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Montana Bale Trail

The Art of Hay Sculpture

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Montana Bale Trail

In the fall, a blogger's heart turns to thoughts of autumn decorations. Some folks go a little further than others in that department. Farmers and those with access to plenty of room and lots of hay have fun building large sculptures for the amusement of others. Here are just a few of those artful bales.

Snugburys Ice Cream

Every summer, Snugburys Ice Cream Farm in Hurleston, England, builds a giant hay sculpture and dedicates it to a different charity. In 2013, that sculpture was a Dalek from the Doctor Who series, to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary. It's 35 feet tall, and contains six tons of straw and five tons of steel. The sculpture ties in with the sale of the "Da-LICK" cone, with a percentage of sales going to Cancer Research UK.

Bauman Chiropractic Hay Bale Art Challenge

Photograph from Hay Bales for Charity Facebook page.

Bauman Chiropractic in Panama City, Florida, has a tradition of using hay bales in their fall decorations, which became more elaborate and fanciful over time. This tradition developed into a competition at the Bay County Fair called the Bauman Chiropractic Hay Bale Art Challenge. Charity groups are encouraged to enter a piece of art made of hay bales. All entering charities will receive $50, another $25 if they clean up after themselves, and more money if the public judges their artwork among the winners. The contest is this Saturday. The space travelers shown here are hay bales from 2011.

Killington Hay Festival

Photograph by Flickr user Sherburne Memorial Library.

The annual Killington Hay Festival in Killington, Vermont, features giant hay sculptures, up to 30 feet tall! The festival runs from Labor Day to Columbus Day, in order to attract the many tourists who come to Vermont to see the fall colors.

What The Hay

Photographs are from the Montana Bale Trail.

The premier event of the Montana Bale Trail is the What The Hay contest. Serious farmers show off their hay and their imaginations in creating the clever hay sculptures, most using a pun involving hay. You can see those sculptures along the 22 mile route from Hobson to Utica to Windham in Montana. This year's First Place winner was "The Wizard of Straws" by Clint Carr

"Despicabale Me 2" by Judy Mikkelsen won Fourth Place and the online voting award.

Third Place went to "Hay-Bomina-Bale Snowman" by Nate Carr. See more of this year's entries and winners from previous years as well. 

Makin' Hay

Photograph by Flickr user mlhradio.

Artist Tom Otterness exhibited giant hay sculptures in 2009 near Mission San Juan, Texas. The entire work was titled "Makin' Hay," and featured several giant hay people making more hay bales.

See even more hay bale art here.

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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to Launch Mobile Interactive Art Museum
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Since not everyone in America has easy access to first-class culture, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts wants to bring it to them: As Smithsonian reports, the Richmond-based institution plans to launch an interactive mobile museum in fall 2018.

Called “VMFA on the Road,” the museum-on-wheels will visit rural schools, community centers, colleges, retirement homes, and small museums. At each stop, art lovers can enjoy lectures, distance learning opportunities, and rotating virtual reality tours of the museum's exhibitions.

The mobile museum is a modern offshoot of another VFMA initiative, the Artmobile, which was launched by the late architect and VMFA director Leslie Cheek Jr. From 1953 to 1994, the museum loaded tractor-trailers with works by artists like Monet, Rembrandt, and Picasso, and toured the state's remote areas to compensate for their lack of art institutions.

By the 1990s, the Artmobile program had swelled to include four high-tech Chevrolet tractor-trailers, each one laden with historic art treasures. Eventually, though, the VMFA discontinued its Artmobiles due to conservation and financial issues, including the challenges of protecting the artworks on the road.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, the VMFA's new traveling museum will be a specially designed, 53-foot Volvo tractor-trailer, paid for with corporate funds, foundation grants, and donations. It's been dubbed "Artmobile 2.0"—a fitting nickname for a high-tech take on a decades-old public service.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former World War II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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