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Out of Many, One

Artist • Hans Gilsdorf

Details of the Mural Art
The Story of the Art

Out of Many, One

According to Hans Gilsdorf, each of the six portraits represents an unnamed serviceman or woman from a different branch of the U.S. military: Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, and Space Force.

“I wanted to include all six branches,” he said, adding that each face also represents diverse aspects of U.S. culture: One is a Native American man, another a Black man; a woman’s face represents the Coast Guard. Another is an Asian American.

The Native American Army veteran’s portrait is an homage to the Navajo “code talkers” — servicemen fluent in both their traditional tribal language and in English, who were used to send secret messages in battle. The Air Force portrait is of a World War I pilot, while the Coast Guard image of a woman is meant to represent someone more contemporary.

In between each half-portrait is a colored strip representing a different ribbon from which a veteran would hang their service medals. One is the ribbon used for a Medal of Honor, one for the Bronze Star, one for the Silver Star, one for the Purple Heart, and one for the medal reserved for prisoners of war, or POWs.

On the easternmost section of the wall is a field of bright red poppies and an American flag, next to which will be inscribed the words, “Out of many, one” — the official title for the piece. The poppy has been adopted by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars as their official flower, which is why it is included in the piece.

Featured Mural Art • VFW Post 1676
Veterans Mural, "Out of Many, One" by Hans Gilsdorf
About the Artist

Hans Gilsdorf

Hans creates both 2D and 3D artwork in a wide array of media, including ice. Born in Minneapolis, Hans moved to Phoenix in 3rd grade but spent many summers on Pelican Lake and always thought of Minnesota as home. He went to Arizona State University (where he first met Mary Beth) and then went off to work in motion pictures doing sets and F/X (including the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies.) He returned to Phoenix, reconnected with Mary Beth, and got a dream job at the Phoenix Zoo sculpting life-size animals for the blind. That project officially launched his career as an independent artist. 

After they were married, Hans and Mary Beth moved back to Minnesota and, eventually, Detroit Lakes, where he has continued to create art that impacts communities in hospitals, zoos, museums, parks, schools, theaters, and other public and private locations. He loves to create art that He especially loves to create art that entertains, educates, and intrigues – with details worthy of a closer look. 

Here are some of his public art pieces in the Detroit Lakes community:

  • Out of Many, One – mural on VFW Post 1676
  • Once Upon a Time (aka the Library Kid) – cement sculpture at the DL Public Library
  • The Bluebird @ Bluebird Books – 3D piece that looks as if it broke through the sheetrock
  • The Laker Ripple Effect – mural printed on acoustic panels in the commons at DLHS
  • Detroit Lakes Sailboat – sailboat sculpture in the new Sesquicentennial Plaza at the City Park
  • Gateway to Detroit Lake – monolith sign welcoming people to our namesake lake and beach 
  • At the Historic Holmes Theatre, Becker County Museum, and The Center DLCCC:
    • Neptuna’s Wild Ride – Sunny in DL sunfish sculpture at the Becker County Museum
    • Comedy & Tragedy – a community art project for the Historic Holmes Theater
    • Backyard Trees – entryway signage for The Backyard at The Center – DLCCC
  • At Essentia St. Mary’s  Detroit Lakes:
    • Angel of Remembrance – bronze sculpture at Essentia Health’s healing garden 
    • History of the Benedictine Sisters – mural in the hallway right of the main entrance 
    • Gold Leaf Tree – a sculpted tree for donor recognition 
    • Thera-tree – functional therapy tree & cottage-themed pediatric physical therapy center 
  • Virgin Mary – bronze sculpture outside at St. Mary’s of the Lakes Catholic Church
  • 150 Sails Up in DL – SKOL – small sailboat sculpture on display at RCH Custom Homes

King Isbit and his beautiful ice palaces, now melted but forever in our memories

Hans Gilsdorf, Project 412 Artist