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 Michael Garman 3D Cityscape

- The following article on the opening of the Colorado artist Michael Garman's 3-D art cityscape display was taken from the Fairmont Sentinel, 9/17/83, with permission from Sentinel Publisher, Gary Andersen. The cityscape sculpture, as you come in to the lobby, is 10' 6" inches tall and 30" deep by 18' long. 

  • Garman Wall - The once red brick of the two- and three-story buildings is stained brown and gray, a combination of age and the sooty atmosphere of an industrialized city. Debris litters the sidewalks and steps of the one-brick stretch of the cityscape, but none of the inhabitants seems to notice or to care. It is certainly the most exclusive neighborhood in the city. A man, his weight shifted onto his right foot, casually reads a newspaper that he had casually extracted from a heaping garbage can. There is no movement in the scene, which could have been lifted from the 1920s or the 1950s and yet the scene is alive with action. An easy conversation is in progress at the White Owl Cafe, three men outside the cafe could be discussing politics, a man propped in a doorway is reading a newspaper, a bored youngster leans against the dirty brick and converses with the literary connoisseur of the trash can and a man on the second floor peers out at the scene below. The inconsistencies in the scene are consistent with the cross-section of cultures in a concrete jungle - some of the people look like transplanted cowboys, some look like city toughs, and other are too average-looking to categorize. It's not difficult to get lost in the endless details. But take half a step backwards and observers are reminded that they are standing in the new addition to The Ranch Restaurant and not in downtown Chicago in the 1940s. Continued below...


Colorado artist Garman poses with his "3-D art cityscape sculpture" which stands more than 10 feet tall.



The cityscape thrives on realistic scenes and lifelike figures reside in the city.



A glimpse through the windows will reveal that interior schemes have been treated with the same meticulous detail as the activity on the sidewalk outside.



Michael Garman, creator of the cityscape, positions articles in front of the cafe.



Details  include Ranch Restaurant advertising painted on a bench.

  • Many restaurants strive for a unique decor or an atmosphere to separate themselves from competition; something to add to the experience of dining out the way herbs and spices add to taste of a dish. The Ranch Restaurant can make the claim that it is the first restaurant in the Midwest to incorporate a lifelike cityscape into the decor of a dining room. Most of the south wall of the new addition is devoted to an 18 foot-long cityscape sculpture created by a Colorado artist by the name of Michael Garman. The piece, which co-owner/manager Steve Schmitz says is valued at about $28,000, is 10 feet 6 inches tall and 30 inches deep by 18 feet long. In addition to the cityscape, Schmitz added, there are two smaller wall scenes (two pieces on one wall and three on another) and numerous clay figures. Schmitz explained that he has had a collection of statues in the restaurant for a long time but "less that 10 percent of the people who walked in noticed them" And when the decision was made last fall to expand, Schmitz wanted something different to "add a little atmosphere rather than just sitting around a table." The reaction to the "wall" has been unbelievable, Schmitz remarked. "People seated on one side of the restaurant will walk over to the other side just to see it." Continued below...
  • To describe the cityscape as a conversation piece would be an understatement. During the course of a 30-minute midmorning interview with Schmitz, the traffic to and from the cityscape was constant. And interestingly, Schmitz explained, people have adopted the cityscape as their own. He said he's heard customers explaining the cityscape to visitors and even complete strangers. Schmitz is convinced it will not be a novelty that will wear out in a short time. "You can look at this wall for an hour and then come back later and see something you never saw before." He said he doubts he will add on to the 18-foot model but had definite plans to update and change the scenes from time to time. Schmitz said customers have been careful not to touch the cityscape or handle any of the figurines. The urge to touch the brick walls and pick up some of the miniature furniture and articles is great. A Coca-Cola bottle less than an inch high is an exact replica of its full-size cousin, empty liquor bottles, empty cans of vegetables, fruit, and beer, all with familiar brand names, make up the debris on the sidewalk and near the trash cans. The buildings themselves seem to have been constructed out of real miniature brick, the finish is so realistic. But the material is actually a material similar to urethane foam. Most of the other items such as miniature been cans, trash cans, and bottles were mass produced from Garman's original sculptures. There are three major buildings in the sculpture with two adjoining alleyways and a busy street corner. The piece includes seven "magic" or illusion scenes - optical illusions created by mirrors and special lighting. Although the alleys are only about 12 inches deep, the use of mirrors creates the illusion that they continue for several feet. Looking through the windows the same illusion of depth is created. More than a dozen logos from neighboring Fairmont businesses are incorporated into the original design. Twenty-eight of Garman's original figures are included in the windows and on the streets. Continued below...


Garman added his own subtle touches to personalize the sculpture for Schmitz and provide a sport for his own signature. The Steve and Jo's White Owl Cafe is a reference to Steve and Jo Schmitz, Garman's signature is disguised in the ornate stone cornice above the cafe. "If we went any bigger," Schmitz quipped, "we'd be an art gallery." He said the expense of the cityscape could not have been justified on a strictly business basis. But the enjoyment customers seem to exhibit, has made it worth the cost.


Contact Info -
Steve and JoAnn Schmitz
Phone: 507.235.3044

Directions - 
Located Between Worthington and Albert Lea on Interstate 90, One mile south on Hwy 15 (Exit 102). One hour south of Mankato

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Address -
1330 North State St.,
Fairmont, MN 56031 

Reservations -
Busses Welcomed - please call ahead. Reservations not required for groups under 20. Special parties of over 20 should call in advance. AAA Approved Restaurant. Chamber of Commerce Member since 1981

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