In the family’s workshop in Southwest Harbor, Ken Minier and Grace Young cut, sand and carve the periwinkle, jellyfish, sand dollar and other marine creatures that make up their sculpture.   PHOTO COURTESY OF MINIER FAMILY

Harbor Park sculpture celebrates marine life  

ELLSWORTH — “I love exploring all kinds of art and kind of just going for it,” said 23-year-old Grace Young. The artist, with her grandfather Ken Minier, designed and built the sculpture “From the Sea,” which was installed earlier this summer at Ellsworth Harbor Park and Marina.   

The colorful, towering structure – like a marine totem depicting various sea creatures – followed a two-year process of planning, carving, constructing and painting. Young’s vision started to take shape as soon as she saw the city of Ellsworth’s notice calling for sculpture design proposals. The city had won a $5,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to fund the winning project.  

Ellsworth resident Glenn McAndrews, who keeps his boat moored in Ellsworth Harbor, originally conceived of the public art to conceal the unsightly fuel tank ventilation pipes.  

“It is funny how fate works, because that is exactly what we needed,” McAndrews said, gesturing toward the grandfather/granddaughter duo and their creation.   

The Harbor Commission ultimately chose Young’s design highlighting sea life, from periwinkles to whales.   

“I thought it would be super incredible to not only get my art out there but to work with my grandfather was so awesome,” Young said. In turn, Minier, who makes small, carved sculptures in his own time, helped Young conceive of the large wooden sea creatures that come together like puzzle pieces.  

Artist Grace Young and her grandfather Ken Minier created a sculpture of sea creatures that can be viewed now at the Ellsworth waterfront.  

Young, who creates jewelry and other small works through Grace Young Art Company, said the sculpture was a “whole new thing for me.” Between her design skills and her grandfather’s carving and construction experience, the two made a good team.   

“Then he [Minier] said, ‘OK, you’re in charge of painting,’” laughed Young, who doesn’t consider herself a painter, but who still created detailed, colorful designs on each of the wooden animals. She used exterior paint and a varnish to ensure the vibrancy will last. The pair then brought the pieces over to The Hinckley Co. to be sprayed with a weatherproof coating designed for boats.  

To protect the sculpture, the piece will be removed before the first snow and reassembled in spring.  

Minier, who served as Southwest Harbor’s town manager for 16 years, and Young, who was raised there, were two of the more local artists to submit designs.   

The title of the piece, “From the Sea,” which Young’s grandmother came up with, is fitting in that Ellsworth Harbor and Marina acts as a gateway back to land for fishermen, oyster farmers and adventurers alike. Young described the park as Ellsworth’s “hidden gem.”  

“I have learned through this project how much of a community space this is,” said the artist. The park has two gazebos, a variety of wheelchair-accessible picnic tables, the harbor docks, a small snack bar and the harbor commissioner office.  

Mike Slater, the Ellsworth deputy harbormaster, was supportive throughout the whole process. Lisa Sekulich, Ellsworth’s public works director, says it took multiple parties working together to ensure the Harbor Commission, Ellsworth city officials and the artists were satisfied with the final product.   

“At the end there, we were really beatin’ feet,” Minier said, recalling how their entire family turned out to help with finishing touches and to load the large pieces onto a truck. The deadline for the sculpture had been extended to accommodate the artists.   

In a nod to her grandfather, Young said, “Something I have definitely gotten from him is perfectionism. It would have been a couple months less if we were less picky.”  

When asked if they would consider another project like this in the future, the idea seemed a bit daunting, but then Minier responded, “If she came to me and asked to do another, I would do it just ‘cause I love my granddaughter.”   

“From the Sea” is on view through late fall at Ellsworth Harbor Park and Marina located at 413 Water St.   


Piper Curtin

Piper Curtin

Piper Curtin

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