The Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway

Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway was created by the students of the Brethren High School Service Learning Class in 1999 to celebrate Kaleva's Centennial Year. This pleasant walk takes you by gardens and unique sculptures, including our most recognizable, the giant Grasshopper - the St. Urho Day Sculpture, which was made from recycled items.

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This walkway extends from Nine Mile Road, north to

Wuoski Street. Click to enlarge the map.

 

The grasshopper was designed and crafted by students under the direction of Andy Priest, welder and metal artist of Wellston. The students heard the legend of St. Urho chasing the grasshoppers out of Finland and saving the grape crop. They decided to build a giant grasshopper out of discarded metal parts which they named the "Farmers' Nightmare". This 500 pound, 18 ft. sculpture was dedicated on St. Urho's Day, March 16, 2000. The signage says this one got away and landed in Kaleva but will cause no damage to crops here.

Each year on March 16th, Finnish Americans celebrate St. Urho's Day. The holiday is based on a legend out of Minnesota which claims that this would-be saint chased the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop. Click here to learn more about the legend of St. Urho.

The Grasshopper

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The Robert Rengo Sculpture & Dedication

The Finlandia Foundation provided a grant to The Kaleva Historical Society to support the construction of a sculpture honoring Robert Rengo, long serving mayor and promoter of Kaleva. Andy Priest, metal artist, designed the sculpture in the shape of the airplane Robert flew over the hump in China during WWII. The sculpture was installed at the south end of the Kaleva Centennial Sculpture Walkway Park near 9 Mile Rd.

Mr. Rengo was one of the longest serving mayors in our nation! The Kaleva Historical Society and the Village of Kaleva wish to honor this great example of community service. Hopefully in the future, other sculptures can be constructed along the walkway honoring the traditions and people that have made Kaleva a great place to live!
The Rengo family and community attended the dedication ceremony as well as the after-celebration concert by Suttuma.

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Kaleva Historical Society held a concert celebration of the new sculpture at the Kaleva Roadside Park Pavilion where the Popular Finnish Folk Band, Sattuma entertained the crowd with enchanting songs and tunes from the Finnish and Karelian traditions. Sattuma is a family folk music group from Petrozavodsk, the republic of Karelia, NW Russia and has performed in festivals, clubs, concert halls, private parties and schools. The band performed instrumental music such as polkas, waltzes, shottish and songs. Songs are traditional from Karelia, Ingria, Finland, and performed in local dialects.
 
Sattuma also composes its own songs in folk style. Their arrangements use traditional elements but are also open to more modern rhythms. Sattuma performs with 20 different instruments including violins, clarinet, accordion, bouzuki, 10-string kantele, jouhikko (bowed lyre), traditional flutes, bag pipe, and didgeridoo.

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The Sculpture Tree

The Centennial Walkway’s newest addition is comprised of 130 silvery metal leaves that sparkle in the sunlight, standing tall and proud at thirteen feet high and eight feet wide. Created by Wellston welder and artist Andy Priest, who meticulously welded each of the leaves onto the sculpture: in order to commemorate Kaleva’s past business owners and community contributors. The piece has created a space for honorees to be recognized and honored with a name plate for their contributions to the community consisting of both business and service criteria.

The Dedication of the Sculpture Tree

To celebrate this occasion, Kaleva residents gathered on Friday, August 29th, 2014 to honor the first three inductees that were officially added to the sculpture tree. The dedication ceremony, which took place in front of the tree, recognized: Arthur Luhtanen, Norman Kaskinen and Weikko Pihl.  Representing each honoree was a Kaleva resident who spoke on behalf of their inductee: Rick Shaffer for Arthur Luhtanen; Dan Holtz for Norman Kaskinen; and Wayne Pihl in honor of his father Weikko Pihl.  A committee of council members and Kaleva Historical Society directors “planned and commissioned the sculpture tree” with a grant in part provided by the Northwest Michigan Council on Governments.  
“It’s just putting a new name on an old idea, and we’re keeping all of those traditional ideas alive here in Kaleva” said village trustee Jim Draze in reference to this occasion.

Written by: Megan Desarmeaux KHS PR

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To read the dedications of the six honorees, select a name below.

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Vainamoinen Ship

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Vainamoinen was a god, hero and central character in the Finnish Mythology - the Kalevala. Vainamoinen had a powerful, magical singing voice. When he was defeated, his powerful singing created a metal ship to carry him away. Robert Ramirez, a local Kaleva artist, has created an artistic version of Vainamoinen's ship composed of 2,660 wire coat hangers. 

 

The Finnish Quilt

Kaleva celebrated the 100 year anniversary of Finland’s freedom from Russia’s rule with special tributes to the village’s Finnish heritage.  Kaleva’s first settlers were Finnish individuals and families either escaping the oppression and poverty brought on by Russia’s reign or avoiding conscription into the Russian army.

One local artist, Melvin Fennell created a piece now featured on Kaleva’s Centennial Sculpture Walkway.  The work consists of three 4 by 4 panels painted with Finland-inspired patterns and symbols.  The display, which also features a Finnish poem by Inkeri Vaananen-Jensen, is considered part of Manistee County’s Arts and Culture Alliance’s quilt trail, designed to take travelers to different historical sites in the area.  Two panels depict Finnish patterns while the third features a crowned lion, Finland’s coat of arms.

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On May 29, 2021 the Kaleva Historical Society held a dedication of the Kalevala Mosaics by artist, Tricia Boucha. The mosaics are copies of the original Kalevala murals that are based on the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala. They were painted during the Depression by local youth under the direction of Harry Armstrong. Three of the six murals were chosen by the historical society and the artist to be re-created into beautiful mosaics using colored pieces of glass and other rare and unusual materials. 

Boucha moved to Kaleva partly because of the artworks she saw in the town, and soon joined the Kaleva Art Gallery. She then approached the Historical Society relaying her habit of donating a piece of artwork to the communities in which she has lived. Since the murals are such a great example of Kaleva’s Finnish heritage, it was decided to use those as the subject of her artwork. She completed the first one in 2020 and through the winter months finished the second and third one. 

Kalevala Mosaics

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In the first mosaic which forms the middle of the triad, Vainamoinen, hero of the Kalevala, is riding a horse pulling a sleigh through the dark cold night on his way to North Farm. He has been promised a bride by Louhi, mistress of North Farm, if he will come there and forge the magic Sampo. Many Swarovski crystals appear as stars in the night sky and brilliantly shine in the morning sunshine. 

The mosaic on the left in the triad depicts Vainamoinen singing at North Farm. Louhi has summoned together young men with swords destined for Vainamoinen’s head. However, Vainamoinen gets his harp and begins to play beautifully. Everybody starts to listen and marvel at the joyous music, laughing and crying at the same time. Eventually the old and young fall asleep to Vainamoinen’s music. In this mosaic Boucha has used iridescent, antique German glass and 14K gold -coated wires for the harp. 

The mosaic on the right is called “The Loss of the Sampo”, which is an object often referred to in the Kalevala. It has magic powers, and Louhi, mistress of the underworld, wants possession of it. She is flying after a ship, in which the Sampo is hidden in a trunk. She flies to the masthead, moves quickly down and seizes the Sampo. But as she thrusts the Sampo into the water, it breaks into bits, and is lost forever. The artist used red glass for the sails as they were made of red wool. She also placed 100 tiny Swarovski crystals in the sky above the ship. 

Kaleva’s Finnish heritage dates back to early 1900, when Finns came from parts of the U.S. and from Finland, lured by a newspaper called the Siirtolainen. It promised rich, cheap farmland and the town and the streets were named from the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala. In 1940 as Kaleva celebrated its 40th anniversary the six Kalevala murals were dedicated. They are painted on 3’x8’ pieces of wood and as stated before depict scenes from the Finnish epic poem. They hung in the old Kaleva school gymnasium for many years. When it was demolished the historical society took possession of them. Today they hang in the back porch of the Bottle House Museum. Open hours are Sat. noon-4:00 through October. 

The Centennial Walkway was started by the Kaleva Norman Dickson Service Learning class to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the town in 2000. The 500 pound grasshopper was the anchor of the walkway along with gardens and an entrance designed by the students. Later the village and the historical society collaborated to add an airplane to honor mayor, Robert Rengo, and a Business/Service tree to honor those who contributed to Kaleva’s development. A wire sculpture of Louhi’s ship, and three quilt squares honoring Finnish traditions followed. The Kalevala mosaics, located on the south end of the Walkway, are the latest addition. A grant from the Manistee County Community Foundation made the project possible. Thanks to the artist and also to Andy Priest for designing the frames.