SILT, Colorado - A newly unveiled art piece in the Silt roundabout is proving to be the butt of controversy for the town. And in hindsight, the town board should have seen it coming. However, it seems they chose to turn the other cheek.
The backside in question is that of what is being perceived to be a naked rock climber on one side of a sculpture sitting in the middle of the town's new roundabout at Main Street and the Interstate 70 overpass downtown.
In response to the sculpture, which was unveiled on Aug. 21, someone early Monday morning pinned a piece of cloth, which resembled a pair of boxer shorts, to cover up the naked rock climber's buttocks. Commuters on their way to work stopped and stared and some even took pictures.
Forrest Jacobs of Silt is outraged by the sculpture and says he is not the only one.
"It's not just me - there's a lot of people," Jacobs insisted. "And it's not the sculpture - it's the one part - the naked man climbing the wall."
Jacobs, who is a plumber, said it was the "crack" of the sculpted figure's buttocks that disturbed him.
He also said that he had spoken with a school teacher who said the kids were disruptive in class because they were busy talking about the nude sculpture.
"Everyone thinks it's not appropriate for that to be showing," Jacobs said.
He added that a prior rendition of the sculpture before it was built only showed a man on the wall.
"There was no crack involved," Jacobs insisted. "He just put that in and now it stands out."
The sculptor, Blaine Peters, who owns Rock Work Unlimited in Rifle, was commissioned by the town of Silt to create the sculpture, but was out of town on Monday and had no idea of the controversy taking place.
"You've got to be kidding," Peters said when he was told. "What's funny about the whole thing is that the form has no ears, no mouth, no hands and no feet and no one's complained. It's not a man or a woman. It's a human in the rawest form climbing a rock. What's amusing to me is that they don't see it for what it is. They only see what they want to see."
Peters maintains that he submitted a model of the artwork to town board members before creating the sculpture, which included the rock climber with the now controversial crack. The model was approved by the town board.
Mayor Dave Moore said he did not want to offend the citizens of Silt, but on the other hand, saw some humor in the situation.
"We have sympathy toward [Jacobs'] argument, but on the flip side, it's an artist's rendition," Moore said. "But perhaps it's a little too sensitive and being carried a little too far."
Jacobs said he went before the board to complain at the Aug. 24 regular town board meeting, but got little response, except being told that one of his options would be to present the board with a petition of signatures, which he says he will do if he has to.
The town directed staff to remove the material by Monday afternoon, but is still interested in who pinned the "boxers" on the buttocks.
"There will be a possible investigation as to who put them there," Moore said. "It's vandalism. It's defacing public property - there are laws attached to this."
Seven miles down the road to the west, the city of Rifle last summer unveiled its new sculptured rendition of a cattle drive in the middle of its two new roundabouts between I-70 and Airport Road.
The sculptures include anatomically correct cattle with bull testicles and cow teats.
"We haven't had any complaints - not a word," Mayor Keith Lambert joked. "I guess we're just an easier, happy-go-lucky crowd."
As far as Silt's sculpture, in which the rock climber's backside faces Rifle, there are other theories.
"The word on the street is that Silt is mooning Rifle," Lambert said with a laugh. "So you can only guess what they're doing to Glenwood."