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A new leaf for Alexandria art scene

Community members were brought together at the Gathering Tree in Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)1 / 3
Mayor Ness displayed a sign that will be hung around Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)2 / 3
Maxine Adams (right) introduced artist Marcia McEachron. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)3 / 3

Mikko Cowdry and Chuck Wencl jazzed up the crowd at Big Ole Central Park in Alexandria on Thursday. More than 70 residents came together to celebrate what most people are calling the city's first public art display - the Gathering Tree.

Following the spirited performance, Mayor Dan Ness formally acknowledged the piece as attendees celebrated with ice cream treats.

"Probably the first public art in Alexandria, hopefully it's not the last," Ness said. "This is the beginning of something great."

Mayor Ness said Alexandria has always had a vibrant music and performing arts scene and hopes this sculpture will bring a more expansive art interest to the community. In addition, Maxine Adams, executive director for Lake Region Arts Council, presented the mayor with a Legacy City sign, which will be displayed around town.

Artist Marcia McEachron said inspiration for the Gathering Tree comes from all facets of life. McEachron has a background working with metals and noted blacksmithing as an influential trade.

"[This] sculpture is about light and shadow," McEachron said. "It's almost a sundial."

As the pieces for the sculpture were being plasma cut, one dropped out of the middle, McEachron said. That piece was another leaf that was molded into a chair.

Chairs are currently being sponsored for inclusion in the Gathering Tree display. A few chairs have already been committed, said Sandy Susag of the Alexandria Arts Advisory Committee. Each chair costs $360.

Innovative Builders and Mark Lee donated the foundation for the sculpture. Park Director Bill Thoennes and the park department staff were instrumental in securing the sculpture for the city.

The Gathering Tree has been brought to Alexandria through the Alexandria Arts Advisory Committee, which commissioned the work through a $10,000 grant from the Lake Region Arts Council with funds from the Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

To learn more about sponsoring a chair, contact Karin Tank at (320) 759-3647 or ktank@rea-alp.com.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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