One Stunner of a Summer


The birds are chirping, the mud is thawing, the grass is greening, and we at Franconia Sculpture Park are preparing for a bustling, event-filled summer. We have an event just about every weekend May through September that include awesome activities like music, sculpture-making, hot metal pours and more. Curious about what you’ll find this summer? Keep reading!

For a good introduction to the park, Sunday afternoons are a great time to visit.  Every Sunday at 2pm starting on May 3rd, Franconia offers a FREE guided tour of the 43-acre sculpture park! Resident intern artists and staff will be your docent, providing educational and contextual information about the large-scale works scattered around the park. Your tour guide will meet you at the silver info booth in the main parking lot to whisk you away into a world of welding, casting, building, and creating grand works of art that are almost inconceivable in any other environment. You will get a look at the outdoor artists’ studio, called the work pad, and even chat with the artists-in-residence about their current work in progress.


A group of students chatting with 2014 Open Studio Fellow Chris Manzione about the construction of his sculpture

Once you have completed your tour, if you are yearning to learn more about the individual artists and their artistic visions, come back for the Artist Talks series. These exciting presentations take place twice a month, every 2nd and 4th Thursday, May through October. This is a great chance to officially meet Franconia’s artists as you view images of their past works and hear them describe their process in regards to their current project. There is even time to ask the artists questions about their accomplishments and engage in a freewheeling discussion. Slides and discussion begin at 8pm, but all are welcome to join Franconia residents for a delicious homemade meal and the chance to informally rub shoulders with some masters of three-dimensional arts. Reservations and $10 donation are requested if you would like to join us for dinner. Think that sounds like enough to fill your summer up? Not so fast!

Make sure you mark your calendars for June 27th, July 18th, and August 22nd! These will be great days filled with music, dancing, food, and all things sculpture because it’s Franconia’s annual Music @ Franconia series!  Bring a blanket, grab a bite or beverage from our famous Lizard Lounge sculpture, and enjoy the afternoon of song, dance, and sculpture in the idyllic Earthen Amphitheater located smack in the middle of our current exhibition. On June 27th, get down with the Rhythm and Groove of Black Market Brass, Brass Messengers, and The Undergroove. In our most patriotic month of the year, we host Uniquely American, on July 11th– featuring the Roe Family Singer & Friends, Duck for the Oyster, and August Blues. And on August 15th we embark for a Tour of Europe with Orkestar Bez Ime, Mark Stillman, Francine Roche, Nancy Sanchelli Guertin & Sima Shumilovsky and Quartetto Rosso. In between dancing and picnicking be sure to participate in a guided tour during band breaks to meet artists-in-residence and learn about artwork in progress. All events are family and dog friendly, and parking is $5 per vehicle.


The view of the Earthen Amphitheater from a granite perch

If you have kids between the ages of 4 and 18 be sure to sign up early for a Kids Make Sculpture workshop happening one Saturday a month, May through August. Your kids will step into the life of a sculptor for the afternoon with hands-on creativity and creation! During each workshop, youth spend the afternoon creating big sculptures with the assistance of Franconia staff and resident artists. We take care of everything; materials (usually wood and lumber), tools, technical assistance, and most importantly fun! Kids are encouraged to use their imagination to construct something BIG! The specific dates are May 30th, June 20th, July 18th, and August 22nd all from 1pm-4pm.  Be sure to head to the Kids Make Sculpture Website to register after May 1st!


A Kids Make Sculpture participant’s amazing “R” sculpture

August 1st we have a very unique event for the entire family! It is our Community Collaboration Hot Metal Pour. Iron artists come from around the world to help facilitate this HOT event and pour up to 8,000 pounds of molten iron into sand molds designed by YOU. Participate in mold-making workshops leading up to the pour where you can create your very own scratch mold that will be cast in iron. Sign up for either July 25 or 26th (1pm-4pm) or July 29th or 30th  (4pm – 8pm).  Prices are $30 for a small, $45 for a medium or $75 for a large. If you can’t attend a workshop, there will be an opportunity to scratch a mold on August 1st during the event, but plan to purchase your molds early, or at least before 3pm. No worries if you’ve never completed a mold before, workshops are open to all ages and led by Franconia staff and experienced metal casting artists. To get a better sense of what you’ll experience, check out this fantastic video! August 8th will be the day to experience renowned iron artists pouring their own large-scale molds to create unique cast sculptures. We help realize visions by offering support to artists as they cast large scale iron sculpture. Bring a picnic, grab your friends and witness sculpture that takes up to 300 pounds of molten iron to create. Make sure to visit our outdoor iron exhibition to enjoy the magic of cast metal sculpture.


Finished cast iron sculptures made from Scratch Blocks during the Community Collaboration Hot Metal Pour


Just a glimpse of some of the family friendly fun found at the Art & Artists Celebration

And finally in September we wrap up our season in celebration of all our wonderful artists who made work here in 2015. On September 12th, we host our annual Art & Artists Celebration! This creative and fun-filled festival will have live music, family art making activities, guided tours of new work, delicious food and beverages, and more. Come on by to congratulate the artists on their monumental accomplishments and enjoy the waning days of summer.

The Music @ Franconia Series, and Community Collaboration Hot Metal Pour Funders:
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Free Guided Tours, Kids Make Sculpture, and the Art & Artists Celebration Funders:
This activity is funded through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund. The Art & Artists Celebration also received funding from the St. Croix Valley Foundation and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. 

One comment

  1. […] of events and family friendly activities planned for the summer, read our other blog post: One Stunner of a Summer, to learn about all the other reasons you should visit the […]

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