New sculpture offers a gathering place for allA new work of art took root in Alexandria Tuesday. It’s a colorful, life-sized sculpture called “The Gathering Tree” – the city’s first-ever public art creation. The city will host an ice cream social to inaugurate the sculpture.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
A new work of art took root in Alexandria Tuesday.
It’s a colorful, life-sized sculpture called “The Gathering Tree” – the city’s first-ever public art creation.
The city will host an ice cream social to inaugurate the sculpture. It will take place Thursday, August 23 at 4 p.m. in Big Ole Central Park, where the sculpture is located. The event is free and open to the public.
The celebration will include a brief presentation of the work by Mayor Dan Ness and the Alexandria Arts Advisory Committee that commissioned the work with a $10,000 grant from the Lake Region Arts Council with funds from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Artist Marcia McEachron will be present to introduce the sculpture and the creative process involved in making public art.
Residents are encouraged to enjoy the art, music and ice cream as they stroll along the lake and meander through the farmer’s market.
The gathering tree design was selected by the committee in a competitive process. The goal was to provide a gathering place in Big Ole Central Park along 2nd Avenue, a signature park that’s gathering momentum. It’s known for its proximity to the Central Lakes Trail, a farmers market, museums, the Big Ole statue and the juncture where the city meets the lakes.
The tree is described as a symbol of gathering across cultural traditions. According to committee members, McEachron’s design takes a realistic notion of a tree and a bench and adds magic, color and whimsy that feeds the imagination.
The sculpture is designed to draw people to it while providing shelter and “shadow dances” on the ground from small sculptures set in the leaves overhead.
Leaf-shaped chairs – an unanticipated result from the making of the art – also will be on display. Sponsors are sought to contribute to the purchase of art chairs to complement the sculpture and the park.
The August 23 event will feature a short program followed by music by Mikko Cowdery and Chuck Wenzel. Additional parking will be available on the vacant lot immediately north of 2nd Avenue
ABOUT THE ARTIST
McEachron is a nationally known public artist. She sculpts in welded and hand-forged steel and was featured on HGTV’s Modern Masters.
She has numerous works installed in public settings and private collections throughout the country, including Minnesota. A former art teacher, McEachron teaches workshops for kids and adults interested in sculpture.
Last year, during her work on Alexandria’s sculpture, she led two workshops with Alexandria residents – one on wire sculpture and one on making mobiles, both in the Alexander Calder style of sculpture.
ABOUT THE FUNDING
The project was funded with a $10,000 grant awarded by the Lake Region Arts Council with funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature supported by Minnesota voters on November 4, 2008.
The foundation for the sculpture was donated by Innovative Builders with excavation provided by Mark Lee.
ARTS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Alexandria Arts Advisory Committee was formed in 2011 “to promote the creation, understanding, appreciation and awareness of the arts in the city and to act as facilitator and/or advocate for the public arts by exploring ways in which the arts can enhance the quality of life in the city and foster community, economic and social growth.” The committee was awarded funding in 2011 to launch a public art initiative. More projects are anticipated to bring art to Alexandria, enhancing the quality of life for all citizens and contributing to the vibrancy of Alexandria for visitors. The committee includes Sara Carlson, Ben Kipfel, Mary Ann Maameri, Linda Roles, Mimi Seykora, Amy Sunderland and Sandy Susag. For more information, contact Karin Tank at (320) 759-3647 or visit www.ci.alexandria.mn.us.