A month or so ago on my daily bicycle commute to work, a new spectacle appeared on the path looking toward the government center. The statue of a determined-looking, swimsuit-clad woman has had me puzzled since. Can you dig up the origin and explanation of this new work of art gracing our city’s downtown bike path (near the waterfall)? -- Curious commuter
Well, Curious, it doesn’t take a deep dive to piece this one together. The mosaic-coated sculpture is part of the ongoing Art4Trails public art initiative -- a collaboration between the Rochester Art Center, the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department, Olmsted County Public Health, RNeighbors and many others -- to put art in parks and neighborhoods along the trails.
The piece near the waterfall is by artist Simon Huelsbeck called “Reluctant Swimmer.”
It was made with 1-inch steel pipe armature and high-density polystyrene and epoxy finished with auto primer. The swimsuit, flippers and swim cap are mosaic.
Huelsbeck said the sculpture is meant to be whimsical, but also strong, and a statement of the impaired waters which she overlooks. The Zumbro River in Rochester is listed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as “impaired.” Hence the swimmer's reluctance.
The sculpture is one of four temporary installations to go with nine permanent art pieces around the city.
The other temporary installations include: “Blast from the Past” on the north side of Seventh Street Northeast west of Silver Lake; “Golden Spirit” at about 9 ½ Street Southeast on the west side of Bear Creek and “Loom” north of Fourth Street Southeast near the confluence of Bear Creek and the Zumbro River.
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