#5womenartists – Beverly Pepper

During Women’s History Month this March, we are joining the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. by using the hashtag #5womenartists to share important contributions by women in our collection.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women, champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching, and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. On a daily basis, the museum’s social media platforms highlight women’s contributions to the history of art.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and bookmark their wonderful Broad Strokes Blog.

This week, we feature the work of Beverly Pepper. Pepper established her career in the wake of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1960s. She began making wedge and columnar sculptures more than 30 years ago feeling that such iconic forms express both a sense of the ancient and modern. A wedge is a piece of wood or metal used as a tool; thick at one end and tapered on the other; it is highly sculptural in design. In Pepper’s work, scale has been greatly exploited to create a sleek sense of force and momentum that marks a sense of place and clearly stands out against the sky.

Beverly Pepper has been a major force across the international scene since the 1960s. A 2012 exhibition at Meijer Gardens focused exclusively on her pioneering efforts in metal beginning with her debut at the famed Spoleto exhibition in 1962 through major recent efforts. Charting her innovation and determination, iconic works from across her repertoire were on view. This was the first major presentation on Pepper in recent years and the first to explore the power and vision of her work in steel. From daring, welded steel of the early 1960s, to pristine geometric works of the late 1960s and 1970s, to the upright sentinels known in public and private collections around the world, the exhibition carried through to ascending monoliths of recent years. This exhibition was accompanied by archival information and a fully illustrated catalogue. Charting her innovation and determination, iconic works from across her repertoire were on view.


Can you name 5 women artists in our collection?

About NMWA:
The National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women, champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching, and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. On a daily basis, the museum’s social media platforms highlight women’s contributions to the history of art.

What is growing and blooming in the Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House

Did you know that our Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House is the only publicly displayed plant collection in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to carnivorous plants? It’s true! The Carnivorous Plant House is home to meat-eating plants from around the globe of all shapes and sizes. The most familiar is the Venus flytrap. Other carnivores on display include colorful pitcher plants, sundews and butterworts.

Here are some of the things that have been growing and blooming recently in the Carnivorous Plant House:

Pinguicula vulgaris

Pinguicula vulgaris – Common Butterwort

Sarracenia purpurea

Pinguicula primulaflora – Butterwort

Pinguicula gigantea

Pinguicula gigantea – Giant Butterwort

Drosera adelae

Drosera adelae – Lance Leaved Sundew

Brocchinia reducta

Brocchinia reducta – Bromeliad

Dionaea muscipula1.jpg

Dionaea muscipula – Venus Fly Trap


What is growing & blooming in the Earl and Donnalee Holton Arid Garden?

A welcome retreat from the cold Michigan winter, the Earl and Donnalee Holton Arid Garden brings together cacti, agaves, succulents and other desert plants from around the world. Stop by on your next visit to discover flora that can survive in the most barren climates on the planet!

Here are some of the things that have been growing and blooming recently in the Arid Garden:

Our potted jade tree, Crassula ovata:

Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii:


Aloe sinkatana:

Mustache aloe, Aloe suprafolitata:


Happy birthday, Marshall Fredericks!

Happy birthday to Danish-American sculptor Marshall Fredericks, born on January 31, 1908!

Marshall Fredericks’ works are a vital part of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park story. A friend and favorite sculptor of Fred Meijer and the first artist that he collected in earnest, an initial gift of 36 works by Fredericks from Fred and Lena helped launch Meijer Gardens in 1995. Fredericks’ work is well represented in our permanent collection, with his stylized figurative work patinated a trademark aqua green.

As you walk around Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’ll notice Fredericks work at nearly every turn. Some of our favorites are shown below:

Boy and Bear

The Boy and the Bear

Leaping Gazelle Fountain

Leaping Gazelle Fountain (Rabbit, Hawk, Grouse, Otter)

Bear and Cub

Two Bears

Friendly Dragons

Friendly Dragons

Victory Eagle

Victory Eagle

To Michiganders, perhaps his most famous work is a piece that he never named himself, but has become known as The Spirit of Detroit.  He said that he “…tried to express the spirit of man through the deity and the family.”


Spirit of Detroit

Spirit in studio

Marshall Fredericks in his studio

Fredericks and Spirit

Fredericks with the completed The Spirit of Detroit

Only after it was installed in 1958 did it became known as The Spirit of Detroit. Not only did Fredericks waive his creative fee for this sculpture, but it cost him money to produce. He believed this was merely part of his civic responsibility.


What is blooming in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory?

Even though butterflies won’t start appearing for a few more weeks, our Horticulture staff has been busy preparing the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory for the upcoming Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies are Blooming exhibition. This year’s display will feature a bounty of lush, tropical blooms offering a dazzling display of beauty while providing nectar and habitat for our visiting butterflies.

We recently checked in to see what was blooming and fruiting in this area of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park:

Wild Tropical Petunia

Ruellia brevifolia – Wild Tropical Petunia


Clerodendrum quadriloculare – Shooting Star




Aechmea gamosepala – Bromeliad


Clerodendrum thomsoniae – Bleeding Heart Vine


Coffea arabica – Coffee tree

We have also recently completed upgrades and renovations to our irrigation and curtain system in the Tropical Conservatory. While these changes will more than likely go unnoticed by our guests, they were much needed. Did you know that prior to these renovations, all of the watering in this area was done by hand by our staff and volunteers? We are looking forward to utilizing this new system!

What is blooming at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park?

Despite our grounds being covered in a beautiful blanket of January snow, there are many things blooming here at Meijer Gardens! We asked our Horticulturists for an update on what is happening around the gardens. Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you updates of some of the horticultural happenings around various gardens and areas of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park as we work through the winter and prepare for spring:

Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse

What is currently blooming?

Prunus cv. Snofozam Weeping Cherry

Narcissus minor cv. Little Gem Daffodil

Epimedium x youngianum cv. Niveum Epimedium

Epimedium grandiflorum cv. Queen Esta
Epimedium grandiflorum Queen Esta

Vinca minor cv. Bowlesii Bowles’ Myrtle

2015 In Review

2015 was a year of Welcoming the World at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. In addition to celebrating our 20th anniversary with a calendar full of spectacular events and exhibitions, we also opened the long-anticipated Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. As we look ahead to all of the exciting things that we have planned in 2016, we reflect on just a few of the highlights from 2015:

We kicked off a year of Welcoming the World with a unique partnership with Shiga, our sister state in Japan. Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan displayed more than 60 Japanese works of art from the 8th century to the present day. Four seasons were represented in this exhibition.


Seated Senju Kannon, courtesy of The Museum of Shiga Prefecture, Biwako-Bunkakan

Guests began to experience the Tranquility Zone: A Japanese Garden Environment for Families in the Snell Education Center. This area teaches Japanese garden concepts to our young guests and includes a stepping stone path, an arched bridge, a tea house, rocks, lily pads and a Zen-style garden.

TranqZoneAug15 (35).JPG

The Tranquility Zone is generously sponsored by PNC Bank

In March we introduced Fred & Dorothy Fichter as the new permanent title sponsors of our popular Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition. Dorothy loved coming here to see the butterflies, and Fred wanted to honor her in a meaningful way after she passed. We are so very thankful for their support!
Award-winning producer, director and cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg spoke at our Wege Environmental Lecture and we
also welcomed our nine-millionth guest!

9mil (14)

President & CEO David Hooker greets our 9 millionth guest

In April we celebrated our 20th anniversary on a rainy evening with the dedication of Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei. Iron Tree is Ai Weiwei’s largest and most complex outdoor sculpture to date.


Dedication of Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree on April 20, 2015

May brought with it the Great Gardens Party, our signature spring fundraising event. Hundreds of guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a delicious sit-down dinner, and a silent and live auction of rare and unique items. We also hosted two of our more popular plant shows – The Iris Show and The Michigan All-State Bonsai Show.


2015 Michigan All-State Bonsai Show

June was one of our busiest months of all time, punctuated by the opening of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. Over 80,000 guests visited Meijer Gardens in June, 25 percent higher than any other June on record, including 2010 figures during the blockbuster Dale Chihuly exhibition and the 2004 opening of the popular Lena Meijer Children’s Garden. Our members enjoyed early access to this breathtaking 8-acre addition before it was opened to the public on June 13. We were also honored to host the King & Queen of The Netherlands as they visited Grand Rapids on an economic tour led by Governor Snyder.


The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden Main Gate

The Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens continued in July with 7 sold-out concerts, and we enjoyed another month of record-breaking attendance as we were joined by over 101,000 guests.


Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens

In August, we dedicated Relatum: Forest Path, a sculpture by Lee Ufan. This piece is the first permanent work in the Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden. The ever-popular West Michigan Dahlia Society Dahlia Show was also held in August.


Relatum: Forest Path by Lee Ufan

ArtPrize kicked off in September, and we hosted the first ever all-national venue with our Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now exhibition. This highly unique collection of twenty five works from artists working in Japan today was on display through January 3, 2016 before touring venues in Japan.
Chrysanthemums & More!, our annual celebration of autumn, also opened in September and is the largest of its kind in Michigan, featuring expansive chrysanthemum displays, fall foliage and family-friendly activities.


Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now

October brought two wonderful lectures to Meijer Gardens, on October 13 we heard from author Geoff Dyer as a part of our Master Lecture Series and artist Jenny Holzer joined us on October 27 for the C. Schoenknecht & W. Paul Sculpture Lecture.


An Evening with Jenny Holzer – October 27, 2015

Continuing our theme of Welcoming the World, this past November we welcomed five new buildings to the Railway Garden, representing our five Sister Cities. Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World kicked off in November, featuring nearly 400,000 lights, strolling carolers, rooftop reindeer and more than 40 international trees and displays.

Bielsko-Biala Town Hall 2.JPG

Bielsko-Biala Town Hall

This December we introduced a new theme to our holiday fundraiser as the annual Holiday Gala became Christmas Cabaret. Guests were treated to fantastic entertainment from Sister Act and enjoyed drinks, a sit down dinner, as well as time to talk with friends old and new.


Christmas Cabaret

As we look back at a busy and successful 2015, we are extremely thankful for each of our nearly 800,000 visitors and for the generosity of the Meijer family.

What were some highlights from your time at Meijer Gardens this past year?