Monday, August 13, 2018

Public Art in the Twin Ports: Spirit of the Lake by Kirk St. Maur

Spirit of the Lake (detail)
It wasn't until I stopped and read the inscription on the Albert Woolson statue in 2015 (in front of the Depot) that I began to look more closely at the public art on display around the Twin Ports, hence my desire to write about some of these works that we take for granted and provide a few insights about the artists and their work. In July I kicked off the theme with a blog post titled Public Art Isn't Just for the Birds, following up with a piece on the Leif Erickson statue and a related controversy. This morning I wanted to acknowledge the Spirit of the Lake monument by Kirk St. Maur.

I'd always assumed she was Scandinavian, perhaps misled by the braid that falls across her shoulder, and in part because we have such a strong Scandinavian community here. This is why I am writing about it, to set the record straight for anyone else so misled.

Till recently I, like many others, usually gave but a passing glance at the statues as I headed toward a store, beach or restaurant. In other words, it was not real engagement or real appreciation.

As it turns out the bronze sculpture by Kirk St. Maur, is titled Spirit of the Lake and features a young Ojibwa woman.

Born in 1949, the artist was raised in the hills just across the Mississippi river from Mark Twain’s birthplace. To this day St. Maur has maintained his American studio there. When not in the States, he sculpts in Florence, Carrara, or Pietrasanta, Italy. His first one-man show took place at the Art Center in Quincy, Illinois in 1974. Since then he has had shows in both the United States and Italy.

After producing abstract art in a number of media in the U.S., he went to Italy for further experience in figurative and naturalistic art. He has studied with or assisted numerous sculptors, particularly Raimondo Puccinelli and Oscar Gallo in Florence. After receiving his M.A. in sculpture under Enrico Manfrini, he taught for a year as Professor of Sculpture at Gonzaga University’s program in Florence.

Since 1979, his work has ranged from small action pieces, such as the Flying Torchbearer, to life-size or heroic-sized realistic or symbolic works. His life-size bronze of Oregon State University’s first woman graduate commissioned in 1982 and installed in 1983 is realistic while “Against Tyranny,” “Womanhood,” and “News from the Pass at Thermoplyae" are examples of his heroic sculpture.

The Spirit of Lake Superior sculpture stands 63"x 27"x 38" and was installed in 1994 across the street (toward the lake) from Little Angie's Cantina in Canal Park. The statue features a dancing/running native American girl holding a birchbark ricing tray between her right hand and torso, atop a red granite boulder.

It's a pretty cool piece. Take a minute to appreciate the workmanship next time you're in the neighborhood.

FOR THE RECORD
On this day in Art History, French painter Eugene Delacroix passed away at age 65 in 1863. If you do not know hie, he was the artist who painted the classic painting of Lady Liberty Leading the People.

Related Links
DPAC Monument Maintenance 

Meantime art goes on all around you. Get into it.

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