Where is Blue Earth’s bronze beauty?
George Bassett is a very interesting fellow. ‘A Renaissance Man’ of a particular type.
Bassett was one of the subjects of a story on page two of the Register last week. He is the artist who created the bronze sculpture at the Riverside Town and Country Club.
He has been a teacher, soldier, farmer, scientist, architect and painter. Hence the ‘Renaissance Man’ title.
Bassett was in Europe in World War II. It was while he was serving in the army in Italy that he first had an opportunity to study art and architecture.
The love of art has been his passion ever since.
After the army he studied under Dr. Hugo Reny, a portrait artist and medical illustrator at St. Thomas College in St. Paul.
However, Bassett’s next venture was to marry and start farming the family homestead.
It was hard to keep him down on the farm, though. With the urge to pursue more artistic interests, he attended Mankato State College and then taught art and science in many public schools.
Eventually he quit the teaching vocation to devote his time and efforts to sculpting – and painting – in his studio just west of the golf course.
Bassett’s sculptures are varied in subject – the West, circus, ballet, animals, birds, sports, and busts.
Some of the famous subjects for his busts include Hubert Humphrey, George Meany, poet Sigurd Olson, Earl Bakken (Chairman of Medtronics), Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II.
“I sent the preliminary clay sculpture of the pope to the diocese to be critiqued, and they did suggest changes,” Bassett recalls.
His work also has been sold through an art dealer in the Twin Cities, and appears in collections across the country, including one owned by Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Two of his large mural paintings are in the Winnebago Museum. Another mural was commissioned by the VFW in Blue Earth and depicts all the wars the U.S. has fought in.
He has also been commissioned to design sculptures for fountains, monuments and public parks.
For instance, his work can be found in Winthrop (The Harvest), Albert Lea (The Danish Immigrant and the Albert Lea Mermaid), Delavan (The Delavan Pioneers) and Blue Earth (The Girl by the Pool).
Wait a minute. The Girl by the Pool in Blue Earth? Where is that statue located?
Bassett replied it’s in front of the Blue Earth pool.
Now, I have been to the Blue Earth pool. I have even been swimming in the Blue Earth pool. I have never seen any bronze statue of a girl by the pool.
I have been known to be unobservent in my elderly years, but you would think I would have noticed a statue, especially since it is supposed to be located in a large fountain.
A quick call to the Blue Earth City Hall confirmed my suspicions.
There is no statue in front of the pool, but there used to be. It was removed when the new facility was being built, says Sue Hauskins at the city hall.
So where is the statue of the girl now, I wondered. You wouldn’t throw something like that away, would you? You wouldn’t sell it at a garage sale.
“She is resting comfortably,” Hauskins says, “In storage.”
Okay, so what is the plan, was my next question. I suddenly had an image in my head of someone cleaning out a city storage area in the year 2058 and wondering what this girl statue was.
No, the plan is actually that the Park and Recreation Committee is coming up with a new design for displaying the statue. A new pond perhaps, or a big rock for her to sit on.
Bassett says he would like to design the pond. He has an idea for a square one with jets shooting out from all four corners.
The old one was more of a natural look oval pond, with a waterfall behind the girl sitting on a rock.
The girl would still sit on a rock, in the middle of the pond.
“I hope they didn’t throw that rock away,” Bassett says. “It was a perfect seat for her to be on, her feet just touched the water.”
Perhaps the rock is in storage as well.
The new pool is going to soon complete its second season.
Seems like it’s about time to make a new pond and bring the poor girl out into the sunlight again.