Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District
Sculpture Clock, 1967
Kinetic Sculpture: Bronze, Brass and other Metals
Jack Nelson, Syracuse, NY
Collection City of Minneapolis
Photos: Regina M. Flanagan
Jack Nelson’s Sculpture Clock on the southeast corner at 11th Street is the oldest work of public art remaining from landscape architect Lawrence Halprin’s original late 60s design for the Mall. A gallery artist known primarily for his kinetic sculptural assemblages, Nelson produced multitudes of sketches for elements of the Sculpture Clock and then translated them into brass and steel forms, shaping them by hand. He assembled elements until they interrelated and interacted – jiggling, spinning, bouncing. Nelson’s presence is everywhere in the work; his aesthetic decisions in its eccentric composition, his choice of contrasting materials and textures, and the touch of his hand in the work’s machining. The artist’s playful wit is abundantly apparent.
The perpetual motion Sculpture Clock ran continuously from 1968 until 2002. In October 2017, it was reactivated after restoration and reinstallation by a professional conservator and her team. First, they disassembled the work, documenting it in photographs and scaled drawings, color-coding each of its 900 pieces. Then, structural damages were repaired and dull, tarnished and bent elements received treatment. Parts worn through from friction and abrasion were repaired, or replicated and replaced. Updated motors were installed. New bearings between moveable elements were custom-fit with frictionless high tech components. Missing forms were re-created from photographs, the artist’s original construction drawings and notes, and films collected by the unofficial Friends of the Sculpture Clock. This beloved fifty-year-old work by young artist Jack Nelson is set to live on for at least another generation.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Nicollet Public Art Tour