What better place than outside the Visitor Center on Huff Street to place a new Winona icon? That was the thinking of Winona City Planning, Park and Recreation, and Arts and Culture staffs as they brainstormed a new public art project for Winona to enjoy. And what if, with the popularity of selfies and social media, that public art could shift periodically, so that repeated visits would be necessary to see what new creative images Winona was offering at its doorstep? Local businesses could join in on the project by working with local artists to create Winona-inspired outdoor sculptures to be rotated in and out by the entrances to the city for all to enjoy. Once these sculptures were prominently placed at, say, the Huff Street entrance, they could be moved to the Mississippi entrance to the city, and so on. A sculpture park could be created near the new bridge along the stretch of land where the future bike path will connect riders coming over the bridge into Winona to Levee Park. That is the reason “Where? Winona.” was created and why there is a cool new WINONA letter sculpture causing a buzz.
Carlos Espinosa, Winona’s city planner, worked with Lee Gundersheimer, the city’s arts and culture coordinator, on a grant from Forecast Public Art to begin to learn how creative thinking might be interjected into all types of city planning in the future and to help build a toolkit for city planners from all over the country to begin to use artistic thought as part of the their problem solving. They were tasked, as the capstone of the grant, to propose a project that would best illustrate how creative thinking was beginning to be implemented. Chad Ubl, community services director, had been in conversation with Visit Winona about ways to draw even more visitors to the Huff Street Visitor Center, and they realized there was a unique view of the lake and bluffs underutilized footsteps from the center. Might a public art project be the answer to that need? The response to the WINONA letters was overwhelming in just the few days they were placed. A more permanent staging pad will be built soon to allow for the changing in and out of the sculptures to follow.
The letters, designed by “Your Type,” a new Winona business led by Todd Hoffman, were created to live on Huff Street for about a year, but during that year will also make surprise appearances on the Levee and at other WINONArts events, and during those events, the letters that make up “arts” will also be added.
The WINONA letters will be the first of many “Where? Winona.” sculptures highlighting the many wonderful businesses and artists in Winona. Where are all of these cool, creative, entrepreneurial companies located? Winona. Stay tuned for which businesses will step forward next to partner with local artists and create memories for all, those who live here, and visitors who want something to remember Winona by.
For more information call the Winona Park and Recreation office at 507-457-8258 or visit the Park and Recreation Department website at www.cityofwinona.com/city-services/parks-recreation.