CityArt sculpture removal

Volunteers carry a sculpture called "What the Nose Knows" to a waiting trailer as they remove the sculptures on the CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour last month in Mankato. File photo

MANKATO — What comes down is going back up.

CityArt Mankato is getting ready to introduce the 2016 Walking Sculpture Tour with its annual Artist Meet and Greet, which takes place from 3-5 p.m. Saturday.

"It's really a great opportunity for the community and any visitors we have in town," said Noelle Lawton, executive director of the Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, which collaborates with City Center Partnership on each year's tour.

Twenty-seven sculptures will be installed early Saturday in Mankato and North Mankato as part of this year's tour, and 19 artists will be in town to discuss their works. Lawton said this year's artists come from all over the U.S., with Pennsylvania sculptor William Snyder traveling the farthest to display his art.

That's only one marker of how large the tour has become. While CityArt officials say it's difficult to track how many people take the tour each year, they routinely go through about 10,000 brochures each summer — and reprinted an extra 3,000 last year.

Still, Lawton thinks that severely underrepresents just how many people are actually taking the tour each year.

"We've seen it's kind of the go-to experience when hotels and restaurants have visitors in town, or when there's a wedding party that needs something to do," she said. "We get a lot of requests now for convention tours."

This year's opening event features live music in two spots for residents to enjoy. The Porchlights will play near the NaKato Bar & Grill on Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato while Captain Gravitone and the String Theory Orchestra will play near Atwood Property Management by Second and Walnut streets in Mankato.

Lawton said CityArt is offering a new goal for this year's meet and greet — residents who go through the tour and collect every artist's signature on this year's flier will receive a 20 percent discount on CityArt T-shirts.

As the tour annually grows in stature, CityArt hopes residents will continue their interest in the public arts.

"We just find the Mankato community has really embraced the public art that has come into our downtown," Lawton said.

A permanent tour

Though 27 sculptures will make their temporary homes in the Mankato area starting Saturday, there are plenty of pieces from previous Walking Sculpture Tours to enjoy.

CityArt owns six pieces that have been displayed over the past five years — a People's Choice winner from each tour, and a sculpture in front of the Verizon Wireless Center bought with donations from the community.

Residents can find almost all of these pieces on display, except for CityArt's most recent acquisition, "Godzilla." Though North Mankato city workers took "Godzilla" down from his pedestal on Belgrade Avenue last week, city leaders plan to move the King of the Monsters to a new vantage point in front of the Marigold site near the Highway 169 on-ramps. 

A special placement pad will be constructed for "Godzilla," who will then act as an ambassador of sorts for North Mankato.

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