By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
NORTH MANKATO — Mankato civic leaders and hockey fans aren’t the only ones coveting a sculpture on the local CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour.
Fundraising efforts are well along in the attempt to permanently keep “Going for the Goal,” a bronze statue of a small boy in makeshift hockey gear and an adult-sized hockey stick, outside the Verizon Wireless Center even after the 2012 sculpture tour is packed up this spring.
But some North Mankato residents are still hopeful that donors might rally around the idea of purchasing a second sculpture for placement in front of the North Mankato Taylor Library. The reading theme of “Circle of Friends” makes it particularly attractive for the library setting.
“It would really be nice to have there,” said Billy Steiner, the longest serving member of the North Mankato City Council and a member of the city’s library board.
“Circle of Friends” by Colorado artist Karen Crain carries a price-tag of $35,000, however, well above the $20,000 being sought to retain the hockey sculpture.
The North Mankato City Council has indicated no intention of contributing toward the purchase. Hopes were recently dashed that the Taylor Foundation, the charitable arm of Glen Taylor’s North Mankato-based business empire, would agree to make a sizable donation.
Taylor’s contribution to the construction of the Belgrade Avenue library resulted in his name being added to the facility, so city officials saw the foundation as an obvious potential source of money for artwork to adorn it.
“We did submit a request to the Taylor Foundation,” interim City Administrator Mike Fischer said. “... But they declined the request.”
The North Mankato Civic and Commerce Association, which sponsors the community’s annual Fun Days celebration and helps cover the costs of municipal holiday lights, is supportive of the sculpture purchase but can’t cover the cost, Steiner said.
“We need some generous benefactor to step forward,” he said.
The two-year-old sculpture walk brings a new round of pieces to downtown Mankato and North Mankato with only the winner of the “people’s choice” voting guaranteed a permanent home in the city. The rest are packed up and returned to their creators — artists from around the nation — to make room for the ensuing year’s pieces.
But each year, some sculptures have caught the fancy of local residents who have purchased them rather than letting them leave town following their 10-month visit.
The current CityArt sculptures are scheduled to be taken down in the next two months, with the installation of the next round on May 18.