The City of White Bear Lake’s First Public Art Commission Unveiled at BoatWorks Commons

The City of White Bear Lake’s first public art commission, Aaron Marx and Jim Brenner’s Aerosail, references rich site history.

Forecast was hired by the City of White Bear Lake to guide its Public Art Selection Committee on the city’s first public art commission. They were seeking public art for a location at a unique intersection between public and private space. The site—where sailboats were built and designed in the early 1900s by John O. Johnson—was recently redeveloped as the BoatWorks Commons with both public and private spaces, including apartments, a restaurant, community space and a parking ramp.

Though other public artworks are present throughout White Bear Lake, none had been commissioned by the city. They thus turned to Forecast’s trusted and experienced consulting team to guide the process of RFQ creation and the application invitation of regional sculptors.

Public space was included as part of the BoatWorks Commons development arrangement, and the idea of a sculpture for the site grew out of interest in making the location special. Recognized for its potential impact on future public art in the community, the project aimed to create a welcoming environment, interest passersby, energize the waterfront, respect the intersection of nearby public and private spaces and reference the site history.

Artist Aaron Marx and sculptor Jim Brenner were selected to collaboratively create the public art piece for BoatWorks Commons. The site’s sailing history strongly informed the design and creation by Aaron Marx and Jim Brenner, who worked closely with the committee and were tasked with balancing an abstract and literal visual representation of sailing in a durable design. Aerosail—a sleek form of curving, connecting stainless steel—successfully enlivens and adds interest to the space, makes it welcoming and signifies openness to the community.

During the dedication ceremony, Aaron Marx said of his first collaboration with his colleague Jim Brenner, “This site was the Johnson Boatworks for more than 100 years, which was a big part of the inspiration for this project. We’re both interested in mathematics and the fluid dynamics of air spiraling as it comes off the sail. We were also inspired by the way they built their boats, and the curvature of the boat’s hull.”

Following its unveiling on May 16, 2018, White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson said of the piece, “The sculpture belongs here. It fits. It’s just where it should be.”


Aerosail can be visited at:

Boatworks Commons
4495 Lake Ave. S
White Bear Lake, MN 55110


Learn more about Forecast’s extensive public art consulting services.


Photo by Paul Dols | Press Publications.