Masayuki Koorida: Beyond Existence

Masayuki Koorida is well known for his landmark work Existence in The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. For all its quiet majesty and widespread admiration, Existence represents but one aspect of Koorida’s repertoire.

_16_Koorida Existance_Staff_A5.jpg

Existence in the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

In the last decade, Koorida has emerged as among the most elegant voices in Contemporary sculpture. Although he has exhibited in China, Japan and across Europe, the Meijer Gardens exhibition is among his very first in the United States. Sculpture at a variety of scales and in a variety of media will be featured.

Born and trained in Kyoto, Japan, Koorida lives and works primarily from a studio in Shanghai, China. As a sculptor who works frequently with large stones, the studio in China places him in close contact with abundant stone quarries, but also allows him an opportunity to have the large industrial space needed for carving and polishing. From here, Koorida operates a very hands-on studio with very few assistants. He is deeply, physically engaged with his work.

Koorida P1030354.JPG

Koorida at work in his studio

Audiences will undoubtedly be surprised to encounter both grand and intimate scale sculptures in which the rigors of geometry and geometrically-based imagery play a significant role. Patterned forms involving the circle and sphere abound. Each is rendered with careful attention to the form and a meticulous treatment of the surface. The latter is made even more astonishing when recognizing these affects are the results of human hands. Although Koorida often uses titles like “seed” or “flower” for such sculptures, the works themselves are more scientific and mathematical, than natural and organic in form or as seen with the naked eye.


Granite, in a completely carved and highly polished form, plays a prominent role, but so too does black and white marble. In its precise state, with completely and carefully articulated surfaces, such work may feel in opposition to the rugged and only partially carved properties of Existence. Hand polished to a mirror finish, his sculptures are deceiving because they appear machined. But more than stone, gleaming works in stainless steel and acrylic will also be featured. Using industrial materials, Koorida challenges us to think beyond Existence.

One final element to note is an extraordinary group of drawings that Koorida has created specifically for Meijer Gardens. These are not small sketches or preparatory renderings, but monumental presentations that can evoke the same sense of awe as the sculptures themselves.  Second, although the decided use of geometry may seem familiar, close inspection reveals the cohesion of thousands of individual pencil strokes that combine to create singular forms. By any measure, these never before seen works will leave a lasting impression.


Masayuki Koorida: Beyond Existence is a significant endeavor devoted to a deeper understanding of the sculptor and his sculpture. Considered with the granite ensemble in the Japanese Garden, it provides a meaningful opportunity to come to know a master beyond one masterpiece. This exhibition has been organized exclusively with the artist and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park._DSC0441.jpg

Spring Break at Meijer Gardens


Enjoy all that Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has to offer during spring break week!

The annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition at Meijer Gardens is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. Thousands of tropical butterflies from around the world fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. Throughout the exhibition, there is special educational programming and the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden offers butterfly-themed activities.

MeijerGardensBeverlyPepper (1).jpg

We are also honored to display a selection of 70 works from American sculptor Beverly Pepper. These works range from the early 1950s through present day and are part of Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper. From sketches capturing scenes of everyday life and landscape views to abstract explorations of space and form to technical drawings and independent prints, the exhibition will evidence one of the most profound artistic careers in recent memory.


While you’re here, don’t miss our newest hands-on experience for all ages, Inside/Outside: An Interactive Sculpture Experience for Families. Each of the educational stations includes a hands-on activity that underscores concepts of featured sculptures. Inside/Outside: An Interactive Sculpture Experience for Families is yet another way that we encourage children to bond with sculpture and foster a lifelong enjoyment of the arts!

Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper

Pepper Exhibition.jpg

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is honored to present the premier exhibition of drawings and prints by iconic Contemporary sculptor, Beverly Pepper. Known regionally for her soaring steel Galileo’s Wedge, a favorite in our Sculpture Park since 2009, Pepper’s monumental sculptures are celebrated from Manhattan to San Francisco. Our galleries will display more than seventy works, dating from the 1950s to present. Never before seen in public, these works on paper are a treasury of ideas and forms.

Pepper Steel

Pepper first emerged on the international scene in 1962 as the only female artist to be invited to exhibit her early steel creations with established figures like Alexander Calder and David Smith. Her career has been both prolific and prodigious across the course of Contemporary art. A pioneering force for women in the visual arts, Pepper joins Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois to form the quartet of female sculptors foundational to opening doors for young women artists.

This exhibition coincides with the artist’s 95th birthday and celebrate her extraordinary gift to Meijer Gardens that spans nearly 900 sketches, drawings, prints and notebooks, as well as a series of models, including Galileo’s Wedge. Among the rarities of her gift is a series of sketchbooks Pepper maintained over her career. Although Pepper’s sculptures are featured in prominent public and private collections across the globe, her works on paper–especially her drawings–are little known yet have a critical role in her studio practice and trace the trajectory of her career, from observational life studies to abstraction.

Pepper exhibition 3.jpg

Born in Brooklyn, Pepper trained at both the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York. She enjoyed a successful early career in advertising before leaving America for an impoverished, post-World War II France to become an artist. There, she studied with Modern masters Fernand Léger and André Lhote. She also met and married fellow American Bill Pepper (1917-2014), a reporter turned bureau chief for Newsweek and acclaimed author. The couple settled in Rome, where Pepper established her first studio. For more than a half century, they divided their time and respective creative endeavors between Italy and New York.

Picture4.jpg       Picture5.jpg

The exhibition opens with a series of extraordinary street drawings of post-war Rome that depict Pepper’s fascination with the remnants of the Old World giving way to the new. These drawings capture workers and wives, children and Cardinals in everyday life. A trip to Southeast Asia in 1960 captivated the artist and led to a dramatic change in style; still figurative, these new drawings were decidedly abstracted and served as a springboard for her non-representational imagery. In her bountiful two-dimensional works from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, the mature Pepper shows her full command of an abstract vocabulary of forms, conquering a quest for a sense of monumentality. Some drawings are sketches for sculptures, others are highly detailed studies. When she begins making prints, the relationship between two- and three-dimensional imagery extends even further. In Pepper’s repertoire, the dialogue among all forms is fluent and flawless.

Pepper drawing.jpg

From her studio in the Umbrian countryside, Pepper continues to draw and make sculpture. Since the 1990s, her drawings often link to her sculptures yet are bold explorations of form. Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper is a groundbreaking exhibition of one of America’s greatest living artists and a grateful commemoration of one of the most important legacy gifts made to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park– a true cause for celebration and exploration.

Winter in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden


Have you discovered winter fun and many ways for adults and even the youngest curious minds to get outside and learn through play during this frosty season?

Winter Time Walks, held throughout the week and weekend, are hosted by PALs and highlight winter, Christmas and holiday traditions. Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am and Saturdays at 11:15 am during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World, guests are invited to explore the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden with themed walks that are followed by a correlating storytime. These themes are Garden Carol, Mitten Motifs, Tree Dance, Winter Wonderland, Bird Senses, and Children’s Garden Pioneers.

Sung to the 12 days of Christmas during Garden Carol, guests take walks through the garden as a group of true friends finds for them several exciting features that highlight the Children’s Garden.

With Mitten Motifs guests learn multicultural appreciation through designs and symbols on mittens that come from around the globe and even attempt to all fit in the “mitten- shape” at the map of Michigan in the Great Lakes Garden.

Tree Dance invites guests of all ages to find the rhythm and the motion of trees, taking a closer look at the shapes each canopy makes in the winter.

Guests will be invigorated by going on a snowflake hunt throughout the Butterfly Maze after learning about their hexagonal shape on a Children’s Garden Winter Wonderland Walk.

Learning the calls of plush birds and how birds use their senses in the Kid-Sense Garden is the highlight of Bird Senses.

Finally, after learning about animals in their winter homes made from natural materials, find engaging chores in a people home made with similar resources in with Children’s Garden Pioneers.

LMCG 2.jpg

After the thrill of Winter-time Walks, Winter-themed and Christmas and Holiday Traditions-themed storytimes wrap up in January, guests bundle up and venture out into the Children’s Garden to explore tracks and permanent features in the snow. Self-guided play is encouraged during the months of January and February, until we invite guests to celebrate winter with Winter Family Day on February 10th from 1-4 pm with complimentary hot chocolate, ice sculpture, winter craft, a Naturalist Walk and more.

The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is the place to be this winter for guests of all ages!

Volunteer of the Year: Nancy LePage

_17 Cameos_Staff_70.JPG

Volunteer of the Year Nancy LePage (second from left) pictured with Meijer Gardens Volunteer Manager Amber Oudsema (left), HR Manager Angela Violet (second from right) and HR/Volunteer Coordinator Jess Knapp (right)

By Nancy Crawley

Don’t look for the 2017 Volunteer Of The Year in the main halls of Meijer Gardens or the conservatories or the outdoor gardens.

You’ll find Nancy LePage in the lower-level offices, far from the pathways used by visitors and most other volunteers.

There, the cheerful, hard-working 73-year-old spends two or three days a week doing secretarial work for the bustling communications department.

She manages files and archives, inputs data, updates the website, proofreads, and does tedious jobs that demand time and concentration. “I tell people I’ll do any dirt job,” she says with a laugh and twinkle in her eyes.

A volunteer for about 14 years, Nancy was honored Oct. 25 at the annual Connie Snell Volunteer Recognition Dinner where hundreds of volunteers as well as staff members gathered to recognize outstanding volunteers.

_17 Volunteer Dinner_Staff_38.JPG

Nancy LePage presented with her award

There, with tears in her eyes, the surprised and delighted Nancy received her award, and lots of hugs, from Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker and Volunteer Manager Amber Oudsema. Of course, communications staffers were in the audience to cheer for her.

Nancy is a transplant from the east side of the state. She was born and raised in Northwest Detroit, and she and her husband Ron raised three children in Woodhaven, south of Detroit.

She held a variety of jobs, including executive secretary at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers headquarters in Dearborn. Later, she ran her own secretarial services business.

After they retired, the couple moved to the Grand Rapids area to be near their daughter and grandchildren. It wasn’t long after she arrived that a neighbor suggested she try volunteering at Meijer Gardens.

But Nancy didn’t start out in the communications office. First, she tried several other volunteer roles. When the communications spot opened, she was interviewed by the director of communications, Roger Bleiler. “We really hit it off,” she said, and now she enjoys working with the entire staff.

She has been in the office for 12 years, working 12-14 hours a week. In total, she has chalked up more than 5,600 volunteer hours.

“As you age, you want to feel useful, that your talents and skills are beneficial,” she said. “If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it.”


Nancy pictured with Meijer Gardens President & CEO David Hooker

Remembering Helen DeVos


Helen and Richard DeVos at the opening of the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

We are saddened by the news of Mrs. Helen DeVos’ passing. Her support of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and institutions in West Michigan and beyond is cherished and will never be forgotten.

The DeVos’ incredible generosity made the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden possible. It is a world of timeless tranquility that has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors and will continue to inspire for many years to come.

FMG_SummersEnd 5

Sunrise in the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

“While we grieve her passing, we rejoice in her new life in heaven and are grateful for the countless ways she blessed our lives. We are comforted in knowing that she was welcomed home into the loving arms of Jesus,” her family said in a statement. “We will never forget her unfailing love, strength and devotion that were truly the heart of our family.”

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend, Helen DeVos,” said Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker, “Mrs. DeVos led a life of service and distinction that is an inspiration to all people. Personally, my life has been significantly enriched by getting to know Mrs. DeVos over the years and witnessing the way she chose to live her life. From the conversations at the many cultural events I had the pleasure to see her at, to the times when I was privileged to spend extended periods of time touring Meijer Gardens with her, Mrs. DeVos was always engaging and a ton a fun to be with. Her humor and grace were truly very special. I was always very impressed by the way she took the time to greet many strangers and share kind words and make connections to mutual friends and family. Meijer Gardens is extraordinarily blessed to have her name along with her husband’s on our Japanese garden. The garden has quickly become a favorite of the West Michigan community and has attracted people from around the world. During our tours together of the Japanese garden, she would often thank me and the Meijers for the opportunity to be part of this amazing place of peace, tranquility, and harmony. We are all very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of her generosity. We will miss her and are extremely thankful we could call Mrs. DeVos a friend. Through Christian faith she has now claimed her resurrection. The rest of us are left with our memories of her and the things she has done to make our world a better place. Along with her faith journey, her greatest legacy is her children and grandchildren and their families. Dick, Dan, Cheri, and Doug’s lives are a reflection of their mother’s values, dedication to family and her example as a woman of service. Our community is enormously blessed to have all her children living here in West Michigan as leaders and committing themselves to making our community the best place to live and work in all the land.”

Hooker also shared a personal story of another time his life was changed by the DeVos family. “Twenty-six years ago my son was born 23 weeks premature and spent 99 days in what eventually became Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Many years later I toured the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I walked around and saw the incredible facilities and scores of professionals there to care for children and families in need. We have a resource that is beyond fantastic to serve others in times of great need. One measure of a community is how it takes care of its children. West Michigan measures very well indeed. Thank you, Helen DeVos, for the way you lived your life and for all the good works you did to make other lives better.”


Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker, Helen and Richard DeVos, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at the opening of the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in 2015


For more, watch this story from WOODTV8 that details Mrs. DeVos’ dedication to the arts and culture of West Michigan and beyond.

Tribute locations to change with expansion


If you have visited recently, you’ll notice that expansion of our main campus as part of our capital campaign Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love has begun! It is because of the generous gifts of friends old and new that we are able to expand the reach of our mission and welcome many more guests in the future. Truly, a project this transformational reminds us of our foundational beginnings, a legacy of generosity we will continue to commemorate.

As part of the expansion project, many locations at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will be affected. If your contribution has supported the installation of a stepping stone, brick or other item, or has named an element of a previous capital campaign, then please know that we will continue to honor and recognize your gift. The placement of your tribute item may not be in the exact same location, but it will be located in an appropriate, beautiful area. When our renovation is complete, we will let you know if its new location.

For more information on the capital campaign, we invite you to view our website at for more details on the project and campaign.

If you have any questions, please contact Anne Benson, Director of Development & Membership, at (616) 975-3177 or