Salvaged sculpture may find home in Loring

The Allianz life insurance building is coming down, making way for the $90-million Walker Art Center expansion, but saved from the wrecking ball was the large four-foot-by-four-foot bas relief of an American Indian in headdress, carved in the faade's Minnesota Kasota stone.

Citizens for a Loring Park Community asked Walker's help in saving the sculpture.

"We are looking first and foremost if we can reuse it in the Loring neighborhood" as a form of public art, said Kim Havey, chair of CLPC's land use committee.

The relief, consisting of five or six separate stones, was part of the original building, 1750 Hennepin Ave., he said. Two stones making up the Indian head, weighing a half-ton each, will be saved.

The other stones made up a spear, Havey said. They may be made available to artists for carving.

The stones will be stored in a city Public Works yard until a decision is made on what to do with them, said Karen Gysin, a spokeswoman for Walker.

"We hope to reuse rather than demolish something that might be valuable," she said.

A number of organizations were contacted regarding reuse of materials from the Allianz building, Gysin said, including the Reuse Center of the Green Institute. More than 10 non-profit organizations have taken advantage of the offer, including Minneapolis Public Schools, Hope Community of the Gateway Project, the Interfaith Outreach Women's Shelter, and churches.

Demolition of the Allianz building began Feb. 4 and should be done no later than mid-March, a statement from the Walker said. It makes way for the construction of an underground parking ramp on the western portion of the site.

The Walker's expanded facility will occupy the remaining portion of the property.