By Coco Mault
Minnesota has many famous landmarks that make our collective skyline, as a state, pretty recognizable. The Capital building in St. Paul, for instance, the Split Rock Lighthouse in Duluth, the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis. And a giant piece of tableware. Yes, the Claus Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen piece Spoonbridge and Cherry has been a must-see Minnesota sightseeing destination since its installation in the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in 1985.
The Spoonbridge and Cherry is an enticing piece of sculpture. It sits on a small pond in the shape of a linden seed near tidy rows of Linden trees. Out of the top of the cherry’s stem erupts a constant spray of water in the summer, and in the winter it withstands the snow looking as though it’s been dipped in white chocolate rather than unforgiving ice. In short, Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s creation is a year-round scene-stealer.
But the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden also houses other sculptures that are just as deserving of your attention as the Spoonbridge and Cherry. Here’s a guide to our favorites pieces.
This metal sculpture is located in the Northeast corner of the garden. Even though it is right by an entrance into the garden, it could be considered as something hidden in plain sight. Despite this, the location is nice as it is located on a small hillside and evocative of its name. Minnesota is famous for its prairie heritage, after all, where numerous wild grasses will grow if given the chance. Stankiewicz’s piece is wild looking, even though it does not wave in the wind. It is assembled from scrap steel, a medium the artist worked with even in childhood, when he lived near a scrap yard.
Paul Walter’s Piece
Further into the sculpture garden, part of which is divided into four large squares of cleared outdoor gallery space defined by tall trees, is a bundle that may be mistaken for something created by a whirlwind of nature rather than by artist Jackie Winsor. The piece actually looks like branches held together by a rigid ball of yarn. Instead of yarn though, Winsor used copper wire to construct the large ball — 24″ x 32″ x 32″ — to be exact. Inside are actual tree branches and saplings. According to the description of the piece, the branches are supposed to be black from tar, but it looks as though the twigs may be replaced from time to time.
Selections from The Living Series
This is an interesting title for a piece that, because of its shapes and materials — granite — may be initially mistaken for headstones. It is a good resting place, though–for the living. The piece is comprised of 28 white granite benches, making the shape of a large square. Before sitting down, though, visitors may want to stand a bit longer in order to read the brief intriguing facts and sayings engraved onto each bench, such as, “If things were a little different you would digest yourself through a cut in your mouth. It’s a relief to know there are provisions against this.” According to the Walker’s website, in 1990 Holzer was the first woman artist to represent the United States at Venice’s La Biennale, a prestigious cultural institution promoting new artistic trends.
“We Shall Never Stop Planting.”
Joseph Beuys, 1982
The complete quote by artist Joseph Beuys is as follows: “I believe that planting these oaks is necessary not only in biospheric terms, that is to say, in the context of matter and ecology, but in that it will raise ecological consciousness — raise it increasingly in the course of the years to come, because we shall never stop planting.”
The reason this piece might be overlooked by visitors to the sculpture garden is because it is so completely part of nature. The piece is made up of two parts, a Siouxland Cottonwood tree and a basalt stone. This planting was inspired by Beuys’ 7000 Oaks project, which took place in Kassel, Germany. The Walker’s Teen Arts Council coordinated this local version in order to honor Beuys’ work.
The Six Crystals
Sometimes a chair is a chair, but if it were in an art museum, visitors would do well to pay a little bit more attention to where they’re placing their derrieres. Not far from Jackie Winsor’s piece is Philip Larson’s The Six Crystals. It is a granite bench with a pinkish hue. Between the base and the seat there are six similar geometric shapes crafted from iron. Each iron piece is similar in that it features four diamond shapes, but the diamond shapes are configured in a unique way different from all the rest.
Wind Chimes (after “Dream”)
If it weren’t for the white noise of nearby highway traffic, it’s possible Pierre Huyghe’s wind chimes could be heard from anywhere in the sculpture garden. But unless visitors are willing to try for a listen late at night (the garden is open daily until midnight) when the traffic isn’t as intense, it’s necessary to get up close and personal to this piece to hear the otherworldly and dreamy tones it creates when the wind blows.
Two-hundred and eighty-eight aluminum tubes make up 47 chimes in the row of trees just West of the Spoonbridge clearing. Each tube, or pipe, is actually a note from Dream, a 1948 piano composition by John Cage. Cage was interested in the creative possibilities of randomness and so, with these chimes; the wind takes care of the rest for a round-the-clock performance. The tones resonate continuously, but softly, creating an interesting soundtrack for the surreal environment. It’s a fantastic experience, especially on a hot sunny day. The trees provide more than enough shade to keep things cool.
There are many more pieces of artwork to enjoy, but due to their large size, there’s no worry of missing them. And for the cherry-on-top factor to your great afternoon of exploring outdoor art, well, you know where to find it.
Explore the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden online here.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
726 Vineland Pl.
Hours: Daily 6 a.m. – midnight