COUPEVILLE, Wash. — Looking for a new place to get outside and explore?
The Price Sculpture Forest on Whidbey Island is like an art gallery in the woods – and it’s free to everyone, every day of the year.
"We collectively frequently live lives separated from nature, but when we go into nature it has a calming, peaceful, relaxing experience for everyone,” said founder Scott Price.
He originally purchased land in Coupeville to build a home. But when those plans changed, so did his life's purpose.
"I realized if I did sell it, it would likely get subdivided and cleared for the view, and I didn't want that to happen,” he said. “This is a century-old forest, it's beautiful, it's native."
Price placed a conservation easement on the land, which protects it forever.
After visiting other sculpture parks, he was inspired to create his own.
"I said, 'Well, let's just think big and maybe I could do that?'" he said.
After saving his money for seven years, it’s now it's a place to “wander in wonder,” as the entry archway says.
With a little more than half a mile of trails, the easily-walkable outdoor gallery features 25 sculptures from artists across the Northwest and the United States. Price believes the juxtaposition of sculptures and nature helps visitors better appreciate both.
"Some of these sculptures, if they were against a standard white wall, halogen lamp on a track light gallery, they'd be fine. But you put them out in this environment and they really take on a life of their own in terms of the way you interact with them,” he said.
Many of the sculptures fit the definition of "whimsy,” like the T-Rex and gorilla sculpted from driftwood in Bow, or the massive Playa Flowers made in Port Townsend and displayed at Burning Man.
Other pieces really make you think or have backstories with deep meaning, like the metal, movable sculpture called Soaring Eagle.
"The next-door neighbor to the park, his wife sadly died from COVID,” Price said. "She loved eagles. David, the husband, wanted to have an eagle sculpture in her memory, so he actually purchased the sculpture and has donated it to the park so that everybody can enjoy it going forward in Pam's memory."
Each sculpture’s story can access via a guided digital tour. Visitors can use their phones to scan a QR code at the entry kiosk and watch every artist give a recorded description of their work.
The forest can also be explored in a purely quiet, meditative way.
Price’s dream is for as many people to experience it as possible.
"(I thought) it would be fun to share instead of fun to just have my own little beautiful part of the world, just onto myself. And, that's been true,” he said.
Price started a non-profit to keep the sculpture forest operating long into the future. A group of volunteers also help maintain the grounds. If you’d like to help, contact Price.
The Price Sculpture Forest is located off Highway 20 in Coupeville and is open daily from dawn to dusk.