Walker announces major expansion of Sculpture Garden

Copyright: Katharina Fritsch/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Photo credit: Andrei Dureika
Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock”

An iconic symbol of Minneapolis, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry” will have some competition come June 2017 when the Sculpture Garden reopens. A Robert Indiana “LOVE” sculpture, for starters. And a big, bright blue rooster on a pedestal, standing more than 20 feet tall.

The Walker on Thursday announced 16 new artworks for the redeveloped Sculpture Garden and its own campus. The commissions, gifts and purchases include five works by women, works by artists from seven countries, and the first permanent outdoor works in the U.S. by Nairy Baghramian, Theaster Gates, Mark Manders, Philippe Parreno and Aaron Spangler.

Duluth-based Frank Big Bear will be the first artist commissioned for the Walker’s new entry pavilion, launching an annually rotating series. Chicago-based Gates will create a sculptural passageway and platform from a variety of materials, some recycled from the Garden renovation. Dutch artist Mark Manders will have his own “room” in the Sculpture Garden – 10,000 square feet of space – for five figures reminiscent of ancient Greece.

Liz Larner’s sensuous stainless-steel “X” will greet visitors on the Walker’s new entry pavilion. We already love Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock,” that blue rooster. It stood in London’s Trafalgar Square for almost two years, a cocky contrast to the usual guys-on-pedestals public art.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is undergoing its first major update in more than a decade. Created nearly 30 years ago as a partnership between the Walker and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, it was the first public/private urban sculpture park of its kind. More than 9 million people have walked its paths since 1988. Dwell magazine in 2013 named it one of the world’s best public spaces.


A lot of the reasons why Minnesota is such a thriving literary community trace back to Jim Sitter. Earlier today, the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and the Minnesota Book Awards named Sitter the winner of the 2016 Kay Sexton Award.

Sitter’s many accomplishments include talking Allen Kornblum and Scott Walker into moving here. Kornblum created Coffee House Press; Walker was founder and executive director of Graywolf Press.

Jim Sitter
Jim Sitter

While working at the Hungry Mind Bookstore in St. Paul, just out of college, Sitter started the Hungry Mind Reading Series. As the owner of Bookslinger, a book distributor, he made sure buyers knew about books from independent literary presses. He came up with the idea for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, gathered a board of influential people (including former Governor Elmer L. Andersen) and served as MCBA’s founding executive director until 1989.

As executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) in New York, Sitter raised $9 million in grants to nonprofit literary presses including Coffee House, Graywolf and Milkweed. While at CLMP, he co-founded LitNet, a coalition of literary nonprofits and presses that supports freedom of expression and funding for the literary arts. As a lobbyist, he was instrumental in saving the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for writers and keeping the NEA alive during the funding crisis of the 1990s.

David Unowsky, founder of Hungry Mind Bookstore and fellow Kay Sexton awardee, said in a statement, “Jim’s work has benefitted every aspect of our literary culture: writers, publishers, booksellers and other nonprofits.”

Sitter will be honored at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards ceremony in April.


Club Book, the Legacy-funded series that brings bestselling, award-winning authors to libraries all over the metro, has announced its summer/fall 2016 season. All events are free and open to the public, and podcasts are available a few days later.

Monday, Feb. 22 at Rum River Library in Anoka: Star Tribune writer Lori Sturdevant, author (most recently) of the Minnesota Book Award winner “Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement.” March 3 at Roseville Public Library: Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling “sizzle history” author of “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” about four women spies during the Civil War. March 8 at Prior Lake Public Library: Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of “Orphan Train.”

March 14 at Merriam Park Library: David Mura & Sun Yung Shin, in conversation about the Asian-American experience in Minnesota. March 21 at R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury: Celeste Ng, bestselling author of the literary thriller “Everything I Never Told You.” March 24 at Ridgedale Library: Lyndsay Faye, a writer of historical and speculative fiction, whose forthcoming “Jane Steele” reimagines “Jane Eyre.”

April 5 at Chanhassen Public Library: Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of Oprah’s first book club pick “The Deep End of the Ocean.” Her newest is “Two If by Sea.” April 21 at Galaxie Library in Apple Valley: J.A. Jance, author of three blockbuster mystery series and 60 novels (so far). April 26 at Stillwater Public Library: Forrest Pritchard, New York Times bestselling memoirist and author of “Growing Tomorrow: A Farm-to-Table Journey.”

Club Book is a program of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) and coordinated by Library Strategies, the nonprofit consulting group of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. FMI.


If you saw Tyler Michaels in Theater Latté Da’s “Cabaret” (his breakout role), or in “Peter Pan” at the Chanhassen, or in Latté Da’s “Sweeney Todd” (which many people consider the best theatrical event of 2015), or at the Guthrie in “My Fair Lady” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” you probably want to know where he’ll turn up next. That would be “Gypsy” at the Pantages starting Feb. 13. To find out more about him – like, for example, that his mother keeps all of the programs, newspaper clippings, and tickets to his shows since high school in a “Tyler Stardom Box” – watch the new “MN Original,” airing this weekend.

Mary Giles coils baskets, makes art from porcupine quills and manipulates metals: cutting, hammering, wrapping, twisting, torching, letting them rust. More than 35 years into her career as a “fiber sculptor” (her words), she’s still open to the next thing, the next big idea. “We evolve, and hopefully we improve,” she says.

How to write a biography? Author William Souder – whose biography of John James Audubon, “Under a Wild Sky,” was a finalist for a Pulitzer – takes a break from his new subject, John Steinbeck, to share his secrets. Tell a good story; find a subject you feel a personal connection with; and (he learned these from Stacy Schiff) have a mild case of OCD and a high tolerance for archival dust. Souder has also written a biography of Rachel Carson.

William Souder
MN Original
William Souder

Filmed live in performance at Patrick’s Cabaret, Mayyadda plays guitar and sings: “Ebony, chocolate, or café au lait/Our skin is gorgeous no matter what they say.” Her original song, “Black Is Beautiful,” combines black history and black pride, plus it’s catchy.

“MN Original” airs Sunday at 6 and 10 p.m. on TPT 2. It goes live on the website today (Friday). 


Tintinnabulations all around. There will be a 7-County Metro Area Regional Spelling Bee this spring, and a winning Minnesota student will attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

When Augsburg College ended its sponsorship, young spellers and their families and schools were verklempt. On Wednesday, MPR announced it will sponsor 2016.

The local bee will take place March 20 at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, with MPR News’ Tom Weber hosting. Dave Kansas, MPR’s executive VP and CEO, said in a statement, “Because education is one of our areas of focus, this made perfect sense for us.”

The picks

Opens tonight (Friday, Jan. 22) at the Pillsbury House Theatre: “Bright Half Life.” Sarah Agnew and Jasmine Hughes star in Tanya Barfield’s romantic comedy about two women in love. We see the whole relationship – out of order, but from the beginning. Directed by Ellen Fenster. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25 or pick-your-price). Ends Feb. 21.

Tonight at the Baroque Room: All About the Bass. In baroque music, the bass continuo players are the rhythm section. This concert in Lowertown features Joseph Jones on baroque bassoon, Brett Lewis on bass and Tami Morse on harpsichord, with music by Braun, Abel, Telemann and Bach. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15/$10).

Saturday and Sunday in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium: Saintly City Cat Club Annual Championship Cat Show. Pets will be paraded, purring will occur and King and Queen cats will be caped and crowned. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday. $4 adults, $3 children and seniors, available at the door.

Saturday at Form+Content Gallery: Opening reception for “Illustrators’ Studio: The Art of Illustration.” This invitational exhibition of seven recognized illustrators – Mary Bergherr, Linda Frichtel, Tom Garrett, Eric Hanson, James O’Brien, Anne Vagt and Ulana Zahajkewycz – emphasizes personal work over commissioned work. 6 – 8 p.m. Ends Feb. 20.

Saturday at Vieux Carré: John Raymond & Real Feels CD Release. On his new album, just out on the local label Shifting Paradigm, jazz trumpeter Raymond gets down to basics: music that speaks to his own roots and heart, played with guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan. Recorded at Terrarium Studios in Minneapolis (Raymond is from here but now lives in New York City), the album has an easy, confident, organic feel, as if it was supposed to happen. 9 p.m., $12 cash at the door.

Saturday and Sunday at the James J. Hill House: Winter on the Hill. Displays of Winter Carnival memorabilia and Great Northern Railway Winter Carnival uniforms, tours of the Hill House and activities for visitors – jigsaw puzzles, games, small quilting projects – give a sense of how the Hill family celebrated Winter Carnival. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24. Also Jan. 30 and 31. FMI and tickets ($10/$8/$6, free MNHS members and ages 4 and under. 

Hot tickets

On sale at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 26: Angelique Kidjo at the O’Shaughnessy on April 24.. The two-time Grammy winner sings in English and Beninese languages in a voice that fills the room. This will be a solo concert. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25/$35/$45). 

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