Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prairie Moon Road, and Magic

Last week I turned what could have been a very mundane drive on Hwy I-94 across the state of Wisconsin into an unexpectedly magical adventure. I left Minnesota after living there for six months and was feeling pretty sad about it. Although I love Wisconsin I found Minnesota to be a quirky and exciting place filled with vibrant culture, scenery, people, and of course art. Plus I enjoyed living in close proximity to my biggest supporter Josh. But, it was time to move on to the next thing, and I decided to leave Minnesota in the best way possible: Mississippi River road trip!

Instead of tackling the heinous I-94 I decided to split the first half of my drive between the Wisconsin and the Minnesota sides of the Mississippi River, opting for 35 S and 61 S. I had been doing some research on cool art things to go see in Wisconsin and Minnesota and with a stroke of luck two of them happened to fall on this brilliant stretch of US highway. I was more than shocked by the sparkling radiance of the mighty Mississippi as I made my way down 35 S through towns such as Stockholm, WI (population 66) and Fountain City, WI, which looked like a snapshot from the year 1896. An incredibly bad iPhone photo to give you an idea of the view out of my window:

I often feel lucky and surprised that there are still amazing things to see and do in the world, and I felt particularly so on this day. Of course I am not the first person to take an adventure down the Mississippi River, but I was just so shocked to see that there was something so pristinely beautiful so close to where I had been living my whole life. Riding this adventure wave put me in the perfect mood for the first stop on my journey, which was Herman Rusch's Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum. I had found the Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden on the John Michael Kohler Art Center's "Wandering Wisconsin" tour. Since I will be starting an internship with them in January I want to take the initiative to learn as much about their SUPREME MAGNIFICENCE (understatement) as I possibly can before starting. In a nutshell, "Wandering Wisconsin" is the Kohler Foundation's highly successful effort to preserve art environments in Wisconsin. You can visit all of these spots in Wisconsin on a fantastical art tour, or just choose a couple of them. 

As I wandered around Wisconsin, I couldn't help but feel like Prairie Moon had chosen me. The day felt truly magical as I approached the mysterious grounds.

Due to the fact that it was one of the coldest days in my recent memory, there was no one at the park. The chilly temperatures also meant that the museum building wasn't open, which was a disappointment. However, the outdoor park left plenty to be seen. I won't go into much detail, but the park consists of a mixture of sculptures made by Herman Rusch (the original owner of the museum), another folk artist named Halvor Lansverk, and a self-taught artist named Fred Schlosstein. Although I am slightly unclear about which figures were made by which artist, I don't think it matters that much. If you're interested, read the link, or GO SEE IT YOURSELF! The truly important thing is the way it felt to be walking around in the sunshine, on the edge of the Mississippi, in between two charming old towns, on the coldest day you could possibly imagine, in an art environment that was important enough to be saved and seen by the world.

I've worked very hard to see a lot of magical things in my life, but there have been very few times when a place was magical for more reasons than just being beautiful or hard to find. This was one of them. It's cheesy, but I guess you had to be there to know what I mean. Or think that preserved outdoor art environments are as awesome as I do. Ha ha. It also might be kind of a cop out to call Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden "magical" rather than actually describing to you why I think it is significant, but sometimes there is just one word that sums up the experience and the place quite nicely. 

Next week's post: The second stop on my Magical Mississippi Meander. Mmmmm.

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