Downtown sculpture seeks new home

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September 6, 2004 // UPDATED 3:59 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Russell Erickson's whimsical three-piece sculpture, "The Family," stood outside the Food and Drug Administration building at the corner of Hennepin & Washington avenues for 25 years.

The steel-rod pieces, which represent a father, mother and child, blend in with their surroundings, becoming nearly invisible against a busy backdrop or a silhouette against blue sky.

Erickson, 54, is looking to find "The Family" a new, higher-visibility home. He removed the sculptures from blacktop in front of the FDA building earlier this month at the request of the site's owner, Thomas Dolphin, president and CEO of Blaine-based 21st Century Bank.

Said Dolphin, "We're doing some work there, and we asked him to move it."

Dolphin is teaming with Coon Rapids-based Shamrock Development to build twin 29-story condo towers and a drive-through bank on the block. Crews are preparing to raze the former FDA Building and the adjacent Dolphin Staffing building, 240-258 Hennepin Ave. S.

The developers are scheduled to go before the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association's Land Use Committee this month to showcase their plans. They are expected to go before the city's Planning Commission Sept. 13.

Erickson's three-piece sculpture, worth an estimated $30,000 was on a long-term loan to the FDA. Henry Roberts, a former regional office director, contacted the sculptor in the late 1970s when Erickson worked at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

For Erickson, a Southwest Minneapolis resident who now works as a currency trader, the sculptures hold sentimental value.

"I just want it to have a home where it will fit in," he said.

He's solicited potential takers from local online discussion boards. So far, a handful of groups have expressed interest including a private homeowner in Northeast Minneapolis, a University of Minnesota fraternity and a Bloomington City Council member, among others.

Those interested in more information about the "The Family" can e-mail Erickson at