We Art Minnesota: Franconia Sculpture Park

Susannah Schouweiler knows her art; she’s an editor for mnartists.org. She writes about Franconia Sculpture Park:

I’ve been a fan of Franconia Sculpture Park for a while now, but I really fell in love with the place last September at Franconia’s Art & Artists Festival and Celebration when we took our son, George, with us. Seeing our three-year-old explore the park, watching him scramble over, around, and on top of the sculptures to get at all their textures and small hiding places was instructive: Franconia, unlike traditional gallery spaces or museums, invites you to engage the work directly, to touch the pieces, to step right up and play with the art like a kid.

When you stop by, you’re treated a bit like visiting family; the artists who live and work at Franconia (many of whom are there on two-year Jerome Foundation artist-in-residence fellowships) are likely milling around the park with you, happy to take a break in what they’re doing to chat for a minute.

Most of the 75 or so pieces on view at the park rotate through after a couple of years of exhibition time, so there’s usually something new to see. At the same time, pieces are around for a relatively long time; so, if you visit a couple of times a year, you’ll see bunches of old favorites each time, too. It’s such a pleasure to see the sculptures weather over time as they make their peace with the elements and earn a bit of patina.

I suppose my very favorite aspect of Franconia, though, is the ubiquitous evidence of human handiwork behind the grandeur and whimsy of the finished pieces – heavy equipment to haul and fabricate stuff, artists with tools and brushes touching up their pieces, people milling around the communal house. My son calls it an “art farm;” I think that captures the gist of Franconia’s appeal beautifully.

You can find out more about Franconia Sculpture Park, its fall arts celebration and its sculpture-building workshops for kids here.

Have a favorite piece of art that belongs to Minnesota (i.e. public art, a cool building, or a piece of art that belongs to a Minnesota museum)? Let us know.

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