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Stevens Point Sculpture Park

Photo essay: Stevens Point Sculpture Park

January 9, 2022  |  Topics: featured artist

By Eddee Daniel

"Husk." Stuart Morris
“Husk.” Stuart Morris (Stevens Point, WI)

I’m a big fan of sculpture parks. Have I mentioned this before? Art + Nature in the right hands can be a very powerful combination. I particularly like parks that take great care in their placement of sculptures, that allow the art works to resonate with the natural surroundings. It’s even better when the artists have been sensitive to those surroundings and created works that establish some kind of dialogue with nature. The Stevens Point Sculpture Park, which I visited on my way to a wedding in Wausau, is a nice one. It is one of three that I visited for the first time in 2021. I think it’s about time I got around to sharing them with you.

"Elk Centaur."
“Elk Centaur.” Francois Lelong (France)

According to its website the Stevens Point Sculpture Park’s mission “is to provide a welcoming and accessible outdoor venue for diverse work including environmental art, exhibitions, activities, and educational programs. Our goal is to enhance the cultural life of our community and surrounding area.”

“Rapunzel’s Tower.” Stephanie Jones

The website’s introduction continues: “We invite you to explore beautiful art installations along our scenic trail. Leisurely stroll through towering pines to discover a unique connection between nature and art. Sitting on 20-acres and connected to the Green Circle Trail, the Stevens Point Sculpture Park features artwork from local, regional, and national artists.”

The natural features of the park include this slough.
The natural features of the park include this slough.

While I personally wouldn’t call this park “unique” (unless that refers to the specific sculptures that are present), and although the quality of the different pieces varied a bit in my judgement, on the whole it was a lovely leisurely stroll through the pines, discovering artworks lurking in the shadows around every bend—many of them truly impressive. The map of the park indicates that currently there are 45 sculptures, but I notice that a couple of my own favorites are not on the map. Either they were temporary installations or the map is not up-to-date.

Here are my selections in no special order. Captioning information draws on the labeling plaques that accompany most of the sculptures.

“The American Status.” Jason Bord Shafer (Frederic, MN). A house handcrafted by the artst out of local wood, intended to comment on current economic conditions, the outsourcing of resources, and tendency to ignore American ingenuity and ability to build with our own hands.
“You Are Here.” Hannah Sawyer
“A Sand County Bench.” Jacob Brault (Athens GA). Aldo Leopold was a giant of a conservationist, famous for his book, A Sand County Almanac, and for designing a bench in the style shown here.
“Infinite Decay.” Keith Kaziak (Wausau, WI). Starkly juxtaposed, a textured, decaying bronze figure stands atop a sterile, smooth, highly reflective pedestal. Both nature (the surroundings) and the viewer, reflected in the surface, become active participants in “Infinite Decay,” along with the constantly changing light and seasons.
“Word on the Street.” Scott Froschauer (Sun Valley, CA). A series of repurposed street signs spread out along the trail throughout the park; the typical street sign commands (i.e., stop, yield, wrong way, etc.), which tend to have negative affect, have been substituted with constructive ideas. Instead of coercive they are intended to be inspirational.
“If there is to be PEACE in the world…,” from “Word on the Street.”
“Water Table.” Tamsie Ringler (Dubuque, IA). Using a banquet table as a metaphor for the water table that sustains life, with constructions that evoke drilling platforms tapping into the subterranean resource, the artist suggests that we are all guests at the table and as such must be respected, we must leave food and drink for others who follow, and we must clean up after ourselves.
“Aurora III.” Tim Curtis (Hollywood, FL)
“Refuse or Refuge.” Aaron Leif Nicholson (Muncie, IN). An assemblage of about a decade’s worth of miscasts, scrap metal, and found materials, intended to be a visual and metaphorical paradox symbolizing both growth and decay.
“Birdcraft.” Mike Godell (Stevens Point, WI). “While exploring human interaction with wilderness and wildlife, my work often aims to speak the language of the natural world either by using found materials or trying to mimic visual cues from the landscape. With this piece I … attempt not only to speak the language but to physically interact with the natural world by creating a functioning habitat for the chimney swift.”
“Cohesion/Tension #2.” Peter Krsko (Wonewoc, WI)
“Wired.” Mike Godell (Stevens Point, WI). This highly abstract piece was my personal favorite. Made of wire and detritus and suspended above what I took to be a drainage ditch, or another slough, the amorphous figure suggests to me many layered interpretations: a tornado, swamp gas, a malevolent spirit, or a genie being released into the world. It does not seem to suggest human agency and yet it is inescapably the artist’s creation.
The trail that tied all of the sculptures together was generally a wide, easy-to-follow, mulched pathway. Now and then, however, a narrow side trail led off to a clearing with a sculpture in it. This side trail seemed particularly significant, as it was lined with these tree limbs into which had been embedded irregularly shaped reflective glass shards. But…
… the clearing it led to was empty. I have no idea if a sculpture had once been there and removed, or if one was being planned for the space, but I loved the fact that my expectations were thwarted and I was confronted only with a clearing in the woods. I breathed in the always intoxicating scent of the pines and gazed up through the trees towards the sky. I hope they keep it this way!

The featured photo at the top shows “Landscape with Perspective,” by Dee Dee Morrison (Birmingham, AL). For more information go to the Stevens Point Sculpture Park website.

Eddee Daniel is a former art teacher as well as the curator of The Natural Realm.