Art for the people

Art for the people

Always open, always free

Outside the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG), the Centennial Sculpture Park greets and welcomes visitors. Adorned with sculptures from many renowned contemporary artists, the park—which is always open and always free—offers a vibrant place for the community to gather, reflect, and find inspiration.

In early June 2023, MAG completed the final phase of its Centennial Sculpture Park, which now includes major works by seven celebrated artists: Sanford Biggers, Deborah Butterfield, Pia Camil, Tony Cragg, Rashid Johnson, Jun Kaneko, and Nathan Mabry. This array of new art joins sculptures by Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrara, Tom Otterness, and Albert Paley that have been on permanent display since the park opened in 2013 as a way to mark MAG’s 100-year anniversary.

“The Centennial Sculpture Park exemplifies what MAG is—an ever-evolving, urban museum,” says Michael Marsh, MAG’s chief operating officer and interim director of the gallery. “The park beautifies our grounds, introduces people to great art, and enriches the visitor experience. We invite everyone to explore it.”

Sanford Biggers headshot

Oracle sculpture by Sanford Biggers


(American, b. 1970)
In the spring of 2021, Sanford Biggers’ 25-foot Oracle sculpture at Rockefeller Center caught the attention of MAG. Many months later, MAG commissioned a 9-foot version of it. Biggers’ website notes that his Oracle sculptures are part of an ongoing Chimera series, which consists of works that merge mythology and history, including Greco-Roman and African sculptures. Biggers’ work is an interplay of narrative, perspective, and history that speaks to current social, political, and economic concerns while also examining the context from which they came.

Deborah Butterfield headshot

Abstract horse sculpture


(American, b. 1949)

Gift of Robert B. and Pamela Goergen

Pia Camil headshot

Lover's Rainbow sculpture


(Mexican, b. 1980)
Lover’s Rainbow
The monumental 42-by-16 1/2-foot sculpture is made of painted stainless steel rebar, a material typically used to reinforce concrete’s structural integrity that is only visible when a building is in ruins or incomplete. With Lover’s Rainbow, Camil creates a vision of hope and love using a material that speaks to the challenge of building something that will last. For MAG, this is an iconic work for its expansion and a landmark for the City of Rochester that may soon prompt people to say, “Let’s meet at MAG’s rainbow.”

Tony Cragg headshot

Versus scultpure - green textured circle shape on circular cream platform


(British, b. 1949)

Gift of David Brush

Rashid Johnson photo

Broken Pavilion structure


(American, b. 1970)
Broken Pavilion
Students from the Rochester City School District’s neighboring School of the Arts (SOTA) inspired this commissioned piece. When Johnson visited MAG to explore ideas, he was drawn to the Black and Brown SOTA students mingling on Prince Street. He designed this piece to face the school yet welcome everyone—from SOTA’s developing artists to community members to museum visitors. The interior of this expansive 10-by-40-foot sculpture features non-gendered, non-raced faces, and its overall curved form invites in and embraces those who explore the pavilion.

The Rashid Johnson Community Pavilion is supported through a gift from Constellation Brands, the Sands Family Foundation, and Abby and Doug Bennett.

Jun Kaneko photo

Circular white oval sculpture by Dango


(American, born in Japan, b. 1942)
Untitled, Dango
MAG’s Dango (Japanese for “dumpling”) is one in a series of monumental, glazed works created by Kaneko. Of the sculpture, Ceramics Monthly says, “In the unity of physical form and surface pattern, the Dango is like a Pyrenean boulder incised with ancient petroglyphs.” Kaneko is drawn to installations that promote civic interactions and has completed more than 60 public art commissions. Over his career, Kaneko has also partnered with industrial facilities to realize many large-scale, hand-built sculptures.

The Memorial Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges Gwen M. Greene for her generous gift to the Centennial Sculpture Park in memory of her husband, John D. Greene.

Nathan Mabry

An Eye for an Eye scuplture, old man with a beard holding his right hand up pointing upwards


(American, b. 1978)

Process Art
(An Eye for An Eye)

Things to do @MAG

  • M&T Bank Clothesline Festival, September 9 and 10
  • Hispanic Heritage Celebration Day, October 1

MAG’s Current and Upcoming Exhibition Schedule

This story also appears in the summer 2023 issue of Buzz magazine.

— Kristine Kappel Thompson, June 2023