Website of Joe Landsberger

Many Americans today associate gates with
"gated communities," negative symbols of retreat, isolation, and exclusion.
We intend to reverse that imagery, and reinvigorate
the traditional concept
of gate as a
welcoming entry.
The park is strategically
located at a convergence
of transportation:
at the horizon lies St. Paul's airport, below its bluff the railroads and river.
The bridge serves cars,
bicyclists, and pedestrians. In marking this point
of entrance and passage,
our park's Community Gate
will speak the language
of openness and invitation,
and bid
"Enter here, friend."
Gateway to a New World, Building Czech and Slovak Communities in the West End.

 

The sculpture gardens of the North High Bridge Park

City of Saint Paul History | High Bridge History | Park History
Watcher | Big Green Chair | Peace Pole | Community Gate Project

Community Gate Project | Dedication | Installation

Celebrating St. Paul Czech and Slovak immigrants and their families

The Community Gate Project was dedicated September 11, 2004 in the High Bridge Park North, St. Paul, Minnesota.

The West 7th/Fort Road Federation/District 9 Community Council and Czech and Slovak SOKOL Minnesota dedicated the sculpture commemorating the contributions of Czech and Slovak immigrants and their families in building neighborhoods and businesses in the West End of the City of St. Paul since the 1860's.

This environmentally-sensitive sculpture by artist Craig David incorporated historic, salvaged materials including a baptismal gate from St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church (their national church) and granite curb stones and pavers from St. Paul streets.

The installation reflects and honors several themes:

  • Pylons/granite curb stones & pavers define the space and the park as a gateway to both the West End and of the transition to a better life
  • Nine-foot-square baptismal gate: reflects the role the church, St. Stanislaus Kostka, played in supporting their community
  • White finials: The wings of the falcon represent the role that benevolent organizations and the C.S.P.S. Hall played in supporting their community. SOKOL Minnesota preserves Czech and Slovak culture in the metropolitan area. Sokol is the Czech word for falcon . This reference reflects the importance of music in the life of the Czech and Slovak people, as well as celebrating their premier composer.
  • The carvings on the white marble finials are figurative representations from Antonín Dvořák's opera Rusalka (and one of his best-known arias: Mĕsičku na nebi hlubokém (Silver Moon), her lament for a distant lover.
  • Rusalka is the central figure in Dvořák's opera. As a water-nymph, she leaves her underwater home through a witch's spell to live on land - but with tragic results. The sculpture also references the nocturnal water faeries of Slavic folklore, appropriate for this prime Mississippi River vantage point. The detail at left references Rusalka's back with her voluptuous curves and long bond hair.

Rusalki are found throughout Slavik folklore. They usually inhabit waterways, and at night wait nude in birch trees for their male suitors. Their breasts are large framed by flowing blond hair, and if an unsuspecting male happens upon them, he would be drowned in the nearby water. Other folk legends differed...

Waiting for Rusalki?

Repairs to Community Gate Installation

In mid-April 2012, neighbors were dismayed to find that someone vandalized the sculpture, not once but on two successive weekends. The vandals had chained one of the upright eight-foot curbstones in the installation and pulled it down, probably with a truck.  The curbstones, each weighing 1,200 to 1,500 pounds, were hand-hewn from granite blocks in the 1880s and 1890s, and were used to line St. Paul streets.  Each of the 13 curbstones has a four-foot footing with steel pins that hold them in place. 

In the second act of vandalism the gate was broken from its ornate frame.  St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune sponsored the funding, and Joe Landsberger presented additional information to the Community STAR Board hearing October 12.  Of the six proposals, the project was rated highest at 4.7 out of 5 point.

The City of St. Paul Neighborhood STAR Year–Round program announced funding $3,000 towards repair of the Community Gate commemorative art installation in the North High Bridge Park.  The award went to the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation, our neighborhood council that sponsored art installations and gardens in the park.