Public art comes to 21st & Penn

Neighbors chip in to purchase new sculpture.

Artist Zoran Mojsilov said "Mont Blanc" was inspired by the French Alps — and sofas. Credit: Photo by Michelle Bruch

Kenwood neighbors have collectively purchased a granite sculpture for the corner of 21st & Penn.

The idea came out of a Bockley Gallery exhibition by Zoran Mojsilov, a sculptor who works with large boulders along the riverfront.

Angela Erdrich (pediatrician and sister to authors Heid and Louise Erdrich) said she and her sisters admired his “Mont Blanc” sculpture and others in the Lake of the Isles area.

“I floated the idea by some friends about keeping Zoran’s sculpture as public art for the corner,” Erdrich said. “There was a very enthusiastic response and people liked the old fashioned idea of us all chipping in. My proposal was very casual, unpolished, no pressure, just for the love of public art. In the end, I got about 40 contributors, nearly all of whom live very close by.”

“Mont Blanc” is designed to evoke the French Alps, and like much of Mojsilov’s artwork, it’s meant for climbing or sitting. He knows a piece is successful when it’s surrounded by trampled, dead grass.

“I wanted to make it feel like an old sofa,” said Mojsilov.

The sculpture is currently located in front of Stephen Dean’s Tailors, and it will move to a permanent location at Kenwood Elementary later this spring.

Kenwood’s art teacher is incorporating the piece into her curriculum, and Mojsilov has agreed to speak to the students about his work.

The artwork is a continuation of efforts to beautify the corner, said gallery owner Todd Bockley.

“The small piece of land has been radically transformed over the last few years,” he said. “It has been transformed from a barren, ignored patch of hard ground to a flowering, green patch of land that attracts birds, bees and children.”

Erdrich tends the veggie garden on the corner, and she has many other ideas brewing for the area. She plans to dig a rain garden on the site to feed the struggling Elm trees and prevent runoff into the lakes.

“One of the teachers and I also dream about an orchard on the corner of Penn and Franklin,” she said.