The Leona M. and Jacob E. Nyenhuis Sculpture Garden at Hope College will be dedicated on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Kruizenga Art Museum during the college’s Homecoming Weekend.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The sculpture garden surrounds the Kruizenga Art Museum, which opened in September 2015, and is being dedicated with four works in place and another forthcoming. The space is being named in honor of Leona and Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis, the lead donors for the park, for their many years of service to Hope. Jacob Nyenhuis is retired from the Hope faculty as provost emeritus and professor of classics emeritus, and is currently serving as director of the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute.
The artists, who include a Hope faculty member and a Hope graduate, and their works are: Kevin Barrett, “Ignite”; Peter Chinni, “Natura Extensa”; Murray Dewart, “Pulse of the Morning II”; Todd Erickson, “Ziibi Elpidos”; and Billy Mayer, “Midwinter Horn.” Created in the Abstract Modernist tradition between 1965 and 2017, the pieces vary in media (wood, stone, metal) and complement a Modernist pavilion structure sheathed in flame-cut charcoal gray slate panels and reminiscent of an artist’s palette in shape.
“We chose pieces that we thought would interact well with the building because the building itself was built as a piece of interactive sculpture,” said Charles Mason, who is director of the Kruizenga Art Museum and the Margaret Feldmann Kruizenga Curator of the museum.
Mason noted that the five works are only the beginning, and can be appreciated with other work installed throughout campus across the past several decades — including pieces by artists such as Cyril Lixenberg, Stuart Luckman, Billy Mayer and Kurt Laurenz Metzler — and which may be added in the future.
“The sculpture garden will continue to evolve, and not all of the works we install in the future will have to be around the museum,” he said. “We could add sculpture around campus and have a sculpture trail.”
“Ignite,” which is not yet on site, was commissioned for the sculpture garden. New York-based artist Barrett is the second generation in his family to have sculpture installed at Hope. His father, Bill Barrett, sculpted “Wall Relief: Opus A,” which was originally installed at Nykerk Hall of Music in the fall of 2004 and now hangs in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. “Ignite” was donated to Hope by David and Jane Armstrong and members of the De Graaf family.
“Natura Extensa” was created in 1965 and has been given to the college by Mike Brummel, a 1957 Hope graduate. Another version of the sculpture is installed in the gardens at Kykuit, a Rockefeller family estate in Pocantico Hills, New York.
“Pulse of the Morning II” is based on a sculpture that was originally commissioned by the American Fertility Society (now the American Society for Reproductive Medicine) for its Birmingham, Alabama, headquarters. “Pulse of the Morning II” was made in 1993 for Dr. Robert Visscher, a 1951 Hope graduate and former president of the society, who donated it to the college with his wife, Marjorie, a 1953 Hope graduate.
“Ziibi Elpidos” was commissioned for the sculpture garden. Erickson is a 1981 Hope graduate who teaches sculpture at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The work’s title, translated as “River of Hope,” blends Ojibwe and Greek to honor both the Holland area’s Native American heritage and the educational traditions brought by Holland’s colonists that led to the creation of Hope. It was donated by Leona and Jacob Nyenhuis.
“Midwinter Horn” was created in 1988 through a commission from Richard and the late Margaret Kruizenga for Christ Community Church in Spring Lake. The artist, Mayer, is a professor of art at Hope, and the Kruizengas, both of whom graduated from Hope in 1952, were the lead donors for the Kruizenga Art Museum. They subsequently purchased the sculpture from the church and donated it for the sculpture garden.
Both Leona and Jacob Nyenhuis have been active in the life of the college for more than 40 years. Their love for art was nurtured through frequent visits to the Detroit Institute of Art while living there and by regular visits to museums and art galleries during their travels in the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico.
Jacob Nyenhuis joined the Hope faculty in 1975 as professor of classics and dean for the humanities, and was appointed dean for the arts and humanities in 1978 and provost in 1984. He retired in 2001 and subsequently directed the college’s Van Raalte Institute from 2002 until 2015, when he was succeeded by Dr. Dennis Voskuil. He is serving as interim director for the next two years while Voskuil serves an interim term as Hope’s president. He is also editor-in-chief of the institute’s Van Raalte Press.
He is particularly interested in sculpture, and his many publications include a book about sculptor Michael Ayrton, “Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker.” He led the effort to install Kurt Laurenz Metzler’s sculpture “Icarus” in the central campus in 1989 in honor of former faculty member Dr. Clarence De Graaf, and to cast and install the statue of the Rev. A.C. Van Raalte, founder of Holland and co-founder of Hope, in Centennial Park in 1997 in conjunction with Holland’s sesquicentennial, also co-authoring a book about the project.
Leona Nyenhuis regularly co-hosted visiting scholars and other guests of the college, as well as members of the campus community, with her husband for gatherings at the couple’s home. She attended the college as a nontraditional student, graduating magna cum laude in 1993 with a degree in art history. All four of their daughters are also Hope alumnae.
The Kruizenga Art Museum functions as an educational resource for Hope College and the greater West Michigan community. The museum features two public galleries as well as a classroom and climate-controlled storage space for its 3,000-object permanent collection. The building was designed by architect Matt VanderBorgh of The Hague, The Netherlands, a 1984 Hope graduate who is director of C Concept Design.
The Kruizenga Art Museum is located at 271 Columbia Ave., between 10th and 13th streets.