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New sculptures bedeck Park Rapids trail

City officials unveiled 14 new sculptures at Red Bridge Park and downtown Park Rapids.

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A father-son duo – James Pedersen of Walker and Ryan Pedersen of North Mankato – crafted this sculpture together. It's one of 14 new works along the Red Bridge Trail and around downtown Park Rapids.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise
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City officials unveiled 14 new sculptures at Red Bridge Park and downtown Park Rapids.

Initiated in 2018, the Park Rapids Sculpture Trail is a collaboration of the city of Park Rapids and the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission.

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A father-son duo – James Pedersen of Walker and Ryan Pedersen of North Mankato – crafted this sculpture together. It's one of 14 new works along the Red Bridge Trail and around downtown Park Rapids.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

In her opening remarks on Saturday, commission chair-elect Laura Grisamore said the arts enrich the community in many capacities, including economic vitality.

“I feel when the arts are visible – public art – it speaks to the values of the community. It inspires. It brings people together. It is inviting to the people who live here and many thousands of visitors that come here. It also makes for great selfies,” she said.

Park Rapids City Administrator Angel Weasner thanked all of the artists for their submissions. “We had over 20 entries this year, so not everybody was selected,” she noted. “We have more artists than we’ve ever had before. They’re actually trying to come from out of state now, so we’re getting recognized in this area as a great opportunity for artists.”

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Weasner also praised the many businesses, nonprofits and community members for their donations, which support the project.

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Al Belleveau wrought iron and rocks from Lake Superior to depict "Stone Age Sculptress." She's holding a symbol of fertility.
Shannon Geisen/ Park Rapids Enterprise

Al Belleveau, a returning sculptor from Puposky, crafted “Stone Age Sculptress.” It’s one of four human sculptures he’s made in recent years depicting ancient artists plying their craft.

“The sculpture is part of a series I call ‘Stone Age Artists.’ I’m looking back at how art is so innate within the human spirit – to create and accentuate things that we make,” Belleveau said.

Formed from stones from Lake Superior and steel, the sculptress is holding a replica of the Venus of Willendorf, he explained. The small figurine, thought to be fashioned nearly 40,000 years ago, was a symbol of fertility.

In her other hand, she’s holding a meteorite-like rock that Belleveau found along the North Shore and describes as a “tool.” He suspects the original Venus of Willendorf was created by a woman. “It would seem natural to me.”

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Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center artists and staff worked together to create this sculpture, entitled "Candy Crane," from scrap metal.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) participants and staff created “Candy Crane.”

Individuals first took part in a basic welding course taught by Alex Hine this past winter.

“The big push right now is to help people with disabilities get out into the community. In Park Rapids, we maybe have some limited career options, so what we’re really trying to do is build on skills,” said DAC executive director Laura Johnson. “Nobody has ever attempted welding. It just goes to show that people are more capable than they even think they are.”

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The crew reimagined – and welded – a motorcycle gas tank, pitchfork tines, a sucker spearhead, an old disc blade, a Swede saw handle, garage door spring and more into the delicate crane structure.

“There’s so many things that get donated that we can’t sell, so it’s nice to come up with ways to repurpose and reuse,”Johnson said.

Paul Albright of Akeley spoke briefly about his work. “It’s a group of chickadees. There’s nothing deep about it. It’s just a bird I enjoy throughout the year,” he said.

Other artists featured in this year’s trail are Brian Berle of Shakopee, Tim Cassidy of New York Mills, Aidan Demarals of Janesville and Tim James of Good Thunder, Jon Kamrath of Mahtomedi, Isaac Kidder of Minnetrista, Sunghee Min of Roseville, Tim Nelsen of Bemidji, James Pedersen of Walker and Ryan Pedersen of North Mankato, Jamie Weinfurter of Iowa City, Iowa and Simon Zornes of Bagley.

The 14 sculptures will remain in place for one year.

New this year, the public will be asked to choose a People’s Choice Award.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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