Big is better for this Two Harbors artist. Her latest project weighs 2 tons
A 10-foot crane sculpture on Madeline Island is now "the focal point of downtown,” said Susan Sabre, of the the La Pointe Public Art Committee.
TWO HARBORS — Longtime artist Lisa Perrin-Kosmo reconnected to her roots for her latest piece: a 2-ton, 10-foot-tall steel sculpture located in the heart of Madeline Island.
In “Zheyaakobijigan Moningwunakauning” (“The Gateway to Madeline Island”), a crane rises triumphant and proud from Earth with an arched neck and wings spread high.
The Crane Clan is said to be the island’s founding residents, and Chief White Crane’s daughter, Madeline, is the island namesake of which Perrin-Kosmo is a descendant.
The Two Harbors artist’s proposal was selected from a number of applicants by the La Pointe community. She said she wanted to create something that would emanate the pride and peace she feels for her heritage and for Madeline Island.
And, after nearly 20 years making and selling art, she said this is her "biggest achievement.”
Perrin-Kosmo’s vision was why the La Pointe community selected her proposal over other applicants, said Susan Sabre, who served as the La Pointe Public Art Committee chair when the project kicked off in 2020.
Construction process aside, the biggest hangup was nailing down a location.
Now standing high at Russell Park, “it’s the focal point of downtown,” said Sabre, and folks are amazed and very proud to have it there.
The La Pointe Public Art Committee aims to create free, accessible works that honor the island’s history and cultures, and the organization worked closely on the project by hiring architectural engineers and cement workers.
Two Harbors fabricators Northshore Steel executed Perrin-Kosmo’s vision for the sculpture and a base with a series of medallions depicting a beaver, maple leaf, raspberry and more.
She has many talents, Sabre said of Perrin-Kosmo, like scope and a good sense of design.
Perrin-Kosmo’s range of work covers children’s book illustrations, acrylic and oil paintings and more massive sculptures at the Sonju Trail entry and in Two Harbors High School. (The latter weighs 800 pounds, she said.) And while her art is all over the North Shore and in Duluth, her largest collection seems to be in her home.
Perrin-Kosmo’s puppy awaited treats in the sitting position and lying belly-up as Kosmo showed the News Tribune a massive moose in the dining room, the surrealist family portraits on the second floor and the intricately executed birds on the cabinets.
“Everything that can be painted, I paint,” she said.
While she likes creating 3-D designs, she could stand at her easel for hours, playing with styles and colors.
She uses reference photos, and she sticks to them — until she wants to switch it up. “I still do very realistic artwork. I’ve always loved surrealism. I'm able to use more of my intuition and interpretation and I don't try to be a slave to the photograph,” she said.
Joel Baird, co-owner of Two Loons Gallery and Boutique in Duluth's Lincoln Park Craft District, described Perrin-Kosmo’s work as whimsical, abstract and photo realistic. “I don’t think she's as confident in her art as she should be. She does a great job. She’s very humble,” he said.
After selling her paintings at Two Loons Gallery, Perrin-Kosmo requested to paint Joel Baird and his wife and co-owner, Lori Baird.
Joel declined, but Lori said she felt seen during the portrait preparation, which consisted of a few photos, questions about her favorite colors and observation.
‘She looked at me and said, ‘Do you always have your head cocked to the side a bit?’ and I didn’t know I did that,” Lori recalled. Her completed self-portrait is now proudly displayed at Two Loons Gallery.
“She was able to capture my personality in those few minutes,” Lori said.
The story was updated at 6:12 p.m. Feb. 24, 2023, to correct the location of Two Loons Gallery and Boutique. The News Tribune regrets the error.