When kinetic sculptor Bruce Stillman bought an old 16-acre dairy farm in Minnetrista in 1991 he was a successful artist, making and selling about a sculpture a week which ended up around the world… but he wanted to try his hand at landscape and environmental art, along the lines of Andy Goldsworthy. He saw the farm as a giant blank canvas.
Another influence is perhaps even more apparent in what has become Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden… Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell creating a Putt-Putt Seven Wonders of the World in the movie 'Overboard'!
Each hole in Big Stone Mini Golf is a fascinating and unique challenge… and also a work of art. The first hole (middle photo above) is a stand of tree trunks… the 7th hole (right photo above) is inside an old overturned Chris-Craft boat with cut-out portholes filled with stained glass windows made of shatterproof resin that is the raw material for eyeglass lenses!
Mr. Stillman's favorite hole is the 10th, a spiral design which pays homage to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. I love the mosaic 'bridge' that is part of the hole… feels more like a maze than a spiral when you are in the middle of it.
Mr. Stillman excels at re-using materials… most of the about 1,000 tons of rocks scattered around the property came from the demolition of the old Metropolitan Building in downtown Minneapolis, considered the city's first skyscraper. Salvaged cobblestones from downtown streets make up much of Goat Mountain… this is probably the only mini golf course clubhouse that also sells food for feeding the goats! (There are goats, a horse, and chickens on the grounds.)
Sculptures are scattered among the holes as well as in the adjoining sculpture gardens. The sculpture on the right below pays homage to the windmills so prevalent in old classic mini golf courses and to the kinetic sculptures for which he was well known before moving to the farm.
Working in an artist studio can be very isolating… now he gets to hear the laughter of children, families and other visitors on the grounds as he is busy working.
Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden is a mini golf course and sculpture garden like no other… it currently has 14 holes but expect it to continue to grow. I was introduced to it for the first time by some friends last week… can hardly wait to go back with the rest of our family and grandkids!
Check it out for yourself at 7100 County Road 110 W, Minnetrista, MN 55364… it's right next to the Dakota Rail Trail, a rails-to-trails Minnesota bike trail. Also check out Minnetrista homes for sale while you are there… it is home of country clubs, hobby farms and marinas at Lake Minnetonka, some of the most prestigious real estate in the Twin Cities area.