During the late hours of August 20, the Emberlight Festival’s 2023 edition of Art in the Park was vandalized. Art in the Park is Emberlight’s annual large-installation outdoor show that highlights gifted artists from across the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota. The delinquents used spray paint to deface a number of installations and signage throughout the park.

Emberlight begins preparations in September for the next summer’s show; applications are reviewed throughout the fall, the winter is spent designing publicity materials, so that by springtime we’re ready to coordinate artists in a highly produced sprint to opening day on the Saturday before 4th of July.

Meanwhile artists spend months dreaming and scheming their installation. A particular challenge for the artists is finalizing plans while snow is still on the ground; since Michigan’s mud season can last until early June, they only see the site for their installation in all its summertime glory a few weeks before move-in day. Watching our artists develop their installation from the statement on their application to realizing their work in the idyllic Miners Memorial Heritage Park is an extraordinary gift.

The call from Emberlight’s Creative Producer, Cindy Franck, informing me of the vandalism broke my heart. The installations are priceless. The creations range from fiber arts, woodworking, sculptures, gyotaku, metalwork, to pieces incorporating numerous multimedia elements. They are one-of-a-kind, true works of art. Some of the spray paint can be removed from the artwork, but other pieces are impossible to repair.

The work of this year’s artists will not be forgotten. We had our largest show ever, with 18 artists joining us from across the tri-state. Visitors hailed from around the country. Our community posted hundreds of pictures on Facebook with family members enjoying the park. Art in the Park was a massive success this summer.

SAVE THE DATE: Art in the Park will be back on Saturday, June 29, 2024 with our opening ceremony at 12pm. Applications will open in October with more information to be announced in the coming weeks. Emberlight Arts will be addressing security and safety issues for the 2024 season, while actively working with Ironwood Public Safety to find the perpetrators of this weekend’s crimes.

What can you do? Please help us salute our 2023 Art in the Park artists this Saturday, August 26 at Showstoppers in a special send-off to our 2023 season. As an incentive to join us, Emberlight is cutting Silver Tier ticket prices from $25 to $18 (in honor of our 18 artists) and Bronze seats from $15 to $5. I want anyone in our community who enjoyed Art in the Park this summer to be able to thank our artists on Saturday night. It’s going to be an unforgettable evening of Broadway stars, award-winning films and performances that will knock your socks off. I hope you’ll join us.

Art in the Park would not be possible without the amazing canvas of the Miners Memorial Heritage Park. I would like to thank Rick Semo and the Friends of the MMHP for maintaining the park so beautifully and welcoming Emberlight with open arms. We are incredibly lucky to have the park in our community. I am also grateful to Ironwood Public Safety for arriving promptly on the scene and continuing to help us investigate.

Artists are resilient. We face challenges head-on and create solutions to problems. I am not deterred by a couple brainless hoodlums. Emberlight will continue to bring Art in the Park to our community and inspire our town for years to come.

As we say at Emberlight: Onwards and Artwards!


Miles Mykkanen

Artistic Director, Emberlight Arts