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The Phoenix

Review: The newly-renovated Walker Sculpture Garden

After $10 million dollars in renovations, people can once again appreciate the art in the Walker Sculpture Garden. Whether you want to stand on a swinging platform, see a gigantic blue chicken, or pose in front of the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry, there is always a sculpture that will catch your eye. The Sculpture Garden first opened in 1988 and has been a prototype for other sculpture gardens around the country.

The location was renovated and reopened on June 3rd 2017. According to Executive Director Olga Viso, “At the heart of our collaborative planning was an intention to bring a civic-minded approach that focused on visitor experience rather than proprietary interests.”

This new garden establishes a gender balance among the sculptures’ artists, and provides a more environmentally friendly setting for generations to come. A great deal of controversy surrounded the sculptures chosen for the garden, but as in any instance in the case of art, people will understand the sculptures’ meaning in various ways. Thus, we may never see the artist’s intended message in the art if they have not previously told us. Take for instance what may look like a simple giant blue chicken created by Katharina Fritsch. It is actually linked to her notions of commercialism, marketing, and religious motifs.

Another interesting addition is the Sky Pesher, by James Turrell. You can physically enter this piece of art as you walk through a short tunnel that leads to a square white room with a clear roof. This room is silent, filled with benches, and draws your focus to the sky above you. According to the Walker, “as the interior fills with illuminated color, the infinite sky beyond appears almost within reach.” The artist describes this effect as “bringing the sky down.”

Another piece of art that is striking is The September Room by Mark Manders. In this piece, the materials used are presumed to be clay, but the piece is in fact made of metal. This work has resemblance to Greek sculptures and draws attention to the two heads being split by beams. This piece also includes chairs and a record player, inviting the viewer to take a seat and “experience the scultpure and become, for a brief time, a part of the artist’s imagined room.” The artist’s effort to draw you into a piece as though you were enjoying its view from an enclosed room is extremely interesting.

I suggest that when taking a trip to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, you develop your own interpretation of each sculpture. This means delving into a meaning that may not be directly in front of your eyes. You should then learn the history behind any of the sculptures that caught your eye, and compare your understanding of the work to the artist’s intent. The Sculpture Garden is a great place to spend a day with family, friends, or alone. You can fill the day enjoying art that was methodically developed and chosen for this art center that we are so proud of as Minnesotans! Also, its free…

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