Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf, co-presented by mnartists.org and the Walker Art Center, opens May 24, and play continues through September 7, 2008.
Miniature golf returns to the Walker Art Center with two "green"-themed courses created by Minnesota artists, architects, and designers
In the mockumentary film This is Spinal Tap, bassist Derek Smalls suggests that the difference between miniature golf and regular golf is the size of the ball. While the ball remains the same, virtually everything else about mini golf grows—at least on the course of Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf on the green-space adjacent to the Walker Art Center’s Vineland Place entrance.
Small packages hold big ideas in the rebirth of a favorite Walker program from the summer of 2004. Artists, architects, and designers answered an open call to create "green"-themed holes, pitching ideas destined to challenge players’ senses as much as their games. The results are two seven-hole courses which feature a water hazard; a replica of the real life “island of plastic,” a heap of debris floating in the Pacific Ocean; a 12-foot-tall Paul Bunyan; a single-breaking wave covered with recycled glass; and a hole that plays like Pachinko, a Japanese version of pinball, with a human-powered elevator for your golf ball.
“For the last course, it was artists and the Walker having a lot of fun. This one is fun with a message,” says Christi Atkinson, an associate director in the Walker’s education and community programs department, who coordinated the entries. “Most proposals incorporate a lot of ideas. We just had to make sure the courses could stand up to four months of weather, not to mention an enthusiastic, club-wielding public.”
Participating designers for the holes in this year's Mini Golf course range from independent artists and architects to members of established companies and design collectives. All are registered with mnartists.org, an online resource for Minnesota artists. Alchemy Architects of St. Paul created Water Hazard, which employs dozens of dangling water bottles as “an observation of the less-than-ecological practice of bottling and shipping drinking water.” Sculptor Zoran Mojsilov cut a groove into the branches of storm-damaged trees, culled from the Pig’s Eye landfill, to serve as a track for the ball. Maura Rockcastle, a former member of the Walker’s Teen Arts Council, teamed with Regan Golden-McNerney to build a hilly landscape pocked with mounds that appear as inverted holes. Kevin Kane collaborated with his students to create a rainwater garden, a hillside of pop-bottle bottoms, and a garden for birds. You can sink a ball into the mouth of Theodore Roosevelt—if you can maneuver past a 12-foot Paul Bunyan—created by artist Andrew MacGuffie. The Big Kahuna is Michael Keenan’s huge, single-breaking wave covered with recycled glass. The hole designed by Ed Hernandez plays like Pachinko, a Japanese version of pinball.
This year Walker on the Green will bring twice the fun: two seven-hole courses with a shared grand finale—a unique layout that not only embraces the wealth of strong designs, but also allows more people to play throughout the day.
There are no advance reservations; play comes on a first-come, first-served basis. The course also includes a golf shack featuring a selection of food and refreshments from Wolfgang Puck’s Gallery 8 Café.
In the end, Atkinson sees many who are drawn to Walker on the Green stepping inside the Walker, some for the first time. “Mini golfers and people who like contemporary art aren’t necessarily different,” she says. “Sometimes it just takes something different to inspire someone to visit.”
What: Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf
Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
When: Wednesday–Sunday, May 24–September 7, 10 am–8 pm (weather permitting)
Admission: $8 adults ($6 Walker members, seniors, students, $5 children 12 and under, $4 members 12 and under)
>>Click "Start Tour" at the top of the page to browse through a sampling of some of the winning "Walker on the Green" mini golf designs from Minnesota artists. Sprinkled throughout the collection, you'll also find a brief Q & A with a few of the winning artists, courtesy of the Walker Art Center's managing editor, Matt Peiken.