Caponi Art Park continues to evolve

Park celebrating 25 years Sunday

The Caponi Art Park is throwing itself a 25th birthday bash Sunday.

Cheryl Caponi, the park’s executive director and co-founder, hopes to make it a celebration where they can say thank you.

“The park began because my late husband had a vision of what the park could be and what the community would need when it’s a mature city,” Caponi said. “He did an awful lot, but it took other people to get to where we are, and for us to get to another 25 years, we’re going to need them.”

Park founder Anthony Caponi created Caponi Art Park as an outdoor laboratory to teach and demonstrate how creativity is an essential part of daily living.

The park opened to the public in 1987 and became a nonprofit in 1992, as it began to offer arts and education programming.

The 25th Birthday Bash is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. June 11 at 1220 Diffley Road, Eagan. Cheryl Caponi said the event will be more like an open house and it will include family activities, art demonstrations, cake and tours of the park.

It will also serve as a classroom dedication ceremony. The organization was able to raise funds to build a permanent structure for classes, tours and other art activities over the past year.

Caponi said they’ll need the surrounding community to help with more ideas and programming to get to 50 years.

“We want this to be a regional resource,” Caponi said. “If we’re not doing things the people in the immediate area are interested in, we need to know.”

With hopes of lasting another 25 years and continuing to grow, Caponi Art Park made a few changes for its summer programming.

Bluegrass and Beer makes it debut on Friday this year. It’s scheduled for 5:30-8:30 p.m. July 14, with a performance by the Rosemount band Sawtooth Brothers

The cost for a presale ticket is $10. A single admission at the door is $12.

Caponi said this could be the beginning for more Friday evening performances.

It’s scheduled around a traditional happy hour, so Caponi said she hopes it attracts those who live in the area along with people who commute to Eagan to work.

“We’re trying to tap into that audience,” Caponi said “We took note that there’s a lot of people who work in Eagan, but live somewhere else.”

Another new series is coming to the park, as well, titled CAP Presents, which will offer more entertainment options that will “hopefully attract new people,” Caponi said.

Beer is provided by Urban Growler Brewing Company and food by New Bohemia Wurst + BierHaus.

A new CAP Presents series will also kick off this summer. It features performances brought in from other organizations.

“Going forward, there will be more performances we’ll be hosting rather than presenting,” Caponi said.

The schedule includes “An Evening with Mark Twain” at 6:30 p.m. July 23; and “Philemon and Baucis – A Picnic Operetta” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27.

The Mark Twain performance will be led by Michael Bateson who performs as Mark Twain, offering an interactive experience with one of America’s and the world’s best-known humorists and authors.

Mixed Precipitation will perform a new adaptation of Joseph Haydn’s rarely performed marionette opera, “Philemon and Baucis.”

CAP Presents is meant to help fill a gap in the regular Summer Performance Series, which is down from six to three events this year.

The Dakota Valley Summer Pops Orchestra is July 9; Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue & Chinelos San Pablo Apostol are Aug. 6; and Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin are Aug. 20.

All performances are from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and there will be a cost at $5 per person to attend.

Caponi Art Parks’ funding situation changed, Caponi said. The organization is not getting the foundation and grant funds they’ve relied upon in the past, and all these events cost money.

“Charging money is new for us, but it’s a reality,” Caponi said. “Artists need to be paid just like everybody else.”

Founder of the park Tony Caponi

Caponi Art Park will also have another metal casting series called Casting for Community in July. It was held last fall and Caponi said interest was high.

“We’re opening up for the public so they can come to the park and make molds and watch them be cast,” Caponi said. “We want to be a place where people can not only experience art, see performances, they can be involved in making art.”

Workshops are scheduled for 10 a.m. July 15 and at 6 p.m. July 19 with a community iron pour at noon July 22.

More information and tickets can be found at www.caponiartpark.org.

Free puppet workshops and performances are scheduled for 10:30-11:30 a.m. June 17, July 7 and July 28.

The park will also be host to the annual Medieval Fair Oct. 1.
Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket to spread on the grassy slopes. Any weather-related announcements will be made via the park’s website, e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.