Artful Afternoon Drive

September 22-23

It is hard to find a more beautiful spot for fall colors than the scenic St. Croix River Valley. A trip along the river during the peak leaf season is a treat to the senses as you soak in the crimsons, blazing oranges and sunny yellows on the trees and in the river reflections. Adding some of the area’s best art may lead to visual overload, but hey it’s worth the risk right.

With the addition of the Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour to this year’s anchor events, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the tree lined back roads connecting Hudson, Roberts and River Falls.

A great place start would be at Lakefront Park in Hudson for the Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival. This juried art show features some of the best paintings, sculptures, jewelry and fiber arts from around the Midwest. The band shell and smaller stages will feature music by local artists like Brian Wicklund and the Barley Jacks.

While in Hudson, it is always worth stop at Seasons on St. Croix Gallery. Owner Ruth Misenko has filled the gallery with high quality fine art, pottery, textiles and glass by artists both from local communities and nationwide.

Next, it is time to move on to the more intimate open studios of the Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour beginning with Zac Spates studio on County Road E north of Hudson. There you can begin to immerse yourself in pottery and fall foliage. Spates will be joined by fellow potters Nick DeVries, Ryan Myers and Elizabeth Pechacek.

Head east and around Willow River State park and into Roberts, and you will find the studio Wayne Branum and Mark Pharis on Valleyview Road. Branum and Pharis are nationally recognized potters known for their architectural and sculptural styles. Both Branum and Pharis, who have shared a studio space in 1991, were included in the list of “The Disciples” of renowned St. Croix Valley potter Warren MacKenzie in the December/January 2015 issues of American Craft Magazine. Branum and Pharis will be joined this year by Candice Methe Hess.

Two more open studios await you in River Falls. S.C. Rolf’s open studio is just across the Kinnickinnic River from Main Street in the heart of River Falls. Rolf, and his guest potters Willem Gebben, Simon Levin, and Kristin Pavelka, will have a variety of one-of-a-kind, handmade pots for visitors to purchase. Take a moment so talk to the potters and learn more about the process of creating and firing pottery.

From River Falls, head east along Hwy. 290 to 690th Street to the home and studio of Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie Johnston. They will be joined by guest potters Lisa Buck, Marjorie Wade, Rhonda Willers and Kate Fisher. Johnston and McKeachie Johnston were also included in the list of “The Disciples” of Warren MacKenzie in American Craft Magazine.

Too much art exploration for one day? Why not stay at the Phipps Inn Bed and Breakfast? It is considered the “Grand Dame of Queen Anne Houses” in Hudson…the perfect location to extend your artful experience.


  • Phipps Inn Bed & Breakfast, 1005 3rd St., Hudson (reservations, rates and availability online at
  • Seasons on St. Croix Gallery, 401 Second St., Hudson (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, 10am-8pm, Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival, Lakefront Park, Hudson (Sept. 22, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sept. 23, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; free admission)
  • Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour Hudson, Roberts and River Falls (Sept. 21 & Sept. 22, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sept. 23, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; free admission)
    • Zac Spates Pottery, 524 County Road E, Hudson
    • Wayne Branum & Mark Pharis Studio, 449 Valleyview Rd., Roberts
    • S.C. Rolf, 115 Lewis St., River Falls
    • Randy Johnston & Jan McKeachie Johnston, N8336 690th, River Falls


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