There are still 24 of the smaller, 20-inch tabletop sailboat sculptures left to be claimed by sponsors for the "150 Sails Up" public art project being organized to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the City of Detroit Lakes — but the deadline to do so is approaching fast.
Sunday, Feb. 28, is the final sign-up deadline for sponsors, according to organizers Hans and Mary Beth Gilsdorf.
"I have to get the sailboats to the artists by the first week of March," explained Mary Beth Gilsdorf, adding that the participating artists — some of whom have signed up to complete as many as five separate sculptures — will need at least a month to finish up their work before the final unveiling.
That unveiling is set to take place at a "Sailboat Regatta Party" on Friday, April 30 at Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes. Though the Detroit Lakes Pavilion — with its prime location adjacent to the City Park and mile-long public beach — was originally set to be the host site for the unveiling, the scope of the project (and related pandemic safety restrictions) prompted the switch to a larger venue.
"It just wouldn't have worked (at the Pavilion)," said Mary Beth.
Though there will be plenty of opportunities to view the finished sculptures, which will be on display at various publicly-viewable spots around Detroit Lakes through at least the end of the year — but the Regatta Party will be the one and only time that the entire collection will be gathered in one spot.
"This is the only time you'll see all 150 sailboats in one location," Hans Gilsdorf said — after that, they will be moved to their new homes, at businesses, parks and other publicly-viewable spots around the city, where they must remain until at least Dec. 31. At the end of the year, sponsors may choose to claim the sculptures and move them to more private locations, though obviously organizers would prefer to keep as many of them as possible available for public viewing.
"The whole goal is to get people out and about around town, to see the diversity of what Detroit Lakes has to offer," he explained.
The sponsorships, meanwhile, are a means of not only funding the cost of the project, but also helping to support the participating artists, and have seed money for future public art projects.
"The artists are being paid for their work," said Hans, adding that those who apply their original artwork directly to the base sculpture will receive stipends of $500 for the large sailboats and $300 for the small sailboats, while those who choose to have their work imprinted on a vinyl wrap and applied to the sculpture, regardless of its size, will receive $150.
About 75 artists are participating in the project; Mary Beth said that some of them have already been sending them photos of their work, in various stages of development — and it's been an awe-inspiring experience.
"There's so much variety," she said.
"We've met a lot of cool artists through this process," Hans said, both locally and at locations in the Twin Cities, Fargo-Moorhead, and beyond. "The farthest away from us, I think, is in Rapid City, S.D.
"To see this artwork starting to come alive is amazing," he added. "Everybody has the same basic shape to work with, but the designs, the colors ... each of them becomes their own unique piece of art."
Artists of all ages are participating in the project — including the very young. Mary Beth noted that one of the smaller, tabletop-sized sculptures will be decorated with a vinyl wrap that displays the winner of a local coloring contest which is being held in conjunction with the event.
"We'd like to have a Vikings-themed one too," said Hans, noting that the one they did for the 'Sunny in DL' public art project back in 2003 garnered a lot of interest from the players when organizers brought it to training camp to have it signed by the team.
Just as he did for the Sunny in DL project, Hans sculpted the original design that was used to manufacture the 75 large (four feet tall) and 75 small (20 inch) metal sailboats that will serve as the "blank canvas" for each participating artist's designs. This time, however, he himself did not sign up to create one of the final art pieces for the project.
His daughter did, however — and Hans' help was enlisted by Megan Gilsdorf in getting her two-dimensional design, "You Shine," onto the three-dimensional, four-foot sculpture that is being sponsored by Stelliher Human Services.
"We had a blast," he said, adding that the experience also helped him in his role as artist advisor for the project.