September 5, 2003 at 9:52 a.m.
“Peanuts” statues have graced the streets of downtown St. Paul for the last four years. First came Snoopy, then Charlie Brown, then Lucy and this year Linus. After seeing the Snoopy statues downtown St. Paul several years ago, my mom, sister and I were hooked. We took pictures of as many as we could find all around the city. I made the comment to my sister Robin Brett that if the city of St. Paul ever featured Linus, I wanted to paint Lifeguard Linus.
Both Robin and I (Amanda Brett) work at the Chisago Lakes Swimming Pool and have throughout our high school and college years. We lifeguard at Paradise Park and teach swimming lessons and lifeguard at the high school pool, so a Lifeguard Linus was the perfect idea for us.
Robin heard about an informational meeting for artists downtown St. Paul in the beginning of April. We decided what could it hurt to go to the meeting and see what it was all about? At the meeting we found out that it was going to be a lot harder than we thought, but decided to submit the design anyway. Within a couple of weeks I had to submit a colored drawing of what the Linus would look like. I’m not an art student but I was determined. I submitted my paperwork, the colored drawing and then almost forgot about it. The drawings had to be approved by the Charles Schulz’s family and then they were put into a book that potential sponsors could look at and hopefully decide they liked the idea and would be willing to sponsor the statue. It takes a lot of money to sponsor a statue and the ideas needed to fit along with what the sponsors were looking for.
The first day that the drawings were available Robin was home and received a call from someone who liked my design. I was student teaching in Stillwater at the time and could not believe it when she told me about the call.
I returned the call and the sponsor and I agreed that I would paint it. My sponsor is a business owner from St. Paul and he plans on having the statue “guard” the swimming pool in one of his apartment buildings when the Linus Blankets St. Paul event is finished in September.
I was excited and scared. I had never done anything like this and the timing was very interesting. The statues, all 90 of them, would be set up in the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul and there would be a paint-a-thon from May 21-26.
Right in the middle of this I was graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (Saturday, May 24). Robin came home for my graduation and helped paint. So did my sister, Tami, and Robin’s boyfriend, Ben. In between classes, working and graduation we were able to get a good start on painting the Linus. Many hours were spent and I received a lot of help. Even my brother Dana helped to screw the real whistle on, and of course, my mom Linda helped with the detail painting.
We had many challenges about what paint to use and especially how to make the attachments of the sunglasses and sandals. A former art teacher from the high school gave us some ideas, but we learned the most from the wonderful and talented people who were also painting. We painted for four days and nights and even went and stopped on the way to graduation to get some special cement and worked on the statue after my graduation.
What a relief when it was done, but what an accomplishment. It was an exciting time during the paint-a-thon with all the other artists and several members of the Charles Schulz family painting their own Linus and the real Linus, Linus Maurer, was also there one afternoon.
The RiverCentre was open to the public during part of the paint-a-thon and it was fun to have so many people taking pictures and stopping to talk and just be part of all the excitement.
After we were finished, the statue was clear-coated so it could sit outside during the summer heat and weather. It was then put out for everyone to enjoy. Lifeguard Linus was placed outside the apartment building where he will be “guarding” the pool after the celebration in September. That’s where he’s been all summer and now in the first part of September, he will be taken downtown St. Paul onto Wabasha Street, along with all the other statues, until Sept. 21. Then, many of the statues will be auctioned and a special tribute will be made to cartoonist Charles Schulz who grew up in St. Paul.
Lifeguard Linus was purchased by the sponsor so he will not be auctioned off but will forever stay in St. Paul to be enjoyed. When asked if I would do another statue, I thought about it and said, “Maybe. Ask me in April.”
It was exhausting, interesting, a fun time with my entire family but Linus will always be “my” special statue. If you are looking for Linus, he will be on display on Wabasha Street after Sept. 1, along with all of the other statues.