Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Art on the Farmland

It was our last day in Wisconsin. Our last day to soak up whatever the dairy state had to offer that we weren't likely to find back in Wichita. Having had our fill of cheese curds and brats, we were delighted at the possibility of a Fermentation Festival in the next town over. Apparently there are a lot of things that are fermented we didn’t even realize… Kimchi, silage and chocolate (yes, chocolate). And apparently, we're the type of couple who's interested in such odd things as fermentation.

Along with the Fermentation Fest, for its first year ever, was a coinciding exhibition. The "Farm Art D’Tour" (quickly renamed by Stephanie as the F’Art D’Tour because she can’t resist assigning her own name to anything) became the most intriguing part of our trip. In our 2003 Alero with Stephanie’s parents in the back playing the not-always-asked-for roles of navigators, we traveled a 50-mile route along some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen. Rolling hills, red and yellow leaves, cow-filled pastures. As Nathan put it, “I feel like I’m inside Norman Rockwell’s imagination”. But this amazing beauty was just a backdrop to the surprising views we were to see along the route.

With a rudimentary map that contained often-cryptic titles, we drove mile after mile looking to the side of the road for something to appear somewhere. And what that something would be, we had no idea. We discovered “Field Weave” was an amazing, large installation of colorful acrylic fibers that danced in the wind. Unfortunately a photograph can’t capture the beauty of its movement.

Further along, an artist literally uses land into his art with “Farmed Frame”, and just a bit up the road from that was “Stonehenge” made entirely of hay bales.

We passed along such sights as silage bags painted as catepillars, messages mowed into fields as well as more than a few Amish farmers going along with their regular day-to-day life as looky-loos passed them along the curved, hilly highway. Then we took a stop into a town along the route, population 326, where we visit “Granny’s” diner for homemade chicken dumpling soup, cheese curds (we couldn’t resist) and our first ever taste of Walnut Pie and also a Blackberry pie made with wild blackberries.

Being most intrigued by fiber arts, Stephanie’s favorite installation was “Come What May” by artist Katie Schofield, who we were fortunate to meet right at the beginning of the Farm Art D’Tour. It was a scene you'd expect to see in some sort of fantasy movie, with about a dozen or so of these cocoon-like objects hanging on trees. The crafted objects felt like they belonged in the nature, like they were created by some sort of supernatural creature. The artist is one of many people who live at something called a WormFarm (which is sort of a commune of arts working on a farm).

We never made it to the Fermentation Fest. Our accidental discovery of the art in the FarmArt D’Tour, not only by mostly local artists but also by farmers living along the route, was more than we could have hoped for. It was art. It was craft. It was clever ingenuity. I’m sure their 2nd one will be even better. And despite the 12 hours it takes for us to drive to Wisconsin, I’m sure we’ll be there to see it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such a poetic and beautiful post. What lovely art and backdrops therefor. What a great experience you guys had!