“Hutchinson Pillars” Project Description
Background: As plans were being developed for the Main Street 2020 reconstruction project, the City, MnDOT, the project consultant, and the citizens’ advisory committee discussed a variety of streetscaping options that could be included as part of the project.
Opportunities to add public art was one option that was discussed and the Hutchinson Public Arts Commission (PAC) was encouraged to take the lead on developing a plan to include public art.
Basis: The PAC wanted to incorporate art and history into the project, which is consistent with the 2013 Imagine Hutchinson Downtown Plan and the City’s recently adopted strategic plan.
At the same time, it was important that the project complement the historic nature of downtown and be in harmony with other streetscaping efforts. The PAC also wanted the art to be visible and accessible, while celebrating the city’s past, present and future.
Theme: Through a number of discussions, the PAC settled on the idea of four pillars placed at strategic locations along Main Street. Each of the pillars will represent a core value that has been important to Hutchinson since its founding. The four values are Service, Humanity, Stewardship and Education. Each of these is broad enough that they encompass a variety of important community ideals. Some examples for each are included below.
- Service: includes our veterans, emergency service personnel, service clubs, government, volunteerism and partnerships.
- Humanity: includes faith, equality, helping others, tolerance, compassion, generosity, the arts, history and building community.
- Stewardship: includes our parks, trails, the river, recycling and composting, our urban forest, renewable energy and various environmental efforts.
- Education: includes life-long learning, our families, our schools (public and private), teachers, programs, extracurricular activities and non-school related activities.
Elements: Each pillar will be four feet tall and two feet square. The pillars will have yellow brick facing similar to the library and bandshell in library square. On top of each pillar will be a bronze oak tree (or similarly durable material) approximately two feet tall.
Raised metal side panels will be placed on the two non-traffic sides of each pillar and will incorporate art and text to tell the meaning of the pillar’s value and its relation to Hutchinson. The panels may also be arched to compliment the windows of the library, downtown power plant and other streetscaping.
The oak tree was chosen for the art on top of the pillars because the oak tree is symbolic of strength, protection, longevity, wisdom, nobility, safety, dignity and steadiness. Their extensive root system is also part of their strength and foundation, just like the values are part of Hutchinson’s roots and foundation.
In addition, the oak tree has always been a part of Hutchinson and local stands are remnants of the Big Woods that transitioned into the western prairies. The tree art also recognizes Hutchinson’s status as Minnesota’s second oldest Arbor Day Foundation “Tree City USA” (40th year in 2018).
Locations: With MnDOT’s help, several possible locations were identified. Three of the locations will be in new Main Street bump-outs; including at the SW corner of 1st Ave North (by Dairy Queen) and at the Northeast and Southwest corners of 1st Ave S (by Library Square and Citizen’s Bank). The fourth location is just off Main Street along the north side of 3rd Ave South (by the post office).
The 1st Ave North and 3rd Ave South locations book-end downtown, while the 1st Ave South locations provide balance in the center.
Financing: Proposed financing for the project will come from a combination of city funds (up to $38,000), public art funds ($18,000) and grants ($19,000). Please note that the city and public art funds will come from existing funds so taxes will not need to be raised for this project. Also, the budget is based on conservative estimates and actual costs could be less.
Art Selection Process: Following preliminary approval by the city council, the PAC will solicit artists for both the oak tree sculptures and the side panel art. Selection of the artists and the artwork will be done by a panel consisting of PAC members, council members and community members for the council’s final approval.