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Sculpture park offers art in the great outdoors

Josephine Sculpture Park

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY-- If you drive past Josephine Sculpture Park near Frankfort, you have no idea what you're missing. Just over the hill from the entrance lies a field of dreams.

Founder Melanie VanHouten says she sees it as her life's work.

It's a 20-acre family farm where the land that once grew tobacco now sprouts twisted metal and strange creatures gather where cattle once grazed. There are nearly 40 pieces of art scattered among weeds and woodland.

"It's the kind of place that feels really comfortable being out in nature in a park setting," says VanHouten. "It's a lot more comfortable in a lot of ways then going into the white walls of a museum."

VanHouten was a sculptor for ten years in Minneapolis before returning to open this park on her grandparents' farm in 2009. It's named after her grandmother Josephine VanHouten.

"She was a huge inspiration for me and definitely deserves to have some kind of amazing legacy, so this is it-- my way of doing that."

VanHouten sees the whole farm as a piece of art, where the natural and unnatural co-exist.

"Most of us are so busy, we spend lots of time in front of screens. I do too. I spend a lot of time on the computer, but boy, coming out here really allows me to slow down and appreciate the little things," she says.

And the big things. Most of these pieces are on loan, so come again in six months and you'll see something different.

This isn't a place where they say 'look but don't touch.' In fact, many of the pieces are made for climbing.

"Everyone's not going to like everything, but hopefully everybody likes something," she says.

This is the only sculpture park in Kentucky and, unlike those in other states, this one has no formal gardens or concrete walkways. VanHouten says it will never have a finished look.and that's just how she wants it.

"I hope I get to do it at least 50 more years, That's being generous, but it would be great, so that's my plan."

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Josephine Sculpture Park is open every day from dawn to dusk and it's free to visit. It operates on donations, sponsorships and grants. For more information, go to JosephineSculpturePark.org.

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