MASON CITY - The installation of a new set of sculptures in the downtown area — everything from dice to Gandhi — has provided Mason City with its own “stand-still parade.”
It is the River City Sculptures on Parade — the artwork stands still while the public moves from one exhibit to the next, with an opinion, pro or con, on each of them.
The newest structure is called “Pilgrim of Peace,” a likeness of Mahatma Gandhi, installed near the Community Theater downtown.
It is the work of Felix Velez of Loveland, Colo., and replaces “Gymnastics Force,” another work by Velez, which incurred some weather damage.
Asking price for “Man of Peace” is $29,000.
Though they are inanimate objects, the sculptures have seemingly taken on a life of their own since the latest were put up May 9.
• One of them, “3d6+4,” depicting three large red dice pieces, went up on the north edge of Central Park. Some in the community have objected to the dice as symbols of gambling and therefore not representing family values of Mason City.
The sculptor, Craig Snyder of Plymouth, Minn., says his inspiration for the sculpture was the joy he had in playing dice games such as Yahtzee with his family.
• The dice sculpture was inadvertently put up in the perennial garden tended to by the Gardeners of North Iowa. All involved agree it was an unfortunate mistake and will be corrected.
• “Huckleberry Daze,” a bronze, life-size grizzly bear on display in front of Community National Bank, drew the interest of one onlooker who inquired about a purchase price. It is the work of sculptor Jerry McKellar of Coleville, Wash., and has an asking price of $30,000.
“The caller wanted to know if the price was firm,” said Robin Anderson, head of the non-profit organization, River City Sculptures on Parade, which is managing the program. “I told him I would give him the sculptor’s contact information.”
Twenty-six sculptures are now up in the downtown area with a variety of themes.
In addition to Gandhi, the dice and the grizzly bear, among others are the Great Dane at Henkel Construction; the Daddy Long Legs spider staring at passers-by near the police station and a holdover from last September’s offerings — “Fish Story” in the Southbridge plaza, depicting a man on a bench and a boy with a fish he just caught.
Anderson said private donations total nearly $25,000 from citizens and organizations that are sponsoring one or more of the sculptures for $1,000 each.
Anderson said the Community Benefit Fund-Mason City, created as a part of the New Markets Tax Credit financing package for the Historic Park Inn, provided seed money of $12,000 to join the SculptureOne Partnership (Sioux Falls, S.D.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Mankato, Minn.; and Castlegar, British Columbia).
“We knew we would have difficulty raising money for this project without something for people to see,” said Anderson. “That is why we installed a few of the sculptures last fall — and had to find at least five sponsors right away.”
She said Borealis (Kirk Johnson and Kathy Graves), the Chamber, Moorman Clothiers, Central Park Dentistry, First Citizens National Bank and The Quarry, among others, “answered the call” and put up $1,000 each.
The city put up $10,000 for start-up costs this year and has committed up to $15,000 for the purchase of whichever sculpture turns out to be “the people’s choice” to remain on display.
The city will also fund “the people’s choice” in 2014 but has made no further financial commitment.
City money will come from the hotel/motel tax paid by visitors to Mason City and will not come out of the city’s general fund.
The Sculptures on Parade board is Anderson, president; Susan Moorman, vice president; Meagan Steinberg, secretary-treasurer; and board members Brandi Evers, Jay Lala, Debi Latham and Kris Plank.