Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

A rare glimpse: Gates to sculpture park open to public for two days

The Cloudstone Sculpture Park will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 4 and 5.

Although there’s no shortage of art on Whidbey Island, the public will get a glimpse into the inner workings of a prolific sculptor who has done most of his work behind a closed gate.

The Cloudstone Sculpture Park will be open to the public for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 4 and 5.

Until recently, Hank Nelson was the sole curator of Cloudstone Sculpture Park, a sprawling 20 acres near Freeland dedicated to his carvings in stone and metal, as well as large-scale installations he made from repurposed materials such as oil barrels, pipes, rebar and concrete chunks.

The park contains over 450 pieces by Nelson, the majority of which were created since 1996, three years after Nelson bought and prepped the South Whidbey land for the population of his art.

The park has been evolving from Nelson’s workplace to a place where guests can learn more about the sculptures.

About two years ago, the Cloudstone Foundation was formed to carry out Nelson’s vision of appreciation for three-dimensional art. The foundation also has an educational component — workshops are starting to be offered in the available studio space on the property.

“Our responsibility is to protect the future and legacy of Hank’s work and property but principally right now just to kind of share the enjoyment and the education of three-dimensional art, which is what Hank obviously does in spades out here,” said Burt Beusch, the executive director of the foundation.

A walk through the park reveals many towering — and heavy — sculptures, nearly indescribable in their contemporary forms.

“Hank doesn’t want to influence anyone’s thinking as far as what they’re seeing,” Beusch said. “So if you look at that and see a leaping salmon, Hank thinks that’s great because that’s what you see and that’s what you feel when you look at that piece.”

Nelson has avoided naming most of his work for this reason, although some of his larger scale installations, which also double as social statements, do bear titles, such as “Rivers No More,” “Board of Human Rights” and “Dependence.”

“Who knows how he arrives at some of the things he comes up with?” Beusch said.

Apart from a stint with a master stone carver in Italy and some experimentation at the University of Washington iron foundry, Nelson is self-taught. The octogenarian currently focuses his creative energy on smaller pieces, such as bronze castings and colorful geometric sketches.

“His work is much lighter and much smaller, but the important thing is, as much as he is winding down in his career, his mind is still brilliant and he’s still very creative,” Beusch said.

Visitors to the park might recognize the stone sculpture “Medjay,” which was recently cast in bronze as part of a rotating sculpture program in Langley. Its bronze counterpart is currently on a pedestal outside of the Langley Post Office.

During the park’s upcoming “open house,” guests will be able to go on tours, watch live demonstrations by other artists and might even get to chat with Nelson himself.

“He’s got a great mind and I think that he is world-class talented, but by way of his very personality, he’s pretty shy and introverted and doesn’t make much of himself at all,” Beusch said, “but I don’t think there’s any reason much of his work couldn’t rest in any museum or gallery around the planet.”

Nelson is currently helping to direct the progress of a new sculpture installation on the property. It includes several large tube casings, big enough for a truck to drive under. When completed, Beusch said it’s likely it may be the largest casings project in the country.

“Truthfully, he really was a late bloomer,” Beusch said. “It’s really just a remarkable story about a guy who’s fully committed his life to creating this work as well as creating Cloudstone Sculpture Park.”

Besides the two days of the year that the park is open to the public, sightseers can also schedule a private tour for another day.

For this weekend’s event, the entrance fee is $10 per person. Children under the age of 12 can enter for free. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed, well-behaved, and owner-attended.

For more information, visit cloudstonefoundation.org.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group
<em>Nelson works with many kinds of mediums, including metal. </em>

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News Group Nelson works with many kinds of mediums, including metal.

Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

Burt Beusch, executive director of the Cloudstone Foundation, points out one of many sculptures in the Cloudstone Sculpture Park. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

More in Life

moon
Pumpkin pie in the sky

A harvest moon loomed in the sky over Whidbey Island this week.

Peaceful Valley
Learning center takes school to the farm

Peaceful Valley Learning Center held its first day of school Sept. 13.

See caption
Need rises for baking group volunteers

A volunteer coordinator is also being sought for North and Central Whidbey.

memorial
They found a beautiful spot for some good friends to rest

When Jim Sherman and Michael Ferri moved to Coupeville, they brought four old friends with them.

Chewbacca is affectionate, playful and full of energy. He is up for adoption at the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation after being abandoned in a field off Highway 20 near Coupeville. (Photo provided by Shari Bibich)
‘Chewie’ ready for a home

A very good boy is searching for a forever home after being abandoned in a field off Highway 20.

See caption
Photos: Making a splash

Edmonds resident Janine Harles captured photos of orcas swimming along the Clinton shoreline.

From left, Sarah Gallella, Jill Jackson and Erin Tombaugh take a sip of tea during their bows. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Live theater returns to Whidbey Playhouse with three-woman show

The Playhouse’s first show of the long-awaited season will be “Tea for Three.”

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Cadesha Pacquette sets up a pop-up picnic spread similar to one she created for a young girl’s birthday party. Pacquette said her new venture has been popular with military families celebrating a spouse’s return from deployment, anniversaries or just to have fun outdoors.
Pop-up beach picnics are a popular way to celebrate coming home

Navy wife’s new business a big hit for deployments, anniversaries

Season of live entertainment planned for Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

After a year and a half of online events, WICA is planning a season of indoor, in-person events.

Karina Andrew/Whidbey News Group
Oak Harbor's famous chicken dances with the crowds at the Oak Harbor Music Festival Saturday. Ever the trendsetter, it appears a flock of fans have copied his signature pose while he struts about the town during the multi-day music festival.
Free-range fun

Oak Harbor’s famous Chucky Chicken danced with the crowds at the Oak… Continue reading

Photo provided by Ted Mihok
Whidbey Lions clubs provide medical supplies to Mexico

The Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Central Whidbey Lions Clubs’ influence extends far beyond the island.

A virus, a trial, a judgment coming to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

A one-night reading of “The Trial of Doctor Fuchetti” is coming to the WICA main stage this Saturday.