by Tom Schimmel
If you hop on 35W North, exit on 8 and drive to Taylor’s Falls, you’ll see a large number of strange objects rising above the treeline on the right. This is Franconia Sculpture park. Please apply the brake and prepare to turn right. From the parking lot, everything you need to know about the park is right in front of you. It is time, as the bumper sticker says, to “START SEEING SCULPTURE.”
To put it very simply, Franconia Sculpture Park is Taliesin reborn in Minnesota.
It’s a constantly evolving community of artists and advisors. They come
and they go, and they leave their work behind. Art here is a lifestyle. There’s
a lot to be said for pretty girls with welding torches and guys who know how
to cook and run a furnace. Everything is done with aesthetics in mind. Last
week was my first trip there in five years. A lot has improved. Franconia is
churning out sculpture and adding functional fun. “Did You Wash your Body
Today?” by Elena Mann is a large enclosed shower designed in the style
of car wash. I don’t know if it’s planned for use by future interns,
but I hope they try it out. I like the communal mind of this work. Removed from
self, and useful to the world around. Hopefully this trend will continue among
That weird buzz you’ll get standing out in the park is common among city
dwellers. It’s called your imagination. It’s kicking in because
your cell phone is turned off and you’re looking at “Flying Horse”
by Anastasia Ward. Apparently she’s been into Dali’s dream world;
and this is what followed her home. Just as impressive as the spectacle itself
is the talented craftsmanship required to build the sculptures that you see.
“An Analytical Living Environment” still has me thinking about the
design considerations. It kind of looks like a Sims house designed by M.C. Escher.
However, unlike either of these possible influences, artist Mark Guilibeau has
created his work in 3-dimensional space. Large sculpture produces awe and there’s
no wondering why.
One of the finest days to visit Franconia will be Saturday, September 25, for
the Gala Art & Artist Celebration. There will be music, highly recommended
live sculpture performances, and a flurry of dance and puppetry. Should you
prefer a quieter experience, Franconia is open dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
Come anytime. Everything here is about imagination and expression. Plus it’s
all just 45 minutes from the cities. Pack a cooler, get in the car, and go make
your life more interesting. ||
Gala Art & Artist Celebration Sat., Sept. 25, 10 a.m. –
10 p.m. Franconia Sculpture Park is located at 29815 Unity Ave. in Shafer, MN.