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Young artist’s work attracts attention along Sculpture Walk

Grand Rapids sisters Hadley, left, and Teijan Daigle frolic with “Sparky,” an installation by Ivan Smith for the 2012 Bemidji Sculpture Walk, as their mother, Katie Daigle, watches. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 1 / 2
Ivan Smith2 / 2

BEMIDJI – A young artist who graduated from TrekNorth High School this spring is one of the featured artists on the Bemidji Sculpture Walk for 2012.

Ivan Smith, who was mentored by Bemidji sculptor Albert Belleveau last year, is one of the youngest artists to have been chosen to participate in the Sculpture Walk.

His sculpture, Sparky, stands at the corner of Fourth Street and Beltrami Avenue outside the studio of KKWB-FM Coyote 102.5.

“We get a good crowd that stops by to get a look at it,” said station office manager Nicole Sayler. “Sometimes people will even try to peek into the studio to check it out but usually all they see is their own reflection in the tinted glass.”

Sparky was created while Smith was studying with Belleveau, whom he chose as his mentor for the Region 2 Arts Council Artists Mentor Grant Program for 2011.

Belleveau has stated before that he was gratified in mentoring Ivan because of his innate artistic ability.

“He is a talented young man and I only had to show him once how to do something and he would get right to it,” Belleveau said.

So when someone vandalized the installation a few weeks back, Belleveau came to the rescue.

“Sparky is constructed from insulators used in electricity transmission,” Belleveau said. “Someone jumped on it and pushed it to the ground.”

Belleveau was able to bend it back up to a standing position but Ivan still has to make a new pair of ears for the robot.

Smith also has another piece on display this year across the street from Raphael’s Bakery. While walking in the woods one day, Ivan discovered the remains of a SKS – a Russian assault rife that someone had left there to the elements.

The rifle has re-entered daily life in a more friendly way as a bouquet of roses in Ivan’s piece, “Guns & Roses.”

“I have been making art (sculpture) for as long as I remember,” Smith said. “In the fall, I will attend college in Vermillion and study art, especially sculpture. I will also get my Outdoor Leadership Certification.”

Smith hopes to complete his art studies at a “fancy” college out west where there is an active arts community and mountains in the distance. He is looking at Oregon but right now, Smith said he is excited to “spread his wings and fly.”

For a complete listing of all the installations, stop by the Tourist Information Center and get a free copy of the 2012-13 Walking Guide for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

There are some returning artists like Lee Leuning, with his White Buffalo Calf Woman, and Tim Knapp with Paul’s Ride, a Ferris wheel with Paul Bunyan on board. And some new artists like Smith, Roger Loyson with his Iraq Veteran’s Memorial and Cosmic Spheres and John Hughes’ Big Muskie or Eagle.

Another piece of public art that is a talk-about-town is U.S.S. Sally, a yellow submarine by Allen Belleveau Sr. because it is just plain “fun,” as overheard spoken by a visitor to Bemidji.