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Plans for ‘Veterans Tribute’ sculpture takes shape

A model of the “Veterans Tribute” sculpture will be on display at the Depot Gallery in conjunction with a gallery show featuring artwork by veterans. (Photo by Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor)

The impact of war on the men and women who serve in the military will be reflected in a “Veterans Tribute” sculpture for Levee Park that is part of the Minnesota Veterans Art Experience 2014.

Dedication ceremonies are being planned for Memorial Day weekend.

The Red Wing Arts Association organized the art experience and is carrying it out with the help of grants and other support from foundations, members and local organizations who believe the activities are valuable to the community as well as to the participating veterans and their families.

RWAA Director Dan Guida and local artist Dan Wiemer came up with the concept for the sculpture and Art Kenyon, another Red Wing artist, refined the design. The metal sculpture is being crafted by Thomas & Betts Corp., Hager City.

“The sculpture is designed to reflect and remember the impact that war exerts upon our military veterans, both as an active soldier on duty and afterwards, in the transition come home as an American civilian,” Kenyon wrote.

The piece consists of two steel plates, each about 5 feet by 8 feet. Each has a life-size image of a man and a woman. Viewed from one side they are seen in military garb; from the other side, in civilian garb.

Kenyon explained that the first side “depicts two soldiers standing together to show the profound experience as an American soldier confronted with relocation, training, duty assignment, responsibilities, commitment, combat, and personal expectations.”

The other side, he added, “depicts two civilians standing together to show the ‘other experience’ when active duty ends, rotating home, physical and mental rehabilitation, adjustment, a new perspective, the resurgence as an American civilian.”

The two plates will be positioned about 2 feet apart with the figures of each plate aligned with the other “to show the close and enduring bond between soldier and civilian that is ever-present in the minds and the souls of those who have dedicated so much to the protection of our country,” Kenyon said.

The arts association is working with the city of Red Wing on the location and the foundation, Guida said, because it will become a permanent public artwork. The plan includes three “bench size” boulders on which people can sit as they reflect, he noted. A number of local organizations contributed funding.

The sculpture will be sited toward the east end of Levee Park, about two-thirds of the way down.

“The images will look toward the flag” that flies upriver at Bay Point Park, Guida said.

If the weather and the Mississippi River cooperate, the association will hold an unveiling ceremony in Levee Park on May 24.