Meijer Garden really did get Punk'd

Back on September 25, 2006, LAMB blogged about about an intervention that took place at Frederik Meijer Gardens called Paleta Grande [ read: old post}.
We emailed the staff at the Meijer Gardens Sculpture Park to verify if this was actually true. Today, 5 months later, we have the truth:

Officially for the record, rumors of Paletta Grande returning to Meijer
Gardens on its March 16, 6-month anniversary are untrue. Rumors are true
however that Paletta Grande was quickly sold to a private collector. Waste
Management of West Michigan secured the sculpture at private auction for an
undisclosed amount. Yes, even Meijer Gardens can have a sense of humor.

Recently the individual responsible for the exhibit was found to be one of
our own. Disciplinary action was swift and appropriately measured to deter
copy-cats. Increased security measures have since been enacted throughout
the park to protect Meijer Gardens exhibits and other interests against
theft, vandalism and Ashton Kutcher look-alikes.

Meijer Gardens thanks LAMB for their support of the gardens and the arts
and requests that readers refrain from contacting the park with inquiries
concerning Paletta Grande.

Dr. Joseph Becherer, Ph.D
Curator of Sculpture
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Posted on February 19, 2007 11:12 AM


man! we are like a really ineffective smoking gun. rad!

Posted by: george on February 19, 2007 11:28 AM

I asked them (the sculpture dept) about that just the other day and they all got immediately sore and grumpy. "It shouldn't have been true," they said. And "If you have any information about who was behind it, you need to let us know."
I was suddenly involved via my cursory knowledge.

Posted by: Teresa on February 20, 2007 3:11 PM

How do you sneak in a massive shovel? On foot at night? Or perhaps right through their entrance and indoor displays in broad daylight. If it was real then I am so curious to know how this was pulled off.

Posted by: audrey on February 23, 2007 3:24 PM

To perhaps answer Audrey, the Flickr site seems to suggest how it was done.

The caption under the photo titled "Paletta Grande - Folding Paletta" reads:

Question: How does one get a 12 x 12 foot scoop into a botanical garden?

Answer: Make it fold / unfold and carry it in as construction materials for the Volunteer Tribute Garden of course.

This stow-and-go feature also comes in very handy for those trips around town in the family mini-van.

Posted by: Suzie on February 24, 2007 4:54 PM

PALETTA GRANDE – 2007 Commemorative Video

In celebration of the September 16, one year anniversary of Paletta Grande, myself and all the members of the Grand Rapids Alliance of MICHief in MICHigan ( are pleased to announce the release of the official PALETTA GRANDE commemorative video on sale now at your local bookstore and Frederik Meijer Gardens gift shop.

Video highlights include:
- Scoop History: The life and times of Florentine artist Francesco Nicola Sansovino.
- Scoop Makers: Bringing about the scoop - Fondamento per la Scultura Naturale (Foundation for Natural Sculpture)
- Scoop Artists: Personal interviews with the Paletta Grande sculptors Ponzo and Ileana Siricio.
- Scoop Thought: Reflective commentaries by William Faulkner, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Oldenburg and Coosje van Brugge.

Also includes bonus video:
- Scoop Making: Behind the scenes footage of Paletta Grande during design and construction.
- Scoop Reality: Live footage of the Paletta Grande exhibit being assembled at Meijer Gardens.
- Scoop News: Coverage by local TV news station FOX 17.

For a free preview, visit the Paletta Grande blog:

And just to satisfy the curious out there, the scoop (2 folded pieces), handle (3 pieces), poop (7 burlap bags) and podium were all brought in on foot in broad daylight during regular business hours through the service/construction entrance. Pieces were transported via hand truck along the back service road to the hill behind the Da Vinci horse. When security was far from view, pieces were individually carried up and over the hill to be assembled in clear view of several park visitors. Yes, this was an inside job in part, but was executed as a covert operation.

Incidentally, I finally had the opportunity to view Rodin's "The Thinker". The prankster inside couldn't help but wonder what it would take to turn "The Thinker" into "The Thinker on Commode". Well he's safe (from me at least). I have officially announced my retirement.

Pietro Sorrento
BFA Sculpture & Functional Art
Formerly of Frederik Meijer Gardens

Posted by: Pietro Sorrento on September 15, 2007 5:39 PM

Great videos. The live footage is a little shakey. I like the sound track though, very appropriate. Too bad you're retiring from pranking (I mean sculpture and functional art). Enjoyed both of your public pieces, "Paletta Grande" and "JIFFI STOP". Thanks for the laughs Pietro. So when will you be making a guest appearance and speak to LAMB?

Posted by: Grand Rapidian on October 3, 2007 8:22 PM

I found the FOX 17 news footage amusing and curious.

The reporter opens the segment with the statement: "A so-called prank isn't getting many laughs at Frederik Meijer Gardens." Then only a few seconds latter has to stiffle her own little snicker saying: "An employeee noticed it and it was (snicker) immediately removed."

My cursiousity focuses on the accuracy of the Fox 17 report. The statement "An employeee noticed it and it was (snicker) immediately removed" is absolutely false. Friends present at Frederik Meijer gardens on the day of the incident saw Paletta Grande with their own eyes and told me the big shovel was on display for at least 4 hours which was also confirmed by other eyewitness reports on this blog and others.

I can only infer that Meijer Gardens officials fed FOX 17 this false information in the hopes of deterring copy-cats. This of course opens up my bigger curiousity, how much else in the report was inaccurate?

Posted by: Salsa on November 6, 2007 2:20 PM

as a security officer at the time of the prank (i was off that day) i gotta give you guys mad props! although i will say that, to some degree you guys lucked out with not getting caught (technological difficulties). but all in all, it was well done! i still laugh about it when friends who have heard about it ask me questions about it...

Posted by: fmgsecurity on April 12, 2008 6:02 PM

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