November 3, 2009

Community sculpture planned for Root River Pathway

Welding Boot Camp students posing with their sculpture that's now
on display at the Workforce Development Center.

Here's a cool example of art imitating life. Or is it life imitating art? I always get that cliche mixed up. Anyway ...

Students in a Gateway welding class worked with artists to create a large sculpture that's now on display at the Racine County Workforce Development Center.

The project came together through UW-Parkside's Center for Community Partnerships. It proved so successful organizers sought permission from the Racine City Council to create a second sculpture to be placed along the Root River Pathway near the REC Center.

The innovative program started with a partnership between the Racine County Workforce Development Center's Welding Boot Camp and UW-Parkside's art department. Students practiced their new welding skills on a large, metal globe that was built around the theme of "Higher Expectations." Along with practical welding skills, students also learned about community art and its impact on community.

Ben Lehner, former head of the REC Center, and Mark Mundl, head of UW-Parkside's Center for Community Partnerships, laid out the program, called "Community Weld," in a letter to the city's Parks Board.

The pilot project made the welding program eligible for Wisconsin Arts Board Funding, which will be used to create the REC Center sculpture. In keeping with an Earth Day theme, organizers hope to incorporate found and recycled objects into the final piece.

The design will be inspired by poems and essays written by Racine Unified fourth-graders who toured the REC Center. The welding class will pull themes from the writings and use them to create a final design.

The City Council's Public Works Committee and the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Board approved the concept of the program, which heads to the City Council for final approval tonight. Both committees will approve a final design for the sculpture.

Organizers hope to have the sculpture completed by next April in time for Earth Day.


  1. Racine, a never ending stream of feel-good liberal crap that does nothing for the economy or creates a single long-term job.

  2. John Skalbeck is the Interim Director of the Center for Community Partnerships. Mark Mundl is the Outreach Program Manager for Workforce Development within the CCP.

  3. ...Director of the Center for Community Partnerships...Outreach Program Manager for Workforce Development.

    Can you report on the doings of the Math Club? Or the Engineering Club?

  4. sigh Why do negative comments on a positive article feel like grafitti on a nice wall that took a lot of time and talent to build? Pete and Dustin, how long until you put a stop to people permanently attaching their negative attitudes to all the work you spend a lot of time and energy on? It's tarnishing your effots of positively Racine.

  5. I bet it comes in way under the red scrap metal thingy price and builds community pride.

  6. you see that becker?

    they didnt pretend to want to move to racine and it's low cost!

  7. I like the welding class. I like globe, it's good work. Does it have a "You Are Here" arrow showing where Racine is on the planet? Most RUSD grads wouldn't have a clue.

  8. I think this is great, but JICase has had a sculpture like this for over 20 years, so the cncept is not that original.

  9. We need heart, NOT art, in this sad sick city. Where are the decent jobs and social programs our people can use?

  10. We need heart, NOT art, in this sad sick city. Where are the decent jobs and social programs our people can use?

  11. The welding boot camp is supposed to be in high demand. Metal arts are fascinating. Maybe a sculpture park is in our future? Could be right out in front of Gateway campus.

  12. There are, again, unanswered questions here: Is this a project that is going to be donated to the city, or is there a price tag associated with it? If so, how much will it cost the taxpayers?

    Kudos to the classes and students involved and for wanting to make Racine a better, more attractive place. But, in a time of deficits, financial shortfalls, and continually rising taxes during this economic crisis, art needs to take a back seat to common sense spending, luring industry to this town and job creation.

    If this is truly a donation to the city, go for it. If there is a price tag attached, shelve it for now.

  13. The sculpture looks terrific - great design and construction. By placing it on the Root River Pathway is not a good idea. It will be destroyed along with all other items and objects along the path. While cycling and running the path, I've noted signs defaced, destroyed, markers uprooted, the path itself vandalized with chunks of the roadway removed by some of Racine's finest citizens.

  14. Urban Pioneer11/04/2009 3:03 PM

    Amen Graham!! I don't want to criticize Art projects. but if there is a nickel of Taxpayer dollars in this project forget it for now. I know there as "Cute" but how about Welding Park benches, swing sets. Repairing City and county owned things which require repair.
    You can still feel good about!d you will actually do something useful.

  15. This project is a service-learning project that allows students to practice skills learned through a welding certification course on a community art project... no local taxes are funding this project... the sculpture will indeed be donated to the city free of charge and be created in a manner that requires little or no maintenance. The comments on the safety of the sculpture are important, but it's placement near 6th street ought to 1) deter vandals, 2) direct attention to a 'gateway' to downtown, 3)provide a vision for what sort of community we can create here.. (let's start acting like we live here and begin creating the community we want to call home- instead of apologizing for where we live when we introduce people to Racine)

    Anon 1:34pm About creating jobs.. I hear ya... I think every 'rust-belt' community is feeling the hit with the ongoing collapse of this nation's manufacturing base... the bottom line is we have to make stuff... that's what creates wealth... BUT I once read the autobiography of Dorothy Day.. during the Great Depression she said that she "never understood why people said there was no work when there was so much that needed to get done."

    I agree- with the high rates of unemployment in the city, you'd think these social programs, tutoring programs, sports programs, and whatnot would be over run with volunteers.

  16. The sculpture is great. Keep sculpting. Seek out places to get materials on the cheap.

    Good point about where are all the volunteers. People moan about job loss but they just sit on their butts moaning. Too many people are looking to win the lotto or a lawsuit to set them up for life. Who plans to work hard and save anymore?

    So many of these households are waiting for their income in the mail box.

  17. Please don't blame the poor for looking for their income in the mailbox. As long as the Waxtrash and their Ivy League pets live high simply because somebody died and left them a bundle, nobody should censure the rest for desiring economic security.

  18. I've no intention of picking at everyone, dissecting their psyche, or pointing out faults.. my only point is that we are all part of this community (rich, poor, revered, incarcerated, comfortable, struggling) and all have a stake in its successes and failures... so let's rock it out. If it doesn't work, then we move on down the checklist...been there (check) done that (check)...etc... worst case scenario: we meet new people and exchange ideas.. at some point one of our conversations will result in a viable solution...