By Coco Mault
In this new installment of our guide to the art on the skyways, we take a look at more inspiring sculptures and other works of art. Have a favorite artwork from the skyways? Let us know in the comments section below.
Cliff Garten’s Glazed Earthenware
Located at 225 South Sixth Street
This large piece could represent a swirling pool in the middle of a crisp brook on a clear summer day. The colors Garten created in his earthenware are vibrant blue, turquoise, and violet with bright yellow, tan, and gold accents that evoke colors of the prairie. The piece, which actually looks to be two pieces — a front-and-center oval atop a seemingly tiled background — was made in 1993 and is untitled. Aside from the colors, the texture is highly stylized. There are deep, wavy lines and concentric circles, like those that emanate out from a droplet of water.
225 South Sixth is chock full of colorful goodies, isn’t it? You may remember this as the same building which houses a dozen giant Chihuly glass bowls (there are even more to be found in another hallway), as well as James Carpenter’sFresnel Wing.
Like many of the artists featured in the skyway, Garten’s work can be found nationally, displayed in buildings and outdoor spaces. More of his work can be found on a grander scale across the river in St. Paul; he helped design the Kellogg Mall.
Garten isn’t devoted to any one or two materials; he uses many for his creations including wood, stone, ceramic, metal, glass, and plastic. A quick glance through his online portfolio of ceramic works shows a preference for bright, highly saturated glazes made up primarily of cold tones but always with one bright, standout color such as yellow or tangerine.
“Old Haystack — Madera”; 1921
Located in Wells Fargo Center, 7th Street and Marquette Avenue
It’s always fun to discover where art is tucked away within the skyway, and Wells Fargo Center has a few interesting sights inside. The current Wells Fargo Center, a deco-ish, 56-floor building displaying a façade of Kasota Stone — limestone quarried from the Minnesota River Valley — was designed by Cesar Pelli. For those interested in a bit of history, this is the location of the former Northwestern National Bank Building, also known as Norwest Center, which burned down on November 25, 1982. This is where the legendary weather ball was located. Remember its famous code-deciphering rhyme?
When the weatherball is red
warm weather ahead
When the weatherball is white
colder weather is in sight
When the weather ball is green
No change in weather is foreseen
When colors blink, by night or day
precipitation’s on its way
In addition to a large weather ball replica in the building’s impressive rotunda area, there are some other items devoted to the building’s past, including a tiny North West Bank display. Opposite this display are a few eye-catching display cases showcasing classic deco design, such as a teapot, telephone, and other glamorous pieces.
There is also a WellsFargoHistoryMuseum, which offers a surprisingly good look into the history of the old west — particularly those exciting bits about bank robbers and the hired guards who protected the bank’s stage coaches. There’s even a tiered display of gold nuggets and coin. Did you know Wells Fargo also acted as a trusted shipping service for products and goods? In the 1890s, they actually shipped oysters in a fleet of refrigerated coaches.
This is a free, self-guided museum and outside the entrance is a stand full of various pamphlets labeled Black Bart, Charlie Parkhurst, Brief History of Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo and the Pony Express, and one for self-navigating the displays. There is also one titled Scavenger Hunt and it states that there is a prize for those who find all of the treasures inside the museum.
An interesting piece to note: this is where Maynard Dixon’s painting “Old Haystack — Madera” can be found. Madera is a town in California that includes Yosemite National Park as a local attraction. Perhaps that is what inspired Dixon to paint this picture. Could this be an image of Haystack Peak within the park?
Located at 651 Nicollet Mall
“The spirit of our good friend, the loon, shall always be the favorite spirit of our children and their children’s children.” This quote, from the Bering Straight Eskimo story of Soolook, is inscribed on the base of a giant golden loon sculpture found at 651 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. This is the location of the upscale shopping hub Gaviidae Common. It’s a fitting sculpture to have here, as gavidae — with one i — means loon family. However, in Inuit culture, the loon is not representative shopping, obviously; rather it is a spiritual representation of song and dance. And, as we all know, this red-eyed, black and white feathered fowl is also Minnesota’s official state bird.
The sculpture is on the third floor, so from skyway level it looks as though this loon is going to fly overhead across the building. There is a small waterfall beneath the loon, which falls to the first floor.
Flying Eagle by Gwynn Murrill
Located at 1000 Nicollet Mall
A few blocks south at 1000 Nicollet Mall, is the Minnesota mainstay Target Corporation. It’s a bustling point of the skyway at 9am, noon, and 5pm, so it’s possible to go by without seeing the very stark, very tall bronze statue called Flying Eagle by artist Gwynn Murrill.
Her specialty appears to be animal sculptures, and although they are minimal, they are also quite strong, sturdy and powerful representations. The flying eagle, made in 2003, in the ground floor lobby of Target Corp., just outside of the Dakota Jazz Club, is no exception. It is indeed located on the ground floor, but it towers 26′ to the ceiling, making it easy to view from skyway level.
Travertine by Otto Rigan
150 South 5th Street
Otto Rigan’s skyway sculpture, Travertine, may not be representative of local wildlife, but it does cause visitors to look up just the same. Located at 150 South 5th Street in the 150 Tower (which is half of the Fifth Street Towers), is a tall piece of stone that looks to have been combed. The stone is called travertine, which is light in color with darker swirls that resembles marble. The surface is smooth, but also pocked. Aquamarine colored glass is embedded in the sculpture as well.
This piece looks like it required much patience and precision from Rigan. It is easy to see that this sculpture was made from one piece of Travertine, which was then sliced apart and put back together again with glass. According to Wikipedia, “Travertine forms the stalactites and stalagmites of limestone caves.” So rather than just viewing this sculpture as stone and glass, also visible are preserved organisms that once colonized the surface of the stone. “Macrophytes, bryophytes, algae, cyanobacteria and other organisms are preserved [in travertine], giving its distinctive porosity.”
At just the right angle the glass holds its own against the ancient porous rock, doing wonders with converting the stale overhead office lighting into a much more pleasing color. Rigan has a few different categories for his work, and this untitled work in the 150 Tower looks to be from his Markers series.