Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

The Poles are going Wild in Spicer

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: August 9, 2012 - 8:56 AM

Not everyone can look at a knotted, gnarled utility pole and see an artistic canvas, but that is exactly what the Spicer Beautification Committee did, and it has resulted in a new citywide art installation that is drawing visitors from near and far.  

Over the past few weeks, a number of local artists  provided sketches of how they proposed to decorate a pole were they given the chance, and from that pool, fourteen were selected by a panel of local art teachers to proceed with the project.  Calling the display Poles Gone Wild, the designs range from scenic  depictions of local life to more modernist images to possibly even a pole with some abstract nudity in it.

“One of them has nudes in it,” said Sandy Salisbury from the Beautification Committee, “but I haven’t figured it out yet.”  

The inspiration for the new community art project came while several members of the beautification committee were on vacation in Florida.  The City of Pine Island had artistically designed utility poles, and it got the members thinking.

Soon Xcel Energy had given the project its blessing, and funding was lined up from the city, the local commercial club, Valspar paint and from the SW MN Arts and Humanities Council which  dedicated legacy dollars to help fund the project.

The poles currently occupy two general areas in town and are all within a mile of each other.  And for those making their first visit to town, many local merchants have maps available to make it even easier to find the fourteen poles.  

There is still one pole that would be suitable for painting that has yet to be designed.  

“I guess if some famous artist came here, and asked, we’d let them paint it,” Salisbury said.       

The poles are a prominent part of the upcoming Legacy Destination Weekend which is happening in and around Willmar on the weekend of August 17-19.  The Legacy weekends are a co-production of Conservation Minnesota, The Minnesota Citizens For The Arts and Explore Minnesota to draw attention to all of the great work that is being done throughout the state with funds from the Legacy Amendment which voters passed in 2008.

 

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