Some were frosted with a bit of snow as the preview of “Stories in Sculpture” began on April 28 at Denver Botanic Gardens/York Street. While the Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis undergoes some remodeling, 13 large works by …
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Some were frosted with a bit of snow as the preview of “Stories in Sculpture” began on April 28 at Denver Botanic Gardens/York Street. While the Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis undergoes some remodeling, 13 large works by major 20th-century sculptors are on loan to DBG through Oct. 2 and curator Siri Engberg was in Denver to introduce them.CEO Brian Vogt spoke of celebrating his ninth year at the helm of DBG with a sculpture exhibit. He and director of exhibitions Lisa Eldred were in Minnesota for a conference and met with the director and curator there to explore possibilities of an exchange.The selection of works in bronze, steel, stone, copper and aluminum is based on individual approaches to the human figure, Engberg said. Placed amidst growing, blooming plants, the look will change fast the seasons progress. Some are reflected in surrounding water, while polished surfaces on others reflect floral color. Included are sculptures by Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, George Segal, Saul Baizerman, Deborah Butterfield, Barry Flanagan and Judith Shea.As one enters the botanic gardens, Reuben Nakian's dark bronze “Goddess With the Golden Thighs” is the first piece to meet the eye, suggestive of Greek mythology in an abstract kind of way. Nakian, known for his mythological references, is widely collected by museums around the world, as are all the other artists represented, major 20th-century figures.Next, on your left is American sculptor/theater set designer/landscape architect/furniture designer Isamu Noguchi's theater set element from “Judith.” He designed sets for dance guru Martha Graham, among others.On the right, tucked against a building, is Judith Shea's “Without Words” in bronze, marble and limestone. A fashion designer first, she is known for her empty clothes that await a wearer. In a bed on your left is Welsh artist Barry Flanagan's leaping “Hare on a Bell on Portland Stone Piers,” one in his series of whimsical large, leaping hares, cast in bronze, but looking air-bound.More related to the traditional is Italian Mario Marini's “Cavaliere (Horseman).” The Expressionist sculptor/painter/professor spent war years in exile in Switzerland. Louise Nevelson's monumental work, “Dawn Tree” shows her work as an Abstract Expressionist. To the left, around the Gates Montane Garden, is younger American (1948-1997) Jonathan Silver's bronze “Wounded Amazon,” one of a series based on classical and religious myth.Georg Kolbe's more representational “Junge Frau” (Young Woman) is poised on a platform in the middle of a pond — ready to dive in. Saul Baizerman's “Nike,” also classically referenced, is polished copper — and a more abstracted figure. Devout Italian Catholic Giacomo Manzu's bronze, “La Grande Chiave (The Large Key)” is topped by two little bishops facing opposite directions.It seems a bit like meeting an old friend to find Deborah Butterfield's “Woodrow” settled in a flower bed. Last summer's exhibit filled the botanic gardens with Butterfield's unique larger-than-life horse figures. This is the first one she cast in bronze, Engberg said, and Walker personnel helped her work out the technique for converting her wood pieces to bronze.The final piece on our tour is George Segal's lifelike “Walking Man,” which called for the model to be covered in plaster to make a mold, which was then cast in bronze, showing ears, nose and wrinkles in clothing. What's his story?, one wonders, as he seems to be walking toward you out of the garden.This is an ideal show to take children to. They can learn to follow a map, hunt and identify art — and appreciate the many ways artists can represent the human figure in its infinite variations.If you go“Stories in Sculpture” runs through Oct. 2 at the Denver Botanic Gardens at 10th Avenue and York Street. Included with gardens admission. Tours (extra charge) are on select Thursdays with a curator at 9:30 a.m.; Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with trained docents at 9:30 a.m.; 6 p.m. Saturdays; plus drawing and photography tours, family art workshops, garden camp and more. For reservations, see botanicgardens.org.
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