Artists invited to showcase their work in sculpture walk in Albert Lea

Published 5:04 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Art Walk Albert Lea is looking for submissions for a sculpture walk that is slated to open this summer around Fountain Lake and in the downtown.

Holly Babcock, executive director of the Albert Lea Main Street Program, which oversees Art Walk Albert Lea, said the initial goal was to have six sculptures in place this year, but 11 spots have now been approved and the plan is to have 20 by the end of 2024.

The sculptures need to be built to withstand all four seasons and can be made out of materials such as stone, metal, ceramics or wood, among others. They will be placed on pedestals made out of Kasota stone from Mankato, some of which have already been installed.

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The pedestals will stay in place year-round, and the sculptures will be welded onto a metal plate on top of the rock base and will be swapped out each year.

Babcock said city staff helped in locking in the locations, and they tried to select areas with high foot, bicycle and car traffic.

“I think it’s going to have a huge impact on tourism,” she said. “I know that’s one of the first things I look for is art — I want to know where I’m going to eat and what I’m going to be taking pictures of when I travel, so I’m really excited to see components of that.”

At each sculpture, there will be a name plate with information about the artwork, the art piece and the sponsorships. Organizers also plan to have a QR code to direct people to information about purchasing the piece and more information about the artist and the sculpture. There will be an app people can use as they go along the walking tour to also provide information, and eventually organizers hope to have a coloring book for children that features each of the sculptures.

Babcock said she has worked closely with people involved in art walks in Mankato and Red Wing to find out things that have worked well for them, as well as hurdles.

While there is no set theme for the sculptures, she said she hopes the work that is submitted will provoke some sort of emotion in the viewer.

“My personal hope — I hope that there’s some wild stuff that makes you go, ‘What is this?’” she said. “We’re excited to see what everybody puts together.”

The call for art states the sculptures need to be appropriate for the public and not have any overtly sexual, political or profane images or language. The art will be leased to Art Walk Albert Lea for 12 months and will be posted for sale with 30% of the proceeds of the sale going back to support the Art Walk Albert Lea program.

Babcock said the call for art has been released to a few out-of-town connections she has, but the overarching plan is to use local artists first.

The artwork should be less than 84 inches in height, less than 18 inches in width at the base and no more than 54 inches wide at its maximum.

She said people do not have to be professional sculptors to apply, and she encouraged anyone with an interest in showcasing a talent to consider applying — whether that be someone who enjoys welding or someone who enjoys carving things with wood. She noted organizers are also open to sculptures that incorporate movement into their design.

A stipend is available to the artists upon jury approval that will be paid for through sponsorships.

People are asked to submit their draft ideas by April 21 for jury approval, including a sketch or photo, as well as information about the size and what the piece will be made out of.

Once the idea is approved in that phase, the artist will then submit the actual physical sculpture by June 30, after which the jury will review the art in person.

The sculptures selected for the walk will be placed Aug. 25 with a ribbon cutting to follow.

The sculpture walk is part of an effort to bring more public art to the community. Two other murals have already been installed at Lakeview and Academy parks, and there are metal sculptures in the downtown flower pots year-round. Other plans are in the works for more murals.

Contact Maggie Moller at with submissions and questions.