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Votes requested on new sculpture subject for Bemidji

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Remember Peanuts on Parade, when Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends populated St. Paul? From 2000-2004, dozens of sculptures were decorated by artists and displayed throughout the capital city.

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Bemidji would like to replicate that project within this city, displaying handfuls of miniature sculptures in a design that would showcase the First City on the Mississippi.

But, first, the Bemidji Sculpture Walk board needs input from the community.

The Bemidji Sculpture Walk has received a grant from the George W. Neilson Foundation that will cover the cost of manufacturing about 10 miniature sculptures, which would be about 2 feet high.

But the board does not want to choose the subject of the sculptures without input from area residents.

The choices for the sculpture subjects include a turtle, fish, beaver, frog, canoe, small Paul Bunyan, or "other." (The board requests that residents specify their "other" preferences.)

The board did ask the public to vote last fall, but received just two votes.

"We felt that really wasn't enough votes to make a decision," said Al Belleveau, the president of the Sculpture Walk board, noting that the board does not feel comfortable choosing the subject on its own.

Preferences should be sent via e-mail to bemidjisculpts@live.com or kayakc2@me.com. Residents may also call Belleveau at 243-2685 to place their vote.

The miniature statues would be painted or decorated by local artists and placed throughout town in the summer.

"This is a project that has been done in a number of places," Belleveau said.

St. Paul had the Peanuts gang; Chicago had cows. Brainerd has done Babe the Blue Ox and Grand Forks, N.D., has had forks.

"The question is, 'What represents Bemidji?'" Belleveau said. "Is it a walleye, a fish?"

Local artists would be selected to decorate the sculptures. Belleveau said it would be interesting to see how two-dimensional artists interpret a three-dimensional piece.

"We have just a plethora of two-dimensional artists," he said.

Belleveau added that he has some concerns with using Paul Bunyan. He's not sure how the community would react to artists' interpretation of a human being, real or imaginary.

What if an artist chose to make Paul Bunyan into an astronaut, he wondered.

The sculptures would later be auctioned off with the proceeds going toward ongoing funding needs for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

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Bethany Wesley
(218) 333-9200 x337
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