Walk this way: Once again, Sculpture Walk brings in new art to Bemidji (with interactive map)
BEMIDJI -- As soon as the snow melts and winter slowly fades, with spring and then summer on the verge, the downtown Bemidji area starts to come alive.
There is no set date for the change; but once it happens, it seems there is always someone snapping a photo with Paul and Babe, cyclists and walkers are everywhere and the annual Sculpture Walk brings with it new life for Bemidji.
For more than a decade, many of the sculptures that have survived the long harsh Bemidji winter are replaced with new ones dotting the sidewalks and green spaces.
This year is the 16th for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk. Along with the new sculptures, the walk also includes several permeant pieces, including murals around the downtown area.
The Bemidji Sculpture Walk Committee has the task to select the new sculptures each year, “we do a powerpoint review of the sculptures and decide which ones will be able to be placed,” said Al Belleveau, president of the Bemidji Sculpture Walk. He personally dedicates between 200 and 300 volunteer hours annually to keep the Sculpture Walk alive. The committee typically has between six and seven members.
To find artists and sculptures, the committee puts “out a call for artists” in various media.
This year, the walk includes 24 new sculptures, “we try to change out somewhere between 18 to 20, sometimes they stay and spend an extra year here,” he said. Not all of the sculptures are strictly downtown -- there’s “Pete the Curler” by the Hampton Inns and “Bunny,” which sits along the bike path across from Dunn Bros Coffee.
The majority of the sculptures are for sale, although not many sell; however, when they do, “we get 25 percent of the commission, another one of the ways we are able to support the sculpture walk,” Belleveau said. Local business provide sponsorships to each of the sculptures although “the majority of the money that we raise goes to the artists,” he said.
Belleveau has been involved with the Sculpture Walk since it began. He thinks of the walk as an outdoor art gallery. “It’s a crazy idea to have an outdoor gallery in Bemidji thats buried under snow nine months of the year,” he joked.
He appreciates that the Sculpture Walk is able to show off different mediums of art. “We have that kind of a variety, everything from abstract to junk art to fine bronzes, various interpretive art. It is really kind of neat,” Belleveau said.
The Sculpture Walk also provides a place for anyone to display their work, “people such as myself, who aren't trained in anything but we know what we like and we have a tendency to make things and people call it art,” he said.
To see an interactive map of the Sculpture Walk, https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zu3vGnyC_xFI.k-Ug5tOseqEY