A vist to a sylvan sculpture garden
On a glorious June afternoon we went to the Caponi Art Park in Eagan, Minnesota. The park is the decades-long creative effort of Anthony Caponi, retired art professor from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. With just a wheelbarrow, shovel and rake, he cleared forty acres of rough land and built his house. Over the years he worked deeper into the forest with his tools, planting new trees as he went. An art professor who favors modern sculpture in stone and metal, he moved many of his creations to the park after he made them. He’s still there, nearly nine decades old, flying along in his golf cart. We saw him rounding a curve, the sun in his snow-white hair.
After he retired in 1991, he opened his park to the people of the Twin Cities, and in partnership with the City Of Eagan, joined his land to more forest. His ‘Art Park’ now includes a learning center, an exhibition center and an open-air ‘Theater In The Woods.’ The Park is open to the public and is free. Children and leashed pets are welcome.
I’ll admit this was one of the most memorable days of my life: the perfect weather, the delightful park, and my companion of nearly thirty years, Denise, at my side.
Caponi didn’t create mere retaining walls into the hillsides. He created sculpture. Here are a few segments of his ‘Pompeii’ scenes, embeded into a hill. Brass, stone and concrete.
Caponi’s park is made of found metal and stone. The paths are paved from last century’s granite cobbles discarded by the city of Saint Paul. Here is a fence of salavaged rebar from a demolished bridge. Caponi straightened it, cut it and welded it into place.
The park is lovlier than many city parks. As a fan of anything green, I appreciated the detail to native plants. I could tell many of the ancient birches were planted by Caponi as a younger man. Basswood and every species of native oak, some of ruinous old age, arched overhead. I also noticed the place was pretty clean of alien, invasive buckthorn.
There are curved paths everywhere. Round a corner and you will find a Caponi sculpture or two. Or Caponi himself.
Above are a few photos of the many sculptures there. Some were titled, and some were not. I loaded higher resolution photos and titles of these and others to my Flickr account.