The Lunchtime Tourist

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July 30, 2002 // UPDATED 1:28 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Linda S. Koutsky
Linda S. Koutsky

George Morrison Granite Art Nicollet Mall in front of IDS Center, 80 S. 8th St.

Midway on the Nicollet Mall there's a piece of art by one of Minnesota's most revered artists. George Morrison's "Tableau: A Native American Mosaic" was installed in 1992 as pavement art.

While known for his wood constructions and "Horizon" series of paintings, this massive piece of sidewalk art is a collage in granite. Look for abstract shapes of animals, plants, people, snakes, birds, and water woven into the rhythmic design. Tables and chairs often obscure the art on nice days, but you can still get a good view from the skyway.

Born in 1920 and raised in impoverished conditions near the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Morrison was the third of 12 children. He contracted tuberculosis at age 9 and credited the 18 months he spent recuperating as the period that sparked his interest in the arts.

Morrison received a scholarship to the Minneapolis School of Art (now MCAD) and graduated in 1943. A member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, he lived in New York for 20 years, making art and hanging out with friends Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning. His honors include a Fulbright grant and the first Master Artist Award from the Museum of American Indians and Western Art. His work is collected by museums around the world.

Morrison taught at the University of Minnesota for 15 years. The lure of the lake brought him back to Grand Marais in the 1980s, where he reclaimed his Ojibwe heritage and lived until he died at age 80.

Morrison said of his work, "In this search for my own reality, I seek the power of the rock, the magic of the water, the religion of the tree, the color of the wind, and the enigma of the horizon."

Certainly he'd hope you'd find these in Downtown.

LUNCH TIP: Sample the art of another Minnesota culture inside the IDS Center at Aquavit. Many Swedish lunches are under $10.

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