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Rapid City residents will have a chance to meet the future sculptor of Main Street Square's granite blocks at a reception in January.

Masayuki Nagase, the Berkeley, Calif., artist selected to carve the granite blocks, was not in Rapid City on Tuesday when the  selection was announced. He was one of 88 artists who made a bid for the project.

Nagase is an award-winning granite sculptor who was raised in Japan and trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo. He also did a traditional stone-carving apprenticeship in the Japanese granite quarries.

"This is what he does," said Pat Wyss, project manager for the $2 million sculpture project.

About 15 community leaders, members of the selection committee and employees of Destination Rapid City and Main Street Square gathered for the announcement Tuesday morning.

An opening reception for Nagase is planned for Jan. 11 at Dahl Arts Center. An exhibit will showcase his previous work and a draft of his plans for Main Street Square.

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The 14-month selection process culminated with the announcement of Nagase's selection Tuesday. Along the way, plans changed for the project.

Originally, the square was considering having a different sculptor carve each of the 21 granite blocks and pillars. That idea was later rejected due to concerns that so many artists would create an incoherent final product.

The privately financed project will take three to five years to complete. Nagase will be working outdoors, often with a hammer and chisel, for about six months each year.

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Contact Aaron Orlowski at 484-7069 or aaron.orlowski@rapidcityjournal.com

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