New York and Los Angeles rank 1 and 2 for population in the U.S. Both have many art galleries. New York’s Whitney recently moved. LA’s Getty was threatened by fire earlier this year, and LA has an excellent new museum downtown called The Broad. It’s hard to think of another American city that supports more than 4 major art museums. Minneapolis, MN does. I was shocked to find out that this city ranks only 46th in population. It seems much larger than it is probably because of its neighbor St Paul. We used to know a couple from Montana whose family would go to Minneapolis a couple of time a year for major shopping sprees because it was the closest city to their ranch. The 4 major museums in Minneapolis are its big gun,The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Weisman on the campus of UM in a characteristic Frank Gehry building, the unusual and distinctive Museum of Russian Art in an old church, and the Walker Art Center. In 1988 the Walker added the Minnesota Sculpture Garden to its attractions. Ruth & I had never seen the contemporary Walker or its sculpture garden until our most recent trip to The Twins. The sculpture park run by the Seattle Art Museum has fallen on hard times, but Walker’s is thriving. Having already undergone one major redo, The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is alive and well and very popular.
Divided into several quadrants, the Minnesota Sculpture Garden has about 50 sculptures to view. There are some recognizable names among them like Alexander Calder and some not so familiar like Mark Manders. Calder’s clever “Octopus” is very close to the main Walker building and by itself, Mander’s “September Room” is surrounded by other sculptures. It combines huge human figures that are supposed to evoke classical Greek ideals, but the 2 young girls depicted look like the subjects on 2 enormous clay bookends to me. They are made of metal, however, and very imaginative.
The 1st sculpture placed in the Minnesota Sculpture Garden straddles a small body of water and is appropriately called “Spoonbridge and Cherry”. It’s the work of Claes Oldenberg and his wife/partner Coosje van Bruggen and similar to other public sculptures of their creation. Casting an impressive shadow on the water, the gigantic spoon rests on an island of plastic chocolate and contains only a luscious-looking cherry that is van Bruggen’s contribution to this work and recalls a happy childhood disturbed only by World War II. People with children especially seem to love this sculpture and hang around it in nice weather, a seasonal situation in wintery Minnesota. Spoonbridge is said to be this sculpture garden’s most popular work, but I suspect that Katharina Fritsch’s enormous blue cock is equally liked and draws crowds.
A couple of the sculptures appeal to more than one sense. Kris Martin’s bell sculpture called “For Whom…” has no clapper. The original bell did not produce the right tone, so Martin removed it. It does produce its own silent rhythm on the hour when I imagined it ringing like I suppose others do. Once a seasonal camping place for Native American Ojibways and Dakotas, this hillside garden is the scene of many tended plants and native grasses in natural meadows. Its most recognizable work is a copy of Robert Indiana’s famous “Love” sculpture with the lopsided O.