If you’re superstitious, you may avoid the number 13. Unlike many, Hutchinson native Les Kouba embraced it, making it his artistic trademark. He always included 13 of something in his paintings, whether it be ducks, pheasants or geese.
Like Kouba, the Hutchinson Public Arts Commission has embraced the “lucky” number with 13 statues featured in the eighth annual Hutchinson Sculpture Stroll. This is a change from last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic limited the number of participating artists and resulted in the commission keeping several art works to display for a second year.
So what’s new? In addition to a new slate of sculptures for the 2021-22 stroll, there are four new block locations on Main Street. The sites are designed to display smaller sculptures.
Another new feature this year is the Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism’s new QR code. It is displayed on all the sculptures and it will take you to a webpage with the sculpture stroll information.
To learn more, Steve Cook, chair of the arts commission, participated in this Leader Q&A:
There are 13 sculptures this year, that is up from past years. Why the increase in numbers through the years?
We purposely started small with six pads to keep things manageable since this was going to be a new program and it would take some time to understand the best way to reach artists and build awareness of the program. However, if things went well, we hoped to add additional pieces because public art provides a human element to our public spaces, adds interest and compliments the landscaping and natural features of our parks.
Plus, this was also going to be a way to help draw people downtown and to the community. Having more rotating pieces in the sculpture stroll, in addition to our permanent pieces of public art, increases the draw.
This year we are adding art at four downtown intersections. These will add a streetscaping element to the recently completed Main Street project and take the place of the pillar project that didn’t work out due to cost. We are excited about these locations because of their downtown visibility, but also because we can display smaller sculptures in a surrounding that is scaled better to their size.
As time goes on, do you have more artists responding to the Public Arts Commission Call for Entries? If so, why?
We have been getting around 50 entries from 35 to 40 artists the past several years — some new artists and many repeat applicants. Besides the call for art, we also send out information to regional arts boards and send emails to artists in the database that we have been building. I think we have a good reputation with artists and the word is getting out there. Our location also provides a convenient stop for artists who have displayed pieces in other sculpture walks in the region.
What criteria do you use in selecting sculptures each year? Does it change?
The members of the public art commission make the selections each year for the 11 city locations, and Citizens Bank and Ridgewater staff choose their pieces. The arts commission doesn’t have set criteria, but in general the commission looks for a variety of art — abstract to classical and different media. We also want to bring in new artists, and we think about our different audiences and the locations.
With so many entries it can be difficult to narrow it down, but the great thing about the sculpture stroll is that the art changes each year, and if a piece isn’t selected one year, there is an opportunity to bring it to Hutchinson another year.
How do you determine where new sculptures will be placed within the city?
There is a fair amount of discussion about that. Some pieces have natural locations like “Eggspert” by the library, “The Farmer” at the depot/farmer’s market or “Biker” along the trail. Otherwise, we think about how pieces fit size-wise, the surroundings, and possible connections with different audiences, such as children.
Will there be a People’s Choice Award this year? If so, what is the stipend for the winner? When will people vote?
Yes, there will be. As in previous years the winner will receive a $500 cash award. Votes will be accepted during the month of September and voting can be done online on the public arts website at hutchisonpublicarts.com/peoples-choice-ballot/ or by paper ballot at city hall.
People are talking more and more about “cultural tourism.” Do you see the sculpture stroll as a draw to Hutchinson? If so, why?
I believe it can be, especially now that we have more sculptures on display and the added locations downtown. I know people have come from out of town to see the sculptures, but we have no way of tracking that. However, to help raise awareness to visitors we give copies of the brochure to local motels and the Chamber of Commerce.
It has been interesting, though, to see how the sculptures get worked into different stories about Hutchinson in various media. For example, the “Humpty Dumpty” by the library got mentioned in a story in the Star Tribune last year.
The sculptures have also been mentioned in several stories about the Luce Line State Trail in the Minnesota Trails magazine. Mikah Meyer, who was running across the state last fall and stayed in the campground, also mentioned them in his interview in the Leader. The point is they get noticed and they make a positive impression.
Anything else you would like to add?
If people want to support the public art program, there are a variety of ways that can be done through sculpture purchases, financial donations or serving on the public arts commission. More information can be found at hutchinsonpublicarts.com/support/.
Finally, I was putting out some brochures by a sculpture one afternoon and a young man came by and asked about the piece. After talking briefly, he said “I’m happy that this (the sculpture stroll) is done; it does nothing but make the community better.” That sums it up pretty well.
For Tiger Elementary's first principal, the core of education is "relationships."
"Kids don't want to learn from us until they know we care about them," said Michael Daugs. "In a classroom setting, we start developing a relationship where students know we care about them and are working hard for them."
The Central Public Schools elementary principal will join Hutchinson Public Schools starting in the 2021-22 school year, first as the second and third grades principal at Park Elementary, and then carrying over to the new Tiger Elementary addition beside West Elementary.
The restructuring will have one principal in charge of the district's youngest learners in West Elementary, Daugs in charge of second and third grades at Tiger Elementary, and another for fourth and fifth grades at Park Elementary. No new administrator positions were added for the transition, but the prior Park Elementary assistant principal position will be traded for the Tiger Elementary principal position.
"As a principal, the audience grows," Daugs said. "The teachers have to know and the community has to know you're there for them and you care about them. It has to be a strong relationship."
Today, Daugs has a passion for teaching, but when he first started pursuing higher education he hadn't realized it. He started studying for biochemistry at Southwest Minnesota State University in the early 2000s.
"My freshman year I met a wonderful woman who would later become my wife. During my sophomore year she saw me working my tail off and I was miserable," Daugs said. "She advised me to try other options."
They looked at his interests. He coached youth wrestling and taught youth group at church. The common denominator they found was he was teaching all the time for fun, so Daugs tried an education course.
"I very quickly realized that was my calling. I was supposed to be an educator," he said.
He finish his time at SMSU with a degree in education before teaching fifth grade at Elk River for nine years. He earned his master's degree in 2008 and went on to obtain his principal licensure in 2010. An administrator challenged him to explore a career change, which led him to serve as a Moorehead assistant principal for a year, and then eight years at Central Public Schools in Norwood Young America.
When restructuring at Central Public Schools led Daugs to seek employment, Hutchinson caught his attention.
"Hutchinson is one of our home bases," he said. "We live out in the country and do a lot in Hutchinson, go out to eat ... shopping. Hutchinson has always been a great community that I've been interested in as a possibility."
Both he and his wife have taken part in classes for staff development in Hutchinson.
"We've always been really impressed by the structure, the support to the teachers and staff development," Daugs said, "in addition to the pride Hutchinson has as a community."
During the hiring process, what stood out to Michael Scott, Hutchinson's director of teaching and learning, was Daugs' elementary experience as a teacher and principal, and his focus on staff input.
"He has a very good listening ear," Scott said.
As the 2021-22 school year starts, Daugs and Park Elementary principal Dan Olberg will work as a team, but try to organize Park Elementary as though it was two buildings, with Daugs in charge of second and third grades, and Olberg leading fourth and fifth grades. That way when second and third grades move to Tiger Elementary in November, as is currently the plan, everyone should be organized.
“First and foremost we’ll be working to create a student and staff climate," Daugs said, "and trying to create a place where when people step through the door they feel the warmth, where they know we love kids and kids grow."
If you're looking for a good excuse to get out and interact with the community, Riverside Church has several opportunities next week that will benefit local charitable organizations along the way.
"COVID hit. The community has been longing for normalcy," said the Rev. Tim Dezelske, family life pastor at Riverside. "A lot of people out there are hurting, especially organizations that help others."
Love Much in Hutch will fill the week Sunday through Saturday, June 13-19, with events to offer a sense of community and address the needs of groups such as the Heart of Minnesota Animal Shelter. Resources are being gathered for other needs as well — those of a boys home and first responders, for instance. When all is said and done, organizers hope to have renewed a connection to the community after a year of pandemic precautions.
"This is our first time doing this," Dezelske said. "We're mimicking it similar to (an event) in Toledo, Ohio."
About 100 people from Riverside Church had signed up as of this past week to participate in Love Much in Hutch, but when accounting for the many donations required to make the series of events happen, the number of contributors quickly grows higher.
"We're hoping everyone in our church is involved somehow," Dezelske said. "It's all coming from people graciously donating goods."
His sermonette on Page B2 dives more into the philosophy he hopes Love Much in Hutch will encourage.
While there is a place at each event for everyone who wishes to serve, four events in particular are geared toward public participation. For more details and a full list of events, visit riversidehutch.org/love-much-in-hutch.
Following the church's prayer walks on Sunday and Monday, the 6-8 p.m. Kid's Carnival on Monday, June 14, will be the first large public-facing event of the week.
Tickets to play carnival games at Riverside Park will be sold, along with concessions. Five tickets cost $1, with games ranging from one to four tickets. Proceeds will go to Village Ranch, a nonprofit residential home in Cokato that provides support services to youth and families.
PAW PRINT FLOWERS
Riverside is teaming up with Paint Factory to offer a Wednesday, June 16, workshop at the church. Participants will be taught how to make floral paintings with help from furry friends offering paw prints.
The workshop begins at 6:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., pets will be welcomed in to add their paw prints as flowers. Paint will also be offered to finish the process at home with a pet. Participants without pets will be taught other methods of painting flowers.
Sign up at tinyurl.com/vayw83jc. The fee is $40. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Heart of Minnesota Animal Shelter.
SPAGHETTI, CAR WASH AND ROOT BEER
On the evening of Thursday, June 17, a pair of congruent events will provide Hutchinson residents with a chance for dinner, a treat and a clean car.
Community members can drive to Riverside Church 4-7 p.m. for a free car wash. Root beer floats will be served to those waiting for their wash to be completed.
Meanwhile, from 5 to 7 p.m., the congregation will serve a spaghetti dinner open to the community.
Hutchinson City Council Member Brandon Begnaud confirmed last week he intends to move out of town and will resign from the council.
“That’s no secret at this point,” he said. “I’ll acknowledge that publicly at the council meeting on June 8.”
He declined to speak on the details until the meeting, which was this past Tuesday, after this issue of the Leader went to press. Visit hutchinsonleader.com for updates.
Begnaud was elected to a four-year term on the council in November 2020, and he officially took office in early January. In the event a City Council member resigns, a special election is held to fill the remainder of the term. Should that happen soon, it’s likely the earliest window available for such an election would be November, said City Administrator Matt Jaunich.
Before a special election, the seat would be filled on an interim basis by a council member appointed by the City Council. Council members will be able to decide the process and criteria with which they seek interim candidates, and then vote on the appointment.
As for when a new council member will be chosen, and who it might be, Mayor Gary Forcier said the council cannot proceed until the matter becomes official.
“We can’t do any action until (Begnaud) resigns,” Forcier said. “Right now we’re in a holding position.”