The Green Energy Art Garden  is a whimsical new outdoor display at The Bakken Museum, which opens July 15 as part of the 2011 Minneapolis Aquatennial and the "10 Best Days of The Bakken." A unique mash-up of art and science, the Green Energy Art Garden will be home to four large, interactive sculptures -- each specially designed and created for this project by local artists -- that actively demonstrate a green energy technology, of course.
Four artists, or, in some cases, teams of artists, were selected from nearly two dozen submissions for the Green Energy Art Garden. Here is a closer look at the projects and people that captured the spirit of innovation, art and science envisioned for this unique project:

Solar Spitters
The Solar Spitters are three bobbing water goblins perched in three tubs of gurgling water created by Marjorie Pitz. Solar pumps power these comical heads that “spit” streams of water into the air. When visitors stand directly in front of the solar collector, the goblins stop spitting. Adorned with sparkly eyes, silly expressions and green growing hair (made of wild spiky pond plants, of course!), these whimsical water goblins are a visual delight, and also educate about solar energy. And, each tub is a self-contained beautiful, healthy ecosystem, home to water lilies, underwater oxygen-making plants and goldfish.

Finite to Infinite
As visitors peer into a large series of kaleidoscopes, they’ll be dazzled by the stunning Finite to Infinite visual displays that open before them by Mayumi Amada. Each kaleidoscope in Finite to Infinite houses a unique arrangement of recycled plastic bottles, egg cartons and other cast-off materials to create dramatic, unexpected patterns illuminated by LED lights that are powered by wind and solar energy. The serenely beautiful, multi-colored patterns are reflected in a series of mirrors, giving the illusion of never-ending vistas of fields of flowers, lacy doilies or whatever a viewer imagines them to be. This one-of-a-kind interactive sculpture creates astonishing beauty in a hidden dark space, while demonstrating the intersection of art, sustainable energy sources, and use of recycled materials.

The Sonic Articulation of Sunbeams
Daniel Dean, Ben Moren and Emily Stover created the Sonic Articulation of Sunbeams is a solar-powered acoustic sculpture. What’s that, you ask? Imagine a large steel megaphone that collects sounds, converts those sounds into solar-powered electricity, then harnesses that electricity to activate small percussive devices, called robotic critters. These robotic critters then produce a chorus of dings, buzzes, clicks and pops in direct response to the amount of sunlight collected and converted by the solar cells. In this highly original art piece, visitors will “hear” solar energy. A truly full-body experience, museum-goers stand at the mouth of the sculpture and let the sounds reverberate out of the megaphone and envelope their bodies, or use their hands to block the solar panels, minimizing the sun exposure and, consequently, altering the frequency of sounds created.

Make it Rain
Make It Rain is a playful interactive sculpture by Peter Sowinski and Lucas Koski that invites visitors to experiment with the physical manifestation of the sun’s energy. Comprised of three main parts — a solar telescope, a rain arbor and a solar collector — Make It Rain teaches visitors about activating solar energy. Visitors will step up to the telescope (fitted with perma-dark safety glass) and search for the sun. Once the sun is in the telescope’s sights, a chain reaction begins. An optical switch in the telescope’s barrel activates pumps that push water up the sides of the arbor and down onto a skylight above The Bakken’s permanent galleries, tying together the outdoor Green Energy Art Garden with the museum’s indoor displays. Visitors both indoors and out will watch rain fall while appreciating the beauty of solar energy in action.

Admission is free and the exhibit runs July 15th through the 24th 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. And evening hours on Friday, July 15th and Thursday, July 21st until 8 p.m.. The Bakken Museum is at the corner of West Calhoun Parkway and 36th Street on the west shore of Lake Calhoun. Free parking is available in The Bakken’s lot. For more information, visit or call 612-926-3878.


Older Post

Green Dinner Down On the Farm