Art on the street: 21st annual Bemidji Sculpture Walk features 16 new creations

Molly Wiste’s sculpture titled “Spirit of the Water” is located at the southeast corner of Third Street and Beltrami Avenue. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Many galleries are closed, theater productions and concerts have been canceled, and art lovers have had to resort to virtual viewings. But the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, in its 21st year, has not succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The best type of thing to do with social distancing is to walk along the street and look at art work,” said Mike Hanley, a Sculpture Walk board member. “Social distancing is built right into loving art.”

Sixteen new sculptures have been added to the downtown Bemidji project this year, bringing the total to more than 30. An interactive Google map is available on smartphones and computers at for those who wish to do self-guided tours.

“We’ve decided not to do (tours) for obvious reasons,” Hanley said. “We may start in mid-summer.”

This year’s Sculpture Walk includes work from artists in three states. Some are from veterans of the project, others from first-timers. The sculptures include artworks of wood, steel, brass, aluminum, rocks, and recycled tools, farm equipment and auto parts.


One of the new pieces is the work of board member Molly Wiste, a nationally known wood sculptor from Hackensack. She used white pine, acrylic paint and deck stain to create “Spirit of the Water,” which can be seen on the southeast corner of Third Street and Beltrami Avenue.

Another interesting piece is called “Abundance,” created by Mark Hall of Kasota. He used steel, glass and silicon for a three-dimensional multi-colored piece that resembles an ear of corn. It’s on the northeast corner of Third and Beltrami.

“I’m not trying to show any bias,” said Hanley when asked about his favorites. “I love them all.”

The Critic’s Choice Awards given annually by the Bemidji Sculpture Walk Committee were selected for sculptures exhibited from May 2019 through May 2020.

James Mages of Hays, Kan., was awarded first place in the Critics Choice Awards for his work titled “Wheat Harvest,” which is on permanent display at the Harmony Foods Co-op. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

James Mages of Hays, Kan., was awarded first place for his “Wheat Harvest.” It’s on permanent display at the Harmony Foods Co-op. Sung-hee Min of St. Paul was chosen second for her modernistic “Cube” sculpture.

The winners were selected by art judge Aaron Spangler, an internationally exhibited sculptor and printmaker who lives and works in Park Rapids.


Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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