The Lunchtime Tourist

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July 12, 2004 // UPDATED 2:31 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

LaSalle totem and mosaicby George Morrison

Tucked inside LaSalle Plaza near the corner of 7th Street and LaSalle is a towering work of art worthy of a museum. In fact, you might have seen something similar at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts or perhaps even the White House.

George Morrison was born on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in 1919. After attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and winning a Fulbright scholarship to study in France, Morrison became a part of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York during the 1940s. Along with his pals Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Morrison worked in the large abstract style of the era yet also remained true to his roots. His abstracted landscapes evoke Midwestern plains, vast waters of Lake Superior, and the spiritual qualities of nature.

Although he considered himself primarily a painter, Morrison made several large wood constructions like the one in LaSalle Plaza. This 1991 piece features carefully cut and fitted wood pieces that resemble a three-dimensional puzzle with clues about our landscape hidden in the shapes, textures and colors.

Morrison died in Grand Marais in 2000 but will be honored this fall when the National Museum of the American Indian opens in Washington, D.C.

Another artwork by George Morrison is just beneath your feet outside the IDS Center on Nicollet between 6th and 7th streets. The sidewalk is inlaid with a patterned mosaic of 14 different colors of granite.

SCAVENGER HUNT ANSWER: Last week's column described the Handicraft Guild (89 S. 10th St). Originally formed as the Chalk and Chisel Club in 1895, the club is considered the country's oldest arts and crafts society. Art educators earned certificates to teach in public schools, and studio classes were open to the public that, once upon a time, even included Grant Wood. The school merged with the University of Minnesota in 1919 and had been a rental property ever since.

LUNCH TIP: Enjoy sidewalk dining at Rock Bottom Brewery (825 Hennepin Ave. S.) on the other side of the building from the sculpture.

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