Blogs Centerpoints Walker/MSG Renovation

Tour the New Walker Entrance

The new entrance to the Walker has been open for over a month now, and it’s already seen a lot: the Avant Garden gala, Avant Museology symposium, and an Open House weekend that welcomed nearly 10,000 visitors over four event-packed days. How has it been received? Extremely well, if the review by architecture critic and […]

bg2016VinelandEnt1117 Building and Grounds, Vineland entrance, Liz Larner sculpture, " X ", Accession number 2015.27, vestibule, signage, Garden Overlook.
The new entrance to the Walker has been open for over a month now, and it’s already seen a lot: the Avant Garden gala, Avant Museology symposium, and an Open House weekend that welcomed nearly 10,000 visitors over four event-packed days.

How has it been received? Extremely well, if the review by architecture critic and professor Thomas Fisher—who called the entrance “one of the more impressive new buildings in Minneapolis”—is any indication. Designed by Joan Soranno and John Cook of HGA Architects, the new addition was made a reality by builder M.A. Mortenson Co. and the long-term effort of Walker staff. With work completed and the building reoriented to its entrance on Vineland Place, the public is beginning to reap the benefits of this carefully designed space. For those who have been unable to visit in person since the space opened, here’s a virtual tour of what you can expect on your next visit. The Walker is proud to give its new entrance—a beautiful and functional space that facilitates community gathering—to the public’s trust.bg2016VinelandEnt1117 Building and Grounds, Vineland entrance, Liz Larner sculpture, " X ", Accession number 2015.27, vestibule, signage, Garden Overlook.

As a visitor approaching the Walker from Vineland Place or the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the low-profile addition to the 1971 Barnes tower provides a readily identifiable entrance to the art center. From the exterior it appears—due to window and wall placement—that there are three distinct modular spaces: from left to right the lobby, vestibule, and restaurant Esker Grove.

Through floor-to-ceiling glass, figures are cast in silhouette against the backdrop of Frank Big Bear’s expansive collage, Multiverse #10. Liz Larner’s X provides a focal point outside the museum.

bg2016VinelandEnt1117 Building and Grounds, Vineland entrance, Liz Larner sculpture, " X ", Accession number 2015.27, vestibule, signage, Garden Overlook.

A border of sheet glass sets the vestibule apart from its surrounding structure, framing it within the building’s lines and emphasizing its tunnel-like character. Walking through the vestibule is an experience of transportation and transformation—“like a walk-in Donald Judd sculpture,” as the University of Minnesota’s Fisher put it. It’s slick. Dimensions extend in the high-gloss reflection, light is infused yellow, and even the quality of sound changes as feet cross the metal grilles.

bg2016LobbyDesk1117 Building and Grounds, Main Lobby Desk, November 17, 2016.

Enter the main lobby: a spacious, multi-purpose area that is easily navigable thanks to common sense and signage. Turn to your left and you are greeted by the front desk, helpful visitor service representatives, and screens cycling through pertinent information and Walker programming. Lockers, restrooms, and the Art Lab are down the stairs behind the desk, as are Elevator 1 and the stairs leading to Galleries 1 through 7.Building and Grounds, Main Bazinet Lobby, November 17, 2016. Seating, furnishings, Video Wall, glass window wall onto Vineland.

To the left of visitor services is the front lobby, a high, light-filled hall with entrance to the Walker Cinema. This is a room to take your time in, to sit and prepare for or process your visit to the galleries.

Building and Grounds, Main Bazinet Lobby, November 17, 2016. Seating, furnishings, Video Wall, glass window wall onto Vineland.

Make use of the comfortable couches and convenient personal laptop tables to get some work done, or watch the 7-by-11-foot video screen to soak in information, art, and ideas from current and past Walker exhibitions.

bg2016wacpac1117 Building and Grounds, Education, Public Programs, WACPAC, Bazinet Main Lobby, seating, kids, November 17, 2016.

To answer the inevitable question about the pebble-shaped objects: yes, the “poufs” are remarkably fun and comfortable to sit on or lean against. Pause and appreciate the view of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden through the windows. Share thoughts and converse with family and friends.

bg2016LittleShop1117 Building and Grounds, Little Shop, November 17, 2016.

To the right of visitor services the Walker (Little) Shop offers souvenirs, Walker merchandise, and gift items perfect for the holidays. With rotating stock and displays, the (Little) Shop changes according to the seasons and Walker programs, offering a uniquely themed retail experience.

bg2016Wayfinding1117 Building and Grounds, wayfinding, signage, Little Shop, parking garage corridor, November 17, 2016.

Beside the (Little) Shop are the stairs leading to Galleries A through D and the Herzog & de Meuron–designed building. Find your way by consulting new signage on walls and pillars in the lobby.

bg2016tps1115 Building & Grounds, interiors, Target Project Space, November 15, 2016. Frank Big Bear installation featured.

The newly opened restaurant Esker Grove is located to the right upon entering from Vineland Place. Glass creates a transparent divide between restaurant and lobby while warm wood welcomes visitors in for a coffee, cocktail, or meal by executive chef Doug Flicker. The Target Project Space—a space for yearlong, large-scale art commissions—launches with Big Bear’s Multiverse 432-panel work, an endlessly detailed collage that draws museum and restaurant visitors alike into conversation.

bg2016P1c1115 Building and Grounds, interiors, P1 Corridor. New entryway from Parking Garage into Bazinet Main Lobby on the P1 level. Featuring backlit displays. November 15, 2016

A hallway connects the lobby and parking garage, featuring backlit images of Walker present and past. It’s a straight shot along this hallway to the new entrance, which frames the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry in the distance. The renovated addition affirms the strong connection between the Sculpture Garden and Walker.

To learn more, take in “Making an Entrance,” the December 19, 2016, conversation between designers Cook and Soranno:

Campus Renovation Update: Forward Progress and Finishing Touches

With the Walker’s new front door opening to the public on November 11—just in time for Avant Garden, our annual fundraising gala, on November 19 and the international symposium Avant Museology on November 20 and 21—we’re applying finishing touches, inside the art center and out. While renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden continues through the winter, the expanded Walker […]

The new Walker sign, installed on the Vineland Place entry, just above the windows of Esker Grove. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

The new Walker sign, installed on the Vineland Place entry, just above the windows of Esker Grove, November 1, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

With the Walker’s new front door opening to the public on November 11—just in time for Avant Garden, our annual fundraising gala, on November 19 and the international symposium Avant Museology on November 20 and 21—we’re applying finishing touches, inside the art center and out. While renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden continues through the winter, the expanded Walker building will be on full view during our open house weekend, December 1–4. Here’s a look at recent developments on both sides of Vineland Place.

As Esker Grove hires an “all-star” staff to oversee the restaurant’s kitchen and cocktails, the space itself is shaping up, with wood flooring now installed inside and the center’s signage—in the Walker’s iconic typeface—going up just outside. (Esker Grove opens for business in early December.) Adjacent Esker Grove is an expanded lobby and orientation area. With floor-to-ceiling glass, the well-lit space offers views of Vineland Place and the Garden; inside, digital signage announces upcoming screenings in our state-of-the-art cinema and a new video wall—measuring 11 by 7 feet—will offer some of our favorite short videos about Walker programs, artists, and ideas. A welcome desk will greet visitors, and a new satellite gift shop, dubbed Walker Shop (Little), will offer souvenirs and Walker merchandise—a fitting complement to the original Walker Shop (Big).

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An airy, spacious lobby includes a new nine-screen video system that’ll play contextual videos about Walker art and programs. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

New signage directs visitors to the new restaurant and newly renamed galleries. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

New signage directs visitors to the new restaurant and shop. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

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A smaller version of the Walker Shop—appropriately named Walker Shop (Little)—will greet visitors to the new Vineland entrance. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

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The view of Vineland Place—now narrowed to one lane, with a new turn lane for visitors to the Walker parking ramp—as seen from the roof of the Walker’s Barnes building, October 31, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

The narrowing of Vineland Place is finished (including lane striping, curb, and gutter), grass seed on the hillside is taking root, and a new sculpture pad (below at right) has been prepared for the installation of Liz Larner’s 2013 sculpture X

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As seen from the rooftop, the Walker hillside, with new accessible path connecting upper and lower garden. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

…which occurred just yesterday:

Installation of Liz Larner's sculpture X (2013). Photo: Olga Viso

Installation of Liz Larner’s sculpture X (2013), November 2, 2016. Photo: Olga Viso

Across the street, sculptures are being installed nearly every day as well, including favorites by Deborah Butterfield, Dan Graham, Richard Serra, and Tony Smith. Kris Martin’s For Whom… (2012)—a suspended bell that swings to mark each hour, but with no sound—is now situated on the north end of the Garden. Thematically, it’s in good company: on one side is Barry Flanagan’s Hare on Bell on Portland Stone Piers (1983); on the other, the bell tower of the Basilica of St. Mary.

The upper garden's footpath, as seen from the roof of the Walker's Barnes building, October 31, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Three bells: Adjacent the Arlene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden, Barry Flanagan’s Hare on Bell on Portland Stone Piers (1983), Kris Martin’s clapperless bell, and the Basilica of St. Mary’s bell tower. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

One of 19 new works acquired or commissioned for the renovated Walker campus is Hephaestus (2013) by Los Angeles–based artist Matthew Monahan. A representation of the Greek god of metallurgy, the work anchors a section of the garden dedicated to figurative works by artists of several generations, including Kiki Smith, George Segal, and Tony Cragg, among others.

Photo: Pavel Pys

Newly installed, Matthew Monahan’s Hephaestus (2013). Photo: Pavel Pyś

Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988), the fountain-sculpture by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, hasn’t left the garden, but it’s getting new digs. A lined pond surrounding the work is part of the garden’s new stormwater infrastructure. Created in partnership with, and through important investment from, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO), the system includes reuse technology that’ll capture excess water from the garden—including from Spoonbridge’s fountain—and use it to irrigate the site. One less visible feature of this infrastructure was installed in October: an 80,000-gallon underground cistern that’ll store captured runoff. As MWMO’s Nick Busse writes, “This series of interconnected tanks will serve as a reservoir of stormwater that can be pumped through irrigation lines and used to water the garden’s landscaping as well as the adjacent baseball field.”

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A new pond for Spoonbridge and Cherry. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

The renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopens in June 2017.

View of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from the Walker Barnes Building rooftop, October 31, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

View of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from the Walker rooftop, October 31, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

View more updates on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation.

(Not So) Set in Stone: Zoran Mojsilov Repurposes Sculpture Garden Materials

In light of the renovation of the 19-acre Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus, here’s a spotlight on a local artist who is giving new life to some of the Garden’s original materials. Since the mid-1990s Twin Cities–based artist Zoran Mojsilov has been fashioning large-scale sculptures out of discarded stones salvaged from construction and renovation sites, […]

Stones from the Garden set out in formation at Mojsilov’s studio near the Grain Belt Brewery in July 2016.

Stones from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in formation at artist Zoran Mojsilov’s studio near the Grain Belt Brewery in July 2016

In light of the renovation of the 19-acre Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus, here’s a spotlight on a local artist who is giving new life to some of the Garden’s original materials.

Since the mid-1990s Twin Cities–based artist Zoran Mojsilov has been fashioning large-scale sculptures out of discarded stones salvaged from construction and renovation sites, and one of his newest projects features material reclaimed from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (more…)

Campus Renovation Update: Seeding and Siting

From the hydroseed that’s painted the hillside blue-green to the newly planted grove of honey locust trees near the Walker entrance to the daily appearance of new sculptures, our campus renovation project is truly ramping up. Updates this month: a visit with sculptor Kinji Akagawa, a spate of new arrivals, and a narrowing of a busy street. A […]

bg2016msg0823_Calder Building & Grounds, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Walker Campus Renovation. Installation of Alexander Calder's Octopus (Accession number 1968.1) on the hillside, August 23, 2016. Rocket Crane hoists the sculpture past the recent plantings on the hill. Photo by Paul Schmelzer.

Alexander Calder’s Octopus (1964) being installed in the Wurtele Upper Garden, August 23, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

From the hydroseed that’s painted the hillside blue-green to the newly planted grove of honey locust trees near the Walker entrance to the daily appearance of new sculptures, our campus renovation project is truly ramping up. Updates this month: a visit with sculptor Kinji Akagawa, a spate of new arrivals, and a narrowing of a busy street.

A glimpse of how Alexander Calder’s Octopus (1964) made it’s way into the Upper Garden of the #WalkerCampus yesterday.

A video posted by Walker Art Center (@walkerartcenter) on

August 23 was a momentous day here at the Walker: the first sculpture of our redevelopment project was installed. Alexander Calder’s Octopus (1964) was placed on a newly poured concrete pad in the Wurtele Upper Garden, near James Turrell’s underground Sky Pesher, 2005 (2005). It was soon joined by other favorites, including Scott Burton’s Seat-Leg Table (1986/1991) and Kinji Akagawa’s Garden Seating, Reading, Thinking (1987), both situated in groves of conifers in the southwest corner of the Walker hillside.

Curatorial Assistant with Kinji Akagawa in his Afton, Minn., studio. Photo:

Victoria Sung with Kinji Akagawa. Photo: Andy Underwood-Bultmann

Commissioned for the 1988 opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Akagawa’s bench/sculpture was designed to offer respite. “I made the piece, but not just as a bench for physical rest,” he told us in 2006. “Intellectually, you have to rest within that kind of context; emotionally, you have to rest looking at all the sculpture. I included a reading lectern and used familiar, Midwestern materials: fieldstone and basalt from St. Croix. The bench provides psychological rest, intellectual rest, and physical rest.”

Nearly 30 years since its garden debut, the work will undergo some restoration before it opens to the public, says Visual Arts Curatorial Assistant Victoria Sung, who recently visited Akagawa at his Afton, Minnesota studio. “The wood has decayed over time, so we’ve sourced new wood—red cedar—and he will be hand hewing it once it arrives.”

bg2016msg0829_Akagawa Building & Grounds; Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; installaing Kinji Akagawa bench on hillside, August 29, 2016. Walker Campus Renovation; Rocket Crane; crew.

Siting Kinji Akagawa’s Garden Seating, Reading, Thinking (1987), August 29, 2016. Photo: Gene Pittman

In main garden, Jim Hodges’s steel-clad boulders (2011) and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Sagacious Head 6 (1989–1990) are now in place:

bg2016msg0915_Hodges Building & Grounds; Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; installaing Hodges boulders in the garden, September 15, 2016. Walker Campus Renovation; Cowles Conservatory; Barnes Building; Rocket Crane; crew.

Jim Hodges’s steel-clad boulders, installed September 15, 2016. Photo: Gene Pittman

bg2016msg0901_Abakanowicz Building & Grounds; Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; WAC Campus Renovation. Installation of Magdalena Abakanowicz sculptures, Sagacious Head 6 and Sagacious Head 7, Accession numbers 1992.157 and 1992.158, in the garden, September 1, 2016. Rocket Cranne; crew.

Magdalena Abakonowicz’s pair of giant, bronze “heads,” installed beyond the “lilypads” on the northeast edge of the Garden. Photo: Gene Pittman

The Wurtele Upper Garden got a surreal transformation on September 20, as umpteen gallons of “hydroseed,” a liquid mixture of grass seed and mulch, were applied. In the photo below, the seeded section abuts the wheelchair-accessible pathway that winds up the hill from the restaurant and new entryway. At left, a ventilation duct is newly planted (and soon to be obscured by) native perennials.

Seeding the hillside offers a surreal scene, September 20, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Seeding the hillside offers a surreal scene, September 20. Bottom left: an air vent bordered by perennial plantings. Center right: ADA pathway. 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Renovation of the Cowles Conservatory is well under way: glass walls have been removed in the first step to converting it to an open-air pavilion that will offer shelter for Garden visitors and a unique setting for weddings and events.

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Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Meanwhile, Vineland Place is undergoing a facelift of its own: it’s being narrowed to slow traffic, ensure safer passage for pedestrians, and provide a stronger visual connection between the Wurtele Upper Garden and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Vineland Place as seen from the Walker’s rooftop terrace, Septemer 22, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Scheduled to be completed on October 10, the new street will feature a single lane of traffic in each direction, with turn lanes at the intersection of Vineland and Hennepin/Lyndale and westbound on Vineland at the Walker parking ramp.

View more updates on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation.

Campus Renovation Update: Inside, Outside, Across the Street

Both inside the Walker and across the street in the garden, big changes are evident as great progress is being made in unifying the 19-acre Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus. Here’s a glimpse at what’s been happening behind the construction fencing. Stepping Up: The Walker’s new restaurant, opening in December, has a name and an executive chef. Esker […]

The full view of the 19-acre Walker campus undergoing renovation, July 28, 2016. Click to enlarge. Photo: Gene Pittman

A panoramic view of the full Walker campus undergoing renovation, July 28, 2016. Click to enlarge. Photo: Gene Pittman

Both inside the Walker and across the street in the garden, big changes are evident as great progress is being made in unifying the 19-acre Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus. Here’s a glimpse at what’s been happening behind the construction fencing.

Outdoor steps lead to a green roof, punctured by skylights, that will stream sunlight into the new restaurant below. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Outdoor steps lead to a green roof, perforated by skylights that will stream sunlight into the new restaurant below, August 9, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Stepping Up: The Walker’s new restaurant, opening in December, has a name and an executive chef. Esker Grove, which takes its name from two geological features of the restaurant’s setting—the earthen ridge and tree clusters situation just outside its windows—will be headed by executive chef Doug Flicker, of Sandcastle and Piccolo. The restaurant’s interior is taking shape, with key features already in place including two skylights, the restaurant bar, and wall-to-wall windows facing the Garden. Outside a stairway has been installed that takes visitors from the Center’s new front door to the restaurant’s green roof, connecting with a series of ADA-accessible pathways that wind up the hillside. Meanwhile, on the Hennepin side of the building, granite steps have been removed and earth is being contoured in preparation for new plantings that’ll provide much-needed greening to a busy roadway.

Beyond a north-facing glass wall, the Walker's new restaurant takes shape: a skylight (upper left) and bar shelving are soon to be installed. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Beyond a north-facing glass wall, the Walker’s new restaurant takes form: a skylight (upper left) and bar shelving are soon to be installed. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Site-Specific Art: Great strides are being made on new artworks commissioned for the garden, and last month saw several artists visit Minneapolis to view the final destination for their in-progress works. One, Berlin-based artist Nairy Baghramian, checked out James Turrell’s Sky Pesher, 2005 (2005), which will ultimately be a neighbor to her trio of new sculptures. Continuing her Continuing her “Privileged Points” series (2011–), the large-scale works will convey a fictitious lightness even as they are rendered in either aluminum or bronze. 

Nairy Baghramian and Fionn Meade survey the upper garden. Photo: TBD

Nairy Baghramian and Fionn Meade survey the upper garden. Photo: Misa Jeffereis

Also making site visits during the month were French artist Philippe Parreno, who’s creating an installation with both indoor and outdoor components, and Twin Cities–based artist Kinji Akagawa, whose Garden Seating, Reading, Thinking, a bench commissioned to open the original garden in 1988, will be reinstalled. Additionally, our curatorial team traveled to Chicago to meet with Theaster Gates, whose commission will take the form of a “secular-sacred sanctuary.” 

Then and Now: Thanks to the Walker Archives, we can compare the way the Garden looked the year before its grand opening with today’s project, about a year before reopening—both shot from the Walker terraces. (The 1987 view features a baseball field on the north end of the garden; that 3.5-acre parcel became part of the Garden in a 1992 expansion.)

Then: then in progress, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden takes shape, 1987. Photo: Walker Art Center Archives

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in the making, 1987. Photo: Walker Art Center Archives

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation as of August 9, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Lilypads Emerge: At the north end of the Garden, three “lilypads”—as we’ve been calling three new circular earthen sculpture pads—are starting to emerge from the earth. Just north of Spoonbridge and Cherry, they’ll eventually showcase Katharina Fritsch’s giant blue rooster, Hahn/Cock (2015), Mark di Suvero’s sculpture/swing Arikidea (1977–1982), and Theaster Gates’s commissioned installation.

The three "lilypads" will be home to Photo: Paul Schmelzer

As seen from the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, three “lilypads” will be home to, clockwise from left, works by Theaster Gates, Mark di Suvero, and Katharina Fritsch. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

The full campus schematic, with "lilypads" at left. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

The full campus schematic, with “lilypads” at left. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

New Coats: In preparation for their reappearance in the renovated garden next year two familiar works have gotten a makeover. Tony Smith’s Amaryllis (1965/68) has been primed and painted its signature black, while Franz West’s Sitzwuste (2000) bench sculptures have been repainted (again). Read more about the particular challenges of conserving outdoor sculpture.

Bright and new, Sitzwuste repainted. Photo: Joe King

Bright and new, Sitzwuste repainted. Photo: Joe King

Franz West's Sitzwuste, primed and ready for a coat of color paint. Photo: Joe King

Franz West’s Sitzwuste, primed and ready for a coat of color paint. Photo: Joe King

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Tony Smith’s Amaryllis after a coat of primer. Photo: Joe King

Check back next month for a new update, or read our July 1 dispatch.

Doug Flicker Named Executive Chef for New Walker Restaurant

What better place for inspired food and art to intersect than a world-class art center? And who better to curate this fresh, exciting new restaurant than celebrated Twin Cities chef Doug Flicker, a five-time James Beard semifinalist? Flicker, the founder of Piccolo and Sandcastle, has been selected as executive chef of the Walker’s new restaurant, Esker […]

Doug Flicker. Photo: Gene Pittman, Walker Art Center

Doug Flicker. Photo: Gene Pittman, Walker Art Center

What better place for inspired food and art to intersect than a world-class art center? And who better to curate this fresh, exciting new restaurant than celebrated Twin Cities chef Doug Flicker, a five-time James Beard semifinalist? Flicker, the founder of Piccolo and Sandcastle, has been selected as executive chef of the Walker’s new restaurant, Esker Grove, which opens to the public in early December 2016. Flicker will create the menu, recruit an elite culinary team, and develop a seasonal cuisine that is locally sourced and regionally influenced.

Blessed with a natural talent and a passion for the craft, Flicker possesses a humble assuredness that comes with years of hard work and dedication. Leading the Minnesota culinary community in forward-thinking, cuisine-focused dining experiences, Chef Flicker shines as a restaurateur and culinary artist. He rose to head chef at D’Amico Cucina at the age of 23, and when he saw a niche for a restaurant owned and operated by chefs and focused almost entirely on the food itself, he opened Auriga in 1997. After his critically lauded tenure there, which ended in 2007, Flicker spent time as head chef of Mission. He opened Piccolo in January 2010 to critical acclaim, receiving four out of four stars in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Best New Restaurant in City Pages (the paper named Flicker Best Chef in 2014, writing: “What makes a great chef? Is it a galaxy of starred reviews? Is it someone who inspires other chefs to stretch their skills and push the bounds of innovation? Or is a truly great chef someone who consistently raises the bar for not just compatriots and diners, but the culinary landscape of an entire city? Whatever your answer is, Doug Flicker fits the bill.”) In 2013, he and his wife opened a second restaurant, Sandcastle, on Lake Nokomis. Here they bring fun and fresh scratch food to the masses in a Minneapolis public park.

“Look at the expansion of our restaurant scene in the Twin Cities in the past five years,” Flicker says. “We want to be another one of the building blocks of the scene.”

While always nudging people to expect more from the dining experience, Flicker fully intends that Esker Grove will welcome museum visitors, neighborhood friends, and local foodies to relax and enjoy artfully prepared edibles seen through Midwestern eyes. Esker Grove will feature a modern, but unfussy, approach to vegetable and grain-focused cooking using classic techniques. The restaurant will offer craft beer, crafted cocktails, and a tightly focused coffee menu.

“I don’t know if I have a food philosophy,” Flicker says, “but I believe that cooking for someone is a gift that needs to come from the heart or it is meaningless. One must cook with integrity; otherwise it’s a lie.”

Designed with an indoor seating capacity of 94, Esker Grove offers express service for lunch and table service in the evenings. A 60-seat outdoor dining terrace provides a dining experience under a canopy of honey locust trees. Designed by HGA and Amsterdam-based landscape firm, Inside Outside, Esker Grove features wooden floors, expansive skylights, a cozy bar and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Minneapolis skyline. It will be conveniently and centrally located near the new Vineland entry, Bazinet lobby and parking ramp.

Esker Grove will feature abundant daylight inside the restaurant from continuous floor-to-ceiling windows and an angled ceiling rising up to a large, skylight over the main seating area that washes the space with daylight.

A sound-absorbing plaster ceiling will provide a comfortable environment for a relaxed dining experience. The focal point inside the restaurant will be a 40-foot long wall showcasing art on a rotating schedule. Natural materials including walnut flooring and back bar provide warmth inside the restaurant.

Sitting at the base of the Walker’s new hillside addition to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the new restaurant is a natural bridge between the outside and the inside, providing Walker visitors a chance to relax, chat, and enjoy chef Flicker’s cuisine. The name Esker Grove refers to two geological aspects of the restaurant’s setting: “Esker” being a serpentine ridge of soil, gravel, and earth deposited by streams of meltwater left from the slow movement of glaciers over time; and “Grove” referring to the newly planted groupings of trees on the hillside, including one that encompasses the restaurant’s natural outdoor seating area.

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

Campus Renovation Update: Breaking Ground, Making Progress

With the Walker’s new entrance and plaza opening in just five months, and a year until the grand reopening of the fully renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, we’ll be publishing monthly updates from now on to catch our community up on new developments in our ambitious campus renovation project. In this month’s update: ground is broken, new sculptures take form, […]

The view from Groveland Avenue: the hillside has been coutoured, trees are going in on the Upper Garden, and concrete for the art walk has been poured. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

The view from Groveland Terrace, June 29, 2016: the Walker hillside has been contoured, trees are going in on the upper garden, and concrete walkways have been poured. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

With the Walker’s new entrance and plaza opening in just five months, and a year until the grand reopening of the fully renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, we’ll be publishing monthly updates from now on to catch our community up on new developments in our ambitious campus renovation project. In this month’s update: ground is broken, new sculptures take form, and a reshaped hillside emerges.

msg2016groundbreaking Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, May 10, 2016 groundbreaking ceremony for garden renovation to be completed by June 2017. L-R: Marion Greene, Jim Dayton, Olga Viso, Jayne Miller, Kevin Reich, Anita Tabb, and Margaret Anderson Kehiller.

Breaking ground for the renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, May 10, 2016. L-R: Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene, campus planning committee chair Jim Dayton, Walker executive director Olga Viso, parks superintendent Jayne Miller, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization’s Kevin Reich, parks commissioner Anita Tabb, and community action coalition chair Margaret Anderson Keliher. Photo: Gene Pittman

Breaking Ground: On May 10, shovels met soil as we officially launched the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. While celebratory, the event took on a somber tone: a day earlier, former Walker director Martin Friedman—whose vision brought us the Garden in 1988—passed away at age 90. Those assembled—from Walker executive director Olga Viso to parks commissioner Anita Tabb—used the occasion to remember Friedman. “What Martin knew was that art could feed the soul, and it could feed the soul in a new and unique way in an outdoor space,” said Tabb. “That’s something that we have really all come to appreciate in a way that we hadn’t in the past. … Not everyone recreates by playing sports. There are other ways to recreate, and I think the Park Board recognized that, with the help of Martin Friedman.”

In addition to revitalized green space and the addition of 16 new sculptures, the renovation will also include sustainability improvements, as Kevin Reich of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization noted. His group’s $1.5 million investment will ensure that 5 million gallons of water—which would otherwise flow untreated into the river—will be captured and reused each year, instead of going untreated into the river. As MWMO wrote in a recent blog post:

The new landscaping has been designed in a way that embraces the site’s natural hydrology. The new “fresh meadow,” filled with deep-rooted native plants (see the illustration below), will absorb stormwater runoff while providing an attractive visual locus on the garden’s north end. Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the garden, “enhanced turf” — turfgrass with a specially engineered, sandy subsoil — will increase stability while also providing better drainage.

Stormwater runoff — frequently a source of pollution in urban areas — will become a resource for the sculpture garden. An 80,000-gallon underground cistern will hold captured stormwater runoff and excess water from the famous Spoonbridge and Cherrysculpture. From there, it can be pumped throughout the site to water the sculpture garden’s landscaping as well as the adjacent baseball field.

Mark Manders with Olga Viso

Aaron Spangler with Olga Viso. Photo: Dan Avchen

Works in Progress: With five commissioned works slated for the renovated campus, studios near and far are abuzz as new sculptures are being created. Olga Viso checked up on one, visiting Aaron Spangler’s Park Rapids, Minnesota studio to view the basswood sculpture that’ll eventually be cast in bronze. Meanwhile, curatorial assistant Misa Jeffereis traveled to Ronse, Belgium for a tour of Mark Manders’s studio. For his commission, Manders began with molded wet clay and wood and then cast the forms in bronze, before painting them to look indistinguishable from the original components.

A Mark Manders sculpture in progress in his Belgium studio. Photo: Misa Jeffereis

Mark Manders’s sculpture in progress in his Belgium studio. Photo: Misa Jeffereis

Moving Art: Now that Sol LeWitt’s crosswalk is reinstalled on the Walker’s rooftop terraces, other works can resume their place alongside it. In mid-June, Claes Oldenburg’s Geometric Mouse — Scale A, last on view in late 2013, was reinstalled on the terrace next to LeWitt‘s Three x Four x Three (1984). Meanwhile, most sculptures have been removed from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as work begins on renovating the green space, with only a few—including Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988), LeWitt’s X with Columns (1996), and a tree planted in solidarity with Joseph Beuys’s 7,000 Oaks project—remaining on site for the duration of the project.

A portion of Geometric Mouse l

A portion of Geometric Mouse lifted to the Walker terrace, June 20, 2016. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Birds-Eye View: Back in April, Carl Bolander and Sons used a drone to capture progress on the Walker’s upper garden, which opens to the public—along with a new main entrance, hillside walking path, and new restaurant—in early winter.

Carl Bolander and Sons

A drone’s eye view of the hillside project shot in late April. Photo: Carl Bolander and Sons

Since the photo was taken, renovation of the sculpture garden has begun, and on the Walker hillside, conifers and deciduous trees have been planted, concrete pads for sculptures have been poured, and the new entry plaza have begun to take shape.

A view of the art walk, with James Turrell's Skyspace at center. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

A view of progress in the upper garden, with James Turrell’s Sky Pesher, 2005 (2005) at center. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

On the north side of the Walker, the dramatic Vineland Place entrance will open to a new restaurant, lobby, and gift shop, as well as the cinema. Under a green roof, a glass wall facing the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will offer stunning views of the upper and lower gardens for diners at the Walker’s new restaurant.

Facing the sculpture garden, a new entrance is taking shape. A glass wall will offer stunning views of the upper and lower gardeners at the Walker's new restaurant. Photo: Chris Cloud

Facing the sculpture garden, a new entrance plaza (at right) is taking shape. Photo: Chris Cloud

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

New Sol LeWitt Work Unveiled on the Walker Rooftop

A large-scale work by Sol LeWitt has just been installed on the Walker’s rooftop terrace, the first of 17 new outdoor works that will be joining the newly-renovated Walker campus. The piece—Arcs from four corners, with alternating bands of white and brown stone. The floor is bordered and divided horizontally and vertically by a black […]

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Sol LeWitt, Arcs from four corners, with alternating bands of white and brown stone. The floor is bordered and divided horizontally and vertically by a black stone band, 1988/2016. Photo: Andy Underwood-Bultmann

A large-scale work by Sol LeWitt has just been installed on the Walker’s rooftop terrace, the first of 17 new outdoor works that will be joining the newly-renovated Walker campus. The piece—Arcs from four corners, with alternating bands of white and brown stone. The floor is bordered and divided horizontally and vertically by a black stone band (1988/2016)—is a new version of a piece initially designed as a crosswalk for the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

A major figure in the development of Minimalism in the mid-1960s, LeWitt (1928–2007) was known for carefully-conceived geometric works based on serial systems of shapes, lines, and colors. These were meticulously executed, either by the artist or by others according to his instructions. LeWitt was also a pioneering voice in the development of Conceptual Art, radically proposing that “when an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand. … The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” LeWitt’s pronouncement defined a way of working that continues to be profoundly relevant to a current generation of artists.

Sol LeWitt and Martin Friedman during the installation of LeWitt’s Four Geometric Figures in a Room, Walker Art Center, 1984. Photo courtesy Walker Art Center Archives.

Sol LeWitt and Martin Friedman during the installation of LeWitt’s Four Geometric Figures in a Room, Walker Art Center, 1984. Photo courtesy Walker Art Center Archives

LeWitt was an artist who figured prominently in the Walker’s history, and he had a profound impact on the collection. The center owns more than 200 examples of his work—including sculptures, wall drawings, books, works on paper, and a major work in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden—many of these gifts from the artist himself. This generous spirit stemmed from LeWitt’s longstanding relationship with former Walker director Martin Friedman, who passed away on May 9. As we celebrate Friedman’s life, we are reminded that it was relationships with artists like LeWitt that built the Walker’s foundations as a contemporary art center, focused on living artists and on the acquisition, presentation, and commissioning of new work. On this latter point, it was Friedman who reached out to LeWitt not once but twice around commissioned work, extending the artist’s engagement beyond gallery works to consider the center’s architecture and outdoor spaces.

Sol LeWitt, Four Geometric Figures in a Room, 1984. Ink on latex paint on gypsum board. Installation commissioned by the Walker Art Center with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Julius Davis, 1984.

Sol LeWitt, Four Geometric Figures in a Room, 1984. Ink on latex paint on gypsum board. Installation commissioned by the Walker Art Center with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Julius Davis, 1984

In 1984, Friedman commissioned a new indoor work from LeWitt, which inaugurated the construction of two new gallery spaces. The piece, entitled Four Geometric Figures in a Room, comprised a continuous drawing executed in ink directly on the wall in primary colors. In 1988, Friedman again commissioned LeWitt to create a crosswalk that would connect the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which was to open that year, to the Walker’s building across the street. Taking cues from the architecture and materials of the museum’s Edward L. Barnes building, the artist proposed several configurations of red and white paving stones that drew upon his signature language of geometric forms. As the piece needed to be on a public road, a configuration that most resembled a traditional crosswalk was chosen in consultation with the City of Minneapolis. The piece was installed for the Garden’s inauguration in September 1988. However, after the freezing and thawing of seven harsh Minnesota winters—and the attendant plowing, salting, and other road maintenance activities—the piece began to show wear. Ultimately, it was deinstalled in 1995.

View of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Sol LeWitt’s Lines in Two Directions, c. 1991.Photo courtesy Walker Art Center Archives.

View of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Sol LeWitt’s Lines in Two Directions, 1990.Photo courtesy Walker Art Center Archives

Upon hearing of the Walker’s plans to renovate its outdoor spaces, Sol LeWitt’s family approached us in 2015 and, as part of the Walker’s 75th anniversary as a public art center, generously pledged the crosswalk as a gift in honor of Martin and Mildred Friedman and longtime Walker patrons Angus and Margaret Wurtele. The fabrication and installation of the piece was then made possible with funds generously provided by the Prospect Creek Foundation. The main provision was that the work be installed with a new design—chosen from a group of six drawings LeWitt first proposed in 1988—in an area where it could be cared for and preserved as a work of art. LeWitt’s preferred design, a variation on a group of works he titled with the descriptive “Arcs from Four Corners,” came into the collection in 2015, and the Walker’s rooftop terrace was chosen as an ideal site, one that could honor LeWitt’s intention of creating a piece that references the Barnes building while also allowing for proper maintenance. The project synched perfectly with the Walker’s design and construction plans for its new entrance, which will open in November 2016. As with all of LeWitt’s works, this piece is executed by others according to the artist’s instructions. Walker registrar Joe King and I worked closely with the artist’s estate, HGA Architects and Engineers, and Mortenson Construction to realize the piece, which is executed in granite on the building’s upper terrace, and is now open to the public.

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Sol LeWitt and Jo Watanabe, early maquette designs for crosswalk between Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988. Paint on paper; collection Walker Art Center; gift of the artist, 1988.

In its new location, LeWitt’s newly installed work will anchor a prominent vantage point of the reimagined Walker campus, to open in June 2017, and will afford panoramic views of the Garden and the downtown skyline. It is fitting that LeWitt’s project—originally intended to unite the two sides of the Walker campus nearly 30 years ago—is now the first piece to be completed, just days before Friedman’s passing, and as the Walker looks ahead to create an expanded and integrated campus experience for the next generation of visitors.

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

Campus Renovation Update: Sculptures Move to Gold Medal Park

In preparation for the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory, some of the Garden’s most beloved art is finding a temporary home. This week three favorites make their debut in Gold Medal Park, in downtown Minneapolis just adjacent the Guthrie Theater: Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule […]

goldmedal In preparation for the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory, some of the Garden’s most beloved art is finding a temporary home. This week three favorites make their debut in Gold Medal Park, in downtown Minneapolis just adjacent the Guthrie Theater: Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Tony Cragg’s Ordovician Pore (1989).

Other works from the Garden have already gone into storage, but additional sculptures will be moving to guest venues this fall. Jacques Lipchitz’s Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953) will be on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish (1986) will find a home in the Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus in early winter of 2015. The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will remain on view in the Garden until spring 2016, when full construction begins, as will Richard Serra’s Five Plates, Two Poles (1971) and Sol LeWitt’s X with Columns (1996). The sculpture garden improvements are part of a broader plan to renovate and unify the entire 19-acre Walker campus, an ambitious project that involves the construction of a new entry pavilion for the Walker, a new green space on the Walker hillside, and the greening of Hennepin Avenue.

Walker Director Olga Viso captured these shots of works by Hatcher and di Suvero in their new environs:

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Walker Registrar Joe King took these snaps of Prophecy of the Ancients’ move, while our friends at the Guthrie posted a quick video of Molecule arriving at its new home.

Photo Sep 11, 10 48 21 AM Photo Sep 11, 10 49 43 AM Photo Sep 11, 10 52 49 AM

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

Big Changes to the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Campus

Change—of the most exciting kind—is afoot on the Walker campus. As I write this, construction fence is going up and the first sculptures are being safely secured for storage as we begin the ambitious renovation of the Walker grounds and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In 1988, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered with the […]

The renovation will create a one-campus feel, unifiying the Walker grounds with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

The renovation will create a one-campus feel, unifying the Walker grounds with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

Change—of the most exciting kind—is afoot on the Walker campus. As I write this, construction fence is going up and the first sculptures are being safely secured for storage as we begin the ambitious renovation of the Walker grounds and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

In 1988, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered with the Walker Art Center to develop the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the first major urban sculpture park in the country. Today the Garden is one of the crown jewels of the park system, uniting two of Minnesota’s most cherished resources—its green space and its cultural life. The 11-acre site showcases more than 40 works from the Walker’s internationally renowned collections. But after 26 years and more than 9 million visitors, the Garden’s infrastructure needs to be reconstructed in a sustainable manner to serve visitors now and for generations to come.

Thanks to the citizens of Minnesota, the State Legislature, and Governor Mark Dayton, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board received $8.5 million in public bonding support to fund the much-needed reconstruction of this major cultural asset. In addition, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization has dedicated up to $1.5 million for innovative storm-water management systems in the project. This comprehensive work will require Garden closure from spring 2016 until summer 2017.

A 13-ton, steel-clad boulder, part o Jim Hodges' Untitled (2012), being moved for storage. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

A 13-ton, steel-clad boulder, part of Jim Hodges’ Untitled (2011), being moved for storage, July 30, 2015. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

You’ll start to see changes in the coming weeks as this project progresses. Last week, the first of many sculptures to be placed in storage during construction—Jim Hodges’ steel-clad boulders on the Walker hillside—were removed, and nearly all artworks from the Garden will join them in the coming weeks. But several works will relocate and remain accessible to the public. The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will remain on-site, as will Richard Serra’s Five Plates, Two Poles (1971) and Sol LeWitt’s X with Columns (1996). (The Garden will remain open to the public through spring 2016.)

Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Tony Cragg’s Ordovician Pore (1989) will be on view in Gold Medal Park adjacent to the Guthrie Theater. Jacques Lipchitz’s Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953) will be on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish (1986) will find a home in the Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus in early winter of 2015.

The Garden’s renovations will mirror big changes on the Walker campus as well, and the two projects will create a unified feel for these two cultural campuses, which will now share a combined 19 acres of green space. Renovations to the Walker building and campus, slated to be completed by November 2016, will include a new entry pavilion for the Walker, a new Walker green space on the hillside, and the greening of Hennepin Avenue. The Walker will remain open during construction. When the Garden reopens in summer 2017, the vision for the 19-acre Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus will be realized.

We’ll share progress on these two historic projects through regular updates right here on the Centerpoints blog.

Image: © oslund.and.assoc.

A rendering of the central allée in the renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © oslund.and.assoc.

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

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