A concrete dolphin that for years sat in the middle of a wading pool has been transformed into a vibrant, colorful sculpture in Bryant Square Park.
This summer, Sharra Frank of Fine Art Mosaics and a team of volunteers placed the finishing touches on the dolphin, covering it in mosaic tiles that mimic the style found on the exterior of the nearby recreation center.
The South Uptown Neighborhood Association developed the project. It received an assist from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s People for Parks Fund, which provided a total of $5,000 in two separate grants.
In 2017, the Fund—then an independent nonprofit known as People for Parks—approved a $2,500 grant to South Uptown to reclaim the dolphin from the soon-to-be-dismantled wading pool.
During the wading pool reconstruction, the dolphin was relocated to a storage space at Fort Snelling for safe keeping. Due to its significant size and weight, South Uptown and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board worked with a concrete contractor to securely install the dolphin, per structural engineering specifications.
In fall 2019, the neighborhood association returned to People for Parks for another grant to cover the costs of adding the mosaic tiles. That grant was approved for $2,500 to cover part of the costs of this second phase.
In August, Frank worked with volunteers to cut the tile, set the patterns, apply grout, and paste the tiles onto the concrete dolphin.
The project has returned to Bryant Square Park one of its well-known assets. The dolphin now sits in the picnic area near the renovated wading pool—a highly visible location for park users.
Frank chose tile, grout, and mortar that could withstand the conditions of Minnesota’s cold, harsh winters and humid summers. South Uptown and the Park Board also have a maintenance agreement that details how the neighborhood association will take on the responsibility for making repairs if it becomes necessary to do so in the future.
Now that the dolphin is finished, it’s sure to become an icon of Bryant Square Park and the South Uptown neighborhood. Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in the neighborhood!
About the Author: Steve Bailey is a Parks Foundation Board Member and chair of the People for Parks Fund Committee.
Featured images: Courtesy of the South Uptown Neighborhood Association