Lunchtime Tourist

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February 10, 2003 // UPDATED 4:35 pm - April 27, 2007
By: Tom Nussbaum window art
Tom Nussbaum window art</B>

Neiman Marcus, second-floor windows, Nicollet Mall at 5th Street

What do you with store windows when you don't want to let the light inside? You could brick them up or cover the glass with paper, you could take the Walgreens approach and stack hundreds of boxes of aspirin in geometric patterns, or you could do what Neiman Marcus did -- hire an artist.

For pedestrians, windows break up the boxy shape of a building. Without them it would be just a wall. But retailers have trouble with

windows because they need all the wall space they can get, and they don't want sunlight to fade the

merchandise. However, stores still need to attract attention and lure customers inside. When Neiman

Marcus moved into the second phase of Gaviidae Common, they creativly anticipated this problem.

Currently living in Montclair, New Jersey, Tom Nussbaum is a metal artist who got his start in Minneapolis. He was commissioned

by Neiman Marcus to fill the second-story

windows with artwork.

The 32 pieces are collectively titled "Natural History," and depict the artist's personal vocabulary of plant forms, animals and human culture. Made of painted galvanized steel panels, the large cutout shapes are simple and bright and look like ornaments decorating the building.

Nussbaum viewed the windows as curio cabinets in a natural history museum. Within the "cases" are his specimens: pinecones, flowering vines, a turtle, a cardinal, and fish. His artifacts of human culture look like icons of the retail industry: gloves, hat, boots and a Native American-style costume.

"My goal is to create work that has a direct relationship both physically and conceptually to the site itself and to those who will be viewing and living with it," commented Nussbaum.

So put on your coat and head over to this expansive public art project and see if you'd like to trade in your warm weather apparel for the blue patchwork jacket on 5th Street.

LUNCH TIP: For some culinary art wander to the other end of the block for chicken gorgonzola salad at D'Amico & Sons.

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