Jaenisch remembers Tracy memorial sculpture years later [UPDATED]Published 4:17am Monday, September 9, 2013 Updated 6:18am Monday, September 9, 2013
Permanency is one thing that draws local artist Steve Jaenisch to metal work. Puzzling together a work of art that will last a lifetime is something he said makes the arduous practice worthwhile.
Nearly 25 years ago, that dedication to his art form brought him three hours south to the little town of Tracy. As the town looked to remember an iconic tree in town that was destroyed by a Tornado in 1968, the town wanted to commission an artist to make a replica for the event’s anniversary.
Jaenisch got the job after seeing an ad in the arts council newsletter.
“Tracy was different. Most of the time with art there is a lot of snobbery and it’s not about what your skills are but who you know,” Jaenisch said. “But when I went down to Tracy the committee was older farmers and it went easy with them because I’ve been dealing with those people all my life. So that worked out pretty good. They were very receptive of ideas what I wanted to do.”
Jaenisch and his crew had to recreate the splintered image of the elm tree the town had preserved over several years. He only had an old photograph that reemerged to inspire his creation.
While he said the sculpture was a little “wild” for a small town, Jaenisch and the city of Tracy were happy with what he had finally created.
Most of all, Jaenisch was happy he could help the important image in the town’s past endure for generations to come. He was invited back this last week on Labor Day for a rededication of the statue.
“It’s not a big community, but for them it’s pretty important,” Jaenisch said. “It’s a major event in their history and there were an awful lot of people at the Statue — celebration who had lost family. It’s very direct. It’s not something that is abstract to them, it’s very real.”
Jaenisch continues his work with metals, both for business and his artistic aspirations, at his shop, Jaenisch Industries, in Fergus Falls. His family has been in the metal working business since 1946 and Jaenisch still keeps it in family to this day.
His hands have helped mold pieces of Fergus Falls history as well. The iconic otter at Adams Park, the large “super goose” at the museum and the sculpture in front of the firehouse are all touches of his creativity that he’s given to the city.
“I just like building things,” Jaenisch said. “I’ll die with my boots on out there. I’m going be 73 in October and I have no intentions of stopping until I can’t move.”