It stood for 42 years, and then it was gone.
There is no longer an abstract triangular sculpture on the plaza of the Wells Fargo Operations Center at 255 2nd Av. S. in Minneapolis.
Ring any bells? Did you notice it was gone? Did anyone? What happened?
Dubbed "Inner Search," the sculpture looked a lot like the Great Seal on the back of the dollar bill. You know, that truncated pyramid with an eye a top it.
When it was unveiled in 1980, the sculpture had champions and, of course, a few critics.
Columnist and tireless Minneapolis booster Barbara Flanagan previewed the installation by recalling the career of its creator, Mark di Suvero, noting that New York magazine had called him "an artist-hero in the noble lineage of Caravaggio and Courbet." She predicted that the installation would be "the best show downtown this season."
In another column, Flanagan wondered about the name of the piece and its inspiration, writing: "No one, not even di Suvero's friend Martin Friedman, director of Walker Art Center, knows the name of the sculpture or its inspiration. When Friedman asked, di Suvero told him to examine the dollar bill."
A Minneapolis Tribune editorial was thrilled with the installation:
"A subtle Renaissance flavor hovered over the proceedings recently when Northwestern National Bank dedicated the sculpture in front of its new operations center. Without the pomp and heraldry of earlier times, the air was charged with the excitement of a big happening, as well it might be for the largest freestanding sculpture in downtown Minneapolis.
"Government, business and arts leaders mingled to the sound of a public-school brass quintet."
Tribune columnist Don Morrison, however, decried its "busy sterility," and found the sculpture a lesser example of the sculptor's work.
In retrospect, it seems like Morrison's assessment was closer to the truth. Despite being much heralded, the sculpture was never embraced by the public the way the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden's "Spoonbridge and Cherry" has been.
"Inner Search" stood in the plaza on 2nd Avenue for 42 years, changing hues (from yellow to red), as the bank changed from Northwestern National Bank to Wells Fargo.
And then one day it was gone.
What happened? We asked, and Wells Fargo responded:
"The sculpture, 'Inner Search' by Mark di Suvero, is currently in storage at a Wells Fargo facility and we're reviewing long-term plans for it."
Will we ever see it again? Can't say. But in the course of reporting this story, I learned of another sculpture that likely never got displayed at all.
In one of her 1980 columns, Flanagan reported that someone had created a three-dimensional model of a character by the late cartoonist Richard Guindon. Apparently, Guindon himself painted the model of a quintessential Minnesota babushka. According to Flanagan, it was offered up for display in the IDS Crystal Court, but the offer was politely declined.
Sure, an abstract metal sculpture might be more sophisticated, but a downtown full of Guindon-inspired Minnesota archetypes would certainly have been more fun.