Faces of Distinction

It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many million faces, there should be none alike. Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English author.
As I stroll around The Mississippi River Sculpture Park, I am instantly drawn to the face of each life-sized bronze sculpture: the quaint smile of “The Victorian Lady”,  the loving smile of Dr William Beaumont as he looks over the shoulder of his son, Israel, the indomitable smile of Chief Blackhawk, or the contemplative smile of Julian Coryer (Photo left).  Each face, reveals the character of the person and signs of their time. As sculptor, Florence Bird says, “Through my art I come to know these people.  Bronze will last for seven times seven generations.  Our descendants into the unimaginable future will know about us by visiting these bronze figures.”
Visitors to the park  gently stroke  parts of the face hoping to gain some wisdom of the past.  The burnished parts leaves a tactile sculptural memory for each visitor. Each sculpture’s distinctive face reveals the life and times of the person who has come to the Driftless area of the Prairie du Chien area throughout the centuries. 
The sixth bronze sculpture will be Marianne Labuche.  Mariann Labuche, was the first person to heal the sick in Wisconsin(1). Her patients called her "Aunt Marianne". Labuche came up the Mississippi River about 1790. She married three times and was the mother of fourteen children. She filled a crucial need in the Wiscosnin frontier with her knowledge of herbs, midwifery, and Native American and folk medicine.
There is no other park like this in the Midwest.  Each bronze is unique and one of a kind. The Mississippi River Sculpture Park is in the second oldest city in Wisconsin. Prairie du Chien is located in the Driftless Area of south western Wisconsin, a few paddle strokes north of the confluence of the Mississippi River and Wisconsin Rivers. It’s open 365 days of the year, free of charge for all. There is no playground. It is a park with no swings, jungle gym, slide, or sand box. It is a city-owned park. It is on an island surrounded by the waters of the Mississippi River. This, alone should make it unique.
“Each individual historical figure is important individually as well as being a part of the whole story. Just as the portrait of Aunt Marianne Labuche and her grandbaby tell about their personalities and relationship to one another, their addition to the Sculpture Park will help to define the whole story of Prairie du Chien,” says Florence Bird.
The park will, someday be home to 22 additional sculptures. The next sculpture to be installed will be Marianne Labuche.  The Park Board is hopeful that with  a successful fund raising campaign, she will be dedicated within the next year.
Next time you and your family are anywhere close to Prairie du Chien, come for a visit. The Mississippi River Sculpture Park, a jewel in the Midwest, will not be forgotten.