Thursday, June 30, 2011

A closer look at Art on the Streets

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 4:00 AM

As promised in this week's "Art and About" photo essay, here's our take on all 11 pieces comprising this year's Art on the Streets exhibition.

Judged by local collector couple Kathy Loo and her husband Jim Raughton (who have both already contributed greatly to the arts scene), this year's batch features interactive works, pieces scattered throughout downtown, and plenty that require a little extra attention to find the magic. Like our mothers always said: It's all about the details.

With that, here are some of our favorites from this year’s Art on the Streets. For a full map or locations, visit downtown80903.com.

Maureen Hearty
"Music Inside"
Acacia Park near Platte Avenue and Tejon Street

Give this one a hard look before moving on. It appears pretty industrial, not spectacularly pretty. But it is musical. Take the attached mallets and strike the spiraling pipes for a soft, mystical sound. Denver artist Hearty writes that her work seeks to maintain “a sense of humor, imagination and accessibility.” All great things. But let’s hope no one finds her mallets so accessible as to take one with them.

William Mueller
"Journey to Paradise" (first-prize winner)
Tejon Street by Plaza of the Rockies and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

The key to Mueller’s work lies in the coating, which he says changes in hue as the light shifts. Indeed, the stark white changes to a steely silver in shadow. The shape of the white elements are less striking at first — some have compared it to a ski rack — until you see them on the side and observe their fine, hooking curves.

Rollin Karg
"Mongo"
Pikes Peak Avenue in the median in front of Kimball’s Peak Three

Karg’s sculpture works in its details. Up close, the giant glass ovals and whimsical metal accents are pleasantly busy, and the swirling colors in the glass glitter spectacularly. From afar, it’s less successful, looking more like a bunch of random objects clinging to a post.

Sean O’Meallie
Second prize
"Tree Ring Circus"
22 installations on Tejon Street

O’Meallie, a local artist, is known for art that's bright, bold, toy-like and slightly sinister. His contribution to Art on the Streets is similarly smart and technically flawless. For the next year, trees along Tejon Street will wear bright black and white bangles, all different in width, shape and design. One will be in color. Each collection sits on a rebar frame and not the tree itself, so this circus won’t harm its habitat.

Pokey Park
"Electric Slide"
Corner of Tejon and Bijou streets

Possibly one of the cutest pieces, Park’s bronze image of a line-dancing bird is everything one hopes for in street sculpture: expressive, fun, stylish and excellently executed. Someone is bound to find it too banal for high art, or begrudge it for its homey garden-sculpture qualities. Yet the shapes and its movement are more sophisticated than that. And hey, a little humor never hurt anything.

Dan Romano
"Nikola 20" (third-prize winner)
Corner of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue

Romano, of Colorado Springs, writes that he chose concrete for its “visual strength.” But it also serves as a foil to the sculpture’s lightning-bolt shape, as well as its inspiration: Nikola Tesla and his research for wireless energy. Both lightning and wireless energy are near-intangibles, yet supremely powerful, like concrete. "Nikola 20" works excellently in its space, and is a beautiful shape. The mask-like face on it, however, is puzzling.

Doyle Svenby
"A Hole Lot of Love"
Corner of Colorado and Nevada avenues

This location doesn’t serve anything artistic at all. It’s loud, hot and ugly, and you need to pay attention walking or driving. It’s no place to dawdle over art. But Svenby’s sweet steel heart does its best. Lilting pertly to one side and ringed with colored patches of recycled steel, "Hole Lot of Love" is charming without appearing trite, thanks to the heart’s elongated shape.

Michael Orgel
"Tango"
Corner of Tejon and Kiowa streets

Orgel, of New Mexico, writes that he enjoys sculpting organic forms that look only slightly suggestive of the human figure. I enjoy it for its simple abstraction, and its fine materials. Made of highly polished granite, "Tango" benefits from a lovely visual smoothness and modulated earth tones that blush from light green to a rich golden brown.

John Wilbar
"Red Radius"
Median of Cascade Avenue at Colorado Avenue

This piece looks a tad boring from one angle. The beauty emerges when you try and see it all the way around, because it changes from a sharp cornered object to a spiral, depending on your orientation. It's definitely an exercise in use of ultra-basic lines and forms, and harder to appreciate for the basic passer-by, but intriguing nonetheless.

Joshua Wiener
"Windy Mountain"
Pikes Peak Center

"Windy Mountain" lives in a tough spot, next to the harsh, blank wall of the Pikes Peak Center. Yet that kind of placement exaggerates its already forceful rectangular shape. This sleekness works well against its aggressive rustic qualities and abundant textures. Hopefully it will be enough to really stand out over time.

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John King
"Soaring Bird"
Acacia Park by Tejon Street and Platte Avenue

King writes that each piece of his "has its own nature: quiet meditation, upward growth or playful quest." That narrative is apparent in his colorful steel work, which travels with the wind. It's hard to imagine anyone really topping the late Starr Kempf's regal sculptures, so it's good that King looks to be doing something else — or at least adopting a less serious attitude.

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