Photos: The return of the 'Cherry'

On Friday at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a crane reunited two parts of an iconic structure when workers re-attached the 1,200-pound aluminum cherry on Claes Oldenburg’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry.” 

The cherry came down in mid-November for its once-a-decade maintenance. This was the first time the big red fruit, which also acts as a fountain, had left the state since arriving in Minneapolis from Connecticut in 1988. 

In the past, Minnesota firms refurbished the sculpture, but this time Fine Art Finishes in New York completed the project.

“We just had the opportunity to work with a real expert in the field who is really kind of the go-to person for Oldenburg sculptures — to paint them,” said Joe King, director of collections and exhibition management at the Walker Art Center. “We knew he’s very experienced in both using these products and painting the artist’s work, so it was kind of a no-brainer to go with someone we knew would do a fantastic job on the work.”

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Minnesota weather takes a toll on the sculpture in the garden. Maintenance on the cherry included descaling mineral deposits, paint removal, sanding and crack repair. Then it was primed several times, painted with a couple coats of cherry red and finished with a clear coat.

King says there are good reasons to do this work in winter.

“I think people understand that things need to be taken care of, and winter is a great time to do it because, believe it or not, visitorship to the garden slows down in the winter months, so it’s probably the best time for us to do it,” says King. “In addition, the ground is frozen out there, so we’re able to drive heavy equipment without disturbing the grounds as well.”  

The last time the “Cherry” was moved for maintenance was in 2009.