Bridge and sculpture dedicated to former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton
A landmark bridge and prominent new sculpture were dedicated to former Minneapolis mayor Sharon Sayles Belton at a public event on Oct. 22. The Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired bridge that carries 3rd Avenue South over Interstate 94 was dedicated as the “Sharon Sayles Belton Bridge,” and on the plaza at the north end of the bridge, a new public sculpture honors Sayles Belton’s historic accomplishments. The three-story sculpture, Beacon, is illuminated at nighttime and visible both from city streets and the freeway below.
On Feb. 7, 2013, Mayor Rybak first announced the rededication of the bridge in Mayor Sayles Belton’s honor. He also proposed to the Minneapolis Public Art Advisory Panel that the City dedicate a major new public artwork to Mayor Sayles Belton.
The rededication was part of the scheduled renovation for the bridge, which includes restoration of the colored sidewalk, maintenance of the bridge façade and railing and an upgrading of light fixtures to energy-efficient LED lights. The City first built the now-iconic bridge in 2000, under Mayor Sayles Belton’s leadership. It is designed to reflect the prairie-inspired design principles of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Beacon is a sculpture created by Janet Lofquist. Constructed in a metal “warp and weft” matrix, its woven structure symbolizes how the framework of the community and its residents come together to form the fabric of a vibrant city. The sculpture’s shiny steel surface is illuminated from the inside, creating a mosaic of changing light, pattern and color.
Sharon Sayles Belton served as Mayor of Minneapolis from 1994 to 2001, and was the first woman and first African American to hold the post. Before becoming mayor, she represented the residents of Ward 8 on the City Council for 10 years, the last three also serving as City Council President.
Among her many accomplishments, Sayles Belton was a champion of the arts and urban vitality. During her tenure, the City renovated the historic theaters on Hennepin Avenue, creating a regional venue for national theatrical and musical productions. She also spearheaded efforts to reconnect the city to the Mississippi River by revitalizing the blighted central riverfront and transforming it into a thriving area for housing, entertainment, recreation and culture.
A recurring question in Sayles Belton’s speeches asks how we can strengthen connections among the public, businesses and City government. Excerpts on the back wall of the plaza include some of her inspiring and thought-provoking words that remain relevant and will continue to guide us.
Published Oct 23, 2013