Skip to main content

Nutcracker fine art sculptures to be dedicated Sunday downtown

Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson

A large-scale fine art project three years in the making will be dedicated Sunday in Luverne.
Three 8-foot-tall hand-painted nutcrackers stand at attention at downtown Main Street intersections — one at Estey Street, one on Blue Mound Avenue and a third in front of the History Center.
The “destination branding committee” of Luverne Initiatives For Tomorrow (LIFT) is hosting the dedication at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at the intersection of Redbird Road and Main Street.
The sculptures trace their beginnings to 18-inch prototypes that were hand-painted in 2019 by local artists — 10 of them in all.
By this time, word had spread among travelers about Luverne’s unique nutcracker collection at the History Center where the guest book recorded thousands of visitors.
To capitalize on tourism traffic, local leaders invited artists to create 18-inch nutcrackers which were unveiled at a reception in June 2019.
The 10 artists who created the nutcrackers are Janine Brands, Lori Hallstrom, Cody Henrichs, Jen Huisman, Cora Mumme Miller, Chris Nowatzki, Mary Petersen, Kristen Peterson, Kim Schmidt and Lois Young.
“There are some very talented people in our community,” said Chamber Director Jane Wildung Lanphere. “We did this project to see if not-your-typical nutcracker could be seen as art.”
Planners were gauging feedback to the pieces with an eye toward future life-size nutcrackers to promote Luverne’s tourism draw.
“Experts say this is our unique brand,” Lanphere said in 2019. “We’ll see how people respond to them. Would you stop and take your picture with an 8-foot nutcracker?”
It turns out, many would — and have — taken selfies with the three that were erected earlier this summer.
The artists who recreated their 18-inch prototypes on 8-foot-tall canvases are Janine Brands, Kim Schmidt and Jen Huisman.
Brands was the first to complete her sculpture last summer. Its exterior is loaded with artistic details, such as pheasants in flight, and Sioux quartzite rock outcroppings among prairie grasses.
“I tried to represent Luverne,” she said, “because that’s what the project is for.”
Her 18-inch prototype nutcracker also has a bison and state park theme, but the larger nutcracker has more surface area, and Brands didn’t waste a single square inch.
On its torso is a landscape scene of a bison cow and her calf against a colorful sky.
On one leg of the nutcracker, a deer stands along a bubbling stream, and daisies and asters bloom among the blades of grass. The other leg carries a scene of the upstream source that cascades over small waterfalls.
Brands, who is more accustomed to smaller art projects, said the sculpture work challenged her to paint more landscape scenes.
“I was afraid of doing rocks,” she said. “I studied pictures of rocks and YouTube videos.”
All the sculptures are made of fiberglass and weigh nearly 80 pounds. All three have the same size and shape but carry distinctly different artwork.
They’re painted with acrylic paint that received three clear-coats of auto-quality sealant at Kevin Aaker’s Luverne Body Shop.
A reception at the History Center will follow the 4 p.m. dedication Sunday.
The project is supported by a grant of the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council and coordinated by LIFT in partnership with the Rock County Historical Society.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.