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Sidewalk cracks 

The Indy's humor columnist gives our public art a fresh look

Most of us have a powerful fascination with art and in particular with sculpture, a form of art that famous Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini once claimed, "involves-a' the welding, the chisels and a'-really loud-a' noises. Ouch — I have-a' just losta' the thumb!"

We cannot, for example, gaze upon the marble wonder of "The Kiss" by Auguste Rodin without feeling the depth of passion between Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta as they lie intertwined in each other's arms — Paolo's eyes reflecting his great hope that on this day he, to use the Latin phrase, isus gonnei gati luchius ("is gonna get lucky").

And our souls stir at a mere photographic glimpse of Michelangelo's "David," which was unveiled in 1504 and is a lot more popular than the sculpture unveiled in 1505, Michelangelo's "Bob."

The great works of the oil painters mesmerize us, too, including the nine masterpieces called "Dogs Playing Poker" by renowned artist Cassius Coolidge, who, after knocking out Sonny Liston, became known as Muhammad Ali. (Historical note: Not nearly the commercial success as "Dogs Playing Poker" was Coolidge's earlier series, "Cats Filling Out Their Federal Income Tax Forms.")

But today we'll focus on sculpture. Specifically, on the magnificent works of our local artists that literally transform our village from a downtrodden and hapless place run by fools to a downtrodden and hapless place run by fools but with artsy stuff on the sidewalks.

We will visit works carved and forged and chiseled from many materials such as marble and bronze and other metals, too, such as the kind that forms this plate in my head. Or this plate in my head.

So come now, on a tour of our village's downtown street art, a tour that we'd best conclude before dark so we do not get the living daylights beaten out of us when patrons spill forth from the 2,785 downtown bars and make our streets look like a scene from Braveheart.

(Footnote: A popular downtown sculpture called "Celebration" no longer graces our downtown area. Witnesses say "Celebration" left town in 2007 when Mayor Lionel Rivera was re-elected.)

"Watch Tower." This Greg Brotherton creation at Tejon Street and Platte Avenue has open-ended metal spheres and stained glass, a remarkable work of shadow and fanciful, dancing light that Toyota claims sends out a really weird electrical signal and causes car floor mats to get tangled in the gas pedal and causes a relative handful of their cars (25.9 million) to surge out of control.

"The Wankel Bell." Created by Nick Ordahl, this multi-faceted whimsical work alongside Acacia Park is made up of brightly painted oxygen tanks, broken parts of a bicycle, 11 old, bent golf clubs and a bowling ball. Which also describes a typical Saturday night in Pueblo.

"Red Cube." Chris Weed's big box on Pikes Peak Avenue is a real highlight of downtown. I have no idea what the outside of the box (heavy red metal with bumps) signifies. I am told, however, that the vast empty space inside the box represents all the great ideas our City Council comes up with each month.

"Bison 'Bison Americanus.'" This American bison by Richard Jagoda stands at Cascade and Pikes Peak avenues, and is anatomically correct right down to his, well, to his weiner that is covered with rust. I am guessing these days that this gives "Rusty" the bison something in common with Tiger Woods.

"Hank the Cowboy." This long-standing sculpture of a Western icon by Rusty Phelps stands at Pikes Peak and Tejon. Hank has a tin of chewing tobacco tucked into a back pocket and he is reading the local daily newspaper. Today, both of those habits are considered foolish and socially unacceptable.

"Katharine Lee Bates." A teacher at Colorado College, she wrote the words to "America the Beautiful" from the top of Pikes Peak in 1893. Today, in this work by John Lajba that sits by the Pioneers Museum, Bates gazes wistfully westward at the mountaintop and seems to be thinking, "Damn. I should have worked in something about taking all the trash cans out of the public parks to save money."

"Paper Clips." Also by Chris Weed, this sculpture features a pair of gigantic, red paper clips that soar skyward from their foundation outside the high-rent Plaza of the Rockies building where our city-owned Utilities department makes its very expensive home. Each clip is 24 feet long, and together they weigh 3.5 tons. Art experts say if the paper clips were just a little larger and heavier they could hold two or perhaps even three of Utilities CEO Jerry Forte's paychecks.

• And finally, once again by artist Weed, on the lawn near the Pikes Peak Center, there's a brilliant work called "My Surreal World." It's a towering, enormous, gigantic door. It was commissioned by our big-hearted city Councilors and represents what they hope doesn't hit the homeless people in the ass on their way out of town.

rangerrich@csindy.com

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