The Frey Foundation unveiled the latest piece of artwork to adorn downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday with an 8 x 8-foot replica of Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” sculpture.
The sign rests on a platform, strategically placed at Louis Campau Promenade in downtown Grand Rapids. Louis Campau founded Grand Rapids in 1838 after building several establishments along the Grand River.
Indiana created “LOVE” in 1965 in print as a specially made screenprint design for a Christmas card for New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It was later made into a sculpture and has been replicated and placed in major cities across the globe like New York City, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, Tokyo, and more and has been translated to four other languages. The original sculpture currently sits in the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana.
An estimated 80 people attended the unveiling of the sculpture at Louis Campau Promenade Wednesday hoping to get a first glimpse of “LOVE.”
Frey Foundation Chair Mary Frey Bennett spoke briefly about what the addition of the “LOVE” sculpture will do for Grand Rapids and what it means for the Frey Foundation and family.
“The Frey Foundation has been planning for this day for more than three years,” Bennett said. “It’s been thrilling to see all this work and planning come to fruition. Today is particularly meaningful to my family and our foundation because we believe that public art adds so much to the health and vibrancy of place. Art enriches our lives and becomes part of our story. Making a piece as significant as this, as the one we are about to unveil, available to everyone who visits Grand Rapids or calls this place home is an incredible feeling.”
Joseph Becherer, Curator of the Sculpture Program at Frederick Meijer Gardens, expressed the impact the sculpture will have on the Grand Rapids community.
“I think there was a very strong desire on behalf of the Frey Foundation to make another significant contribution to the City of Grand Rapids,” Becherer said. “They have been very involved in so many things across the community. The Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle by Maya Lin was probably well known activity. They wanted to say something more and speak to the twenty-first century and so we went on a very interesting and long process…This is a particular meaningful piece. It makes a great contribution to the art community of Grand Rapids.”
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was also in attendance for the unveiling of the “LOVE” sculpture. She shared her thoughts on what the sculpture will add to the City of Grand Rapids.
“Public art just adds so much vibrancy to a city, and it creates these great public spaces that people come to,” Bliss said. “It generates memories for them. It’s a great gathering space, and I think this space is just perfect because it looks at the Ecliptic so there’s some real synergy between the two public spaces now.”