Stillwater from above

St. Croix Art Tour: or, Joel’s Revenge

Before I start the second post of this experiment, there’s an important public information announcement for those living in the Twin Cities. When the zombie apocalypse comes, there is NO WAY you will ever get out of the city. EVERY major road is under construction because the MNDOT wants to create a world where you cannot use your backup to your backup routes to get anywhere. Our phone GPS even prevented us from taking an open road to spend 30 minutes driving one mile on 35W instead. My trust of Google Maps has been destroyed

So when the zombie apocalypse comes, don’t try to escape. Just lock the doors and bunker down for a spell. It will all be over soon.

On April 30, Becky decided we would embark on the St. Croix Valley Studio Tour. There were 9 galleries open to the public between 4 miles north of Stillwater to 10 miles south of Hudson Wisconsin. We were going to try to hit as many as possible.

Our first stop was the C. Schuld Studio in Stillwater. I was impressed by the paintings on display – lots of picturesque landscapes, but with a narrow field of view as if looking through a camera’s zoom lens. I was particularly taken with this painting of a beach. We bought some small prints to take with us.

small prints

Alright, Mr. Hagen, you are totally leaving the entire story out. We approached a giant, well-groomed house and 2 garages, I got nervous. It is such an odd way to enjoy art because, to defend the artist, they are inviting random strangers into their home, judging both the art and themselves. Plus the experience, as the stranger is that the artist have to watch you as you walk through their living room. I felt that we were being watched like we were going to take something. However, I think the artists were just bored and hopped up to answer questions. Plus, they are right there, with their puppy dog looks. In my head I say, “I’m sorry but I can’t drop 2000 bucks on your awesome stuff today.” The whole Open Studio thing made me so uncomfortable.

The next stop was Becky’s master stroke. The Saint Croix Vineyards. I did the regular wine tasting. Becky did the dessert wine tasting. Getting me relaxed for the rest of the day with some fantastic wines was just plain devious, Billings! (but thank you). Of particular note was the Orchard Reserve apple wine that uses three U of M developed apples to create a wonderful blend of heaven in a bottle.

wine time

Also there were goats out back.

From the winery, we headed to Spirit Works Pottery out in the country. This was the first time I’ve ever wanted to buy some pottery. It might have been the wine, but I was starting to understand the attraction of this art form – the physicality of it. You pick up a cup and it just feels right. The artist notes the spirituality of creating the pieces on her site.  I was really into these cups that resembled birch trees.

Listen to him. Who is this man?

Next up, Hudson, Wisconsin. We hit up Bricks for some fantastic Neapolitan style wood fired pizza.

wood fired pizza

The Seasons on St. Croix gallery next door held art works in clay, glass, jewelry, wood, sculpture and fabric. I particularly loved the blown glass art. The delicate and beautiful end results of an art form that can literally burn the shit out of you or cut you if you mess up – it’s an impressive calling.

Listen to him. Who is this man?

soap stuff

Becky got some soap.


While in Hudson, we made sure to pick up some Spotted Cow, only available in Wisconsin. Then we took our lives in our hands trying to get back on main street. Several angry glares and screams from Becky later, we were on our way out to Pixie Wood Studio. They had lots of lawn art made from reclaimed pieces like rebar, concrete and railroad ties. Becky LOVED these works, but without a yard, there wasn’t much we would be able to do with them.

Lawn art

All these artists had lovely homes. Becky was overwhelmed by how they had found their purposes and seemed to be doing well at it – no starving artists on this tour. I thought it was reassuring that you don’t have to be destitute to be an artist like so many seem to think. I love that they are able to follow their passion and make a good living.

Wrong! I didn’t have a problem with them being well off. Instead, I felt badly because, as we went through the Pop-Up, I asked each person if they were able to have this be their main job. Several of them said, “Someday.” with whimsical looks in their eyes. I was jealous that these people could have this be their full-time life, whereas, the Pop-Up and ACC artists made much more unique and better products in some cases and are still struggling. The unfairness of the universe is what made me uncomfortable in the open art crawls.

It was at this point that Becky said I won. I WON! She only had enough energy to do one more stop, even though I was enjoying the drive through the spring countryside, listening to frogs getting it on like crazy. I wasn’t about to convince her that we should do all of them. I don’t think it would have even been possible to hit them all unless we hadn’t stopped to eat and get wine. In any case, let it be so written here and forever henceforth that I OUTLASTED BECKY in this art experience. She’ll try to put up all sorts of caveats, like that this was an art crawl and not a craft fair, but don’t listen!

Our last stop was back in Minnesota, north of Stillwater at Abnet Farm. I really enjoyed the pottery on display, particularly the pieces with black glaze. Becky got a beautiful necklace from Jewelry by Phyllis.




We managed to get to six of the nine stops. Having space between the places was incredibly helpful for me to get some breathing time and not feel so trapped like I do at a craft fair. The nice weather also helped. But most importantly:


Yeah, so you won this round Hagen, but we have 28 more for me to win. 

Share Button

2 thoughts on “St. Croix Art Tour: or, Joel’s Revenge

  1. Well you just sorted some Saturdays for me with my daughter, friends, and sisters. Thanks for the links-this is my back back yard, and I didn’t know some of the places. No, I won’t just show up at the sites that are not regularly open, but I want to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *