Wednesday, August 8, 2018

DPAC, Monument Maintenance and a Norshor Theater Call for Art

Leif Erickson
Attending a Duluth Public Arts Commission meeting last month opened my eyes to the monumental task that this all-volunteer team is committed to. One of their many responsibilities is to maintain the the many statues that are distributed throughout the city.

One of the first things tourists notice in Canal Park, for example, are the manifold seagulls that are active on the waterfront. When you look at the statues, you often see birds standing majestically atop these emblems of the city. And what you may not notice is how clean these statues are, considering how many times they have been pooped on over the years. The reason they are clean is because there is a maintenance regimen. Maintaining the statues is a responsibility most everyone takes for granted.

No, the volunteers who serve on the DPAC are not out there scrubbing statues. Rather, they maintain the spreadsheets indicating which statues next need attention.

These thoughts came to mind when ten days ago the News Tribune broke a story that the current status of the city's Viking ship replica was again in jeopardy. The ship used to sit outside in the elements in Leif Erikson Park, a gift from Norway during the 1920's that the city promised to cherish, as in "take care of." The weather eventually got the better of her and instead of being something beautiful to adorn the park it became an eyesore, especially for those who loved her.

A few years ago the ship was moved in order to be repaired, restored, rejuvenated. I don't know all the details but the story is that the storage space will soon no longer be available. The restoration project was not a DPAC project per se, but was being managed by an ad hoc Save Our Ship committee.

What IS on the docket for DPAC, however, is the matter of addressing an issue that came up as a result of all these new discussions. Someone noticed that the base of the statue reads, "LEIF ERIKSON, DISCOVERER OF AMERICA."

Now it makes sense that Northlanders would attempt to draw attention to Leif Erikson, since all our history books have taught us that ol' Chris Columbus was the great hero who first set foot in the New World. The problem with both these designations is that they imply that the people who were already living here were not people. The Native residents arrived from somewhere, yes? And it most definitely preceded either of these European explorers.

Bottom line for DPAC, then, is what to do with that inscription on the base of the statue. Do they need to put an asterisk there and chisel in some fine print on the very bottom? Cover it all with a new bronze plate with alternative language?

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For what it'w worth, the cast bronze Leif Erikson statue was created by John Karl Daniels (1874-1978), a Norwegian immigrant who grew up in St. Paul. He trained in two different art schools before setting up his own studio. The Leif Erikson statue was dedicated in 1956, and relocated to Leif Erikson Park in 1990.

* * * *

The city, via the Duluth Public Arts Commission, is seeking to have an installation inside the Skywalk in the area adjacent to the NorShor Theater. It's an unusual space and you will want to check it out. It will require imagination, but I can see why the city would like to dress it up.

Part of the RFQ reads as follows:
The Project can span the approximate 68 feet of the Western wall. This art project will cover a large brick wall that is approximately 68' in length and varies between 7' - 9' in height (see attached drawing) in the skywalk section that is just inside the NorShor entrance from the skywalk that comes from the Greysolon Plaza. The project must incorporate and acknowledge the history of theatre and cultural phenomena in what is now known as Duluth and the selection committee is open to multiple interpretations of what that means.

The overall budget for this project may not exceed $9,000. Furthermore, finalists will be granted $200 stipends to cover costs and transportation in order to present, if selected for RFP process.
Deadline for submissions is in September 18, so read through the information and throw your hat in the ring if there is interest.

Here is the three-page RFQ: 

Related Links
Viking Ship Charting New Coordinates After Many Storms
The Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

My dad used to like to embarrass us Wagner kids by saying something really farmerish in an exaggerated German accent, when we were in public.
We were at the State Fair walking by this fancy wrought-iron lawn furniture, and Dad said quite loud, "Ya sure, pretty soon the birds got dat all schnockered full, and den what do ya got?"