Halloween deadline set for submissions to 'Sails Up' public art project; second chance round planned for November

Artists planning to participate in the "150 Sails up in DL" public art project set to be unveiled next spring have until this Saturday, Oct. 31, to submit their applications — but a second chance round of submissions will open Nov. 1 and run through the end of the month.

Sails Up 2.jpg
A prototype of the large-scale "Sails Up" sculpture being used for Detroit Lakes' new community art project is now on display outside the local Chamber of Commerce office at 714 Summit Ave. A model of the smaller-scale sculpture can also be viewed inside the Chamber office, and similar prototypes are also on display in front of the Detroit Lakes city office (1025 Roosevelt Ave.) and Lakes Liquor (200 Holmes St. E.) (Submitted photo)

The deadline is fast approaching for artist submissions to the "150 Sails Up in DL" public art project, set to be unveiled next spring in honor of the City of Detroit Lakes' 150th birthday.

Saturday, Oct. 31, was the deadline originally set for artists to submit their applications for inclusion in the project. But because not all 150 of the "blank" sailboat sculptures have yet been claimed by an artist/sponsor pair, project coordinator Mary Beth Gilsdorf is planning a "second chance" round of submissions to run through the month of November.

"That deadline will be Nov. 30," she said.

"The sailboats themselves won't be finished until the end of December," said Mary Beth's husband, Hans Gilsdorf, who is the artist behind the creation of the prototype sailboat sculpture being used for the project.

This means that an artist who submits a late application won't have any more or less time to work on the actual piece, explained Mary Beth — but those who were planning to submit their applications by Oct. 31 should still do so, as they will have the largest selection pool for being paired with a sponsor.


The concept sketch that the artist submits with their application "doesn't have to be perfect," she added. "It just has to have something that the sponsor can visualize."

The artist can even write an explanation of some of the ideas they have in mind on the basic sailboat drawing that is included with the application, rather than sketching the design out in exact detail. That explanation should include samples of the colors they are planning to use, however.

'Sails Up' — the concept

"Sails Up" is modeled after 2003's "Sunny in DL" public art project: 50 giant sunfish sculptures that were designed and decorated by local artists. Seventeen years later, about half of those sculptures can still be found dotting the local landscape and remain popular for summer viewing trips among visitors and residents alike.

Like the sailboats, Hans Gilsdorf also created the sunfish sculpture that was used as the "blank canvas" for Sunny in DL. This time, however, in order to make the public art more climate-resistant for display throughout the year, the sailboats are being made of either powder-coated or raw steel (artist's choice), rather than fiberglass over a steel base, which was the medium used for the sunfish.

Also unlike the sunfish, these sculptures will come in two sizes: A large model that is 4 feet tall, and a smaller, tabletop model that is 20 inches tall. The total number of sailboats will be limited to 150, no matter the size — and no more than 75 of the larger sculptures will be made, Hans noted.

Sponsors can order either a small or large sculpture, at a cost of $900 or $1,500, respectively, anytime through Nov. 15.

Artists who would like to design one of the sailboats must submit an application and sign a participation agreement, after which their designs will be reviewed and approved by the sailboat committee for inclusion in an online design book.

Once the designs are up online, sponsors can review, then choose the design and artist that would be the best fit for them.


"An artist can submit more than one design," said Mary Beth, noting that just because multiple designs are submitted by the same artist, doesn't mean that the artist has committed to producing all of them for this project.

For instance, if the artist submits three designs, but only commits to completing two of them, once those two designs are selected by sponsors, the third one will be removed from consideration.

Once sponsors have chosen their designs and the sculptures have been delivered, the designs can be hand-applied by the artist, or applied as a vinyl wrap using a digital image. When their sculptures are completed, each artist will receive a stipend, the size of which is dependent on the design: Artists who directly apply their designs will receive $500 for a large sculpture or $300 for a small sculpture, while those who choose to use a digitally-rendered vinyl wrap will be paid $150, regardless of size.

Hans noted that Trophy House has been consulting with them on the type of signs and vinyl wraps that will be used for the project.

Because of the ability to use vinyl wraps, added Mary Beth, there is a much wider variety of artistic mediums that can be incorporated in a sailboat design, though artists can also choose hand-application of materials like mosaic tiles and beadwork as well.

Models of both the small and large sailboats are now on display at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce (700 Summit Ave.), Detroit Lakes City Office (1025 Roosevelt Ave.) and Lakes Liquor (200 Holmes St. E.).

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, a participating artist or learning more about this project, visit the website at or call the Detroit Lakes City Office at 218-847-5658.


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This small sailboat sculpture created by Detroit Lakes artist Hans Gilsdorf shows what the undecorated sailboats being used for the community's new "Sails Up" public art project will look like. A total of 150 of these sculptures will be decorated by area artists and displayed at sponsoring businesses around town as part of Detroit Lakes' 150th birthday celebration in 2021. (Submitted photo)

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