PR Council OKs expanding downtown sculpture walk

Arts and Culture Advisory Commission Chair Paul Dove says the commission hopes that adding more public sculptures will help make art an economic driver for the community.

Paul Dove (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The Park Rapids City Council approved a plan Tuesday to extend the downtown sculpture walk to display artworks at up to 26 locations in a six-block area.

According to Paul Dove, chair of the city’s Arts and Culture Advisory Commission, the Phase II Sculpture Walk Master Plan for downtown Park Rapids was inspired by a workshop with Greg Wright, an associate lecturer of business and economics at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and executive director of CREATE Portage County.

“He really harnesses the arts to solve problems within the community,” Dove explained after the meeting. “We brought him here to talk to people who are leaders.”

Dove said Wright presented the idea that Park Rapids could become a place where the arts are an economic driver, part of making it a fun place to be.

City Planner Andrew Mack said the master plan represented the commission’s “long-term vision for downtown … encompassing a two-by-three-block area with Main Ave. serving as the spinal center,” but also with some sculpture placements along U.S. Hwy. 71 and State Hwy. 34.


Dove told the council that Wright told the arts commission that the original sculpture trail, mostly restricted to Red Bridge Park, was wonderful but “people coming through won’t see this. They have to find a way to get down there.”

Therefore, he said, expanding the list of available sculpture spots to the highways and the downtown area “will make people who are passing through Park Rapids aware of what’s happening, and then they will be able to go and find more.”

Dove said the places identified as possible sculpture locations are adaptable to artworks of different sizes. This, he said, gives the plan a lot more flexibility.

The list of 26 potential display spots identifies their maximum diameters, ranging from 2 feet to more than six feet; whether or not they will be exposed to salt; and three places – McDonald’s, Vallarta’s Mexican Grill and Beagle and Wolf Books – that are on private property. The remaining locations, apparently, are each on a public right-of-way.

Mack’s memo to the council noted that there have been 11 submissions for this year’s sculpture walk, and he anticipated a total of five downtown placements this year, subject to judging and committee review. This is an increase from two downtown sculpture placements in 2019.

Council member Liz Stone moved to approve the plan. The motion passed unanimously.

Blue diamonds mark the spots identified by the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission as potential locations for up to 26 sculptures in downtown Park Rapids. U.S. Hwy. 71 (north to south) runs horizontally across the top of the map; State Hwy. 34 (east to west) runs from top to bottom at the left. (Courtesy of the Park Rapids Planning Department)

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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