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Earlier this month, Google moved into a new campus of buildings on Main Street in Venice, Calif., which includes one building originally designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, for the well-known advertising agency Chiat/Day. Appropriately enough for an Internet search firm, it also comes with an installation by famed architects Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: a giant pair of binoculars.
While you may not know the husband-and-wife sculptors by name, you may surely have seen their work, which is scattered across the globe. Whimsical everyday objects are enlarged to enormous proportions and captured in a state of flux: a saw, sawing the earth (Tokyo), flying bowling pins at the moment of impact (the Netherlands), and even a torn notebook, pages blowing in the wind, located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The couple’s latest creation debuted this past fall in downtown Philadelphia. Called Paint Torch, this 51-foot-tall paintbrush stands high above Lenfest Plaza and features an appropriately sized paint-glob drip on the sidewalk below.
As every Twin Cities resident knows, we have our own Oldenburg and van Bruggen sculpture right here in Minneapolis. While it doesn’t dominate our skyline, the Spoonbridge and Cherry has come to be a symbolic image for our cities. Created in 1988 for the newly opened Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the sculpture features a 53-foot-long spoon that connects the shoreline to an island in a small pond. A proportionally sized cherry rests atop the tip of the spoon, and during the summer months water flows from the tip of the bright red cherry’s stem nearly 30 feet in the air. Take a stroll through the 11-acre gardens, which are beautiful any time of year. You’ll find other wonderful sculptures by international artists such as Alexander Calder, Richard Serra and Frank Gehry, among many others. Admission to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is free, and it is open from 6 a.m. until midnight, daily.
Let Seattle have its Space Needle or Philadelphia its Liberty Bell. I think it’s fitting that our creative culture here in the Twin Cities has come to be identified with wonderful art full of whimsy.