‘Tis the season for wrapping things: Christmas presents, shrubbery… Also statues. And buildings.
Here is a particularly artistic shrubbery wrap in South Minneapolis. These may be Lombardy poplars, young and apparently still tender.
We have visited a number of the Peanuts statues around the Cities. Until recently I was unaware that some of them get wrapped for the winter. The photo was taken along E. 7th St. east of downtown St. Paul, just after the I-94 overpass.
Below is what is probably the largest wrap job in St. Paul at the moment: the state capitol building under renovation.
In the foreground we see one of the two statues in the Twin Cities of Floyd Bjornesterne Olsen, 22nd governor of Minnesota (1931-1936). The not-quite-twin statues were profiled last week in Andy Sturdevant’s MinnPost column. The near-twin statue is in Minneapolis near the governor’s birthplace, and Andy’s story of the two statues is a compelling one. They were created in the same foundry a few years apart by a father and a son, and they are nearly identical but the difference is telling.
Not having studied the Minnesota capitol building before, I was struck by the gold statue of charioteer and horses on the pediment. This sculpture is formally titled “Progress of the State,” but everyone knows it as the Quadriga. (From the Latin quadri-, four, and iugum, yoke: a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast.) The statue is steel and copper with a gold-leaf finish. It is 21 feet wide and 25 feet high. The artists were Daniel Chester French (he who did the Lincoln Memorial) and Edward Clark Potter, a noted equestrian sculptor around the turn of the previous century.
The Quadriga was completed in 1906. The four horses (representing earth, water, fire, and wind) stand over 22 hands high, as best I can estimate by doing back-of-the-envelope calculations based on various photographs of the work. Note that the largest of draft horses, Clydesdales and Percherons and Shires, normally run 16 to 18 hands. The two women on foot amid the horses represent Civilization: respectively Agriculture and Industry. They stand about 9’3″. The charioteer is symbolic of either Prosperity or the State, depending on which source you consult. He’s about 9’9″ tall.
And so until Christo pays these fair cities a visit: that’s a wrap.