The newest Art Bench in the St. Croix Valley was unveiled on Sept. 6 in Osceola’s Mill Pond Park.
The bench, titled “Togetherness,” features two semi-circular seating areas, a large cement, stone, and metal sculpture, and a map of the St. Croix River near Osceola engraved on sandstone.
The bench was constructed by a dozen third- through eighth-grade Osceola students, under the leadership of teacher Amy Klein and artist David Markson. The group spent the summer exploring the natural places, history, and arts of the region, developing the concept and design, and working together to construct it.
The group came up with the idea of “Togetherness” after learning about all the different ways that people have come together throughout the area’s history to build businesses and community. The group also incorporated ideas about how the river was shaped over the past 10,000 years, and has, in turn, shaped Osceola through the town’s history.
“This project really embodied the ideals of the Art Bench projects,” sais Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director of The Phipps Center for the Arts. “It has a strong sense of place, expresses the creative spirit of a diverse bunch of people, and is both functional and aesthetically interesting.”
The bench is located next to the sidewalk along Mill Pond. Its unique seating areas allows visitors to sit facing the sculpture, or turn around and enjoy the view of the pond and downtown Osceola. The bench supports are made of railroad ties from the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway. Each of 12 stones located around the base of the sculpture include one word picked by each student participant to describe how the river was shaped and how the river shaped the town.
“Togetherness” was unveiled during the Osceola Community Fair and Wheels and Wings car and air show on Sept. 6. It was developed in partnership with Franconia Sculpture Park, Osceola Historical Society, Osceola Public Library, Osceola School District, St. Croix ArtBarn, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Standing Cedars Community Land Trust, St. Croix Valley Foundation, The Phipps Center for the Arts, and Village of Osceola. Funding was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the project was supported by Pauly Cudd, Steve Mueller and the helpful employees of J & S Contractors, and the Minnesota Transportation Museum.
More information about “Togetherness” and the entire Art Bench Trail is available at www.artbenchtrail.org.