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Tree sculpture may take root in Big Ole Park

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News Alexandria, 56308
Echo Press
(320) 763-3258 customer support
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Alexandria is in the running to receive a $10,000 Arts Legacy Grant that would pay for a sculpture in Big Ole Central Park.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council authorized its Arts Advisory Committee (AAC) to apply for the grant.

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The sculpture - "Gathering Tree" - would be paid entirely through the grant. There is no cost to the city. The project also hinges on whether the application is approved.

The grant program is funded through the 2008 Legacy Amendment sales tax increase that was approved by Minnesota voters.

The AAC has been working on the application for the past several months. A selection committee comprised of the AAC, city park board representatives and the parks director reviewed proposals and selected a work of art by Minneapolis artist, Marcia McEachron, who has 25 years of public art experience.

The nine-foot high sculpture would be made of steel and include two four-foot wide redwood benches.

A steel pipe would form the trunk of the tree. Stylized burr oak leaves of steel four feet long would be welded to the pipe starting at about six feet up. Pipe would form the roots of the tree that support the benches. The steel oak leaves would include cut-out birds, stars, moons and sun shapes.

AAC members said it meets the city's requirements for safety, longevity, and high quality art.

The AAC came up with the concept for the art, drawing inspiration from a traditional "wishing tree," which has a long and rich tradition among a variety of cultures, according to the AAC.

Through the Gathering Tree concept, the AAC hopes to symbolize broad community values of nature, life, vitality and history while inviting gathering and interaction.

AAC members told the council that the sculpture would be placed away from the "Big Ole" statue so it wouldn't distract from the famous Viking. It would be located near the esplanade trail in the park.

Council members thanked the AAC and Assistant City Planner Karin Tank for putting together the application.

"You worked hard, fast and long to come up with a good idea," said council member Sara Calson, who also serves on the park board.

The city should find out in mid-June whether the grant application is approved.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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