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The New York Mills Sculpture Park undergoes facelift; more work needed

NEW YORK MILLS -- Many of the sculptures in the New York Mills Sculpture Park celebrate the rural and farming heritage of this community.

In honor of the 125th Anniversary of New York Mills, the sculpture park has undergone extensive work, beginning in the spring of 2008 with the removal of several sculptures severely damaged by vandalism and effects of time.

Since then, a new sculpture by Tim Cassidy, called Projectile, was installed in the park on a concrete slab. New trees were planted along the north slope of the park, and the grass encroaching on the rock beds beneath many of the sculptures was dug out by hand. A water spigot was installed to provide water for newly planted trees (and the future shelter/visitors kiosk).

This spring, more visible improvements were jump-started with the help of a CEP (Concentrated Employment Program) crew under the direction of Heather Cassidy, Arts Retreat Coordinator at the NYM Regional Cultural Center.

Improvements include: Trees were pruned. Corn fence has been sandblasted, primed and painted.

The Ferrous Trio, 1997 by Iam A. Farmer

The three dinosaur sculptures were created out of pieces of old farm machinery. They have been repaired and painted.

Corn Patch, 1997 by Jim Brenner and Hans Wolfe

Cast iron and steel. This sculpture was created in collaboration with the community of New York Mills and contains unique cast iron corn cobs made during the community iron pour in 1997. It has been repainted.

High Water, 1997 by John Peeters

Steel. The 7-foot stack of heron-like birds has been primed and painted, but still needs the finishing touch of yellow contrast paint applied.

The Cockshutt Tractor, 1998 by Ken Nyberg

"The tractor sculpture is 17 feet tall and weighs 3,800 pounds. It was made of 1,154 scraps of iron pieced together with a welder and 470 hours of sweat equity." From the book, A Walk with Ken: On the Road to Home, compiled by Mathew B. Johnson, 2008. The tractor sculpture has been sandblasted, primed and repainted.

While the Sculpture Park looks much better than when the rejuvenation project was started last year, there is much more to do.

The signs identifying the sculpture park need to be repainted, or possibly replaced.

The tractor labels that identify each sculpture's title, date and artist need to be repainted and reinstalled with newly printed information cards.

Some of the sculptures need to be installed on a bed of plastic and landscape rock to improve ease of maintenance.

The picnic tables need to be re-stained.

More trees should be planted to create a wind break and shade for sculpture park visitors.

New interpretive materials need to be printed with information and a map of the park.

A new Kasota limestone eagle sculpture created for New York Mills by Sculptor Duane Goodwin of Bemidji will be installed. This requires pouring a 10-inch deep concrete footing (2-foot by 3-foot) for the base of the sculpture to set on. Dan's Towing has volunteered to deliver the sculpture once the base is poured.

Fundraising continues for the shelter/ visitors kiosk.

The sculpture park is a unique attraction in New York Mills that, along with the Regional Cultural Center on Main Street, distinguishes this town from any other town on the Highway 10 corridor. The improvements at the sculpture park cost time and money.

If you or your group would like to volunteer to improve the sculpture park, please contact Heather Cassidy at the cultural center at 385-3339.

If you or your business can provide financial support to the sculpture park improvement project or the shelter fund, please contact Jamie Robertson, Director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, 385-3339.