Art Park Launches 2021 Sculpture Residency

February 5, 2021: We join so many others today across Michigan and the world, heartbroken to hear the news of Charles McGee’s passing at the age of 96. He was a vibrant and working artist until the end, an icon of his beloved Detroit, and his creative spirit and intellect will forever live on through his remarkable work. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Michigan Legacy Art Park, a nonprofit arts and culture organization in northern Michigan, is seeking artists to apply for our 2021 residency program. The online application is free and available here.

Funded by the park’s new Charles McGee Art Fund established in 2019, the residency will award one emerging artist from the Detroit area a two week creative retreat that includes lodging, studio space, and an honorarium for living expenses, travel and materials. Artists will also enjoy the nearby inspiration of the park and artworks, spectacular in Autumn’s peak color season.

We’re particularly interested in welcoming applicants of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

The Charles McGee Art Fund was established to inspire young and emerging sculptors who live in the Detroit area — a region where McGee has spent the majority of his life. McGee’s career has been intimately tied to Detroit, the city he arrived in as a small boy and lives in to this day at age 96. McGee has not only contributed public artworks that have shaped Michigan’s landscape, he has made a decades-long impact as a teacher, mentor and gallerist supporting young artists. It’s in this spirit of place inspired by McGee that the residency is designed, and dedicated, to supporting Detroit area artists.

The Art Park’s mission is to be a showcase for experiences that combine Art, Nature and Michigan’s history together. The park hosts a thirty-acre outdoor space with 2 miles of hiking trails, in a wooded preserve located at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville. The park’s collection features over fifty monumental works of sculpture, an outdoor amphitheater and concert series, over thirty poetry stones in seven languages, and hosts thousands of students each year on educational field trips to the park.

Important Dates:

February 1, 2021 — Online Applications Open

March 31, 2021 — Application Deadline 11:59 PM EST

April 16, 2021 — Decisions Sent to All Applications

Sunday October 11 to Sunday October 24, 2021 — Residency Dates


Jean Parsons Center for Arts & Sciences (Residency and Studio)

Michigan Legacy Art Park (Host Organization)

What Is Provided:

  • Exclusive use of the Private Residence with two bedrooms, living spaces, kitchen and bathrooms. The residence was Jean Parson’s beloved home for much of her life as an acclaimed artist and educator. It’s been lovingly restored in Mid-Century style and has a view of Parsons Lake. There is wifi connectivity at the property.
  • Exclusive use of the center’s primary Studio Spaces, located a short walk across the property and featuring spaces and tools* for artists to create .
  • Eighty-six acres of outdoor space to walk, think and be inspired by nature. We believe nature is a huge ingredient for inspiration and a vital part of our mission is to celebrate it.
  • $1,500 honorarium to contribute against your travel, living expenses and materials during the residency. Upon acceptance of the residency offer, half is mailed in advance to help you plan, and the balance is paid at your arrival to the Parsons Center.
  • Located just 20 minutes southwest of Lake Ann, the thirty acre Michigan Legacy Art Park provides you creative inspiration with over fifty sculptures along 2 miles of hiking trails, open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Autumn is a spectacular time to experience the park, and we’ll give you a private guided tour or you are welcome to explore the park on your own.
  • There is no expectation that you must create or deliver any artwork during your residency — the gift of time, space and focus is yours to utilize in any way that is most beneficial to you and the projects you are working on. However, you may choose to exhibit work within the Art Park’s potential sites during or after the residency. It’s another canvas and sandbox at your disposal, along with the work spaces at the Parsons Center.
  • The Art Park hosts a welcome reception and meal for you with our staffers, Board of Directors and supporters upon your arrival.
  • The Art Park hosts a departing breakfast for you with our staffers to receive feedback on the experience and to explore ways we can continue to support your projects in the future.
  • You can decide how much engagement or solitude you’d like, but the Art Park staffers are always available to help you and the Parsons Center also has a full time caretaker onsite.


  • You agree to participate in one small public event near the end of the residency — this could be an online interview, a presentation, a “studio visit”, guest appearance for a local classroom, or writing blog posts. The Art Park staff will work with you to get your ideas, and customize a final “give-back” to our community of supporters. Our intent is to let you focus on your work, but our ask is that you share some of that experience with the park’s audience.
  • You can be available for the full residency from Sunday, October 11 to Sunday October 24, 2021.
  • You live in the Detroit Michigan area (a Resident of Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb Counties).
  • You can provide or arrange your own transportation to and from the residency. The honorarium can be used against travel costs, and we highly recommend having a car during the residency if possible. If you get selected and need extra help with transportation, we’ll do everything we can to make it work for you.
  • You must be eighteen years of age or older and a legal U.S. resident at the time of application. If selected, the residency will need you to complete a W9 tax form and agree to our Code of Conduct. You may also be asked to sign a separate lodging agreement directly with the Parsons Center for your stay, but there is no security deposit required from you.
  • You want to create and explore projects in the medium of sculpture during the time of this residency. If you work in other genres, that’s okay, but as a sculpture park we’d like you to use this residency to explore projects in that spirit (but we love new ideas of what it is, like this).
  • If you have any questions at all, or you want to speak to an Art Park staffer, email and we’ll be in touch.

About the Charles McGee Art Fund

Michigan Legacy Art Park Founder David Barr (1939–2015) and Charles McGee (1924–2021) were colleagues and friends. Both men shared the same values and passion for community, and the belief in the unique power of art as a teaching tool.

With support from McGee and his daughter Lyndsay, the Art Park created a new fellowship in his name to support the next generation of sculptors through residencies that provide artists the most precious of resources: time, space, support, and inspiration they need to further their creative work.

Charles McGee Art Fund artists will be invited to use the 30-acre park as their studio and inspiration — where they can choose to create artworks that may be ephemeral or more permanent in nature, using a budget for materials and expenses. The fund was created in 2019 and this will be the first residency.

About the Jean Parsons Center for Arts & Sciences

The Parsons Center for Arts and Sciences is an interdisciplinary, educational center and natural area located in northern Michigan. The Parsons Center is the legacy of the late Jean Noble Parsons, renowned sculptor and potter, and is run by the College of Arts & Sciences with special attention from the School of Art & Design.

*The Jean Parsons Center studios have some available equipment, but participating artists must provide any specialized tools or materials, and this list is not guaranteed at the time of the residency:

Table Saw / Miter Saw / Drill Press / Table Belt Sander / Band Saw / Drills / Assorted Hand Tools / Saw Horses / Jewelry Stands / Clamps / Vice / Ladders

Where Art, Nature and History Meet