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Larger than life: big art visits Vail

Wren Wertin

The exhibition, Art Ford Park, is a project of Town of Vail Art in Public Places (AIPP) program and will be on display through September 3. The kick-off party is Wednesday from 1:30-3 p.m. Many of the artists will be present to speak about their pieces.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming by to look at the pieces while they’re being installed,” said Leslie Fickling of AIPP. “Wednesday will be a great opportunity to ask questions.”

Over the course of the summer, anyone interested will have the opportunity to vote on which sculpture will become a permanent Ford Park resident.

“There’s been an exhibition in Vail during the summer for four years now,” said. “Last year was so successful, we wanted to do it again. So many people ask about them – want to know about them. It’s just one more thing of interest we can offer the people of Vail. And we wanted to do it again, to share that with the public.”

All of the artists were recommended to Fickling, who then invited them to create something for the park. Ty and Helen Gillespie and Jim Cotter represent the local art community, and Michael Brohman, Tai Pomara and Emmett Culligan are Colorado artists. Culligan’s piece was made prior to the invitation; everyone else made a sculpture specifically for the exhibition.

“Everything is quite large, and it’s all come together,” said Fickling. “Bronze, wood, granite and steel, and kinetic, too. We’ve had kids out who make them move. They all look great.”

AIPP has taken several approaches with the summer exhibitions. Last year, all of the artists came from Santa Fe, and they called the show Art in Nature and Nature in Art because of the organic nature of all the pieces. One year, one sculptor created all the pieces. This will be the first time a piece will be bought for Ford Park.

The pieces are anchored to concrete bases poured by the Vail Public Works Department. It’s been a busy week for the department, as preparations for July 4 visitors substantially increase the workload.

“The artist is always there for the final install,” said Fickling. “It was a real collaboration between Public Works and the artists to get everything just right. But they look fantastic. Jim Cotter just loved how his piece looked. He really loved the scale, and how the trees behind framed it. Emmett Culligan was happy, too. The natural environment just complemented the way it went.”

“The wind made it move like I was hoping it would,” said Cotter. “The size of it worked well. I’d been doing smaller ones. To take one up to 17 feet is always a little worrying, wondering if it will have the same gestural qualities. I hope people will like it.”

His piece is a two-sided sculpture of a dancer in a blue dress. (“I like blue,” said Cotter.) It can be turned from the bottom, and the dancer swings around. A year ago, he looked into the trees and suddenly saw figurative forms in the branches.

“Once you see them, you’ll see them everywhere,” he said.

And so Cotter set out to re-create the figures. The dancer is tall and lithe. It’s easy to forget she’s rooted to the spot by concrete.

The sculptures will be on display through September 3 in Ford Park by the Nature Center. The kick-off party is Wednesday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the sculptures.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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