Some of the artists were on hand at Saturday’s gathering at the park to share a little about their art. The 13 new sculptures recently installed will be on display throughout the coming year.
Paul Dove is chair of the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission in Park Rapids. He said the sculpture walk is a project of the commission.
“It’s one of the strategies that the city approved in the art plan,” he said. “It brings people to the park. There are also people who use the trail for biking or other recreation who are pleasantly surprised when they come across the art. We started out putting sculptures in the park, then extended the walk to Main Street. It is one of those things that adds to the quality of life here.”
Paul Albright’s sculpture, titled “Hidden Treasure,” is one of the sculptures on display in Red Bridge Park.
Albright, whose studio is in rural Akeley, said the idea for the sculpture came from the action of hands capturing a firefly, something many Minnesotans did as children.
“On my next one, I’d like to add a wire with a flashing green light from a firefly inside,” he said.
In addition to creating the design, a lot of science went into creating the hollow sculpture with an image of hands on the outside.
“It’s suspended by its own weight,” he said. “I’ve never separated wood into dyads before. The challenge was to separate the piece of white pine, hollow the inside and put the pieces back together. It was experimental, a prototype to see if I could do it.”
Albright also had to develop the mechanical system to suspend the sculpture that included using huge eye-bolts in the palms that were then attached to aircraft cables.
The hands are finished with a wood preservative for log homes made in Minnesota called Nature’s Structure.
In his remarks at the park, Albright said he really admires the 13 sponsors who each contributed $500 to support the sculpture project during a tough year. “That money goes as a stipend to each artist,” he said.
David Welle of Nevis said his creation, “Whimsy Tree,” located downtown, started out when he heard a storyteller on stage talk about the concept of a mechanical tree that would grow to its full height and then chop itself down.
“I thought it was a whimsical notion and wondered what a mechanical tree would look like,” he said. “Since moving back to Park Rapids where I grew up and went to high school, I’ve paid a lot more attention to trees, especially after living in the desert in California.”
Welle worked in theater design and filmmaking while in California.
“I discovered the sculpture walk when we moved back four years ago and was intrigued by it,” he said. “In my work in theater, I would create scenery, so it was something I was familiar with. I thought the sculpture walk would be fun to participate in.”
Welle said his design started with a desk top model of the concept of the tree and working on different prototypes before building the final sculpture, which he estimates took two months of active work.
“One of the things that’s valuable about art is the process of asking questions and pursuing your curiosity,” he said. “Hopefully the sculptures will encourage other people’s curiosity.”
Other artists featured in this year’s sculpture trail are Tim Adams of Webster City, Iowa; Al Bellevue of Puposky; Mark Hall of Kasota; Clayton Johnson of Park Rapids; Jon Kamrath of Mahtomedi; Isaac Kidder of Minnetrista; David Montague of Brooklyn Park; Tim Nielsen of Bemidji; James Pedersen of Walker and Ryan Pedersen of North Mankato; Patrick Shannon of Vergas and Simon Zornes of Bagley.
A brochure and updated information will be available later this summer for those seeking more information about the sculpture walk. Information about the history of the sculpture trail is also featured on the heartlandarts.org website.
All sculptures are for sale by the artists. QR codes on each sculpture tag connect buyers to the artist as well as more information about the piece.