When Eagan artist Melvin R. Smith chose a sculpture design to enter in Eagan’s public art contest, he went with something bold.
“We’ve got a lot of trees out here,” Smith said. “You’ve got to have big sculptures or people won’t see it.”
After a two-year process that involved a community dialogue and extensive work by a selection committee, visitors will finally get to see Smith’s “Metamorphosis.” The 21-foot sculpture will be officially unveiled next Sunday during Eagan Art House’s annual Harvest of Art event, which features an exhibit of local artists, artist demonstrations, raku pottery firing, a pottery sale and music.
Smith will speak about his work during a round-table discussion during the event. Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire will also address the crowd.
Though her piece won’t be officially unveiled until October, artist Marcia McEachron will also be contributing a sculpture to the Art House grounds. Her piece, “Sentience,” features bur oak leaves that are designed to play with light and shadow and are made of weathering steel.
“It’s got a beautiful bronze-like finish when it ages,” said the Minneapolis artist. “It needs to get beaten up a bit by the weather in order to get beautiful.”
McEachron is inspired by Eagan’s push for more public art. “If you go to a place like Paris, you bump into art on every street corner,” she said. “We need things to inspire us.”
A main goal of the Harvest of Art celebration has always been to bring art into the public eye. The show features artwork of 40 primarily south-of-the-river artists. After the event, their work travels to various locations throughout the community — including the Eagan Community Center, Easter Lutheran Church, Ring Mountain Creamery, Dunn Bros and Byerly’s — where it will be displayed until Nov. 1.
“People can go out and take a tour of the artwork,” said Julie Andersen, recreation supervisor at the Eagan Art House.
The Sunday Harvest of Art event also features a pottery sale and demonstrations of painting, pottery, and basket weaving. There will be an outdoor setup for firing raku pottery, where visitors can buy a pot, glaze it and fire it on site.
Ring Mountain Creamery will serve handmade small-batch ice cream, and a musical duo will perform.
The Art House also offers a discount on registration fees for anyone who registers for classes during the event.
Smith’s bright orange, geometric sculpture, with its circles and wings, is part of his Kirkos (Greek for “circle”) series. “The circle is the first form that man sees,” he said, “the moon, the sun. It’s a form of complete- ness.”
“It’s colorful and represents positive changes,” Andersen said. “It represents creativity and energy.”
Smith feels the idea of “metamorphosis” connects with Eagan’s changes in the three decades he’s lived there. Over the years, he’s seen his neighborhood transition from a rural place — with dirt roads and cornfields — to a busy suburban residential area.
“This was like the first house here,” he said of his Eagan home. “We were pioneers of this area.”
Smith, who has a sculpture in St. Paul’s Western Sculpture Park and installations all over the county, said that when his wife told him about the call for entries, he jumped at the opportunity to display in Eagan.
“I just wanted a piece of my work here,” he said. “That was key.”
“He really has a heart for the community and seeing the arts grow here,” Andersen said.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.