Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gandy Dancer and the Franconia Sculpture Park

Yesterday, Ming, Kyle and I drove up to Siren, Wisconsin, to ride the Gandy Dancer trail from Siren to Danbury. Yes, that's about four hours of driving for three to four hours of bicycling, but sometimes these are just exploratory expeditions, to get an idea whether it might be worth coming back for a longer ride. I think if one was to start in St. Croix Falls where the trail starts, after camping or spending the night at a bed and breakfast, and do the full 50 miles with a pick up at the end and day trip to Hayward, or even a round trip, it would be a very nice ride. As it was, it Siren to Danbury and back was a decent distance for a late season ride, and the scenery was great, with the fall colors just really starting to kick in.

After the ride, we stopped at the Franconia Sculpture Park. Driving past it early in the morning after breakfast at Key's, it looked sort of abandoned, or the work of a crazy farmer. But when we came back in the afternoon, the place was packed with cars and all sorts of people were enjoying what is basically a Walker Sculpture Garden that has new art every year.

Before I get into the pictures, Ming, the movie you were trying to remember was "The Happening". And there's no excuse for liking it (even if you really like Zoey Daschenel, you need to make excuses for her).

The start of the ride in Siren. The cafe on the corner closest to the trail is packed, and breakfast is served until 11:00. We walked in at 1:50 or so, just before closing, and they treated us as if they had all the time in the world. And Ming liked their pie so much he bought an extra piece to go. This is the local taxidermy shop. It seems like a.) it's been there a really long time, b.) there are dinosaurs in the lakes of Wisconsin (a sixth season, right after the fifth season that is deer season?), or c.) they're really good at taxidermy with any animal, even those that don't exist. On the other side of the building are two other dinosaurs, including a triceratops. I didn't see a T-Rex, maybe they're too dangerous to catch in the first place.

The Burnett Community Library. I love the "Wireless" sign made out of those old-style stick on letters for mailboxes. That's a great intersection with technology.

A mushroom in Danbury, Wisconsin. It was near the playground, so don't let your children run too far afield.

A river on the Gandy Dancer, viewed from one of the three bridges on the upper part of the trail. In the other direction is a mill of some sort.

Kyle and Ming on the Gandy Dancer, near Danbury. A couple hundred feet up that path is where I discovered my seat was broken on one side. The mountain bike now has a broken seat, a loose chain, rings that need replacing across the board, a bunch of weeds jammed into the chain and associated pieces from where I went cross country during the ride, about a dozen bolts that look like they're on the verge of rusting out completely, and I've got the tire on backwards. I think it needs a slight overhaul.

A sign in Siren boasting that it's a place for all seasons. I believe I'll stick to the ones without snow.

On the streets of Siren, finishing up the ride. We didn't wear helmets...oooo... Kyle forget his and I decided that as it might rain, I didn't want to wear mine. Ming said he didn't want to stick out, so he wasn't going to wear his either. I pointed out that as a Malaysian guy in rural Wisconsin with two other white guys, the helmet was the least of his "sticking out" issues.

On to the sculpture garden. This is Mary Johnson's Lizard Lounge. When Ming saw this, he was pretty sure we were in for a bucket of lame. When I pointed to what looked like a gallows to the right with two looped ropes hanging from it and noted the sculpture was called "Hang all the minorities", he was a bit more amused. (It didn't really say that...and don't get all wound up, you had to be there, and be a minority in uber-white mid-westish Wisconsin, to appreciate the gallows humor). But as we walked through the garden, it became obvious there were some interesting pieces and it wasn't just a farmer's metalwork hobby.

Teddy bear with a book. He's not flat on the back, it's in his head. I think this would be a good piece for any child's room.

Dave, Don and Jeff by Donald Myrhe. Taking a length-centric photo of them makes them look rather small.

But put a 6'+ guy in frame, inappropriately touching one of them, and you can see how big they really are.

Ming and Kyle near Holly Streekstra's Porta Obscura. The porta is because it has wheels. Inside is a chandellier, some nice music, and an electric fireplace. The obscura is presumably because it's a darkened box with...

...a lens. Which creates a sort of Cristina's World (Andrew Wyeth) view of the sculpture grounds. I should have asked Kyle to lay down in the field and look longingly into the distance in order to reproduce the painting.

Ming and Kyle in Wake by Michael McGillis. This is one of the few sculptures where there's no doubt about how they'll be able to recycle it after the season is over.

Gum. Big gum.

Bug. Big bug. He's sort of gross when you really take a good look at him. I think it's the tarp wrapped to his underside that makes him look mosquito like and sort of squishy.

Battlebot destroying a visiting car. If only Robocop were here to fight it.

Michael Wickerson's "He never had a pot for the fish he caught, So he had to use the big dipper". Kyle thought the mask looked like Marilyn Manson. In a knit sweater that had been outside too long.

Another face from Wickerson's sculpture.

Melanie VanHouten's Reclamation. You can stand under it which is scary. But I did it anyway.

And once you're underneath it, you can see all these ropes tied together back and forth across the inside. It reminded me of Heroes when they're trying to connect events with different colored threads to see where important intersections are.

Guess what this is...

It's called Concrete Skinscape by Trever Nicholas'. Kyle said I could put something like it in my back yard. That might be a good idea - it would certainly cut down on the mowing.

And finally, the most disturbing piece. Ming, Kyle and I stood around it being uncomfortable until we started laughing. It's called "Duchamp's Girls", and that is a naked little girl just lying in the grass. Just wrong. I think the problem is that half the sculpture is missing because it's so close to the end of the year. This photo on Flickr of a little girl sticking halfway out of the ground would make the whole thing much less surreal.

So, next year I think I'll set up a family vacation. Sculpture Garden, B&B in St. Croix Falls, bicycling, the Hayward giant fish, the St. Croix Falls was good recon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, what a treat! Great pictures I've driven past the Franconia sculpture place so many times, I know I HAVE to stop there now