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Mural designs approved for new Hastings bridge

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The two murals that will appear under the new Hastings bridge have been designed.

St. Paul-based artist Craig David was commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to make the murals for the project. The murals will be part of a plaza in downtown Hastings.

David worked closely with the local Visual Quality Team for the bridge, as well as local historians and MnDOT.

David prepared a document that he presented to MnDOT regarding the murals.

He said that "Hastings has a wonderful Midwestern, North American pioneer history. And that history reaches into the present day, with the beautiful preservation that has been accomplished throughout the old river town.

"My goal has been to design a contemporary, historically iconographic, original work of art; one that will question and speak, and to which people will reply."

The mural will be created from small pieces of mosaic tile.

David said the murals and materials used to create them will last the lifetime of the bridge.

The two descriptions

There are two murals: the "Spiral Bridge" mural and the "Two bridges" mural.

The Spiral Bridge mural was described by David like this:

"The design composition of the 45 foot, eastern most mural, is based upon repetitions of the arcs and curved linear forms within the old Spiral Bridge.

"These crossing and overlapping elements create vignettes that enable a collage effect to be utilized, rather than the picture being created within a single field of perspective. It must be said that some artistic liberties have been taken in the development of the aesthetics of the murals. There is an abundance of abstraction of original motifs and forms, whether they be man made or natural.

"This design has been modified since its publication in the Visual Quality Manual last October. These modifications are a result of recommendations made by the citizens of Hastings, the V-Q-Team members, and other stakeholders."

Here is a description of the mural, from left to right:

• Mississippi River backdrop throughout

• Farm fields arching (top left)

• Tractor, barn buildings (granary, barn, silo)

• Arches of old Spiral Bridge (beneath farm fields)

• Common country houses amidst arches

• Early- to mid-century farm couple

• Blue deck with figures walking (deck of old Spiral Bridge)

• Contemporary figure bird watching along the river corridors

• Boy climbing bridge trusses, and overlooking the town

• Old town vignette below (St. Boniface Church Steeple, other buildings)

• Large oculus, open view of the Mississippi river (center)

• Distant hills of Dakota and Washington Counties

• Two boys skipping stones, watched by their father (stakeholder suggestion)

• Large arching form of the Spiral Bridge

• Abstracted roof tops of common Hastings homes

• Locomotive (within the arch)

• Current RR bridge tower

• Old town vignette (Schaller Building, old granaries, Guardian Angels church steeple, and others)

• Two manufacturing workers portrayed in foreground, yelling about their work, wearing a bowler.

• Group of workers in dark blue in background

• Hastings vignettes (right side top to bottom, including City Hall, grain elevators, Gardner Mill, Methodist Church, Kranz Meat Market (or Gaeng Saloon), the LeDuc house, amongst others.

• RR crossing sign and red and green navigation flags on the river.

• Plane flying under bridge, man diving from bridge, Bald Eagle flying (small)

• The frame includes corn and wheat plants on fields, a farm road and buildings. The text on the bottom reads Mississippi River and Spiral Bridge. The text on top reads Oliver's Grove and Buckhorn Tavern.

The Two Bridges mural

The design composition of the 31 foot long, western most mural, is based upon the two geometric forms of the existing Highway 61 Bridge and the existing railroad lift bridge.

Here is a description of the mural (pictured on the front page) from left to right:

• Mississippi River backdrop throughout

• Tower of existing RR Lift Bridge and diagonal span.

• Ancestor overlooking the town, superimposed as part of the span structure.

• Native American man or woman

• Con Agra Mill background with Vermillion Falls

• Old grain wagon (Estergreen Wagon), horse and tender

• Old paddle-wheeler, the Mississippi and rivers edge background

• Embracing couple, she: pregnant, he: a worker

• Vignette of the old town behind (Second Street, Hudson Manufacturing, Hastings Malt House, Libbey Sawmill, Hastings RR Depot, manufactured materials stacked).

• Bell Brother Furniture maker with children (This motif could simply change to an iron worker or wagon maker).

• Present day Highway 61 Bridge with ancestor superimposed, looking down on Hastings.

• Bald eagle flying in distance

• Distant old early Hastings across the river.

• Stroud Car and ladies of the day on rivers edge.

• Contemporary father fishing with young girl and boy playing.

Frames include images of the Vermillion River Falls and different views of the river. The text on the bottom of the mural reads Wheat Trail and Lake Isabell. The text on the top readers Vermillion Falls and Grist Mill.