The Fredrick Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan is a sight.
I was on a solo trip to Grand Rapids Michigan that weekend (about 2 hours away from Ann Arbor) so on the way back I thought I'd swing by the gardens for a little sightseeing and sketching.
SO. MUCH. has changed since the last time I was here (late 90s) and being a working artist now, I experienced what did remember in a totally different way.
Walking around the grounds is like an artifact hunt. While some of the sculptures are easy to spot from the highway, some are tucked deep within the foliage and it almost feels like some secret to stumble upon. It is a DELIGHT.
After walking around for a few hours I decided to find a quiet spot to do a little sketching. While it was very crowded that day, there are so many little paved alcoves leading to more sculptures I was able to find a bench to myself without much trouble.
I chose Ai Weiwei's Irontree (2013) as my subject and began with a few gestural contour drawings in my sketchbook. I was initially drawn to the treatment of the bark, to the rough texture in the surface and the lines that ran across each branch section, but as I worked I found myself more interested in the way the branches joined together and the shadows created.
After the sketch I was dry, I headed back into the park for more exploration, then to the cafe for a quick lunch.
AND THERE WAS A PLANT WALL.
On leaving I was greeted by a sight from one of my personal favorite artists, Michele Oka Doner; Beneath the Leafy Crown (2009)
She also created the floor in the Miami airport - which I have spent YEARS admiring.
Icing on a very beautiful cake.
If you find yourself in the area DEFINITELY make a trip over, there's so much to see and so many beautiful paths to walk (not to mention an entire Japanese garden and greenhouse!) and there's more planned for the coming years too.