GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa now graces downtown Grand Rapids.
Installation of the 16-foot-tall, stainless-steel sculpture “The Four Elements” was completed Friday at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Lyon Street NW.
“Grand Rapids’ reputation as an art designation has been growing for decades,” Experience Grand Rapids President & CEO Doug Small said. “As community leaders help to bring the work of acclaimed international artists to our doorstep, it not only enhances the ‘quality of place’ for area residents, it enhances the draw for visitors from across the country and around the world.”
Plensa has previously done celebrated projects in publicly accessible spaces in cities around the world, including Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, Montreal, London, Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The DeVos family commissioned this sculpture for display in Grand Rapids.
“We have been inspired by the long history in Grand Rapids of so many others bringing in significant and unique art to serve as an integral feature of downtown and, in many ways, the front step into our community,” Pamella DeVos said. “The addition of this Plensa piece is meant to portray a welcoming message of unity and diversity and is a wonderful addition to our city’s legacy and public collection.”
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss also thinks the installation is significant.
“This magnificent sculpture will be one more point of pride for all those in Grand Rapids who recognize public art as intrinsic to a high quality of life,” Bliss said. “I am so grateful to the DeVos family and to the many benefactors who have brought the work of internationally acclaimed artists to our city for all to enjoy.
The 5,400-pound sculpture, constructed in Spain, uses latter characters and element symbols representing air, water, fire and earth to create a human form, signifying the many different characteristics that bring people together to form a single human race.
It seeks to “reflect the capacity and beauty of humanity.”
Two other Plensa pieces are located at Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
“Public art is a vital component in elevating downtown Grand Rapids as a best-in-class heart of an exciting city,” said Tim Kelly, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “Whether someone happens upon a vibrant alley mural or plans a trip here to view the work of internationally known artists and shows like Plensa and ArtPrize, these pieces and collections act as an invitation to our city and play and important role in defining their experience and acceptance within our community.”