Paul Boecher, carving the Mermaid for the Newsroom Restaurant in Minneapolis, MN.
My husband has had a number of careers in his 75 years. After losing his successful advertising agency back in 1991 he had to look for new ways to make a living. This very talented man of mine turned back to his roots, and began a new business creating original wood sculptures for restaurants, homes and various properties in our area.
When he was commissioned to create an old fashioned ship’s mermaid for the Newsroom Restaurant, I had my concerns. Not only was this piece the most risqué he had ever created, I was thinking about the possibilities of questions about who posed for the piece. I had no conception what would unfold once it was completed.
The commission came in the summer of 2001. His new business was really taking off and it actually provided enough income for us to survive. Evidence of his sculpting ability first surfaced when he was a kid, doing small carvings out of wood and, as a teenager, creating the head of a ram out of limestone.
He had to purchase a hoist to be able to work on this piece with ease. As the weeks went by, a huge lifeless hunk of wood was being transformed into a beautiful half woman/half fish. I was getting a little jealous of this inanimate creature. The piece was to be installed for the restaurant’s grand opening in October.
The week of the installation occurred just after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The police were on high alert for any unusual activity. So when Paul pulled up to the front of the restaurant with his covered pick-up truck and a blue plastic tarp covering something rather suspicious, the police pulled him over. My innocent husband was quite sure he hadn’t been speeding, but nonetheless he stopped.
The police officer asked him what he had in the back of his truck. Paul answered,
“A mermaid.” The officer immediately ordered him out of the truck, put him hands up against the side of it and, as he was about to frisk him, the other officer took his keys to see what was in the back cargo area. He uncovered the statue and to his amazement discovered what was there. The first officer shouted back to him, “What’s back there?” and the second replied, “It’s a mermaid and she’s really good looking!”
My husband proceeded to thank the officers for their diligence and service and went about the business of setting the mermaid in her proper place. You never know what you’ll find in the back of an artist’s truck. It was good to know that the police were looking out for us and it added another chapter in the life of ARTMAN for future telling.
MORE TO COME!