Kerry Dikken, a 1979 Sacred Heart High School graduate, studied art and technical illustration under Bill Oakleaf at what was then called Willmar Vo-Tech.
His parents, Dorothy and Alfred, have lived in Willmar the past 25 years since selling the farmstead where they raised pigs, among other things.
Kerry lives in Minneapolis where he has a business named Blasted Art Inc. Working from computer-designed templates, Dikken (pronounced Deacon) sandblasts anything you got: glass, metal, stone, brick, plastic, wood, even leather and denim.
His work is well known in the Twin Cities. He's done a 120-foot glass wall for one of the concourses at the airport. His studio inscribes the hundreds of 8x8 memorial bricks that the Minnesota State Fair Board sells for $250 to raise money for the fair foundation. He's does the same kind of brick work for the Como Park foundation.
He's been contracted to do work on the memorial for the new 35W bridge. His clients include a vodka company, Target Corporation and Hilton Hotels.
His most visible project is on the plaza of the new baseball stadium where the Twins moved in April 2010.
The Tradition Wall on the Stadium Plaza has 3,600 names inscribed. The glass panels are 5-feet wide by 8-feet 5-inches high. Two of the 14 panels have pictures of fans and quotes from Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew, whose statues are nearby.
Tom Oslund, whose company Oslund & Associates designed the plaza, chose Blasted Art to execute the inscriptions and art work.
C.J., the Star Tribune columnist, noted the reaction of Twins President Dave St. Peter when he saw the first completed panels of the Tradition Wall a month before the ballpark opened. "Tom and Kerry over at Blasted Art did just a wonderful work on these," she quoted St. Peter. "It's one of the times in this whole project I've been moved to tears."
While we visited on the Plaza Saturday evening before the game with Kansas City, a family from Portage, Wis., studied a panel until they found their name. The Zydowskys, father, Ed and sons, John and Jacob, posed for a photo pointing to their name. They didn't remember offhand what they had paid, but the contribution was $245 for each inscription.
They were thrilled when introduced to the artist. Dikken may have been thrilled, too. Another difficult name spelled correctly. So far, he's had no complaints, not one, of a misspelled name.
He believes his background in the printing industry helped him learn proofreading. "I proofed and proofed and proofread again," said Kerry.
Dorothy Dikken said her son didn't have much interest in sports growing up, or school for that matter.
"We were a little worried," said Dorothy. "He often didn't do his school work, but he was always trying to make things."
Kerry has three sisters living in the metro area and a brother, Greg, in Renville.
Dorothy and Alfred watch all the Twins games on TV. She hasn't seen the Tradition Wall since travel is difficult for Alfred, who is in poor health.
"(Kerry) always sends us photos of his work so I feel we've seen it," said Dorothy.
Smith among league leaders in NY-Penn
Through Tuesday, Jordan Smith is hitting .352, the fourth highest average in the New York-Penn League. He's the only Scrapper in the league's top 20.
Mahoning Valley is 18-14 in the Pickney Division, tying with Jamestown and Batavia for first place.
Besides average, he leads the Cleveland Indians' Class A club from Niles, Ohio, in hits (37) and RBI (19). His 10 doubles is tied for first in the league with two others.
The 2009 Willmar graduate, who played for the Stingers last summer, has whiffed only 10 times in 105 at bats. He has walked 12 times.
He batted clean-up and played right field on Tuesday, a 6-1 win against last-place State College.
More often at third, his seven errors are second most on the team. Smith signed with the Indians organization June 18.