Some unique new trees can be found in Chahinkapa Park, Wahpeton.
They’re not as tall as your usual elm or maple. Their leaves aren’t likely to descend each fall. Nevertheless, their fans are sure residents and visitors will practically eat them up.
A tree with fork prongs for “leaves” is the northernmost piece. It’s located in the Sculpture Garden and is joined by trees with spoons depicting leaves and a third, more stylized piece.
The three trees were created by artist Paul Boyum, Battle Lake, Minnesota. Boyum created the sculptures in his shop, Paul’s Metal Petals. They were placed on already existing pedestals in the garden.
“Farthest to the north, we have a rendition of the ‘witch tree’ located on Lake Superior,” Roger Jensen said. “It grows out of the rock.”
Next to the witch tree sculpture is the spoon leaves sculpture. It was designed to remind visitors of native elm and maple trees, Jensen said.
“The sculpture to the south is a more abstract piece, created from buckets of leftover pieces,” Jensen said.
Boyum was commissioned to create pieces for the Sculpture Garden as part of Wahpeton’s continued focus on public art.
In October, the Wahpeton City Council approved $5,000 for the mini-sculptures project.
“We chose those sculptures, to go in that artistic direction, because of our familiar name, ‘Village of Falling Leaves.’ It was time to do something,” Jensen said.
Throughout Wahpeton’s history, it’s had a name evoking feelings for the wilderness and prairies.
When the city was founded in 1869, it had spent five years named “Richland” for settler Morgan T. Rich. The founding yielded the name “Chahinkapa,” which comes from the Sioux word for “End of the Woods.” Four years later, Wahpeton adopted its present name, from the Sioux word for “Dwellers Among Leaves.”
Jensen, Wahpeton Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Beyer and other arts supporters are certain the Sculpture Garden will continue to be a stimulating environment for visitors.
“We have such a strong heritage as a tree community,” Jensen said. “Trees can be expressed in many shapes, media and forms. That’s what those three sculptures show.”