Franconia Sculpture Park

My sister-in-law, knowing that I am an artist and creativity coach, always tries to find an outing, museum, and/or experience that speaks to me when I visit.  This year she hit a grand slam (home run while the bases are loaded)!  Franconia Sculpture Park is an experience that is not to be missed.  Located in Shafer (about 50 miles from Minneapolis), I highly recommend this sculpture park.

Art has the power to move us….. to inspire us….. cause us to ask questions….. cause us to question authority…….. open our eyes to injustice……. see beauty in a whole new way……. and so much more.

The sculptures at Franconia Sculpture Park address a wide range of social issues and topics.  They were in all shapes, colors, materials, and sizes.  We were there in the fall when the colors were changing.  I think to see the sculptures during each season would be an interesting experience.  Some were created to be seen at night.  I have chosen just a few to share with you.  (To put this in perspective for you, I took over 400 pictures at the Franconia Sculpture park.)


Vascular Form V, “Orientation” 2015 by Foon Sham made from Pine Wood

According to the information card placed next to this sculpture, the artist wanted to build a large vessel that invited human interaction.  Made from 1,180 pine wood blocks, I think the artist was successful.  This artwork invites all of the senses to experience it: the scent of the pine wood blocks, the change in temperature when you go inside the sculpture, the weaving pattern that captures the eye, and the view of the sky through the top.


View of the sky from inside Vascular Form V, “Orientation”


Navigation 2015 by Asako Nakauchi made from Fabricated Steel and Fabric

The following text was taken from the information card next to this sculpture.  “Originally conceived as a tribute to the 20,000+ Tsunami victims who lost their lives in Northern Japan in 2011, the sculpture gradually transformed to be about my hope for the future of people and the planet.  Incorporating the abstract imagery of a constellation, the steel frame design evolved into a wave meeting the night sky, and I named it ‘Navigation.'”

The fabric pieces move with the breeze, giving one the feeling of movement.  Whether by air or sea, this sculpture invokes the idea of going on a journey.


Labyrinth 2004 by Stuart Nielsen made with Fabricated Aluminum

This piece was such a pleasant surprise along the woodland path.  I stopped and looked up.  There sitting among the trees was this beautiful silver sculpture.  It looked to me, to be an idea in a tree.  It was sitting waiting to give inspiration to any passerby.  The Artist describes the piece as “linear and meandering ‘drawing in air’ tracing a symbolic path of exploration and seeking.”

The following text came from the information card below the sculpture.  “Labyrinth was originally commissioned to hang in the entry atrium of a Public Library.  Midway through the project membership of the library board changed and new members terminated the project.”

Following a visit to the Artist’s studio by John Hock, the Artistic Director of Franconia Sculpture Park, it was suggested that Labyrinth might find a home there.  They scouted sites and discussed how to install the artwork.  “The result was its sitting aloft among the branches and leaves adjacent the meandering woodland path.”


Mi Familia 2007 by Robert Ressler made from Cherry, Red Oak, white Oak and granite

To me, this sculpture looks like a captured moment between two people dancing the tango.  I expect at any moment for the dancing to resume.

This Artist is described as having a sensitivity to materials and natural forms.  His work is also described as playful and representational in subject matter.


Barn Find 2017 by Neal Cuthbert made from Cardboard, Wheat paste, reclaimed corral and backyard fencing, found plywood and other wood, chicken coop and other fencing, birdcage, plaster chicken, bicycle seat and handlebars, license plates and architectural drawings

My photo is a close up of the sculpture.  Paraphrasing from the information card next to this piece, the Dune Buggy was originally created as part of an exhibition that explored the Artist’s upbringing in Detroit, Michigan.  The Dune Buggy was an imagined, idealized project between the Artist and his father.  The chicken coop is reminiscent of the Artist’s Grandfather who bred and raised chickens.  The Dune Buggy is partially exposed to the elements and is meant to weather and decay.

The creative use of paper in this sculpture is what drew me to it.


Johnny Appleseed 1992 by Mark di Suvero made from Fabricated Steel and Stainless Steel

Large and industrial.  I did not think the title of this piece worked.  And then I read what the artist said about the work on the informational card next to the sculpture.  “The title references the legendary American pioneer Johnny Appleseed, and imbues the sculpture with the same sense of adventure that marked a period of westward expansion in American History.”  If you notice all of the pieces of this sculpture are from equipment that moves earth or soil.  The title completely makes sense.

Minnesota is a large state, but if you should find yourself in Minneapolis and have a day to go and explore, I highly recommend the Franconia Sculpture Park.  It is a visual and creative feast.

4 thoughts on “Franconia Sculpture Park

  1. checkeredays says:

    This made me think of something that’s been fermenting in my head, bringing art to the Community West side Garden. I was thinking originally of performance arts, but why not sculpture too!

    Liked by 1 person

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