The arts. Crucial and omnipresent aspects of our civilizations for all of time. May we experience them, may we fight for them, may we be makers of them. In this issue, we put the primary focus on the performing arts, but I’d like to offer up a couple arts and dining pairings for the visual arts. They’re ones that are a bit further out of grasp from the Twin Cities and oh-so-worth the drive. To quote The Who, they’re all about “See Me, Feel Me.”
Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Minnesota
We are well aware of how fortunate we are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to have a multitude of masterpieces in our midst, not to mention the bevy of all other artwork that hasn’t been given the label “masterpiece.” But what is not as known is that there is a surprising number of masterpieces in the most impressive museum in Winona, Minnesota. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum houses a collection of work from the Hudson River School as well as a stymying number of pieces of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Modernism, and Realism by names such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne, O’Keeffe, Cassatt, Homer, Wyeth, and more. Among other exhibits, a special collection will be showing until Nov. 3: “150 Years of Marine Art.” And, for the more ink-inclined among us, there’s a particularly interesting exhibit that’s singing its siren song to me showing through Dec. 4 called “Ink & Water: Sailors’ Tattoos.”
Restaurant Pairing: Chef Shack Bay City, Bay City, Wisconsin
No, it’s not in Winona. It’s not even close to Winona. But, in my world, it’s on the way to Winona. So, to get to Winona from the Twin Cities, you have to go south and east. Winona’s on the river, in Minnesota. What you could do is cross that river to Wisconsin and go down to Winona on that side in order to grab brunch from the good people at Chef Shack Bay City, led by Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson. I have had a number of wonderful meals there and can vouch for what a solid and enjoyable beginning of your trip along the waterways, both literal and artistic, this will be.
Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, Minnesota
We know and love our sculpture parks and gardens around here. Caponi Art Park is a delight and the Walker Sculpture Garden is iconic, though under construction for the time being. Venture a little bit east and you will find an oasis of art called Franconia Sculpture Park. Free to all, it’s a place where you can park and wander for hours, walking between sculptures that range from a lizard-snack-bar to a pit of broken glass to a tower of stacked boats to a (seemingly) buried house to a pyramid of taxidermied deer. Adults and kids can go climbing on some of the pieces and take some time to watch some of the artists in residence do their work in the area set aside for their outdoor workshops. Be sure to check on any performances or exhibits scheduled to happen at Franconia; I’m sad to be out of town for the drumming and dancing headlined by Mu Daiko that’ll be happening there while this issue is being published.
I usually take the scenic route to Franconia by going first to Stillwater and then going north to Franconia and the Taylors Falls area. Food options are plentiful, no matter how you approach it: Eichten’s from the west, Taylor’s Falls from the north, any of the restaurants in Stillwater from the south; but I prefer a grab-and-go option from two fine purveyors of food in Marine on St. Croix, between Stillwater and the sculpture park. The Marine General Store has various sundries for purchase, but proceed directly to the deli case and order up some sandwiches. I recommend anything that you can add the olive spread to, which is anything. Then, walk up the street and nab a few lovely chocolates for dessert from St. Croix Chocolate Company, headed by Robyn Dochterman and Deidre Pope, and you’ve got a picnic that will make the other brown-bag lunchers at Franconia jealous.
Enjoy this issue. See and read about what your arts community is creating and bringing to you to consume as the heartbeat of our culture. Be hungry for it and demand more, while also supporting this good and crucial work.
With you and with thanks,