Come Out and Play!
At the northwest corner of the campus, the Discovery Garden is an innovative, interactive outdoor space. Each of the garden’s four corners represents a tenet of Discovery – Creation, Inspiration, Exploration, and Education. At the confluence of these, in the garden center, lives Imagination. Fun and fanciful sculptures by nationally and internationally recognized artists dot the space. The exciting entrance to the space, Noodles & Doodles
(by Matthew Placzek) attracts children the moment they arrive.
Over the past year and a half, visitors to Joslyn’s Discovery Garden have been delighted by Fletcher Benton’s bright blue Folded Square Alphabet O
(1987), which we are pleased to announce has now joined the Museum’s permanent collection.
Born in 1931, Benton is a world-renowned painter and sculptor and a pioneer in the Kinetic Art movement of the 1960s. In 1974, however, he made a complete break from that style to turn his attention to producing sculptures in traditional materials, such as bronze and steel. Folded Square Alphabet O
is part of a series, Folded Square Alphabets & Numericals,
that Benton initiated in the late 1970s. Using the shape of the square as his point of departure, Benton was interested in how a two-dimensional square could be reconfigured to yield a three-dimensional sculpture. As he explained: “I didn’t want to add or subtract from the square; I wanted to use all the parts.” Highlighting the negative spaces found in letters, such as the cut-away center of the “O,” these seemingly straightforward works shift and change with increasing complexity as viewers circle the sculpture, its form changing with each new perspective. Benton’s interest in the shapes of letters and the rhythmic quality of written language is not surprising, given his early career as a sign painter in his home town of Jackson, Ohio.
Folded Square Alphabet O
is a Museum purchase with funds from the Art Purchase Fund and John and Anne Nelson in honor of J. Robert Duncan, 2012 King of Ak-Sar-Ben.
Omaha sculptor Ron Parks created Pencil Bench
and 22 1/2 Degrees with Crayon Tips.
Artist and educator Peter Carter made Cubular,
a simple game that allows participants to create unique pixilated images with thick blocks of glass arranged in a frame. A new image is created each time the game is played. Lights beneath the board add another dimension to the piece at night.
Zimbabwean sculptor Bernard Matemera's Metamorphosis
is a green-hued serpentine stone figure typical of his African neo-expressionism represented in enormous and deliberately grotesque dimensions. Matemera was a founding member of the Shona Tengenenge Sculpture Village and was for many years the symbolic leader of that community.
George Sugarman's Yellow Ascending
has been a signature sculpture outdoors at Joslyn for many years. In its third location since the Museum's acquired it in 1983, Yellow Ascending
is an outstanding example of Sugarman's ability to translate his love of movement, color, and structure into a monumental metal sculpture. The piece is 30 feet tall and weighs 16,000 pounds. In the Discovery Garden, it is surrounded by an Omega Sandstone amphitheater.
The Discovery Garden's northeast corner featured Patrick Dougherty's Story-Telling Hut,
a temporary "stickwork" installation of indigenous roughleaf dogwood and willow saplings. Designed by the artist to last only a year or two at most, the piece was removed on November 19, 2012, after exhibiting significant structural instability following more than two years in the Discovery Garden.
A meandering walkway of Mesa Buff-colored concrete encompasses the perimeter of the 11,000-square-foot Discovery Garden site. The path is punctuated with 12 concrete slabs in primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (green, orange, violet) colors; an aerial view reveals the pattern of the artist’s color wheel. Each of these has been transformed into a work of art — embossed, stamped, or embellished with glass and objects — by select groups of children and adults from The Autism Center of Nebraska, Boys Town National Research Hospital/Nebraska Foundation for Blind and Visually Impaired Children, Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts, Octopuses Garden Art Alliance and the Eastern Nebraska Community Office on Retardation, The Ollie Web Center, students in Joslyn’s art classes, and the Museum’s Young Art Patrons, among others.