‘Red Eddy,’ by Paul Vexler, is Vail’s newest public-art acquisition

"Red Eddy," by artist Paul Vexler is installed in the Vail Village Welcome Center. The piece is Vail’s newest public-art acquisition.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — The town of Vail’s Art in Public Places recently announced the installation of a piece by Paul Vexler. Commissioned for the Vail Village Welcome Center, the site-specific work is suspended from the vaulted ceiling above the central information desk.

After reviewing more than 40 proposals from a call for artists issued in May 2015, the Art in Public Places Board selected Vexler’s work “Red Eddy” to enhance this highly visible civic building. The work is created primarily in Douglas fir and measures 48 inches by 48 inches by 216 inches.

“The installation of ‘Red Eddy’ enriches the Vail Village Welcome Center on many levels,” said Molly Eppard, Art in Public Places coordinator. “Its dynamic form fills the space with its undulating shape. The vibrant color selected for the work creates a dramatic contrast to the natural materials while also being complementary.”

Carpenter to sculptor

Vexler, who hails from Snohomish, Washington, worked for more than 35 years as a carpenter designing and creating architectural-quality doors and windows. As the co-founder and CEO of Quantum Windows and Doors in Everett, Washington, this experience taught him design integrity, accuracy and efficiency during fabrication.

Support Local Journalism

“With respect to form, I have always loved mathematics and especially geometry,” he said. “I am usually using them to design and understand my work. I like to create shapes based on specific parameters. For example, a circle has a certain radius or a cube has a certain edge length. Complex shapes have more than one parameter.

“More often than not, when I make sculptures, I am playing with parameters. Some results are predictable, but there are also many surprises. I have come to realize that space and light are as important as the materials. I have known this for a long time, but I seem to relearn it, more intensely, over and over again.”

Having received his bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Penn State University, followed by a brief stint as a high school art teacher, Vexler has always created sculptures. At this point in his life, he is now able to solely devote his time to creating art. There are two very distinct, but interrelated, aspects to sculptures, Vexler said.

“One is the material the object is made of, and the other is the form the material is arranged,” he said. “Both of these concepts are extremely important to me. I try to be honest about the use and properties of the materials I am using. I also try to push the materials as far as possible, so I can understand the boundaries of strength and flexibility.

“I try to understand what the materials want and don’t want to do. I have found that my works are more successful when the materials are ‘happy.’”

Finding inspiration

Vexler said he started thinking about eddies after reading a book called “Entropy.”

“The idea of entropy comes from a principle of thermodynamics dealing with energy,” he said. “It usually refers to the idea that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder, and entropy is the measurement of that change.

“In some ways, it is a bit depressing to think that everything that physically happens is part of a very slow march toward heat death. However, after discussing the book with a friend, he encouraged me to think about humanity, civilization and creativity as an eddy in this cosmic flow, where quite the opposite is happening.”

The inspiration for his piece “Red Eddy” came after a raft trip through the Grand Canyon about 18 months ago, the artist said.

“It was one of the best vacations I have had,” he said. “One of the highlights was the way the guides used the eddies to navigate the river. It was almost magical to be moving upstream when the rest of the entire river was going down. It is a good thought for maintaining one’s optimism.”

The newly remodeled Vail Village Welcome Center, located on the top level of the Vail parking structure and above the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, has a natural mountain aesthetic with mixed rustic wood finishes and clean lines.

To learn about the town of Vail’s public art collection contact Eppard at or 970-479-2344, visit the Vail or Lionshead village welcome centers to pick up a new map of Vail’s public art collection or visit the interactive Google map at

Support Local Journalism