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October 11, 2004 // UPDATED 4:19 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

'What You See Is Who You Are' by Tony Berlant

Target Corporation lobby

1000 Nicollet Mall (enter on South 11th Street)

Beloved Minneapolis retailer Target not only sells products that could be considered fine art, but also fills their corporate headquarters with works by internationally renowned artists.

Walk into the headquarters' 11th Street entrance, and you'll pass a glass fountain by Howard Ben Tr/ and the swirling glass fronds of Dale Chihuly's "Red Tower." A quick trip up the escalator reveals an enormous 10-by-55-foot pieced-metal collage by Tony Berlant.

Santa Monica-based Berlant began showing his work in prominent exhibits soon after receiving his art degree from UCLA in 1964. He's had a one-person show or has been in a group exhibit every year since.

Early on, Berlant found a pile of discarded metal advertising signs and began making collages. The apparently frugal artist cut the signs into small shapes, rearranged the pieces into patchwork images and then nailed them to wood backings. He also turned the cast-off pieces into art.

This painstaking process became the artist's brushstrokes.

His distinctive works have been collected by numerous museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 3rd Ave. S.), Art Institute of Chicago, Washington, D.C.'s Hirshhorn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Large public Berlant commissions reside in airports in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, as well as in many corporate offices, such as the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Target commissioned their piece sight unseen. After a visit to Minneapolis to inform his work, Berlant decided upon a panoramic landscape of trees, hills and lakes that shows a progression through the four seasons.

Thousands of cut pieces of tin were attached with brads to wood supports. And, after a year of work, "'What You See Is Who You Are" was completed in 2002.

The collage is a vibrant reminder of Minnesota's seasons and the state's creative energy.

(To see another Berlant collage, visit Dain Rauscher Plaza, 60 S. 6th St.)

LUNCH TIP: Have lunch in the high-style surroundings at Marshall Field's Marketplace Caf/ on Nicollet Mall, next door to the Target lobby.

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