by Dennis Dalman
Heidi Jeub is a firm believer that public art can bring a sense of “livability” to a place and can even help ground people in their cultural and historical framework of that place.
That is why Jeub is happy she was chosen, along with teacher Joe Schulte, to use scrap metals from the now-defunct Verso paper mill to create bicycle racks for the City of Sartell. Jeub, who lives in St. Cloud, is a 1995 graduate of Sartell High School. Schulte, who teaches technology education at Sartell High School, is a 1997 graduate of the high school.
Jeub and Schulte will start on the bike-rack project this summer. Schulte has already taken a tour of the paper plant and marked aluminum and steel that could be used for the sculptured bicycle racks. Schulte and Jeub plan to brainstorm for ideas with three other artists to come up with appealing designs.
The City of Sartell has given $1,800 for the bicycle-rack project, a grant awarded to the city from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, which has distributed state funds for many local projects throughout the state.
On Memorial Day in 2012, an explosion and fire at the Verso paper plant resulted in the death of one worker. Ultimately, months later, it led to the stunning decision to close the plant for good, leaving 200-plus workers without jobs and ending a very important era in Sartell – a more than 100-year period of paper-making at that site on the Mississippi River. Founded in 1905, it was an industry that provided generations of people in the area good-paying jobs.
Now the paper mill is undergoing demolition, its machines sold and its scrap aluminum, iron, steel and other materials being salvaged and sold for recycling by a company that bought the mill for that purpose.
Jeub is no stranger to Sartell High School, having gone to school there and later serving as an artist-in-residence helping students with a photo/mixed-media project and a fabrication metal-installation. It was all part of the “Art in Motion” program. Schulte was also an assistant on the metal project.
“We (Schulte and I) knew the mill was coming down, and we both thought how neat it would be to get our hands on some metals from there,” Jeub said. “We made phone calls, and people agreed it would be a neat thing to do.”
Using metal to create bike racks is one thing, Jeub said, to help memorialize the industrial-cultural importance of that paper mill to the city and surrounding cities.
“To be honest, we have no idea how we’ll use the metals yet,” Jeub said. “But in a few weeks we’ll start playing with those materials and start getting ideas. So many people feel passionate about this project, and we’re already getting good ideas from people.”
Part of the artistic process is learning more about the history of Sartell, Jeub noted.
“Human beings are what makes a community,” she said. “And this could be a most interesting community project with everyone getting involved.”
Born in Illinois, Jeub moved many times during her youth as her father is a banker who quite often relocated because of the nature of his job. The family lived in Wisconsin, then Alexandria and later Sartell.
Jeub is an artist who paints mainly abstract pictures. She also teaches art at the Hillside Adult Education Center and at other places as a member of the “Rostered Artist” program. She is also a mother with three children: Charlie, 12; Anna, 9; and Jackson, 4.
Jeub was recently named the winner of the prestigious Central Minnesota Emerging Artist Award for 2014.