Paul Granlund's "South Wind II," photo by Vidya Venk provided by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Minnesota art fans were shocked in April 2015 when a graceful bronze by the late St. Peter-based sculptor Paul Granlund was stolen from the grounds of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. 

Donated by Twin Cities arts patrons Tom and Jane Nelson, the 42 inch tall sculpture depicted a young woman, head and arms flung back, exulting in the beauty of spring. Called "South Wind II," the sculpture was a popular feature of the Arboretum's shrub-rose garden until it disappeared overnight. Despite extensive publicity, it has not been recovered.

Before his death in 2003, Granlund had cast 10 copies of the sculpture, however, and retained the first of those castings. (The stolen figure was the last piece cast.) Recently the Arboretum purchased the first of the castings from Granlund's family and, on November 19, installed it in its familiar rose-garden spot along Three-Mile Drive. Though the drive is closed to vehicles during the winter, the sculpture can be seen by hikers.  

Granlund (1925-2003) was one of Minnesota's most prolific and popular figurative sculptors. Born in Minneapolis, he earned his B.A.in 1952 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Mn and served as artist in residence there for 25 years, from 1971 until his retirement in 1996. While completing his 1954 M.F.A. at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan he honed his skills as a bronze worker and developed a distinctive style of figurative art that traced its energy and expressive modeling to the 19th-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Over the decades, Granlund also responded to 20th-century artistic developments by having his figures emerge from minimalist, geometric forms. His most popular pieces, however, remained single figures or family groups that appeared to be tossing children exuberantly into the air. 

Besides "South Wind II," the Arboretum has three additional Granlund pieces on its grounds: "Mountain Mirage" in the hosta glade; "Swimmers" in the Harrison Sculpture Garden; and "Winter and Summer Nymphs" on a terrace behind the Snyder Building. 

More than 650 other Granlund sculptures can be found on college campuses, hospital grounds, in public buildings, churches and parks around the world including Assisi, Italy; Bangalore, India; Osaka and Nagasaki, Japan; and Paris, France. 

His sculpture "Charles A. Lindbergh -- The Boy and The Man," can be seen at Le Bourget Airport, Paris; the San Diego International Airport; and the Minnesota State Capitol. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester has work by Granlund, and there are more than 30 of his bronzes at Gustavus Adolphus College.

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