Downtown sculpture finds St. Paul home

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September 13, 2004 // UPDATED 4:04 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A three-piece steel sculpture called "The Family," which has been a fixture in front of a former Food and Drug Administration building at Washington & Hennepin avenues, has moved to the St. Paul's Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

At the end of August, sculptor Russell Erickson, 54, removed the steel-rod pieces intended to represent a father, mother and child, at the request of the property's owner Thomas Dolphin, head of Blaine-based 21st Century Bank.

Dolphin is partnering with Shamrock Development of Coon Rapids to build twin 29-story condo towers on site.

Erickson had spread the word about "The Family" to try to find a new home for the sculptures, which blend in with their surroundings. The airy frames form silhouettes and nearly disappear depending on the backdrop.

Erickson, who put the sculptures on a long-term loan to the FDA's regional office in the late 1970s, said more than a dozen people contacted him interested in taking on "The Family" -- including representatives of area neighborhood groups, a University of Minnesota fraternity and a private homeowner in Northeast Minneapolis.

Staff at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory were "very enthusiastic" and able to take on the pieces immediately, he said.

"The Family" now stands in a picnic area near Seal Island and is on a 25-year loan to the zoo.

"It's a great spot. It's just fantastic," Erickson said.