Last weekend was Carver County’s annual Art Wander, featuring several artists and studios from all across Carver County. Any medium you can think of, from jewelry and pottery, to painting and garden art, were featured in over a dozen studios. One artist, Carl Melichar from Mayer, has been a fixture in the Wander since it started.

“It’s important to keep the arts alive,” said Melichar.

Melichar has been a full-time artist for over 40 years, working with oil paints and watercolors to create wildlife portraits. His studio, an old granary that has been converted to a quiet workspace, is full of his own pieces as well as other artists he admires. Carvings of waterfowl and stuffed fowl are everywhere, helping him paint realistic scenes even during winter, or of birds not native to Minnesota.

Melichar’s love of art and history would be apparent to any that came in over the weekend during the Art Wander. There are at least four old Ford vehicles featured in some way around the 1890s farm, and even a Ford sign hanging on one of the many buildings on the property. A couple of the trucks are even used for photo opportunities, with gardens growing in and around them.

But currently, one aspect of the property that stands out is a wagon that Melichar obtained about a decade ago. Joe Koppi, who was the original owner of the wagon, used to have horses pull the wagon in a three-week long trip around the state to spread “gospel and hope” according to a Herald Journal article from 2006.

The wagon has been with Melichar’s farm for 10 years, and since then it’s been quiet. However, this year’s Art Wander saw the wagon out on the property. And Melichar hopes that it will soon have more opportunity for the community to see it once more.

“Hope Rides is thinking about using the wagon for outreach,” he said. “It’d be great to see it one the road again.”

Other new sites for this year’s Wander was Melichar’s Butterfly Walk. He painted several monarch butterfly prints and placed them along the trail on his farm, looping behind the 100-year-old barn and to a garden of milkweed and Indian corn. The milkweed is especially important to Melichar, as he has a few plans to make the Butterfly Walk more interesting for the children visiting the farm for the Wander.

“I’m planning on planting a large flower garden,” he said. “I want there to be all kinds of butterflies here for the kids to see.”

Though the flower bed is a project for next year, he hopes it will be something for everyone to enjoy, no matter their age.

As for how the Art Wander went for Melichar, he said that between beautiful weather on Saturday and having a carver from Hutchinson out, the property saw 150 total guests coming and going throughout the Wander, even more than last year. And with more plans to make things even bigger, Melichar shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to sharing his passion with others.

“We’ve thought about bus tours, taking around 20-25 people for the Wander to help some of the less able get here,” he said. “All this has been loved, and we want to keep it alive.”

Melichar himself actually has quite a few projects in the works. He’s planning four books with work from himself and other artists, painting scenes from all across the country. He is featured in booths at the State Fair every year, which he says keeps him quite busy for a few days.

As for events on his farm, he’s got two more this year. On October 26 from 10am-4pm, families can come and carve pumpkins. They can bring their own, or they can purchase one grown on the farm to carve. No need for supplies, as they will be on site for the kids to use. His Fall Show is December 7 and 8, and this is an open event for the public to come and see his studio and what he’s been up to for the last year. The studio will be open from 10am-7pm for the Fall Show, so there’s plenty of time to get out of the house for a little while and see some paintings of waterfowl from all around the US.

Melichar’s studio is located at 8020 Hwy 25, Mayer, MN. His website is sportindogsonline.com.

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