A Reedsburg art project was among 37 nationwide recently recognized as outstanding public art projects for 2013.
Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit whose focus is advancing the arts and arts education, honored “Ruminant” with inclusion in the “Public Art Network Year in Review” database, the only national program recognizing the most compelling public art in America.
Ruminant is a harvesting combine clad in 34 back-lit, agriculturally themed stained-glass panels created for the 2013 Farm/Art DTour, a featured event of the annual Fermentation Fest. It is the work of Minnesota artist Karl Unnasch.
“It is resourceful, elegant, beautifully crafted,” said Ralph Helmick a juror and award-winning artist based in Newton, Massachusetts. “And its barroom-stained-glass style meshes mighty well with a repurposed combine. This piece might make me want to just say ‘yes’ to drugs. But it’s so soulful I won’t really need them.”
Ruminant was among 345 diverse public-art projects representing small and large cities throughout the United States considered by jurors.
“The innovative work demonstrated in the Public Art Network Year in Review shows the breadth of talent from artists around the country,” said Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These winning pieces reflect the diversity of public art in our communities, from temporary projects to permanent, and sculpture to performance art. These projects engage new audiences and help build stronger and more vibrant communities.”
Ruminant was originally a temporary piece, but Reedsburg community members formed a committee to acquire it for the city. It is currently being re-outfitted by Unnasch and will be installed as a centerpiece in a new downtown park, “Harvest Park,” later this year.
Ruminant will be lit up in its new location for the first time during a dedication ceremony Oct. 3, just in time for Fermentation Fest, which begins Oct. 4. Fermentation Fest celebrates food, farming and fermentation in all its forms. Last year the Fest drew about 12,000 visitors.
“Ruminant is intended to become a Reedsburg landmark and to attract curious visitors to the city. It also pays homage to our local farmers” said Joann Mundth Douglas. “Karl’s piece is so compelling, we believe that it will both distinguish Reedsburg and attract visitors year-round for years to come.”
Mundth Douglas is a Reedsburg native, chairwoman of the Ruminant/Harvest Park Project Committee and founder of Reedsburg ArtsLink, a fledgling nonprofit aimed at fostering all forms of arts and culture in the Reedsburg area.
Unnasch has exhibited as far as Europe and been featured in publications such as “The New York Times” and featured on NBC’s “Today Show.” In 2013, he was named among the Artists of the Year by the City Pages news weekly in Minneapolis.