Friday, June 13, 2014

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and remembering the Oval Room

What a Spring. It is as rainy and cold today as it was the mid-May day we were in St. Paul haunting the old neighborhood. I'm sure it will clear up in a few days. It did in MSP, and it was sunny and gorgeous.

Perfect weather for a visit to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. An urban oasis of 11 acres and home to 40 works from the Walker Art Center's collection.

Henry Moore, 1961, Standing Figure: Knife Edge
Standing Figure once stood in the entrance of Dayton's St. Paul store. Icons from my childhood in MN.
Dayton's and its legendary Oval Room fashions and service are now defunct but as late as 1989 the Minneapolis Oval Room's dressing rooms were large enough to accommodate you, your toddler and her stroller, your shopping companion, the sales associate and the seamstress. This was eons before cell phones so of course there was a telephone next to the upholstered chair in the room in case you needed to make a call. Then your parcels would be waiting for you downstairs at the entrance/exit. Those days are gone forever.

At the end of the parterre path, Henry Moore's wishbone-inspired bronze welcomes all to the great lawn, maybe half of the 11 acres. I like that this art garden doesn't take itself too seriously. A colossal ruby in the crown commands center stage.

Klaus Oldenberg's Spoonbridge and Cherry
Ruby in the crown? Cherry on top? Whichever you prefer, it is really big.

Walking paths line the perimeter and diagonally bisect the lawn. The eye has time to view the sculptures from afar while getting in some much needed exercise as we draw closer (speaking only for myself on the much needed).

X With Columns, Sol Lewitt, 1996

Scattered throughout the Garden are benches and chairs. Linger and enjoy the art from a different perspective. Or linger and enjoy the gorgeous weather. Or people watch. Or all of the above.

Prophecy of the Ancients, Brower Hatcher, 1988

Looking up through Prophecy of the Ancient's wire dome.
A very nice bronze turtle, a chair and other soon-to-be artifacts are enmeshed in thousands of polyhedrons.

Free guided tours provide an in-depth look at the Garden's art. They are offered Saturday and Sunday from May through September. We visited on a weekday so we were left guideless to parse the hidden meaning of this top coat,

Judith Shea's Without Words, 1988

and three massive, steel I-beams forming a monumental pyramid entitled Molecule.

Molecule by Mark Di Suvero
my photo does not do its size justice
From MSG's website. This must be an old picture. The red in real life is redder.

I stayed well outside Molecule's vast pyramid of space. Maybe I was channeling a former pharaonic life as a palm frond fanner or stone mason.

Nice bright red though, picks up on Klaus' cherry, excellent contrast with the green lawn. It's true, everyone is a critic.

The Sculpture Garden is also home to the Cowles Conservatory which has seasonal exhibits. Normally I'm the first one to rush into a conservatory but after a miserably cold winter in New England and Minnesota, the glorious sunshine was irresistible. We skipped the Conservatory. Probably a big mistake.

The Grossman Arbor anchors the north end of the great lawn.
The Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden
You'll have to imagine the lush vines of high summer wending upwards and over the arches.

Admission to the Sculpture Garden is free. Open daily, 6 AM to midnight, the walking paths are kept clear of snow for year round enjoyment. The MSG is a vibrant civic resource beloved and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. It is also a kid friendly destination. 

The Garden hosts many cultural and family oriented activities. Just two of many wildly popular events:

"Free First Saturdays" include free admission to the Walker's art galleries with activities geared for kids 6 to 12.

"Rock the Garden" is an annual weekend music festival coming up June 21 and 22. Ten bands are booked for this rite of summer concert: indie blues, surf rock, regular rock, frenetic pop, post punk, hip-hop. All the loud genres are well-represented. Should be a fun weekend.

If you visit Minneapolis and St. Paul, don't miss the Sculpture Garden. 

Happy Father's Day!

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

all pictures by me except the full view of Molecule


  1. What a fun way to spend and afternoon and I am in awe of the sculptures. The cherry on top is so fun! Amazing art and free - how can you beat that?

  2. That looks like such a pretty and interesting place! I will admit that I'm kind of jealous of your weather right now. It's been well over 100 degrees here in AZ for over a month now...


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