ICAN intergenerational group tours sculpture park*

A dozen local individuals with disabilities received a personalized tour of the Mississippi River Sculpture Park Aug. 7. The men and women from the Intergenerational Community Activity Network, aka the ICAN program, met Chief Blackhawk, Voyageur Julian Coryer, a Victorian Lady, Emma Big Bear, and Dr. William Beaumont and son Israel. They also learned about Aunt Marianne LaBuche (and baby Louisa), as well as the park board’s intention to install her as the next life-size bronze statue as soon as a finalizing $11,000 is collected in donations.

The morning visit started with an introduction by sculpture artist Florence Bird, who explained the purpose of the free, city-owned park: to bring to life the history of Prairie du Chien and how people of different cultures from all over the world came here on the river. She also discussed the process of creating a sculpture—from her research on the person to making the styrofoam maquette (model), enlarging it, adding clay, and eventually pouring hot bronze over it.

Bird, and park board members, shared the stories behind each of the park’s current five statues, as well as the sixth that is in progress. They also talked about the 12 bronze plaques that surround the park’s fire ring; each plaque symbolizes one of the contrastive cultures the people of the past who came here represented.

Then, the ICAN members walked around the 350-pound sculptures, taking note of the intricate details, asking more questions about their historical importance, and posing for pictures among them.

While experiencing a seasonable summer morning among the whispers of the island these figures once wandered, the ICAN visitors were blown away by the incredible roles these characters held in the community’s past.

They also enjoyed the augmented reality capabilities the park offers the public. Mississippi River Sculpture Park President Randy Paske showed them on his smartphone how, with the HP Reveal application, self-guiding park guests can point their mobile device camera at each of the statue’s descriptions, triggering a short video where the sculpture comes alive and personally tells his or her story.

The morning wrapped up as each person took home an Emma Big Bear-style tote bag, hand-quilted by Kathy Paske and filled with information and tokens for the newest “honorary members” of the park.

The ICAN program is for all ages to enjoy field trips, activities, arts and crafts, fitness and more regularly through Hoffman Hall in Prairie du Chien. For more information, call 326-2985.

To learn how to contribute toward the Mississippi River Sculpture Park and the Aunt Marianne LaBuche statue, visit statuepark.org.

By Correne Martin, Courier Press, Submitted by admin1 on Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:46