The Stairwell News: Short day trips possible for art lovers

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Stairwell News by Susanne Crane

Susanne Crane is an artist/educator currently working on a local restoration project in the historic district.

Feeling like getting out of town for a little while but haven’t worked out a plan yet? Here are some suggestions.

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For the nimble, how about a short trek through  the pines, across the creek and down a path surrounded by crocuses, daffodils and bluebells in spring, at the Hormel Nature Center, just east of Austin. I see deer every time and turkeys more often than not. Fallen trees covered in moss can make you think that humans haven’t meddled much with this place. There is also a small museum of flora and fauna for the scientifically curious-minded hiker.

Susanne Crane

If you are interested in structural engineering and/or architecture, check out the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Mason City off the south side of Music Man Square. Or if you’d rather, you could instead head north to Owatonna and visit Frank’s teacher and primary influence, Louis Sullivan’s Wells Federal building, next to Central Park. You can go up to the observation deck and get close and personal with some crazy, amazing art deco detail.

If you are really feeling adventurous, then venture, to the world’s largest man-made grotto in West Bend, Iowa. The grotto of redemption is an unbelievably complex, beautiful sculptural feat, made primarily by one man of devotion. It is easily accessible. There are paths for the handicapped, and it is next to a park well-suited for picnics. It will leave you shaking your head in wonderment.

Another interesting day of discovery might include visiting any of this region’s art exhibitions. My favorites are the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault, the Owatonna Art Center, the Clear Lake Art Center, the MacNider Art Museum in Mason City and of course our very own Arts Initiative in Albert Lea. Consistent high quality programming, welcoming atmosphere and educational value more than qualify these galleries for this list.

All of these possible day trips are free to the public and healthy for the mind, body and spirit. I encourage everyone to take advantage of what this area has to offer. Let these ideas be a jumping off point in your ongoing exploration. I am amazed by what this area has to offer. Now, go enjoy your day trip. I hope you have a wonderful time.