Artists insert personal themes, message in 7-foot nutcracker sculptures in downtown Luverne
Luverne’s first public art project was unveiled Sunday with the artists explaining the inspiration behind their one-of-a-kind artwork on 7-foot fiberglass nutcrackers.
Retired art and media instructor Kim Schmidt unveiled “Maize” as a tribute to Luverne’s ag industry.
“My belief is that Luverne would not be what it is today if it were not for the hardworking farming families and agricultural workers who are a part of this city and county,” he said.
Schmidt added a whimsical approach to his design.
A grain bin is painted as a hat, work gloves cover the nutcracker’s hands, and both a green (on front) and a red combine (on back) make up the bulk of the design. Schmidt carried soybean, corn and wheat depictions throughout the sculpture including the nutcracker’s hair of corn leaves.
The people painted inside the combines represent local farmers Nate Siebenahler and Jerry Kuhlman, for whom Schmidt provides seasonal help.
“It’s a shoutout to them for their hard work and letting me be a part of their farming family,” he said.
Maize is located at the corner of Redbird Road and East Main Street.
Jen Huisman created “Patriot” in homage to those who serve in the military, especially the women who served in World War II.
Instead of painting, Huisman, who taught art at Ellsworth High School, used an assemblage technique with pictures of her grandparents, war posters and other vintage images she gathered from the Library of Congress and from the Internet “glued” together in the design.
Three of the pictures are of her grandparents.
“Both are World War II veterans,” she said.
“I remember my mom trying to find ways to honor my grandmother in her later years of life as a veteran and there weren’t many tributes to the women of World War II.”
Huisman said the assemblage technique allowed her to work with her hands and feel the objects as she moved them into place. She was experiencing a temporary loss of her eyesight at the time and found painting difficult.
Assemblage was a good alternative.
“The sense of building something and placing tactile objects inspires my creative process,” she said.
Patriot is located at the corner of West Main and Estey streets.
Janine (Anderson) Brands used her talent influenced by her older brother, Todd, and her former high school art teacher, Kim Schmidt, to create “Solitude,” which depicts her passion for the outdoors and the peaceful feelings it brings to her.
She was inspired by the buffalo as her primary design, and she included Sioux quartzite rock and the prairie plants of the Blue Mounds State Park on her nutcracker.
“The Blue Mounds are just gorgeous to me,” Brands said.
She added a lone wolf and an eagle to the nutcracker’s back side as influences of people close to her. She also included a weed growing from a crack on top of one of the nutcracker’s feet. The weed is in honor of her late father, Ray Anderson.
“He would have been driven nuts by not being able to pull that weed out,” she said.
Brands’ nutcracker is located in front of the History Center on East Main Street.
The public sculpture project is a privately funded partnership with the support of the Luverne Initiatives for Tomorrow and the city of Luverne.