October 6, 2016 at 2:34 p.m.
The original idea was to have the region’s midwife, a colorful character named Nellie Gustafson, installed on the east end of the split pairs. Nellie, due to various funding twists-and-turns, ended up being set on the lawn of the Chisago Lakes public library.
This left the one-way pairs triangle vacant.
Sculptor Ian Dudley, who lives in Lindstrom, created the midwife Nellie aboard her buggy. He has several pieces in this area including Moberg with his bicycle in Chisago City. Dudley was keenly aware of how much the community adored the owner of Plastics Products Inc. Marlene Smith, and got to thinking about promoting a piece in her honor. Smith’s contributions to area organizations are legendary; and who doesn’t hold a nugget of pride in their heart for the coffee pot water tower? Not only was it her idea to create, but she paid for it too.
Smith is in a hall of fame for women executives and was a longtime leader in the national plastics industry. She died in 2014.
Dudley approached Lindstrom Mayor Keith Carlson about a tribute to Smith as a sculpture in the east end slot. The mayor liked the idea-- in fact nobody was anti-art-piece, Dudley said. But the city was not going to fund it. Smith’s family came on-board and Dudley found outside funding from the East Central Regional Arts Council on top of the Smith family’s donation and the project had its legs.
The piece was difficult to bring dimension to at first, Dudley recalls. He said it wasn’t until he was sifting through family photographs with Marlene’s daughter Debbie, that Dudley gleaned subtle mannerisms and a way of standing Marlene displayed in photos, that gave him insight for what the piece would convey. From about last February to now, he has been sketching, and making mock-ups. The sculpture was recently readied and cast at the foundry. Tuesday this week you may have noticed activity at the triangle as the base for the piece was being completed for installation.
The Marlene Smith statue will be unveiled Saturday, October 8 at 10 a.m. The moment will be celebrated in the east end plaza of the Lindstrom split highway pairs. The public is invited.
There’s a gathering afterwards at St Bridget’s fellowship hall across the stret.
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