Woodcarver bringing more harmony to Harmony
Series of musicians anchor walking tour through community
Monday, November 11, 2013 4:11 AM
Slim Maroushek is fine-tuning his orchestra as three more band members will join the concertina player already located in downtown Harmony. The artist will dedicate a trio of musicians, each carved out of a single log, on Saturday during Harmony's Holiday Fest. The musicians include a bass fiddler, tuba player and saxophone player, all of which will be located at various locations throughout the community.
Stanley “Slim” Maroushek of Harmony stands next to one of the woodcarved musicians he is creating that represent Harmony’s heritage and musical influences. Three of the statues will be dedicated on Saturday during Harmony’s Holiday Fest. MELISSA VANDER PLAS/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
The dedication of the musicians will be taking place at the Cancer Memorial Park in Harmony at 1 p.m.
Maroushek, owner of Slim's Woodshed and an international woodcarving instructor, has created the pieces from a vision of incorporating more "harmony" into his community.
He explained he wanted to add another tourist attraction to what Harmony already has to offer as well as something that plays on the name of the town - Harmony.
"When you think of the word harmony, you think of music or melody or all that working together," he said. "I also wanted to mix in characters and instruments that represented Harmony's mixed heritage."
The concertina player, currently located on the southeast corner of Main Avenue and Center Street in Harmony, was completed in 2009 and represents the Czech heritage. A German tuba player, a Belgian saxophone player and a Dutch bass fiddler will now join the international group.
A walking tour of the musicians and other artwork by Maroushek is also currently in the works. The new musicians can be found at the Cancer Memorial Park on the corner of Main Avenue North and First Street Northeast; on the north side of the Harmony Foods store on Center Street West and on the corner of First Avenue Northwest and First Street Northwest, on the lawn of the Harmony Township Hall. The next musician, the fifth and final sculpture of this phase, will be located at the Visitors Center.
Maroushek said he has designed a whole orchestra of musicians, but his current vision is to complete five. With the group of three being dedicated this weekend, that leaves the fifth musician to be completed in the future.
"I know what the next one is going to be, but I'll keep that to myself for now," he said coyly. "This could be an ongoing thing."
Also included on the walking tour are pieces that Maroushek has completed in the past, including a series of hobos that are located in a hobo camp near the bike trail. Another stop, in the holiday season, might be the nativity scene he has created for a group of citizens in the southeast part of town.
Maroushek wanted to get visitors to Harmony to walk through town and onto some of the side streets, taking them past businesses that might not be as visible as those on Main Street.
As a member of the State Arts Board, Maroushek also felt he could utilize some of the Legacy Funds in a project to benefit his local community. "I sit on that board and see where some of these funds go," he explained. "I wanted to spread that money out into the state and not just give it to artists who live in the Cities."
He received grant funds to do one of the new figures and the city of Harmony received the funds for the second and third statues and commissioned him to do the work. All three will be dedicated on Saturday.
In addition to the grant dollars he received through the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, the Musicians of Harmony project received support from the city of Harmony, the Harmony Arts Board, Harmony EDA, Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce, Harmony Foods and Harmony Township.
Each statue was created by Maroushek in a folk art style. The musicians are all original, freehand designs, hand crafted out of single pieces of wood and then hand painted.
"Wood carving is not a new concept," Maroushek said. He mentioned places like Wahl Drug and Branson where people stop by woodcarvings and pose for photos with them. He said many residents and visitors to Harmony have done so at the hobo camp with his creations there and he anticipates that future visitors will also take a break with these musicians to get a fun photo as a souvenir from Harmony.
Throughout the day, on Saturday, Maroushek will be offering free tours of his woodcarving museum, located within Slim's Woodshed, with the donation of a food item for the Fillmore County Food Shelf. Tours will be offered on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception of noon and 1 p.m. during which time Maroushek and his staff will be busy with the dedication ceremony for the musicians.
"I want to give the citizens of Fillmore County and Harmony a chance to see the museum," Maroushek said. "They might not know what they have been missing!"
The museum has the country's largest collection of woodcarvings at 4,100 pieces. Maroushek said he's been trying to get the collection noted in the Guinness Book of World Records, but that has not happened yet.
The museum collection is currently for sale and has drawn attention from tourist destinations like Dollywood and House on the Rock as well as individuals from Branson, Mo.
While Maroushek said he will continue to operate Slim's Woodshed and teach woodcarving classes, he's looking to slow down a bit, even if he's not ready to completely retire.
"I'd like to travel the world again," he said. "I've taught classes all over the world, I guess I'd like to do that again."
Currently, Maroushek is putting the final touches on the final musician in the trio and has no concerns to having it done in time for its unveiling on Saturday. As a general contractor for a home being built in Wisconsin, he experiences a few interruptions on his cell phone from his carpenters, but Maroushek easily refocuses his attention to the piece of art in front of him once the problem or concern has been dealt with.
With his tools at hand, he gently scrapes wood shavings from the log, transforming the chunk of wood into a character Maroushek already sees in his mind. As the layers get stripped away and a general outline for the character becomes more apparent, one begins to get a glimpse of the new musician's face.
However, with the unveiling set for Saturday, Maroushek doesn't go too far before drawing the curtain to spectators so he can put the finishing touches on his creations in private.
Other Holiday Fest festivities will be held throughout the day in Harmony, including a craft fair at Fillmore Central High School, restaurant specials and sales at local businesses.