Trained as a landscape architect and an artist, Brad Goldberg has produced a significant body of urban work.
By Regina M. Flanagan, Associate ASLA
Courtesy Brad Goldberg
For five years, I observed daily life unfolding in Mears
Park across the street from my office window at the Minnesota State Arts Board
in Saint Paulís Lowertown. Every morning and evening I walked through the park
to my car and often encountered residents gardening, planting, and tending
flowering annuals delivered by the cityís parks department. One day in early
summer, 40 movable green plastic chairs appeared on the plaza, and it became my
habit to count the chairs to see if any were missing. At the end of the season
only four or five were gone, a testament to the social contract fostered by the
Mears Park was designed by artist Brad Goldberg between 1990
and 1993 with the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1999, it
was honored with an ASLA Centennial Medallion. The one-square-block park has
two main axes running from corner to corner with a tumbling brook surrounded by
clump whitespire birch along one axis and a paved plaza at the crossing point.
Goldberg carved on site the cubic Utah red sandstone and Kasota limestone seat
walls that define the edges of the walkway and continue into the birch grove. I
think the park resonates with people because its materials conjure sensory
memories of the Northwoods streams and forests that are familiar to most
When the Minneapolis Downtown Council asked me in 1998 to
assist with commissioning public art for two blocks of Nicollet Mall as part of
the mayorís Minneapolis Beautiful incentive, I immediately contacted the
creator of Mears Park. Goldberg was invited to speak with the downtown business
group, and his thoughtfulness and eloquence impressed the developer of the
mallís new buildings, who hired him on the spot.
Over the past 15 years, Goldberg has quietly produced a
significant body of international work. Many commissions come his way through a
network of people familiar with his work or through someone like me who
experienced a place he has designed and sought him out. He is an artist who has
not chosen to create work for exhibitions in galleries, museums, or sculpture
gardens but for public places that have purposeful civic functions. Landscape
provides the inspiration and the raw material for all of his work.
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