Gigantic tin man to arrive in Hart

April 21, 2023

This tin man sculpture by artist Bill Secunda is similar to the one he is building that will be located in Hart.

Gigantic tin man to arrive in Hart

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — An approximately 20-foot-tall tin man holding a heart will soon arrive in Hart where it will serve as a permanent landmark.

A tin man sculpture that was on exhibit in front of the Amway Grand Plaza during Artprize of 2021 sparked city officials’ interest. 

“Mayor (Vicki) Platt said wouldn’t it be neat to have something like that in Hart,” recalled Hart City Manager Rob Splane. The idea is to draw more people downtown with the unique attraction. 

Like Dorothy and her friends in the iconic 1939 Wizard of Oz movie, tourists will follow the Yellow Brick Road (US 31) to the Emerald City, which is the “hidden gem” of Hart. But instead of paying homage to the great and powerful Oz, they will take photos of the beloved tin man.

“A tin man is always searching for his ‘Hart,’” said Splane. The symbol’s significance to Hart’s agricultural community is intriguing. 

“The tin man started as a political character in cartoons back at the turn of the century during the late 1800s/early 1900s. The tin man was meant to represent the Industrial Revolution. The scarecrow represented the farmers, and the tin man represented industry. So, the tin man is the industrialization of

The artist has completed Hart tin man’s head.

farming.

“He belongs in Hart, because he is representative of the economization of things we do in Oceana County. It’s not just a ‘Wizard of Oz’ character — it’s deeper than that.”

The tin man is part of the Hart Project aimed at getting more art installations downtown. The endeavor, “25 by 2025,” is an effort to get 25 art installations to the downtown area to revitalize the area; bring tourists off the freeway; and to use the arts to connect locals and tourists.

The art initiative is not just limited to visual arts but also music, theater and other art forms. A group is working on beautification efforts with flower plantings and hanging baskets. “This has all been organically growing,” said the city manager.

“West Michigan is already established as kind of an art belt.” Hart is hoping to piggyback on some of the many art events that occur in the area. “That is a slam dunk for further bolstering the ‘Pure Michigan’ tourism.” Colorful murals on downtown buildings were created during Hartprize last fall, which will be an annual event. An art walk featured artists at various downtown businesses. 

“Everything we do in the city includes public input, public comments and feedback.” Votes were taken to decide in which position the tin man should appear — standing, sitting or kneeling — and where he should be installed. It was decided that he will kneel and be placed in the parking lot near Hart Commons overlooking Hart Lake. The sculpture will face south with the lake behind it.

Hart’s tin man is being built by an award-winning artist.

A flatbed truck will haul the tin man from Pennsylvania where he is being constructed by Bill Secunda, a five-time Artprize artist/sculptor. 

The plan is to unveil the tin man during the 50th Annual National

Asparagus Festival Saturday, June 10. It will likely take place during an

after-hours party following the parade. The popular Scottville Clown Band returns to perform in this year’s parade and will ignite the entertainment. Two more bands will play after the clown band, followed by fireworks over the lake. 

In addition to the tin man, five or six incubator business sheds will be placed next to the tin man in the Hart Commons parking lot. “You can rent a little shed to start up a business. The rent is affordable, and people can launch a business out of those.” The sheds will be available early this summer. For the first year, the rent will be $500 for the summer. The city stipulates that the start-up sheds will be open during certain hours, such as Thursday evenings during Music on the Commons concerts and weekends. 

“The old Walker’s restaurant site will become 100 percent parking to offset the loss of nine spaces in the Hart Commons lot for a net gain of 22 spaces downtown.”

The total cost of the tin man project is $50,000, said the city manager. “Outside of the $10,000 grant, all other funding came from private donations.”

Hart’s tin man is nearing completion.

The tin man’s arrival date to his Hart home has not been scheduled yet, but it is drawing near. The enormous steel structure is here to stay, because “there is no place like home.”

This article was updated Monday, April 24, at 5:30 p.m. to include more information regarding the project cost and to correct the incubator sheds’ future location.

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