Duluth installs Bob Dylan manhole cover for singer's birthday (with video)The standard-issue manhole cover on the corner of 13th Avenue East and London Road near the Duluth Armory was replaced with a 170-plus-pound tribute to Dylan.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Bob Dylan Way got another artistic installation Thursday afternoon on the Duluth-born folk icon’s 71st birthday.
The standard-issue manhole cover on the corner of 13th Avenue East and London Road near the Duluth Armory was replaced with a 170-plus-pound tribute to Dylan. The event drew a few curious onlookers who applauded when city employee Ralph Talarico rolled the cover into place.
The manhole cover — the third Dylan-themed cover installed along the 1.8-mile Bob Dylan Way — was designed by graphic artist Heidie Geyer.
The circle is bisected with a harmonica framed in a music scale filled with notes. It says “Bob Dylan Way” along the top and “Duluth Minnesota” along the bottom. Geyer said she used the other two Dylan manhole covers, designed by artists Laurel Sanders and Marc Zapchenk, to create something thematically similar.
“The harmonica hadn’t been implemented yet,” she said.
Geyer worked out the design on her computer, then went hands-on, using an oil-based clay to craft a plaster mold of the piece. It was made by David Everett, the artist behind the manhole cover-as-art concept. He made the manhole out of iron from melted radiators.
Everett said the idea came from considering commemorative quarters and Aztec coins and grew into manhole covers. The idea is not unique to Duluth, he said — similar things have been done around the world.
Geyer isn’t necessarily a Dylan fan, she said, but she appreciates what the songwriter does.
“He’s an amazing lyricist,” Geyer said.
Steve O’Neil, of the Bob Dylan Way committee, called the cover an “artistic gem” and noted that this part of Bob Dylan Way was originally part of Highway 61.
Two men from central Wisconsin who were fishing on the Brule River took a break to watch the small ceremony. The water had gotten murky, Scott Stieber said.
Peter Weinschenk called himself a Dylan fan and also: “A fan of manhole covers,” he said. “It’s a natural for artistic expression.”
The installation was part of Duluth Dylan Fest, a weeklong event celebrating the longtime folk singer with panel discussions, a film screening and the Blood on the Tracks Express, a train trip to Two Harbors and back with musical accompaniment.
The old, non-decorative manhole cover will be stored to use as a backup if one is needed around the city.