Town of Vail receives generous donation to public art collection
Local art collectors Vicki and Kent Logan are donating three outdoor sculptures to the town
The Town of Vail has just received a generous donation to its public art collection. Kent and Vicki Logan, two long-time locals and prominent art collectors, are donating three outdoor sculptures from their personal collection to the town, which will be installed in locations around Vail Village in 2022.
The Logans’ legacy
The Logans have a deep personal connection to the town of Vail that began when they first set foot in the valley in the 1970s. They were married on the mountain in 1985, and moved to the valley full-time for retirement in 1999.
Kent Logan, a retired investment banker, served on the Vail Town Council from 2003-2007 and is currently a board member for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. The couple has also been instrumental in supporting numerous local organizations, especially those that increase accessibility to and enrich ski programs in Vail, such as the EpicPromise Foundation and Logan Academy scholarship programs for ski instructors.
In addition to their philanthropy, the Logans are also renowned for their extensive contemporary art collection, a portion of which they had once displayed in a private gallery that they built near their home in Vail. Totaling nearly 1,500 pieces at its peak, it is considered one of the finest private collections in the United States.
Now in their seventies, and having downsized to a residence in Edwards, the couple is starting to donate their coveted art pieces to various museums and collections as a way to share the love and legacy of contemporary art with the world.
“We’re more in the latter chapters of our art collecting, so to speak, which in general is about giving back and making a difference,” Kent Logan said. “That’s always been important. It’s easy to write a check – anybody will take a check – but where does it truly make a difference?”
The Logans made their first donation to the Town of Vail’s public art collection in 2018, installing the text-based Lawrence Weiner piece, “To the extent of how deep the valley is at some given time,” on the western exterior of the Vail Valley parking structure.
“It spoke to the infinite nature of Vail,” Logan said. “Vail Valley will be here in a thousand years, and it was here a thousand years before us, and we’re just passing through. It became symbolic of life’s passages, so I thought it was the perfect place for it.”
The Logans are now identifying additional works that they feel will be a meaningful addition to Vail’s public art collection, in what they envision to be a gift with multiple phases.
This first gift of three outdoor sculptures – which have been officially accepted by the town as of last month – are the beginning of a broader vision for Vail’s art collection in the future.
“These three pieces are the vanguard,” Logan said. “I have a number of outdoor sculptures that I’d like to find a place for, and I think it can make a difference in Vail. It really brings a fine art dimension to what is a very sophisticated, international destination and resort.”
Middlebrook, Mabry and Kahlhamer
The Logans hand-selected each of the three pieces, which were then approved by the five-member board of the town’s Art in Public Places program.
Susanne Graff is a member of the board, and voted to accept the donation for the town.
“The Logans have been incredibly thoughtful and intentional on the pieces that they have offered,” Graff said. “Just because we’re in the mountains, not every piece has to relate to the mountains. That, to me, is boring. We want to broaden this artistic, contemporary dialogue and open it up to these very rich conversations.”
“We are all building nests”
The first piece is a sculpture by Jason Middlebrook called “We are all building nests.” The piece stands about 15 feet tall and consists of a cluster of elaborate birdhouses, each designed after a different iconic architectural structure, such as the Alamo, the Egyptian pyramids and the Transamerica skyscraper in San Francisco, to name a few.
Middlebrook said that the concept for the piece was directly inspired by his time spent in Vail with the Logans.
“Whether we were playing golf, hiking or just sitting on the patio, the birds were always with us,” Middlebrook said. “My goal was to design dwellings for birds and a sculpture that humans could relate to throughout their past travels.”
Each of the birdhouses is thoughtfully designed to fit the specifications of local bird species, and the sculpture is structured to mimic the shape of an Aspen tree.
Logan said that the Middlebrook piece was a natural choice to donate to the town, seeing as it was inspired by and designed for the valley’s environment.
“We all build nests, we all make a home somewhere,” Logan said. “Obviously we can change it – you can fly to another place, you’re free to move – so it speaks to freedom, it speaks to the importance of home, but in the context of something that is very germane to the West and to his experience in Vail.”
“Two Vessels (Unpacked)”
The second is a bronze sculpture by Nathan Mabry called “Two Vessels (Unpacked).” Originally from Durango, Mabry’s sculptural figures are modeled after a variety of art historical sources, ranging from ancient civilization to popular culture.
“I’ve always been fascinated by anthropology and archaeology – ritualistic associations within objects both old and new – everything they represent about human culture and human endeavor, and how this affects past, present and future,” Mabry writes.
The figure in “Two Vessels” is sourced from those used in Jalisco fertility rites, placed atop a minimalist box. The positioning of the figure instantly conjures connections to Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker,” but the totem-like sculptural style and intense facial expression make it challenging for the viewer to identify its intended effect.
That challenge is precisely the experience Logan hopes the sculpture will prompt in passersby in Vail.
“It challenges the senses,” Logan said. “I like a lot of different decorative arts, but they don’t make you think. You can have a great sculpture of a bear or a mountain, and you can admire the technique and the representation, but then all of a sudden someone bumps into this Mabry piece, and they say, ‘What’s this all about?’.”
Graff agrees that getting viewers to engage more deeply with public art and ask questions is part of the goal in incorporating these new sculptures.
“Being able to put these art pieces out to the public, you don’t really know the effects it could have, or the conversations it can spark,” Graff said. “Some people are going to hate certain pieces, others will love it, and that is the richness of a piece of art. It really elicits conversations, dialogues, emotions, and you can keep going back to those pieces and each time you’re going to find something new and different.”
“Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V)”
The third and final sculpture is a bronze totem pole by Brad Kahlhamer. Kahlhamer is of Native American descent, but was adopted by German-American parents, and he uses art as an exploration of what he calls the “Third Place” – the meeting point of two opposing personal histories.
Logan is one of the leading patrons of contemporary Native American art, and over the last five years has helped the Denver Art Museum develop its collection of these works.
“Brad is one of the first artists in that vein that was in my collection,” Logan said. “We’re personal friends, we go back a long way, and I said, ‘why don’t you do a contemporary totem pole?’ That was the challenge I put down.”
The resulting sculpture, titled “Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V)”, stands just over 10 feet tall and was originally constructed out of cardboard. Now recast into bronze, Logan feels it represents the history of the West, and will add another layer of awareness to the path that brought us here.
“To me, it represents that part of history – the good and the bad parts – which have really been pushed under the covers in American history as we studied it in schools,” Logan said. “It was really a genocide. It gets you thinking, and intellectually that is what engages me. I look at it, and my mind will go in different directions.”
Elevating Vail’s public art collection
The Art in Public Places board is still determining where each work will be installed, but Graff said that they intend to place them all within Vail Village. The installations will likely be completed next summer.
“They’re leaving a legacy, but they’re also gifting it to all of the local kids here, who may or may not have exposure to a greater art world,” Graff said. “There’s this surface of it being this generous gift of art as a commodity, but it’s really about that deeper generosity of the experience. Who knows – a child could see the Mabry, and it could really change the trajectory of that kid’s life. It may open his or her eyes to a whole other way to create art, interpret art or be moved by art.”
The Logans have also expressed their intentions to continue donating pieces to the town, while also working to enhance other local art initiatives, such as an artist residency program, or restoration of the “art shack” building in Ford Park into a community art space.
“I don’t want this to be a one-off, but it to be part of the beginning of a broader strategic plan,” Logan said. “This is a step. If it is building awareness and building a strategic plan step by step, then it creates something much bigger over a ten-year period than just placing three sculptures in downtown Vail.”
There are many things to look forward to in the development of Vail’s art scene, but these three sculptures alone are helping to elevate public art in the valley.
“The Logans’ donation has really elevated the conversation, and has elevated Vail into this global contemporary dialogue, which is just so awesome,” Graff said. “I mean, we’re a world-class ski resort, and now we’re able to say we also have a world-class outdoor museum. How cool is that?”
For more information about Art in Public Places and the Town of Vail’s public art collection, visit http://www.vailgov.com/government/artinvail.
If you have questions or comments about the new acquisitions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.