Art + Adventure = Frederik Meijer Gardens


It’s an obvious choice for us living in Grand Rapids, too obvious to avoid: Frederik Meijer Gardens is a world-renowned mecca of art.

Grand Rapids is abundant in art activities in which to participate: parks where you can spend an afternoon with a set of watercolors or a musical instrument, while hours pass by. Wandering Heritage Hill with a camera admiring the beautiful architecture. Wonderful galleries to visit, theater and outdoor concerts in Rosa Park Circle, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum that inspires.

But if I was given just one day of adventure in the arts in Grand Rapids, take me to the Gardens. Like magic, the Gardens of Art make me feel like a kid at Disneyland. A smile spreads across my face as I enter the long entrance, where sculptures can be seen along the front garden. Who wouldn’t beam looking at Dietrich Klinge’s bronze sculpture of a very happy girl. Walking in, I look down on the gorgeous floor titled “Beneath the Leafy Crown” by Michele Oka Doner.

Back in college, my art history professor spoke of the Gardens a lot. The sculptors represented read like a Who’s Who of great modern artists. With the butterflies, Christmas trees, and the rocking line up of musicians that grace one of my favorite music venues, it’s easy to overlook the stars of this sculpture park: the sculptures themselves.

So we have the afternoon and we have the park, the gardens, and the sculptures. My backpack is loaded with a set of watercolors, painting paper, a writing notebook, and my camera. This day is not just about viewing – remember, this is a day of adventure, so I’m going to make myself interact.

Walking out into the gardens I’m going to make my way slowly to George Ricky’s “Four Open Squares.” I love how this piece blends so well with its home, the pond. I want to paint all that I see while contemplating this beautiful kinetic sculpture. Kinetic, by the way, means “moving” or “parts that are moving.” It’s quite poetic to watch this structure peacefully move with the wind; perhaps while I sit there taking in my surroundings I will write a little poem, a tribute to art and nature and how they mix so well together. It may just inspire some introspective writing.

I’ll see where the day takes my creativity as I am surrounded by such inspiration; my job is only to remain open to the possibilities. I invite you to do the same, to bring a bit of adventure into your art by interacting. Or just slow down enough to contemplate the art of enjoyment.

Note: If you need another excuse to make it to the Gardens of Art this month, renowned sculptor Beverly Pepper Retrospective will be on display May 25 – August 26. Over 20 of Peppers sculptures will be on display including loans from the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Walker Art Center, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Marlborough Gallery and Private Collections.

Article as seen in the June 2012 Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

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