An Artful Afternoon Drive

September 27-29

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. Either way, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the tree lined back roads connecting Hudson, Roberts and River Falls.

A father and daughter check out Greta Sundquist’s paintings at Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival.

A great place start your drive 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 and regional acts.

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.

Geometric plates by Wayne Branum

Next, it is time to move on to the more intimate open studios of the Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour. Head east on Interstate 94 to exit 10 and go south on Highway 65 to find your way to the studio Wayne Branum and Mark Pharis on Valley View Road. Branum and Pharis are nationally recognized potters known for their architectural and sculptural styles. Branum and Pharis have shared a studio space designed by Branum, who is also an architect, since 1991. They will be joined this year by Candice Methe and Sean O’Connell.

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, Joyce St. Clair Voltz, Lars Voltz 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. (Plus, who can resist a front yard filled with pottery and a white picket fence!)

Pottery in the front yard at the studio of S.C. Rolf.

From River Falls, head east along Hwy. 290 to 690th Street to the home and studio of Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie Johnston. Their property includes several converted farm buildings that now serve as studio space, a kiln and gallery. They will be joined by guest potters Marjorie Wade, Rhonda Willers, Chris Singewald and Kate Fisher.


  • Seasons on St. Croix Gallery, 401 Second St., Hudson (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – 10am-5pm, Thursday – 10am-8pm, Sunday – 11am to 4pm)
  • Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival, Lakefront Park, Hudson (Saturday, September 28, 10am-5pm, and Sunday, September 29, 10am-4pm; free admission)
  • Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour, Roberts and River Falls (Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28, 10am-5pm and Sunday, September 29, 11am-4pm; free admission)
    • Wayne Branum & Mark Pharis Studio, 449 Valley View Rd., Roberts
    • S.C. Rolf, 115 Lewis St., River Falls
    • Randy Johnston & Jan McKeachie Johnston, N8336 690th, River Falls

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