Blogs Field Guide Scott Winter

I came to the Walker in 1996 to help launch Walker After Hours, a popular night of cocktails and culture. Since that fateful October day I have found myself coordinating the Walker's membership and donor programs. As for Walker After Hours, after 7 years and 97,000 guests, yeah, I'd say it was a success.

Clear Water: Not Every Fish’s Dream

Hi. I’m Scott Winter, Director of the Walker’s Annual Fund. I am basically responsible for all of the Walker’s membership programs (15 at last count), as well as raising money for the annual Garden Fund (but that’s another story). As one of my many duties, I am often asked to accommodate groups of donors visiting […]

Hi. I’m Scott Winter, Director of the Walker’s Annual Fund. I am basically responsible for all of the Walker’s membership programs (15 at last count), as well as raising money for the annual Garden Fund (but that’s another story).

As one of my many duties, I am often asked to accommodate groups of donors visiting from other institutions with a tour. And so there I was this past Saturday morning, sharing the wonders of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with a group of 20 or so donors from the Yale University Art Gallery.

As we reached the Palm Room of the Cowles Conservatory, I noticed something odd.

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Standing Glass Fish was not standing in a pool of pitch black water. Nope. SGF was standing in crystal clear water, where the bottom of the pool was showing its age.

An inquiry to our intrepid Registration Deptartment set the record straight.

The pool is typically filled with water along with a special ink that dyes the water a densely saturated black, providing a strong reflection of SGF to those peering in. The bottom of the pool is also home to a dark lining that aids in the cause.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, who maintains the pool, has reported a small leak in the pond that requires the pool to be constantly refilled. To keep from losing the dye as well, they are waiting until the pond can be repaired before returning it to it’s murky glory.

So now I have a tale to tell the group of donors from Chicago who will be joining me for a private garden tour THIS Saturday!

And so do you.

Cherry Ripe: Extreme Makeover Edition

While it’s not quite the same as cherry blossom time in our nation’s capital, it is a special season for Minnesota’s most beloved cherry… and spoon. Every few years it is necessary for the Walker to conduct routine maintenance on the monumental Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen sculpture, Spoonbridge and Cherry. This entails nearly […]

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While it’s not quite the same as cherry blossom time in our nation’s capital, it is a special season for Minnesota’s most beloved cherry… and spoon. Every few years it is necessary for the Walker to conduct routine maintenance on the monumental Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen sculpture, Spoonbridge and Cherry.

This entails nearly two weeks of activity, including fencing off the area, draining the pond beneath the work, and installing special lift and painting equipment.* Once the site is ready, work begins.

First the surfaces of both the stainless-steel cherry and aluminum spoon are sand-blasted down to their undercoating (imagine a strong gust of wind leaving you standing outside in nothing but your skivvies!). It takes about three days to study the structure and identify the imperfections that have cropped up due to the elements and age of the work. As each dimple, crack, and fissure are discovered, they are filled and contoured back to perfection.

With the work back in “ship shape” (you knew each piece was first constructed in a shipyard before being trucked to Minnesota, right?), a day is spent applying a fresh coat of primer. Once the primer is dry, the cherry needs to become red again. But what color “red”? Fire engine red? Jungle red? Perhaps cherry red?

Well you might be surprised to learn that the true color of this cherry is no less than 73-R0176 (doesn’t it make your mouth water?!). Like the spoon, the cherry is tarted up in a custom color created and approved by the artists. When the cherry is ripe and the spoon gleaming, another day is spent applying a “clear coating” to make the cherry shine as well as to protect it again from the ever-changing elements.

Once all is well with the sculpture (…with the cherry on top), the pond is refilled and the equipment removed and you can once again have your photo snapped in front of this unique untensil. Visit frequently to see the work in progress as my colleague Masami blogs on with images.

* Who pays for all this hardwork? People who love the garden, that’s who! Visit “Support” at garden.walkerart.org to make a contribution.

Party at the Palms?

As the sun sets in the western sky, passersby may notice something akin to a wild disco party taking place amid the Regis Gardens inside the Cowles Conservatory. Is it party time in the Palm Room? Nope. Its bad lighting. When the conservatory closes shop for the night (8pm Tues.-Sat. and 5pm Sun.) the security […]

As the sun sets in the western sky, passersby may notice something akin to a wild disco party taking place amid the Regis Gardens inside the Cowles Conservatory.

Is it party time in the Palm Room?

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Nope. Its bad lighting.

When the conservatory closes shop for the night (8pm Tues.-Sat. and 5pm Sun.) the security lights beam down from above the circulation fans and cast apulsing rhythmic light over the coleus and bromeliads that might suggest there is more going on than simple photosynthesis.

But alas, no.

To solve another mystery,dropbythe Cowles Conservatory on your next visit and find the flower that’s literally growingoff the wall…

Tending Perennials . . . Enormous Perennials . . .

Some perennials are meant to stand unprotected throughout the winter months, the sculptures in our garden chief among them. Of course special attention is required, from time to time, to stave off the ravages of the elements. So conservation efforts will soon be in full swing as we tend to those most in need of […]

Some perennials are meant to stand unprotected throughout the winter months, the sculptures in our garden chief among them. Of course special attention is required, from time to time, to stave off the ravages of the elements. So conservation efforts will soon be in full swing as we tend to those most in need of a little TLC, while some works enjoy a fresh perspective having received the loving touch of our conservators late last season.

In addition to the annual cleaning and waxing of each artwork, here’s a run down of recent and upcoming conservation efforts.

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Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish, the centerpiece of the Cowles Conservatory Palm Room, was repaired by re-adhering and replacing many of the 1,200-plus glass scales that cover the 22-foot sculpture, and Alexander Calder’s playful mobile The Spinner recently had a broken “arm” repaired after a particularily violent storm. David Nash’s Standing Frame also received attention – an improved foundation now ensures greater stability.

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Slated for work in the weeks ahead are the repainting of Mark di Suvero’s soaring blaze-red Molecule and Alexander Calder’s Octopus stabile as well as The Spinner.

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Of course the most dramtic restoration effort will involve Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.

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But more on that in my next post…

Weekends were made for Sagacious Heads

As every learned art-lover knows, “ sagacious” means wisdom, good judgment, showing insight. Visitors to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden understand the term from the two giant, pyramidal bronze forms that Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz calls Sagacious Head 6 and Sagacious Head 7 that rise out of the ground like a pair of mysterious beasts or […]

As every learned art-lover knows, “ sagacious” means wisdom, good judgment, showing insight. Visitors to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden understand the term from the two giant, pyramidal bronze forms that Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz calls Sagacious Head 6 and Sagacious Head 7 that rise out of the ground like a pair of mysterious beasts or ancient, scarred mountains. For Abakanowicz, known for her haunting groupings of abstracted figures, the head has a special significance: it is “first to see, to react, to inform the whole body,” but more importantly, it is “first exposed to the unknown.”

Sagacious Heads 6 and 7

What could show better judgment or insight than exploring outdoor art this summer? The folks at Hearst Magazines understand. That’s why they included a review of sculpture parks around the country in their new publication, Weekend.

Authored by Jaime Gross, the story entitled “Outsider Art” features seven of his “favorite unstuffy spots for sculpture across the United States” (p. 96, Weekend, May/June, vol. 2, no. 1), including the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

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Mr. Gross paints a pretty picture for visiting sculpture parks: “Art created for the outdoors is a wondrous thing: the shock of color against the open sky, the way a piece’s curves or angles relate to the surrounding landscape (mountains, meadow or city skyline) the changes brought from hour to hour with subtle shifts in the light and weather.”

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Mr. Gross recommends these additional sculpture park destinations, each of which make for an inspirational daytrip if you find yourself in the area:

DeCordova Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; 20 miles northwest of Boston

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI; 150 miles east of Chicago; 150 miles west of Detroit

Huntington Sculpture Garden at Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC; 70 miles north of Charlston

di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA; 40 miles north of San Francisco

Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY; 50 miles north of New York City

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; 35 miles northeast of Philadelphia; 70 miles southwest of New YorkCity

What could be more sagacious than visiting a sculpture park this summer?

Blooming Fashions or When Life Gives You Limos…

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, colorful couture returns to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden each April. Once again, brides and Prom dates descend upon the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden for that highly treasured photograph in front of Spoonbridge and Cherry, the monumental sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Near sunset on Saturday, April 22, […]

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, colorful couture returns to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden each April.

Once again, brides and Prom dates descend upon the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden for that highly treasured photograph in front of Spoonbridge and Cherry, the monumental sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Near sunset on Saturday, April 22, no less thanfour limosines were parked along Vineland Place while tuxedoed gentlemen escorted a rich array of young ladies in sumptuously-colored gowns along the Garden’s main Bronze Allee. From high atop the 8th floor terraces of the Walker Art Center, guests attending the opening reception for the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Pine Flat enjoyed the additional entertainment of these formally clad folks weaving in and out of the many garden galleries.

Will you catch a blooming bride or primrose prom queen on your next visit?