Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 am–8 pm (weather permitting). Open Monday and Tuesday, September 1 and 2.
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. Small packages hold big ideas in this rebirth of a favorite Walker feature from the summer of 2004. Artists and designers answered an open call to create green-themed holes, pitching ideas destined to challenge players’ senses as much as their games.
“The last course 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 will stand up to four months of weather, not to mention an enthusiastic, club-wielding public.”
Designers range from independent artists and architects to members of established companies and design collectives. All are registered with mnartists.org, an online clearinghouse and resource for Minnesota artists of all stripes. The Walker and mnartists.org are partners in Walker on the Green.
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 to build a hilly landscape pocked with mounds that appear as inverted holes. Kevin Kane collaborated with his students to create a rainwater garden and a hillside of pop-bottle bottoms. You can sink a ball into the mouth of Theodore Roosevelt—if you can maneuver past a 12-foot Paul Bunyon—created by artist Andrew MacGuffie. The Big Kahuna, by Michael Keenan, is a 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.”