Display showcases 25 potential statues intended for Mississippi River Sculpture Park

By Correne Martin

Courier Press, Mon, 08/28/2017 - 11:28

sculpture park displayImagine 25 life-sized, historical figures from Prairie du Chien’s past enshrined in bronze statue form, placed carefully in a spacious park setting along the scenic Mississippi River. Doesn’t that sound enchanting? The Mississippi River Sculpture Park, as it sits in Prairie du Chien today, is the beginning of that exact vision. Currently, there are five statues in the free, self-guided park, at Villa Louis Road and Bolvin Streets.

But, to get the full effect of what the sculpture park could be someday, local residents and visitors of all ages and interests are invited to check out a new display that showcases the 20 additional statues planned for the setting in the future. A display cabinet—located in the small, limestone, “Eagles on the River” building as you first access Water Street on the island—presents the 25 total sculptures, as miniature, acrylic replicas, that may, one fine day, be arranged altogether in the park.

“It even includes the fire circle that’s there,” shared Melody Igou, Mississippi River Sculpture Park board member. “The display gives people an idea of what this park can really be.”

Igou said the board realizes each of these sculptures is quite expensive, and recently, the members have done research into how they can bring the cost down significantly. Doing so could make the finished park to fruition much sooner too.

In the meantime, Igou would really like the public to make a special trip to the Eagles building to view the exhibit. Seeing all 25 of these select figures, who helped shaped the area, together, may truly drive home the essence of the grand potential this one-of-a-kind sculpture park has. She and the board hope this display will provide further inspiration to people to visit the park, walk among the statues, learn their stories and possibly consider donating toward the coming sculpture.

At present, the figures in the park include Black Hawk, Dr. William Beaumont, Victorian Lady, Voyageur and Emma Big Bear.

The next bronze sculpture, Aunt Marianne LaBuche, was Prairie du Chien’s first physician. She rescued and nursed her granddaughter, baby Louise Gagnier, who had been scalped and left for dead. As of mid-July, $28,000 was yet needed to complete the LaBuche statue.

The following 19 intended representations are to include British Redcoat, Chief Shin Ga Wassin, Winneshiek, Chief Waapasha Anishinabeg, Father Jacques Marquette, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, Jefferson Davis, Judith and Nina Dousman, John Lawler, Louis Joliet, Mastadon Hunter, Riverboat Captain, Mississippian, Mound Builder, Nicholas Perrot, Minnie Owens, Zachary Taylor and Zebulon Montgomery Pike.

For more information about the history of each figure, sculptor Florence Bird or to buy an inscribed paving brick or donate, visit statuepark.org.