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Bronze sculptures donated to Ely

The two large artworks to be installed at Whiteside Park

Keith Vandervort
Posted 8/18/21

ELY –New Ely Mayor Roger Skraba and city council members enthusiastically accepted a major donation on Tuesday of two bronze sculptures depicting this city’s reputation as the canoe …

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Bronze sculptures donated to Ely

The two large artworks to be installed at Whiteside Park

Posted

ELY –New Ely Mayor Roger Skraba and city council members enthusiastically accepted a major donation on Tuesday of two bronze sculptures depicting this city’s reputation as the canoe capital of the world.
William Rom Jr., son of one of Ely’s storied and largest canoe outfitters, and his wife, Holly, presented their vision of displaying a dedication to the city’s long history of canoeing through a pair of bronze sculptures to be erected next summer in Whiteside Park.
One sculpture, a life-size representation of a pair of Voyageur explorers in a 16-foot birch bark canoe traversing down a river rapids, will be displayed in the middle of the park. The other sculpture, to be located near the park’s band shell, will be a one-quarter scale representation of local adventure canoeist Bill Mason. Both sculptures will sit on a bed of Lake Superior greenstone.
The sculptures are under construction and should be on display in the park by next August.
“Ely has a long canoeing history,” Rom said.
Rom graduated from Ely High School in 1963, graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School 50 years ago this summer, and practiced medicine in New York for most of his career, including a stint at the National Institutes of Health working with Dr. Anthony Fauci.
He said he was inspired to give back to his hometown following a visit to New Mexico several years ago. Holly, an artist, and Bill were drawn to a particular sculpture by Vic Paine of a canoeing scene, and he commissioned the artist to develop a similar sculpture depicting Voyageur adventurers in their watercraft.
The city of Ely agreed to supply and pour the concrete pad needed to display the 1,200-pound art piece. The greenstone base is being quarried near Isabella. Rom hopes the sculpture and stone will be in Ely by next June.
The one-quarter life size depiction of ”Bill Mason: Patron Saint of Canoeing,” is by artist Ron Bayens.
“Mason is best known for his 1956 documentary film of canoeing in Quetico and went on to become a filmmaker and paddler,” Rom said. “We want to dedicate these projects to all the Ely wilderness canoe guides, especially my parents, Bill and Laura.”
Council member Heidi Omerza, chair of the city’s Park and Recreation Committee, said the plans for the art additions to Whiteside Park have been reviewed. “I don’t see anybody having a problem with this,” she said.
Nonetheless, city council members will hold a public hearing on the plan prior to their next regular business meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Other business
In other business, the council:
• Following a public hearing and second reading regarding an ordinance to require all developed lots in the city’s Spaulding Plat neighborhood be connected to the city’s electrical grid, unanimously adopted the new rule. Resident Andy Hill spoke against the proposal. His neighbor, Bernie Palcher, spoke in favor of the new rule.
• Following a recommendation from the Projects Committee, council members agreed to the request of a new street entrance from 15th Avenue into the parking lot of the new Zup’s Market being built in the former Shopko store.
• Approved allowing a loading zone parking area in front of Bloomers Flower Shop.
• Approved the purchase of a new computer server from Voltz Technologies for $8,199.
• Approved a technology upgrade in ticket-writing efficiency for the Ely Police Department at a savings of $580 per year.
• Approved the mortgage satisfaction for Brian and Karen Maverick for a Residential Rehab Loan.
• Approved the application of Todd Crego on the Ely Library Board.
Approved the on-sale liquor license for Double A Enterprises, 11 N Central Ave.

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