Even if you've never heard of Don Green, you've probably seen his sculpture. The "Indian Warrior" and "Bison" at the entrance to the Colorado Springs Airport or the animal benches at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are some of his most visible and best-known works.
Even those who are familiar with these public works, however, likely haven't seen Green's spectacular nonfigurative sculpture, much of which is now on display at the Bridge Gallery under the Colorado Avenue bridge.
Using brushed steel, sandwiched glass, copper, bronze, wood, stone and ceramics, the reclusive Green fashions sculpture that is both modern and archetypal in its use of line and balance.
"My wife asked what I was after and I said 'elegance,'" Green said of his abstract works that he fashions in scales ranging from monumental to diminutive.
In "Paean," for example, an arc of brushed steel that could be a bow hangs over a mahogany board with precious little windows of delicately cut, stacked glass.
It is this use of sandwiched glass that probably best defines Green's work, giving masses of steel, stone and wood a liquid levity and a shimmering openness.
"I like the opposition -- the see-through quality," said Green. "It opens up to light. It's like fenestration for an architect."
Green said he happened upon his love of sandwiched glass many years ago when visiting a friend at her framing studio where he noticed a stack of discarded glass and the way it changed her figure when she disappeared behind it.
Most of the nonfigurative sculptures, Green added, wouldn't work without the glass.
"A room is worthless if it doesn't have a window or a door," said Green, paraphrasing the avant-garde 20th-century composer and artist John Cage. "You've gotta have a way into it and a way out of it."
Pieces like his "Cave Works" -- glass pressed between small pyramids and then laid into ceramic bowls designed by Green's wife, Maxine -- are the perfect example of the effectiveness of this kind of "window" into a work that would otherwise feel like dead weight.
The glass also serves to unify the frequently diverse found objects like parts of pianos, drill bits and engines that Green incorporates into his work.
The show is, on the whole, a gorgeous representation of all of Green's oeuvre. Along with the sculptures, there are many photographs of his larger, public works including the pieces at the airport and the benches at the zoo and other locations.
Unfortunately, the Bridge Gallery is far too cramped a space to afford the light and space needed to fully appreciate Green's elegant sculpture. Rather than put the photographs on the wall, visually cluttering the gallery and drawing attention away from the sculpture, the photos could just as easily have been placed in a book near the entrance where visitors could flip through them.
Similarly, the Bridge Gallery keeps a little "boutique" at the front of the gallery that should've been removed for the show to give Green's work more of the breathing room it really needs.
Nevertheless, the show is a great opportunity to see yet another talented local artist who rarely shows his work.
-- Noel Black
capsule Don Green Sculptures
The Bridge Gallery 218 W. Colorado Ave.
Through June 27
Open Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.