Tag Archives: Art

Travel Tuesday: Sculpture parks

 

St. Louis 003

“The Way” by Alexander Liberman at Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Mo.

Summer is the season to visit a sculpture park wherever you may find it.

Sculpture parks, sometimes referred to as sculpture gardens, offer art fans the opportunity to interact with art and nature. For me, sculpture — found object or otherwise — is more interesting than any two-dimensional art like drawing or painting and if I can enjoy it while enjoying a stroll in the sunshine, all the better. Sculpture parks are a great destination for families because they appeal to all generations.

After writing about Nyberg Park sculpture garden in central Minnesota recently, I was reminded of a visit to the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis a decade ago.

It is an intellectually stimulating and beautiful place that you should visit if you ever get a chance. It’s an outdoor sculpture garden with all sorts of interesting sculptures made of wood, iron, steel girders and even dirt (I would have thought a sculpture made of dirt would be landscaping but apparently not).

Lots of different kinds of people were there when I was, not just art aficionados: Kids flying kites, women walking dogs, lovers enjoying the art (or each other, I’m not sure), siblings arguing about which direction to take at the fork in the road in the woods.

Like many sculpture parks, Laumeier’s was free. Can’t beat free!

If you’re interested in working a visit to a sculpture garden into your next vacation or family weekend, check out the worldwide list of sculpture parks on Wikipedia. The list is segmented by country and state. Many of the listings are hot-linked to the park’s own website so you can get all the details.

Enjoy some art and fresh air this summer.

 

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Travel Tuesday: Nyberg Park sculpture garden

coffee cup sculpture

If ever you find yourself with a few minutes to spare in west central Minnesota on a sunny day, you must make time for a stop at Nyberg Park in Vining, Minnesota. The season is nigh!

nyberg park sign

Welcome to Nyberg Park. Please sign our guestbook.

Vining is home to 78 residents (according to the last census) and the finest sculpture garden you’ll ever see in such a small town. Nyberg Park is located unapologetically next door to the Big Foot Gas & Grocery on Highway 210 (you’ll see from where the gas station derives its name in a minute; let’s just say it’s not another Sasquatch reference).

self portrait sculpture

Artist’s self-portrait, I’m guessing. (Nyberg calls it “Shop Helper.”)

kenneth nyberg sigThe park gets its name from the sculptor who created the huge, whimsical sculptures found throughout Vining and Otter Tail County. The material of choice for Kenneth Nyberg, a welder and former construction foreman, is scrap metal that he hauls from job sites to his workshop. Some pieces are painted and some are left to rust. He enjoys playing with scale, and the results are strange and beautiful, like The Foot.

big foot sculpture

The foot is 12 feet high and weighs 1,200 pounds.

deer sculpture

You would not be surprised to find a deer in Ottertail County, though filling this one with lead won’t do a hunter any good. But how about an alien? Would that surprise you?

alien sculpture

This place is a head scratcher if ever there was one.

dad with cowboy

Both my dad and The Cowboy are friendly guys.

Nyberg Park, where everyday items become art, is a fun place to visit and collect selfies, for sure.

watermelon

How about a slice of watermelon?

knife and fork

Who’s leading?

pliers sculpture

Look out, roach! You’re in for it!

Still not sure where Vining is? Nyberg helps with a map.

earth with vining

Begin on planet Earth and proceed until you see a sign.

See the signage? Here’s a closeup.

vining up close

You are here.

When my parents and I visited the park one fine June day two years ago, we stopped at the nearby Vining Grill and dined on the sort of delicacies one finds in Central Minnesota: Fried Klub (a Norwegian potato dumpling) with eggs and choice of meat and, for dessert, Rhubarb Custard Pie. Served on china.

strawberry rhubard pie

Now’s that’s a fine specimen.

Absolutely worth the stop.

Advent is a season of preparation

Not only do I now own a church, I own a church sign. In the first days of clean-up and demolition, my Beloved found the box of letters to create a new message in the sign so I did what I do best and that’s write.

church sign advent

Today, if you didn’t already know it, is the first Sunday in Advent, and I was inordinately pleased with myself to post this message. Its meaning applies literally to the church season and to the process of cleaning up corners and tearing down walls inside our 119-year-old Methodist church as step one in our renovation project.

In homage to the season (and the double message with new meaning for me this year), I’m reprinting this post from the Minnesota Transplant archive, publishing originally a year ago.

Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and gifts and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Catholic Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

# # #

If you’re interested in more from Minnesota Wonderer/Minnesota Transplant, don’t miss my new blog about renovating the 119-year-old church. Start reading here at ChurchSweetHome.com.

Look what I found

My favorite type of art is found-object sculpture. In a country where the average America tosses five pounds of trash per person per day into its landfills, according to a 2010 Yale University research study, you’ve got to appreciate when a clever artist turns garbage into an objet d’art. Recycling at its finest.

As I waited to board a plane recently, I looked up and noticed this beautiful wall piece.

saxophone art

saxophone closeup

Closeup of Salty Peanuts.

This assemblage by artist Mildred Howard is created from 130 real saxophones, according to the SFO Museum. Above and below the saxophones are the opening bars of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie’s famous composition, “Salt Peanuts.”

 

Get it? A sculpture called Salty Peanuts in an airport? An environment where peanuts is practically a food group (or, at least, it was before the modern era of food allergies).

“The artwork is not only an homage to Gillespie,” SFO Museum writes on its website, “it is also an acknowledgement of the importance of jazz in San Francisco’s cultural history.”

Even better is a found-object sculpture that is actually functional, like this menu board outside the Bull & Bear restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria, Orlando.

bull and bear menu

Look closely at the stand. It’s made of cutlery and kitchen implements. And how about that palm tree in the corner? Clearly, the trunk is made of wine corks (and the coconuts are made of champagne corks). The leaves? Forks. Forks!

But perhaps the cleverest found-object sculpture I saw recently were these robot portraits hanging above the bathrooms in Alexis Baking Company in Napa (if you don’t stop in for the art, drop by for the Huevos Rancheros — served on crispy corn tortillas with black beans and topped with perfectly poached eggs and fresh pico de gallo, they’re the best I’ve ever consumed).

bathroom art

She-Robot and He-Robot are made of old computer motherboards plus kids’ shoes and back scratchers and other paraphernalia. If you’re in too much a hurry to look up when you’re trying to determine which bathroom to enter, check out those little signs on the doors: A donut and a cream-filled eclair.

Well, it’s funny to those of us who are gender-conforming anyway. Touché, Alexis Baking Co.

There was also a surprise inside the ladies’ room (a good one).

bathroom mirror

That image above the vanity is actually a freehand-cut mirror reflecting the painted sidewall.

So every woman who washes her hands after a meal gets a nice piece of pie for dessert. Perfect.

 

Art in the old west

art opening

Maybe not everyone’s first choice on a Saturday night would be to attend an art opening, but just the thought of mingling with other art lovers while sipping a glass of wine and listening to live piano music in the background thrilled me.

It wasn’t my Beloved’s first choice either, but he indulged me on the promise of ice cream treat on the way home.

Window Dressing

Window dressing at the downtown show.

Even if art openings aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll appreciate a quick peek at the show that opened last week at the Yuma Art Center. Minus the wine and ice cream.

Among the works I took in was the microscopic photography of Robert Schaal. His portion of the show was titled “Hidden Beauty,” and indeed he revealed the unseen loveliness that surrounds us.

Agave Rising

Agave Rising by Robert Schaal

artistBecause it was an opening instead of simply an art show, I got to meet the artists behind the works. Schaal told me he places slices of household items–an agave plant, in the case above–on a microscope slide, adjusts the lighting to his liking and takes a picture. He then chooses the crop and orientation and names it. Many of his pieces look like otherworldly landscapes. It’s hard to remember one’s looking at a microscopic slice of something.

I appreciated the abstract nature of the prints, but the concrete thinker in me appreciated the exhibit didactics.

Here are a few more pieces:

The Red Tear and Desert Evening

The Red Tear and Desert Evening

The Pinwheel

The Pinwheel

Two other artists also showed works at the opening. I found them less cerebral, but interesting nonetheless.

Hector D. Llamas offered “Las Damas de Llamas,” a blend of futurism and traditional Mexican culture.

where secrets turn into dreams

Where Secrets Turn Into Dreams by Hector D. Llamas

And Tyler Voorhees showed “Tall Tales,” sort of a surrealistic approach to western art.

Drew

Draw by Tyler Voorhees

TV sigI appreciated Voorhees’ sense of humor, evident in his exhaustive exhibit didactics and even in his signature which embraces his initials. He told me the control buttons on the TV represent his children.

The show represented dichotomy: microscopic landscapes, modern tradition, Old West surrealism. So often, Saturday night is a one-note soiree, but this art offered the flip side of things.

Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening

I spied a recently adopted fire hydrant in my fair village earlier this month. Check this out:

hydrant

James Drive

 

Didn’t know you can adopt and paint a fire hydrant? Well, in Hampshire you can. Check out the original post with photos of other painted hydrants in town here.

In this town, bugs and butterfly graffiti is as close as we get to public art. The bees look happy anyway.

Insiders: Know where the title for today’s post came from? Let’s just say it has Superstar status.