Take a local outdoor public art tour to enhance well-being
By SUSAN SCHAEFER
Much has been written about the benefits of exercise and the outdoors to beat the blues. According to a recent report by the American Psychological Association, “There is growing evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both human physical and psychological well-being.
The good news is that urban nature is a perfectly acceptable solution. Twin Citians don’t need to feel pressured to own a cabin or take trips to the vast wilderness of northern Minnesota to experience the benefits of the great outdoors.
But what happens when the Polar Vortex is at our doorstep?
Those who live here in the “true north” know that the phrase “winter is coming” did not originate from the epic Game of Thrones television series. In fact, the Minnesotans surely wrote many chapters in the wintering book.
City dwellers face December through March in style, often embracing winter sports decked out in Lycra, diapers, long johns, fleece, down and wool, on skis, skates, sleds, snowshoes and snowshoes. sneakers, defying the elements to travel for miles on a city plentiful with trails and parks.
But sometimes icy paths, subzero temperatures, and arctic blasts find plenty of eager ways to enter without Olympic heroism in the great outdoors.
Here is one way to multiply your winter pleasures: It is well known that enjoying cultural activities also contributes greatly to our personal and collective well-being. Thus, combining outdoor exercise with an artistic touch offers a big bang of well-being!
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite outdoor adventures in the metro area: hiking the University of Minnesota east and west campuses. Over the seasons, I walk the many paths of this urban treasure, not only by tracing my 10,000 steps, but also by experiencing a museum-quality art.
Best of all, this exploration is free and open to the public. And it’s perfect to do with family or friends. The campuses are easy to reach from anywhere in the metro area and have several public parking and transportation options with the green line providing convenient stops on both campuses.
I am fortunate enough to live in a high rise condominium adjacent to the West Bank and have made a three to four mile walking loop a regular part of my exercise program. From my back door, which adjoins Bluff Street Park, I cross the Dinkytown Greenway Pedestrian / Bike Bridge to explore the East Rim, completing my route by crossing the iconic Washington Avenue Covered Bridge. Both decks offer breathtaking views of the Mississippi River above the limestone cliffs.
Join me for a little visit.
From Bluff Street Park, cross the Dinkytown Bridge, turn right at the steep hill behind the Education Science building. Here you meet the installation “Garden of Iron Mirrors” by Andrea Stanislav. This arty rock outcrop consists of giant geodes of native taconite, cut in half, some highly polished, others sporting shiny stainless steel plates. The work creates an “intersection between art, science and history” and nature. These giant rocks “mirror” the surrounding building, the steep forested riparian shoreline, the beholder, and the very heart of Minnesota’s geology – taconite. It’s a fun place to pose for selfies in the expertly polished stone mirrors – when they’re not covered in snow! [Photo 1]
Up the hill, cross East River Road to take the bucolic path between Burton, Elliot, Scott, and Wulling Halls. These buildings are architecturally interesting and, together with the magnificent old oak trees, make up a magical part of this tour. [Photo 2]
Exiting this path tucked away near the side of the Northrop Auditorium, cross Pleasant St. SE, then spin between Johnson Hall and Walter Library (a marvel of art can be found inside). With the front of Northrop on the left, turn right past the photogenic quad buildings. Great photo ops here!
At Scholar’s Walk, turn left as you walk a short block. Outside the mechanical engineering building stands the “Platonic figure” of local favorite Andrew Leicester. This installation is a dazzling tribute to the drawing “Vitruvian Man” by the great Renaissance engineer-artist Leonardo da Vinci. [Photo 3]
Continuing east is the charming semi-covered archway of Scholar’s Walk, a hallway with representations, drawings, diagrams and descriptions of famous academic intellectuals and their works, etched and sandwiched behind glass. enlightened. [Photo 4]
Continuing along Scholar’s Walk, cross Church Street (the Graduate Hotel is on the other side). A little further, outside the Physics and Nanotechnology Building, are the fascinating sculptures, constructed of stainless steel and granite titled “Spannungfeld,” by German artist Julian Voss-Andreae. Spannungfeld means “field of tension”, which implies “a dynamic tension, often between opposite poles”.
This enthralling work consists of two 10 foot tall figures in a basic kneeling pose, a man and a woman, facing each other. “The two figures represent the ubiquitous pairs of opposites of nature. These dualities are a fundamental facet of nature and are found in Western science as well as in Eastern traditions. They are essential for the emergence of new levels of meaning in science and, in the case of both human genera, essential for the emergence of life. Like positive and negative electric charge in physics or yin-yang in Chinese philosophy, neither woman nor man can exist without each other.
Standing next to each figure, you perceive a solid mass, but you move directly in front of each, and the artwork seems to disappear as you contemplate the buildings and landscaping behind each, a masterful optical illusion. . The effect is wonderful. [Photo 5]
Heading south towards Washington Ave. turn right, where outside Amundson Hall is Stuart Nielsen’s “The Crucible”, made of cast bronze and stainless steel. Celebrate the beauty and strength of natural materials. This piece “was inspired by a 40-foot-diameter geodesic globe of the world that was erected on Northrop Plaza in May 1993 with the help of 184 schools, 11,535 elementary students and over 250 former Institute mentors. of technology – a technical, organizational, and inspiring triumph. [Photo 6]
These are just a few of the wonders of this road of world-class architecture and sculpture. Not only can you exercise, but the many cafes and cafes that dot Washington Avenue provide respite. Towards the Washington Avenue Bridge, the colonial-style Coffman Union building, next to the Weisman Art Museum (WAM), is open to the public with a lower level with food kiosks and the fantastic bookstore with a wonderful selection of gifts.
Speaking of gifts, when WAM reopens its gift shop rivals that of any major museum.
Did you know that through WAM you can book a guided tour of public art on campus?
Since its inception in 1988, the on-campus public art program has become an integral part of the campus environment. As I have partially described here, each piece of art has its own story and its connection to campus life and academics. Public art tours on campus are one hour in length and cover approximately 1.5-2 miles and can be scheduled for groups of 3 to 15. Check the website for more information.
From Frogtown to Longfellow, via Southwest, all roads lead easily to this urban excursion where art and exercise coexist in splendid harmony. Maybe I’ll see on the track!