The fruits of Richard Brubaker’s retirement are seen along Rochester’s bike trails.
The retired Mayo Clinic opthamologist has already donated two metal sculptures to the city — “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Tractor Cat” — through the Art4Trails program, and a third is being installed.
The first sculptures were selected as temporary displays during the Art4Trails first calls for submissions, but Brubaker opted to present them to the city as permanent displays.
“I decided I don’t want the things and just gave them to the city,” he said. “If every year we just did five, and the next year they were gone and did five more, we’d never accumulate anything for the park system.”
Art4Trails started as a volunteer-driven effort to fund a rotating set of sculptures along Rochester’s trails.
There wasn’t a new call for artwork this year. Instead, the organization asked last year’s artists to keep their work on display while volunteers focus on fundraising and reorganizing.
“It’s a chance to think about it and talk,” said Barb Depman, the Art4Trails project manager.
Brubaker, however, still wanted to contribute. His third permanent sculpture along Rochester trails will be unveiled Saturday in Soldiers Memorial Field Park, west of the tennis courts.
Titled, “Phoenix Rising,” the metal sculpture is approximately the size of “Tractor Cat,” but Brubaker said it has a specific look after being heat treated with a flamethrower.
“It’s really a metaphor for Rochester. … The town was devastated by a tornado and it was the Mayo Brothers and the Sisters of Assisi, who really rebuilt the town. … This town rose from the ashes just like the mythical phoenix,” he said of the artwork which is being sponsored by a program supporter.
“Phoenix Rising” isn’t the only new permanent piece being unveiled. A temporary sculpture from last year’s submission — “Perfect Canoe” by Sabastien Richer — has been purchased by Helen and Chris Roland and donated to the city for placement in a new location.
It has already been moved from its former home near the Silver Lake Fire Station at the intersection of Seventh Street Southeast and West Silver Lake Drive Northwest. It will be unveiled in Mayo Park.
“It just worked really well in Mayo Park,” said Helen Roland, who is one of a growing number of Art4Trails volunteers.
With four permanent art pieces and four temporary sculptures along the trails this summer, Mike Nigbur, Rochester’s park and forestry division head, said the Art4Trails program has been a benefit for the city.
“The Art4Trails group is a grassroots group that’s pushing art locally,” Nigbur said.
Mary Ellen Landwehr, who helped start the program as a Rochester Arts and Culture Collaborative project, said she hopes it continues to grow and attract new artists, as well as art lovers.
She said she’s seen growing interest in collaboration and community support, the donations by Brubaker and Roland are helping build momentum.
Brubaker said that is the goal.
“The city really needs this kind of stuff, and it we get enough of it — and we get enough people involved — we can really add some interest,” he said. “It will just add significantly to the quality of life in Rochester.”