Artist Lawrence Argent talks about public art in Vail |

Artist Lawrence Argent talks about public art in Vail

Daily staff reportnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado Lawrence Argent, a professor of sculpture at the University of Denver, is best known locally for the big blue bear installation at the Denver Convention Center, entitled I See What You Mean. His recent commissions include the centerpiece for Sacramento International Airports new terminal; the Holocaust Memorial at The University of Denver; and the plaza entrance and design for Solaris Project in Vail. Argent also designed the ice sculpture exhibit called Conduit thats being sculpted this week along Gore Creek Promenade in Vail by ice sculptors Scott Rella, Paul Wertin and Rob Capone. As part of Vail Symposiums Arts & Culture Series, Argent will talk about the inspirations, themes and processes that have driven his site-specific public art works at the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail on Wednesday. Hell answer questions like what makes a piece successful and how can a piece fail? He will present examples of his own work and other notable public works by other artists.The artist was born in England and trained in sculpture at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and received an MFA from the Rhinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute. He has taught at DU since 2006.Argents process includes a great deal of research on the site, usage of the piece, the ethos of who will view the works and then innovation. Public art should redirect viewers to an enlightened moment that transcends the boundaries of time and place, Argent said.For Sacramento Airport, Argent designed a 56-foot red rabbit, which appears to leap from the outdoors down to an open suitcase. As a visual marker, the rabbit directs passengers from the upper levels down to the baggage claim area. The rabbit, according to the artist, has many culturally symbolic meanings. For Native Americans, it is a symbol for overcoming limiting beliefs. Travel is a leap into the unknown, and airports are the connectors. Airports teem with anxiety, tension, hope, success and joy. The magical, whimsical aspect of the rabbit references all these emotions and drives, but also allows us to question what we are made of. Claiming our baggage is the completion of the journey and reconnecting to our comfort, but also references our personal baggage.In perhaps his most ambitious project to date, Argent will design a Holocaust memorial at the University of Denver, which will serve as a place to reflect, educate, gather and enlighten. To prepare, Argent took a 19-day tour of memorials in Tel-Aviv, Berlin, Auschwitz and Krakow, Poland. What struck him, he said, is how each one was tied to a specific event and place. With the Denver memorial, he hopes to educate and help viewers understand through experiential architecture and environment, genocide throughout the ages and into the present. He hopes to challenge time and cross boundaries set by our disciplines, religions, cultures and personal lives, to arrive at common elements and experiences.Public art can be a vehicle that is experienced, appreciated and can affect lives, Argent said. The Vail Symposium, established in 1971, is a non-profit organization dedicated to year-round lifelong learning through cultural and educational programs that are thought-provoking, diverse and affordable. To view the full winter schedule, visit

What: Artist Lawrence Argent talks about art in the public realm.When: Wednesday, 5:30 to 6 p.m. meet and greet; 6 to 7:15 p.m. discussion.Where: Sonnenalp Resort, Vail.Cost: $15 or $10 for symposium donors; includes complimentary appetizers and cash bar.More information: Reservations are recommended. Call the Vail Symposium at 970-476-0954 or sign up at

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