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).
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…
…which occurred just yesterday:
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.
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.
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.”
The renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopens in June 2017.