The University Record, June 24, 1998

Flora, art work together at Gardens

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Noted for their formal gardens, wetlands and winding trails, the scenic grounds of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens are taking on yet another artistic aspect--sculpture.

Beginning this month, the Gardens will be enhanced with sculpture crafted by contemporary artists from Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Each piece of work will be displayed for 12-18 months in one of 20 locations identified as sites for present and future sculpture.

"This is a collaborative project between the Museum of Art, the Planner's Office, the regional sculpture community and Matthaei," says David Michener, assistant curator and project manager at the Gardens. "This will give visitors an opportunity to understand the Gardens in a different way. The introduction of art to a natural setting highlights the interaction between man and nature."

Among the pieces already in place is the "Arc," created by Tom Phardel. Located in the wetland area, Phardel's sculpture combines natural and man-made materials in its quarter-moon shape of bronze, limestone and reclaimed industrial steel.

Farther down the path, near the bank of Fleming Creek, Jim Melberg's "Forest Murmurs" and "Two Figures" provide a fascinating play of light and reflection off the six-foot-tall, highly polished cast aluminum forms.

Located near the main entrance to the Gardens at Willow Pond is Jon Rush's "Jane LaRue Sun Dial." Part of Matthaei's permanent collection, this piece is rooted in the earth, seeming almost totemic. The Rose Garden plays host to Lou Marinaroi's "Dawn" and "Dusk."

The 350-acre oasis of winding nature trails, formal gardens and wetlands is open 8 a.m.-sunset daily. The conservatory, housing more than 1,200 plants from around the world is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

To arrange a tour or learn about upcoming events and programs, call 998-7061.