MANKATO — Greg Mueller's sculpture was the last to be installed and the team of welders and heavy equipment operators had plenty to do.
"I almost bit off more than I could chew," said Mueller as he supervised the installation of "Street Seat" near the library in Mankato.
His sculpture consists of four large steel piers, topped with a steel cross braces. In the middle hangs a large tire swing.
"It's to encourage the pedestrian philosophy in downtown," said Mueller, a Mankato native who now teaches sculpture at a South Carolina college.
While his work is an ode to walking, the entire piece is made up of old yellow and black highway signs that he got from a sign company. "It plays with the nuance of vehicle sings in a pedestrian area."
Saturday was a day for artists to shine and talk to visitors as 31 new sculptures were installed in the city centers of Mankato and North Mankato for the fifth annual CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour.
The artists are from from 10 different states and two foreign countries. Almost half are from Minnesota.
"It's nice being able to visit with the artists," said Dan Honetschlager, of St. Peter, who was viewing the sculptures with his wife Sue and her father Clayton Mosher.
The couple, who said they are decidedly traditional in their tastes, best liked the farmer sculpture in North Mankato and one of a child in a raincoat.
Artist Jean-Philippe Chevallier's work, "Ephemeral Dancer," isn't in the traditional mode. The delicate metal work is all about simplicity and movement.
"I try to use as little material as possible and show the motion," said the Minneapolis artist who is making his first appearance in the Mankato show. "You should just catch a glimmer of it, like a photograph."
While the artists were fanned out much of the morning they also took part in an official Meet and Greet with public in the afternoon. New this year was a shuttle service available during the meet and greet to transport people between Mankato and North Mankato.
Saturday also saw the permanent installation of the winner of the past year's People's Choice Award. As the winner, "Green Sea Turtle" was purchased and will be kept in Mankato in the Sibley Park rock garden.
Noelle Lawton, special initiatives coordinator for the City Center Partnership, said some of the sculpture bases had to be relocated this year because of construction on the civic center addition.
And the sculpture tour expanded its footprint a bit by installing a sculpture on the plaza in front of Blue Bricks and Rounders.
"It's to kick off celebrating the 50th anniversary of Vikings Training Camp," Lawton said.
The bronze statue, called "Da Fans" shows one despondent fan with his head in his hands and another ecstatic fan celebrating his team's win.
"With the sports bars in the area we just thought it would be a good spot for it," Lawton said. She said the partnership plans to use the statue for some promotions and fun when camp begins, perhaps getting a Vikings jersey to put on the sculpture.
The sculptures have been kept a distance from the bar district in the past and Lawton is hoping the fan sculpture is unmolested. "Hopefully people will just take their picture by it and not climb on it or anything."
Artists Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby created the sculpture. The two have had works in most of the past sculpture tours.
People have a chance to vote for their favorite sculpture with the winner awarded the People’s Choice award. There are two ways to vote: either online (citycentermankato.com/walking-sculpture-tour) or by completing the voting ballot found in the Sculpture Tour brochure and dropping it in one of the ballot boxes along the tour.