Ten years ago, the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame finally found a permanent home for the sculptures of inductees in the southeast Formal Garden of Assiniboine Park. Prior to the new arrangement with the city, the sculptures had been on display along the flood-prone Assiniboine Riverwalk and before that in an obscure corner outside the mayor's office at city hall.
All 33 sculptures of past inductees have been completed and installed at the park site, while 2007 inductee Robert Chipman’s sculpture will soon be completed for installation on its pedestal.
Since 1997, the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame site in Assiniboine Park has evolved into a significant installation of public art. The sculptures are ideally set amongst majestic elm trees in the Formal Garden area.
“It is almost as if it was meant to be, given how the likenesses of the inductees are so well complemented by the tree-lined park setting they are prominently displayed in,” said Bill Burns, chair of the Citizens Hall of Fame committee, during the opening of the site in 1997.
Because of the increasing number of sculptures, a new row was started this year along the east side of the pathway. The busts of author Gabrielle Roy, city builder Edward Lancaster Drewry, visionary scientific leader Dr. Henry Friesen and one of Winnipeg’s early leading citizens, James Ashdown, started the new row that runs across from initial inductees such as former mayor Steve Juba, lawyer Samuel Freedman and Dr. Bruce Chown.
However, the big news this year is that Leo Mol’s sculpture has finally been finished and installed on its pedestal originally erected in 1997.
Why has it taken so long to complete the sculpture? Because one of Winnipeg’s outstanding citizens could not find the time to do his own self-portrait despite being inducted way back in 1990.
Not able to wait any longer, WinnipegREALTORS® had talented local sculptor Madeliene Vrignon take over Mol’s commission — her name now appears on the plaque as the creator of Mol’s likeness.
After discussions with the installer Charles Brunet — who has been responsible for the Citizens Hall of Fame site since its inception as well as the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park — it was agreed to add the word artist to Mol’s designation as a sculptor on the plaque. The reason is that Mol, while famous for his bronze sculptures, is also an accomplished stained-glass artist, painter, sketcher and ceramist. It is also noteworthy that Mol’s wife, Margareth, helped Vrignon by giving her excellent pictures of Mol to aid the creative process. Margareth also provided a suitable sub-base upon which her husband’s sculpture now sits.
The artists involved in creating the sculptures over the last 21 years are Leo Mol, Josef Randa, Eva Stubbs, Helen Granger-Young, Madeliene Vrignon and Miguel Joyal.