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Tale of a tufted, wool montage: Red Wing Public Library is home to bank tapestry

Red Wing Public Library is the new home to a tapestry that is 28 feet long and 54 inches high. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Red Wing's famous pottery is featured on the tufted wool tapestry. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Red Wing Public Library has unrolled its largest art piece yet.

A 28-foot-long tapestry rug featuring a number of iconic Red Wing scenes has been donated to the library. The tapestry, which once had been hanging up at Associated Bank, is now on display to the public.

"We're just excited about it," Janet Brandt, technical services librarian and member on the Library's Fine Arts committee said. The committee is responsible for accepting artwork donations and maintaining the artwork within the library. Brandt and the committee worked with the city to accept the donation — worth around $25,200 — transport it and hang it in the library.

"It was an interesting process," says Brandt of the almost half year endeavor.

The Red Wing Public Library invites the public to celebrate the new donation 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9. The open house will be held in the library's Foot Room where the community can view the tapestry, enjoy some refreshments and listen to musician Joe Lommel.

"We just want people to come, take a peek and stop in," Brandt said.

The tapestry is 28 feet long and 54 inches high and was created with a technique called tufting. The artist uses a tool that threads wool yarn on to a needle and punctures it through a cloth.

Some areas of the piece have been sculpted to create definition.

"It's such an unusual piece," Brandt said.

The rug features a number of local and historic scenes including the Mississippi River, Barn Bluff, a farmer working in the wheat fields, the original YMCA building, the 1902 Carnegie-Lawther Free Library, a boat harbor at Bay Point Park, classic Red Wing streetlights, the St. James Hotel, Red Wing pottery jugs, the 1904 T.B. Sheldon Auditorium and a Red WIng Shoe Co. employee sewing a shoe.

In 1988, the former Goodhue County National Bank renovated its space and updated some artwork. It was suggested that something elaborate should be done with the wall behind the teller's desk. A number of local destinations and scenes were selected to be featured in a mural. An artists sketched up the collage and sent it to the Philippines to be made. The montage then hung at the bank at Third and Bush streets. Associated Bank recently vacated that spot.

Brandt said the library received a lot of interest and support from various community members when discussing the artwork's move down the street to the library. Since the library was able to accept the donation, the artwork can still be appreciated by the public — but now up close.

"It was really a great opportunity to have something really unusual that fits the community," Brandt said. "That people will be able to see and that just won't see something like that every day."