Beloved literary park receives new bench


submitted photo • Mem Lloyd, pictured with the bench she created, is a founder and board member of the East Side Arts Council.

courtesy of Google Maps • Poetry Park, which is located within Phalen Regional Park just south of the Phalen Recreation Center and east of the Minnesota Humanities Center, will receive a new bench this spring honoring one of the East Side Arts Council’s founders, Kitty Anderson.

Poetry Park, a literary sanctuary in Phalen Regional Park, is about to have a new seat for contemplation. 

The East Side Arts Council plans to install a new bench to honor one of the council’s founders, Kitty Anderson. 

Poetry Park is located just south of the Phalen Recreation Center and just east of the Minnesota Humanities Center. 

“[Anderson] has never hesitated to roll up her sleeves to support arts for the East Side...Now at 90, she still helps us pull weeds!” said Mem Lloyd, designer of the bench and friend to Anderson. “Dedicating a bench to her is a very fitting tribute to all she has contributed through the East Side Arts Council and in many other venues, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to create this bench for her.”

Lloyd is also a founder and board member of the council.

Anderson, along with many other community members, helped establish the arts council back in 1989 to help connect artists with the East Side community. Today, the arts council helps facilitate many public art projects in the area — art at the new police training facility in Railroad Island, sculptures at the old 3M site and a variety of art classes.

Sarah Fehr, executive director for the arts council and a friend to Anderson, said not only has Anderson been active in the arts council, she had been active in the community her whole life through other outlets like church. Fehr said the bench serves as one way to honor her work.

The bench will be located near the Poets’ Post in the park, near some pine trees that Anderson and her family had planted years ago to honor her husband.

Poetry Park was one of the first major projects the council worked on as a fledgling nonprofit. The idea for it came up about 20 years ago, and at the time the arts council received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to design it.

As for designing the new bench, Lloyd said she wanted the bench to fit into the landscape and have some elements in common with the Poets’ Post. The first benches that had been near the post were musical. To continue that theme, Lloyd said some bells hanging from the armrests will be added later in the year. 

The bench also features a poem on the backrest, which the council chose after putting out a call for artists to submit poems. The poem the council chose reads:

“Long after the cardinal stops singing, the song travels from flower to flower, searching for the flavor of red.” 

The poem’s author, Marie Olofsdottor, is a Twin Cities artist originally from Sweden who creates a variety of art pieces, including paintings, sculptures, books, children’s art, digital art and poetry. 

The other submitted poems will be featured on the Poets’ Post in the park. 

An exact date for installing the bench hasn’t been chosen yet. The council had intended to install it a few weeks ago, but April snow storms had other ideas. 

Lloyd, who also organizes gardening days and events at the park, said the council is planning to hold an event in May to celebrate the bench, which will fittingly include poetry readings and music. 

The council is continuously seeking submitted poems for the Poets’ Post. For those interested in submitting, contact the East Side Arts Council at 651-774-5422 or by sending a poem to esac@eastsideartscouncil.org.

 

– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto


 

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