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American Society of Landscape Architects


August 2006 Issue

Landscape Sculptor
Trained as a landscape architect and an artist, Brad Goldberg has produced a significant body of urban work.

By Regina M. Flanagan, Associate ASLA

Landscape Sculptor 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 park.

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 Minnesotans.

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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