The education programs at Michigan Legacy Art Park are growing each year to better serve the needs of local students. Area teachers bring hundreds of students to explore the Art Park for curriculum-based field trips each year. Through the “Looking to Learn” materials for teachers, students receive memorable lessons about history, math, science, culture and the environment. In addition to field trips, Scouts of all ages can come to the Art Park to earn special patches by walking the trails, exploring the Michigan-inspired artwork, and completing a booklet of activities.

Crystal Mountain and Michigan Legacy Art Park received the Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration in March 2009. Michigan Legacy Art Park is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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