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)
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.