Two new outdoor sculpture exhibits offer public art in Washtenaw County


Chelsea and Matthaei sculptures

Left: Sean Hages, Nephatia, wood, 4.5’ x 4’ x 5.5”, 2015; part of the 2021 Chelsea Sculpture Walk.
Right: Sculpture tower by Jen Gerrity, Sherry Hall, Ben Mattison, Daria Paik, and Jin Young Yeum at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Photo by Jeri Hollister.

Even with everything starting to open up again—including the University of Michigan Museum of Art—you may understandably still feel a little weird about spending time indoors with other people. But two new outdoor sculpture exhibitions offer the delights of visual art alongside maximum air circulation.

A Garden of Earthly Delights is an installation at Matthaei Botanical Gardens of 10 ceramic sculptures created by eight teams comprised of 33 artists from the Ann Arbor Potters Guild. The works were inspired by Great Lakes plants, animals, and habitats, including dunes, wetlands, prairies, and limestone plains. 

The Guild's Facebook page shows more photos of the various sculptures and an installation timelapse for team one's tower. 

A Garden of Earthly Delights is on display through October 3 and you must make free reservations to enter Matthaei, which is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Last year's Chelsea Sculpture Walk was one of my first public outings in the relatively early days of the pandemic. I wrote about the experience, noting that with the absence of other visual art exhibitions, I was finally taking time to notice this annual, rotating collection of public art, which has been presented in downtown Chelsea since 2009.

This year there are 13 sculptures offered by regional artists working in bronze, wood, steel, aluminum, and concrete, with the pieces ranging from representational to abstract. 

It's a short stroll down Main Street and a few side roads see all the works, and wandering around downtown Chelsea is easy to navigate. But if you'd like to see the sculptures in order, you can download a PDF map of the walk here.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.