Sid Hartman and the statues of downtown Minneapolis

Sunday was the 90th birthday party for Sid Hartman, featuring many of his “close personal friends.” Among the announcements, according to WCCO’s Pat Kessler: a statue of Sid, holding newspaper and microphone, will grace the corner of “6th and 1st,” which I take to mean 6th Street and 1st Avenue North, near Target Center and Target Field.

(You can get a glimpse of the statue’s design at about the 48-second mark here.)

Given Sid’s flackery for ballyards, that purchase by his pals is terribly appropriate. Notwithstanding Sid’s long, industrious and, yes, influential career, it does suck a bit that the reporter who sucked up to (or covered up for) the powerful gets the big bronze.

This got me thinking: who is honored with a statue in downtown Minneapolis?

Obviously, the traditional concept involves heroes, inordinately defined as politicians and generals. Those categories were always too narrow. But downtown’s sculpture garden is starkly different: future civilizations would correctly discern our priorities — sports and pop culture.

Here’s a list culled from my admittedly imperfect recollection; feel free to note any omissions in the comments, and I’ll add them here. The only rules are that the statue has to be outdoors, of a specific historical event or personage (not cancer survivors, the birth of freedom or poop people), and viewable by the public:

Hubert Humphrey [Photo here] (politician, City Hall)

Ole Bull (Norwegian violinist, Loring Park)

Charlie Brown [Many photos here]

(fictional comic-strip character, fiberglass, supposedly temporary, but still outside Star Tribune headquarters the last I checked)

Mary Richards (fictional TV character, Nicollet Mall)

Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett (Twins players, Target Field plaza)

Joe Mauer [Photo here]

(Twins player as model for fiberglass Twins commemoration, hopefully temporary but I fear the worst, all over downtown)

Sid Hartman

Quite the motley crew, and if you had to discern a theme, it’s private companies promoting public entertainment. Until 2001, we only had Humphrey and Bull (though two Minneapolis councilmembers have busts on City Hall’s first floor). But once the Strib imported one of St. Paul’s Charlie Brown sculptures and left it there, it was open season for Nickelodeon, the Twins, the Downtown Council and Sid’s pals.

Given the recent uproar over repainting the stars on First Avenue’s exterior, it’s clear we hold the arts dear, and let’s face it, sports and music are the reason the reason many folks go (and love) downtown. In an unheroic age, maybe it’s appropriate we limit ourselves to more cartoony characters.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 06/14/2010 - 10:12 am.

    When I was in college a friend and I were in a class that asked us to create changes in the public perception on a small scale. (The class was focused on political propaganda). The project my friend decided on was to every day at noon go down to the Mary Richards statue and put a garbage bag on it, with the following phrase stenciled on in gold lettering: “The achievements of fictitious women should not be celebrated.” I was the getaway driver one day, and saw the looks on people’s faces when she put that bag over the statue: totally priceless.

    There are plenty of actual women with real achievements. I suggest we just put that bag over her permanently.

  2. Submitted by Jason Walker on 06/14/2010 - 11:14 am.

    The Joe Mauer statues are just hideous, and the Peanuts gang needs to go. I say that as an unabashed lifelong Peanuts fan.
    Sid Hartman getting a statue … all a guy can do is shake his head.

  3. Submitted by Hal Davis on 06/14/2010 - 11:39 am.

    “The achievements of fictitious women should not be celebrated.”

    Any plans to bag the Minnehaha statue?

  4. Submitted by Chris Steller on 06/14/2010 - 11:44 am.

    I take it the statues in front of the Milwaukee Depot aren’t specific people, just types, like the family in front of the Opus buildings on 5th street, and the farmer and mechanic in bas relief on the old bank building at 6th and Marquette. And a figurative sculpture or two in the sculpture garden.

    A comparison to downtown St. Paul might be in order: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herb Brooks (upraised arms oddly connected to trunk), faces of Pig’s Eye along Kellogg Blvd., more Peanuts detritus …

  5. Submitted by David Brauer on 06/14/2010 - 12:05 pm.

    Chris – I’m totally blanking on the Depot statues, unless you’re talking about the zaftig art pieces in front of the building to the east.

    Yeah on the family.

    The bas relief is actually the best 3-D creation in downtown, but since it’s not free-standing, I excluded it.

  6. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 06/14/2010 - 02:30 pm.

    How about we just forget all the public statuary? Deserving people will be remembered by their deeds and words, not five feet of bronze or fiber-glass.

  7. Submitted by Nick Legeros on 06/14/2010 - 05:56 pm.

    As the sculptor who made the bronze of Sid I’ve had more time to think about this topic than most. Sid objected to this project from the start and I actually had to convince him that all communities should have sculptures that record those who make significant achievements. We all retain and treasure photos and keepsakes from our lives. Photo albums are the one thing people grab as they flee their burning home (Okay, maybe the kids-but the photos come second). Communities should have visual reminders as well. We all have a relative that we think is strange and yet we include them in our family albums. No matter what you think of Sid, he qualifies for this honor for his life’s work and devotion to Minnesota sports.

  8. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 06/14/2010 - 08:49 pm.

    Mr. Legeros: I’m not knocking Sid. I worked with him and, believe it or not, had a good relationship with him.

  9. Submitted by Richard Adair on 06/14/2010 - 08:56 pm.

    I’ve had this same thought for some time. Our public statues are embarrassing. The one of HHH in front of city hall is too small and his expression is angry–anything but the “Happy Warrior”. Abe Lincoln on Victory Memorial Drive is a good one.

    Since this area played such a large role in the civil rights movement (HHH’s speech at the 1948 convention ingited things), how about a civil rights memorial with a proper statue of HHH, one of Roy Wilkins, and one of Martin Luther King? Somewhere near the federal courthouse or along Washington Avenue.

  10. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 06/15/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    How about an Erik Eskola statue in front of the Capitol?

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