Kathy Wnoroski, the first executive director of the Hutchinson Center for the Arts, would be so proud.
Her dream of turning Hutchinson into an arts destination is happening. When I originally interviewed her in 2011 or 2012. It was her dream to turn our town into a tourist destination where people could view and experience art. At the time, I scratched my head and thought, “Really?”
There wasn’t much to see back then. We had the statue of “Chief Little Crow,” “Tall Friend, Old Friend” in AFS Park, the City Hall Cupola in Fireman’s Park, the Hutchinson Brothers in Library Square and a mural in the post office. We also had several rocks with plaques on them. It didn’t seem to me that people would travel all that far to see this collection.
How times have changed. Remarkably, Hutchinson is on the map these days when it comes to public art. Ten of this year’s 11 sculptures have been installed for the 2019-20 Sculpture Stroll.
It’s hard to pick a favorite with such fun installations as “Eggspert” in Library Square and “The Biker” along the Luce Line State Trail. I love the “Farmer” at Depot Marketplace. It reminds me of my grandfather, Frank Johnson. He always wore bib overalls.
I say cheers to the Public Arts Commission for increasing the number of sculptures from the original seven to 11, but also for selecting such amazing work. Almost everywhere you look there is a sculpture. New sites include Ridgewater College, Citizens Bank’s pocket park at the corner of Second Avenue and Franklin Street in downtown Hutchinson, a second Luce Line State Trail site and a second sculpture at Library Square.
We also have the new eagle sculpture recently added to Veterans Memorial Park and the Lions added a lion sculpture last year to Lions Park.
Plans are also in the works for a possible second Les Kouba mural. Artist David Wegscheid, who recreated “By the Country Store” on the Ace Hardware Building, would reproduce “Down by the Station,” a train image, at Depot Marketplace, home of the historic Great Northern Depot. It’s one of 12 images Kouba created for the Red Wing Shoe Company Series.
It’s possible Hutchinson could end up with an Avenue of Murals, where people can drive along Washington Avenue and see the larger-than-life work of Hutchinson’s famous son. It could be similar to Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, where statues ranging from Confederate veterans Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart to tennis ace Arthur Ashe can be seen.
While the train mural is a possible future project, art is blooming here and now. In addition to the work mentioned earlier, there’s the sculpture of “Jack” by Heidi Hoy that can be seen at RiverSong Stage in Masonic/West River Park. I thought that was a wonderful purchase for that spot. It’s fun to watch children play on the sculpture during the annual RiverSong Music Festival.
We also have two sculptures by Hutchinson native Deb Zeller. She created the statue of a Hutchinson officer at Law Enforcement Park and “Parental Love” at Oakland Cemetery. She also has had two sculptures in past sculpture strolls: “Goddess of the Grapes” spent a year at Depot Marketplace — a fitting recognition of local growers at the Hutchinson Farmers Market, and “The Plunge” was part of the inaugural sculpture stroll in 2013-14. It was placed at the north end of the pedestrian bridge.
A bronze-painted concrete statue of a firefighter graces the Hutchinson Fire Station. It’s a salute to the work of local firefighters.
Hutchinson’s Boy Scouts are recognized in the Robert Tait McKenzie sculpture of a Boy Scout in Boy Scout Park near the Adams Street and State Highway 7 intersection.
The city’s famous citizens are recognized at Gateway Park. The painted mural that features Lindsay Whalen, celebrated WNBA athlete; local youth sports programs; U.S. Congressman Ancher Nelsen; Hutchinson Police Officer Mike Hogan; Hutchinson Public Library and the Crow River; Les Kouba, known as the “Dean of Minnesota Wildlife Artists”; and Sam Anderson, the co-founder with Carlos Avery of Gopher Campfire Conservation Club.
For more information about Hutchinson’s Sculpture Stroll, visit hutchinsonpublicarts.com.