Arts & Entertainment and Travel & Tourism

Sculptor donates archives to Meijer Gardens

December 26, 2016
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Beverly Pepper untitled stainless steel sculpture drawing
An untitled drawing of a stainless steel sculpture by Beverly Pepper. Courtesy Meijer Gardens

One of Michigan’s largest tourist attractions has racked up another reason to visit.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids will become the permanent home of sculptor Beverly Pepper’s personal archive of hundreds of drawings, prints, sketchbooks and works on paper.

The 94-year-old artist’s collection spans more than seven decades of work.

Meijer Gardens plans a retrospective exhibit of Pepper’s archives in 2018. The show will run from Feb. 2 through April 19, 2018 and will display sketches, studies, prints and experimental drawings from throughout her career. The exhibit will be on display in the Holton, Balk and Bank of America galleries. An online catalogue of the collection is also planned.

Pepper's "world-renowned" sculptures incorporate industrial metals, such as iron, bronze and stainless steel, as well as stone into pieces on a massive scale. Her drawing and print repertoire is "lesser known."

“The enormity of Beverly Pepper’s gift cannot be overstated,” said Joseph Becherer, chief curator and VP, Meijer Gardens. “Drawing has been an integral part of her artistic practice, but like her printmaking, is little known even to scholars.

“Meijer Gardens’ engagement with Pepper began with the 2009 commission of the colossus ‘Galileo’s Wedge’ — an iconic work central to the world-renowned collection.”

Pepper said she's grateful to have a place to leave her legacy.

“Over the last two decades, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to my sculpture, and I am enthusiastic to now have this major body of my work there,” she said. “To have in one location, a space to study, compare and sequence my drawings and prints is an exceptional opportunity. I am most grateful to leave this record and have the curatorial team there looking after my work.”

Pepper, born Dec. 20, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York, has had her works exhibited and collected by major arts institutions and galleries around the world: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; Les Jardins du Palais Royal in Paris; and The Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, Japan; and more.

Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a 158-acre botanical garden and sculpture park with several indoor galleries, serves more 650,000 visitors annually and features several elements: Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; indoor galleries with changing sculpture exhibitions, including recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas and Calder; the eight-acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1,900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of international touring musicians every summer.

Meijer Gardens was recently ranked among the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper, a leading publication on global art news.

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