Casting sand molds in aluminum at Fall Arts Fest.

Sunday marked the 3rd annual Fall Arts Festival at the Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort. I had not previously visited the park, but love sculpture gardens and the idea of mixing art with the human landscape so there is an interaction between the two.

So often what is considered “true art” is relegated to museums, which is a sterile environment, very stark and guarded. It’s fine for viewing a masterpiece, but can leave me feeling voyeuristic.

Sculpture gardens are one way to make art more approachable, and a great way for kids to be introduced to art. This atmosphere alleviates that feel for children that they might break something if they touch it. Kids can just be themselves and climb all over this stuff.

It’s also amazing the transformation that can occur by installing a splash of art into an unexpected location. Put some color into an otherwise gray urban cityscape and suddenly your imagination is provided a detour on that walk from the Metro to your office building. Art makes ideas possible.

“The Watch” was a ramshackle construction that recalled birds, a boat, a lookout and adventure – perfect for kids.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at the Josephine Sculpture Park since it was located somewhat off the beaten path, but it’s on a beautiful farm right off US-127, only a few miles south of the Interstate-64 exchange on Frankfort’s west end.

This was a simple, but very pleasant afternoon. The boys had one of their friends stay overnight, so Maia and I took the three of them and baby Isabella out to get some air Sunday.

These are large fields overrun with gorgeous wildflowers and underbrush, with wide pathways cleared for navigating to the various art installations. It was a little like playing hide and seek as we wandered through the upper and lower fields discovering these wonderful works of art. Most pieces had an interactive quality and were hulking, with brilliant colors that exploded out against the sage and browning underbrush.

Jacy in all his pottery grime, tattooed and face painted grandeur – that is a Sunday well had.

There was a central farmhouse where the owner lives, a couple of barns, and a performance staging area that is used for plays and music. When we arrived there was an energetic drum circle performing that gave off a tribal atmosphere. Later there were plays and storytelling.

The highlight was the metal casting molds. You could create your own design in a sand mold, and then have it cast in aluminum. Throughout the day the metal workers would periodically pour dozens of hot molds. Once cooled a faux-patina was applied to dirty-up the aluminum and give it a black factory residue that had an industrial feel to it. A wax protector coat was added and then you had a piece of original art to take home.

Peanut as seen through the Tractor Town Titan.

There was face painting, pottery wheels, stencil designs, temporary tattoos, and for $5 you could take a hot air balloon ride. It was a good time, especially for kids because they could rip and roar. By the time it was all over Gabriel, Jacy and Aiden had pottery clay up to their elbows, bug tattoos, tribal face paint, and all kinds of stuff they made to take home. Everyone was entertained even without video games or football, though the boys did have their Pokémon cards close at hand.

And I got a pretty good workout pushing a baby stroller across uneven fields for four hours. This was the last big event at JSP for the season, although I imagine these sculptures are quite striking once a blanket of snow has fallen. Definitely check out the schedule of events for spring 2013, and remember pets are welcomed.

Josephine Sculpture Park – 3355 Lawrenceburg Road, Frankfort, KY 502-352-7082

The park is 30 minutes from Lexington and 60 minutes from Louisville. It’s open daily from dawn until dusk, and free of charge.

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