Vail’s public art director leaves post |

Vail’s public art director leaves post

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily file phtoDominique Taylor/File photo

VAIL, Colorado -Those who have oohed and aahed over ice sculptures along Gore Creek or admired the new streetscape in Vail Village have seen the results of Leslie Fordham’s efforts.

Fordham, Vail’s Art in Public Places coordinator, has worked to display sculptures in the town’s streets and plazas and organized art events for the public since 2000. Now, she will be leaving her post in Vail to become the public art manager for the town of Lancaster, Pa. Vail is already considering replacing her, and recommendations for a new coordinator are being made.

Vail’s art program began in 1984 with a few donated pieces. After Fordham came on as director, the program began receiving yearly funding from town revenues and thousands of dollars in donations from the community. Today the town’s art collection is valued at over $1.4 million and includes 37 works of art that range from memorials to playground equipment.

Some have credited the program’s growth to Fordham’s work over the years.

“The growth of the program has to do with the eagerness of the community to contribute to the visual arts and having someone like Leslie, who is committed to the arts, looking out for opportunities,” said art program board chairman Doe Browning.

When Fordham took her Vail post, she was charged with helping the program find a direction. She said she envisioned not only great art pieces coming to town, but bringing art events to Vail that people would come specifically to see.

“I wanted people to put it down on their calendars to see a certain event or installation,” she said. “Also, Vail is really a family destination, and often visitors are looking for things to do that are free. To have these arts and events in town makes Vail everything you expect from a world-class resort town.”

Some of Vail’s events have gotten nationwide recognition, such as the massive ice sculptures displayed along Gore Creek as part of the Triumph Development Winterfest. This year, 18 blocks of ice were used to create a seashell sculpture, which was featured in the New York Times.

The art program has included an annual Summer of Sculpture exhibition in Ford Park, bronze bell casting workshops, as well as the sale of Vail manhole covers and jewelry.

However, Fordham said her favorite event has been The Windmill Project, an art installation that placed 3,000 miniature windmills on the Vail Golf Course. When the wind blew, the windmills would light up using wind power, creating what Fordham called “a wave of light on the mountain.”

Fordham leaves Vail just as the town launches its most ambitious summer program to date, which includes the initiation of a sculpture loan program with the Denver Art Museum, a total of three art exhibitions, final installation of artwork on Meadow Drive, an outdoor painting contest, bronze sculpture workshops, demonstrations and guided tours of the art collection.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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