With a 3-0 vote, the Wahpeton Finance, Personnel and Economic Development Committee is recommending the allocation of $5,000 for the Chahinkapa Park Sculpture Garden.
Three mini-sculptures depicting trees will be placed on existing pedestals, Wahpeton Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Beyer said Monday, Oct. 14. The project is tied in with “Village of Falling Leaves,” Wahpeton’s Native American name.
“We’d like to commission a welding artist from Battle Lake (Minnesota) who can create mini-sculptures of trees and have those at the northern entrance of the park,” Beyer said.
Each of the three mini-sculptures will cost approximately $500. Funding for the full garden project will come from Wahpeton’s 1 percent restaurant tax.
“We are also pursuing larger sculptures, including a much larger tree-themed sculpture, a ‘Heart of Wahpeton’ and a prairie rose by local artists,” Beyer said. “We may likely use funds from this request, if approved, with another request in 2020 for a larger, more costly sculpture.”
A prairie rose is appealing, Beyer said, both because it would add color to the garden and honor North Dakota’s state flower. As for the larger sculpture, Beyer hopes for an eye-catcher, something to fit in with Wahpeton’s other works of art.
“We’d like to have that kind of cherry on a spoon sculpture like in Minneapolis’ s sculpture park, but something that would be really unique down there,” he said.
The sculpture garden is receiving additional lighting and may also have security cameras installed. It’s being done to enhance and protect what supporters call a growing cultural area.
“Public art is one of the things that brings people to town. I think it’s really important as we look forward and try to do unique things. A lot of people can say they have parks and recreation areas, but you have to do some special things to pull people off the highway and from people around here,” Beyer said.
Community activist Roger Jensen, a longtime organizer and supporter of the garden and the arts, showed Daily News around the property. It includes space on the eastern side for a larger sculpture.
“Wayne says we’re not in the same category as the bean in Chicago or the spoon and cherry in Minneapolis, but we can have something that people can see and say, ‘Oh, that’s in Wahpeton,’ something that’s distinctly us. That’s still open for interpretation,” Jensen said.
Jensen would like to see Wahpeton’s artistic growth continue, from Main Street on up.
“‘A to Z, Art to the Zoo,’” he said. “People taking the walking path would see the sculptures along the way. It’s shaping up pretty nice.”
In September 2018, the Wahpeton City Council unanimously approved allocating up to $5,000 for the sculpture garden to acquire art.
Finance Director Darcie Huwe informed the committee that the 1 percent restaurant tax fund includes an allocation of $5,000 for public art. As of Sept. 30, only $33.31 of this year’s allocation has been spent.
“This fund is performing well. It’s benchmarking its budget well. A $5,000 commitment would be no problem,” Huwe said.
The committee meeting was the first since 2nd Ward Councilwoman Renelle Bertsch’s resignation. Bertsch’s involvement in local culture includes work with the Red Door Art Gallery.
Gallery Director Noah Dobmeier is scheduled to present at the North Dakota Main Street Summit, held Tuesday, Oct. 29-Thursday, Oct. 31 in Bismarck. Dobmeier will discuss the gallery’s impact on downtown Wahpeton.
“City council should be proud of that, because you did help support that project,” Beyer said.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.