Public art installation to depict Basalt’s unity | PostIndependent.com

Public art installation to depict Basalt’s unity

Carla Jean Whitley
cj@postindependent.com

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Basalt will unveil Motio 2.0 on June 10. Celebration details are to be determined.

Proposed locations for the five sculptures incorporate all parts of Basalt. They are the eastern town entrance at Colorado 82 and Two Rivers Road, the new Basalt River Park in historic downtown, Basalt High School in Southside, Central Basalt in Emma and the Willits commercial core on the west end of Basalt.

Learn more about BPAC at basaltpublicartscommission.com.

When Basalt Public Arts Commission unveils its first installation this summer, it will display a visual representation of a spiritual truth: Basalt is many parts, but one community.

Artist Wynn Earl Buzzell Jr. visited the town Wednesday to examine proposed sites for the installation of Motio 2.0. Denver Art Museum originally commissioned the work by Buzzell and his colleagues at Demiurge, a Denver-based company of sculptural and architectural fabricators. The sculpture was displayed in 2016. But when Buzzell and his colleagues saw BPAC’s call for entries, they saw opportunity for the piece to take on new life.

“Part of what made the project fun for me was letting the concept evolve,” Buzzell said. “I started thinking about it as representative of a hierarchy of community.”

The sculpture, which originally existed as one piece, is comprised of 84 stick-figure entities. The Denver Art Museum installation was inspired by dance, and as the viewer looks at the sculpture, he or she can see the figure shifting through a range of movement.

“The separation of the once-unified parts into unique sections is meant to serve as a spine that metaphorically connects the town,” Buzzell wrote in his artist statement. “Motio 2.0 is about connections, between people and their families, families and their neighborhoods, neighborhoods and their local communities, local communities and their greater regional, state and national ones.”

BPAC chose Buzzell after a lengthy selection process. A call for entries received nearly 50 submissions from artists across Colorado. The group considered limiting submissions to artists in the Roaring Fork Valley, but ultimately decided to open it up statewide to ensure the best possible selection of art, said chair Loren Wilder.

Three rounds of selection followed, and then three finalists presented their designs, via model or Powerpoint, to the commission. Buzzell was the unanimous choice, in part because of his and Demiurge’s past experience.

“Not only did we love the art, but we felt like he had the chops to pull it off,” said Wilder, who emphasized the importance of an artist who could properly install the work.

Buzzell and his team will break the 84 figures into five segments to be painted and placed throughout Basalt. BPAC selected those locations in an effort to fulfill its mission.

“We wanted to look at public art as a way to identify and unify, visually, through art, the entire town of Basalt,” Commissioner Julia Novy said.

Demiurge employees are now restoring the sculpture, which had been stored outside its studio, and adapting it into five parts. Buzzell’s Wednesday visit will inform the piece’s final color palette and the title of the five sculptures.

The commission hopes the work will not only help unify the community, but also draw attention from those outside. Commissioner Jeffrey Orsulak said Motio’s previous success was a factor in the selection process. Demiurge’s existing relationships could draw attention to the work’s new form in Basalt.

The five sculptural sections will be placed throughout town, and site selection isn’t accidental.

“We’re really trying to unite the town of Basalt in a common experience,” said Nancy Lovendahl, an artist who served as the group’s original chair. “We are all different spokes on the wheel, but we are all one town. With this sculpture, we want to celebrate diverse experience, celebrate different points of view.”

The project’s budget is $50,000, or $5,000 per year, per sculpture, and Motio 2.0 will remain on display for two years. That works out to cost about 1.5 cents per day, per resident, Lovendahl said, and includes design, fabrication, shipping, installation and lighting. The commission expects the installation to lend itself to economic vitality and thoughtful conversation. A piece of art attracts five times as many visitors as a park bench, she said, and visitors bring economic benefits.

Buzzell studied the town’s history and geographic footprint in preparing the proposal. It’s nearly separated into two portions, with Colorado 82 in between.

“That’s how the concept continued to evolve, how the piece became more and more about connection,” he said.

The five Motio 2.0 sites will emphasize that by drawing visitors to different parts of the town. As the commission finalizes the locations, it aims to position the sculptures so they can be approached by different modes of transit—by foot, car or bike.

“Let it really be a destination experience,” Lovendahl said.

The committee hopes to schedule programming around the sculptures throughout the two-year exhibition. Those may include performing arts events. BPAC will follow Motio 2.0 with two additional two-year installations, both open to Colorado artists. Those requests for qualifications will be posted on callforentry.org.