Art for all to behold in Glenwood |

Art for all to behold in Glenwood

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” What’s the point of public art, anyway?

Gayle Mortell, Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts executive director, had more than one thing to say on the subject.

“It’s there for inspiration. It’s there for people to ponder,” she said. “And sometimes, it’s there just for people to say ‘golly, that’s really neat.'”

She’s been waiting to answer questions like that for years. Since 2001, she has envisioned creative structures dotting Glenwood’s landscape. Finally, because of her, the city and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (especially Krista Kaufmann), it’s all falling into place.

As of today, people about town may notice a bit more color around them.

Thanks to the 2 Rivers Art Project, they’ll encounter a golden beaver, an iron orb, blue and red boxes, and a giant green man cradling the Earth. By late June, huge metal flowers and a cubist bull will be added to the mix. In all, seven pieces from five different artists will be on display for a year. Mortell imagines a future of annual celebrations ringing in new sculptures and saying good-bye to the old. At the end of each installation period, residents will get to vote on one piece they’d like to keep as a permanent structure.

As Mortell explained, “I think art in public places kind of defines a community.”

Jack Howard-Potter is just one of the people who will be defining Glenwood for the next 12 months. The 33-year-old New Yorker is responsible for the large fellow and globe, an 8 or 9 foot structure, dubbed “Going Green.”

He wasn’t sure of all the other places that have his pieces, but he named off Florida, Illinois and Washington. It’s not that he wants to say “a whole heck of a lot,” with his work, he explained. He wants to create a dialogue. To him, being in a “high falutin” art gallery isn’t the best arena for that.

“Public art is great because it reaches a wide audience,” he said, “I make things because I want people to see them, and if they’re out in a public place a lot of people are going to see them.”

A “huge audience” is also part of what brought Colorado Springs artist Chris Weed, 44, into the public art fold. He’s the man behind “The Bull” and the 14-foot high “Flowers.” He was recently named “Artist of the Year” by 5280 Magazine in Denver, by the way.

“You get to see your stuff on a large scale, and thousands and thousands of people get to see it on a daily basis,” he said.

It’s hard to “please the masses,” he admitted, and that’s not what he’s trying to do here. Like his 16 other installations, his larger-than-life structures are meant to inject something different into this town. They don’t have a pointed meaning, and maybe that’s just fine.

“It’s just kind of like putting yourself in a surreal world. It’s very, almost like Dr. Seuss,” he said. “It’s nice to get back to when you were younger, a kid actually.”

Loveland’s Gene Michieli, 58, added that so many artists spend most of their time toiling away in their studios with little comment from the public. This type of art erases all that. By putting his abstract piece “Future Fossil” out there for all the view, he knows he’s reaching people who might not otherwise see anything like it.

“When you do public art, it’s like all of a sudden you’re 6 years old and you’re doing show and tell at the grade school,” he said.

The fear of having your stuff on display never goes away, the 30-year-public art veteran explained. And for some reason, it’s easier to make the public angry than it is to make them smile.

But risking to reach out is the key to the whole genre.

“That’s what it’s there for,” he said, “to have people react to it.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

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