Walker’s sculpture garden re-opens, a week behind schedule

The delay was caused by controversy over the "Scaffold" installment that was recently removed.

A symbolic cutting of the ribbon by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, left to right, Minneapolis Parks superintendent Jayne Miller, Walker Art Center executive director Olga Viso and Sen. Amy Klobuchar officially marked the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt

A symbolic cutting of the ribbon by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, left to right, Minneapolis Parks superintendent Jayne Miller, Walker Art Center executive director Olga Viso and Sen. Amy Klobuchar officially marked the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

Gunthar Reising

In the wake of a two-year renovation and recent “Scaffold” scandal, the 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopened Saturday. Gathered around the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry,” throngs of people ignored the heat index for a day of art, games and $8 chili cheese dogs.

Renovations to the garden included new artwork, an underground water collection tank to minimize pollution and a redesigned campus layout.

Due to the removal of many of the space’s large trees, the new garden is more open. Standing in nearly any part of the garden, it’s possible to see through to the other side.

As visitors flocked, they offered a variety of reactions — from confusion to disappointment.

“There are a lot of things here I don’t understand,” Nate Krueger said, staring at “Spoonbridge and Cherry” in search of significance. “I’ve just come to terms with the fact that other people here are getting a lot more out of this than me.”

However, Krueger did find something in the garden suited to his taste.

“I like the ‘Cock,’” Krueger said, referencing Katherina Fritsch’s new installment, a twenty-foot-tall (with base) Klein-blue rooster sculpture dubbed “Hahn/Cock.”

“It’s bold. I like the color and it’s controversial. I like that.”

Others found a personal connection to the bizarre pop art theme of the garden, a theme started with “Spoonbridge and Cherry” and exacerbated by “Hahn/Cock.”

“I like that it grabs your eye,” said Shelby Davis, a visitor from Maryland. “You just have to look at it, and I feel like that’s kind of how I am … I’m one with the sculpture.”

In addition to “Hahn/Cock,” crowds gathered around Theaster Gates’ “Black Vessel for a Saint,” a twenty-foot cylindrical temple in which a statue of Saint Laurence resides, locked away from the hands of the public.

Mark Manders’ “September Room”— a sculpture of two large heads sliced down the middle — also drew a crowd.

Despite the protests just a week earlier in response to the “Scaffold” sculpture that was taken down, the garden’s opening reception seemed positive.

“I like the vibes here,” said Niree Little, a visitor at the park. “The only sculpture I didn’t agree with was “Scaffold,” and that got taken down. So I really love it.”

Nevertheless, some left dissatisfied.

“I thought it was missing an edge … it felt a little tame,” said visitor Stephen Bangs.

Bangs’ comments seem to speak to a different side of the “Scaffold” scandal and a desire to see provocative art.

Despite contradicting opinions, the garden was bustling with visitors. People were out, and they were talking.