Windmills draw lukewarm response |

Windmills draw lukewarm response

VAIL ” Kay Beckman greeted the prospect with a chuckle ” going to the golf course to see an art installation of windmills?

And where is the golf course, she wanted to know.

Beckman and her husband, Irv, of Pittsburgh, were waiting for the in-town bus to bring them to Vail Village.

“I’m not going to do anything else but ski,” Irv Beckman said.

And maybe some shopping, he said.

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Even if the Beckmans weren’t enthusiastic about seeing the windmills, town of Vail officials say the exhibit has been successful.

Vail spent $94,500 to install Denver artist Patrick Marold’s temporary exhibition of 2,700 glowing windmills. A light in each of the windmills glows when the wind spins the rotor.

Leslie Fordham, director of Vail’s Art in Public Places Program, said she has been getting calls from hotel guests, Denver-area residents and people who simply see them and want to know what they are.

The exhibition has been getting lots of press, Fordham said. An Associated Press story has appeared in the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the (U.K.) Guardian, she said. The windmills have gotten coverage from Denver television stations and newspapers, too.

As of March 20, the advertising value of the press was over $127,000, according to calculations by the town.

The exhibit highlights the town’s commitment to wind energy, officials say. The town offsets 100 percent of its electricity use with wind-power credits.

The exhibit needs winds of more than about 7 miles per hour to spin the wheels well, and dusk is the best time to see them, Fordham said.

On Thursday at dusk, though, there was no wind. None of the rotors were spinning, and no one was at the exhibit. There were no cars in the golf course parking lot where visitors to the project can park, and no one was taking the 10-minute walk past the dark second homes to the exhibit beside the golf course.

Although Fordham didn’t have any numbers of how many guests had visited the exhibition, she said hundreds of brochures that had been placed at the site have been taken.

When council members approved the money, they envisioned that it would spur “cultural tourism” akin to what happened in New York when Christo draped saffron curtains around Central Park in his “Gates” project.

“The Gates” generated $254 million for the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said.

Some in Vail said they hoped the windmills project would be a stepping stone for Vail for larger art projects. Fordham said she’s trying to get approval from the Vail Recreation District to leave the windmills up for another week.

Sue Barham, director of marketing for Larkspur, a restaurant at Golden Peak, said she hasn’t heard of any of her customers talk about windmills.

“I haven’t heard anyone mention it at all,” she said.

Brian Holt, concierge at the Vail Marriott, said the windmills sound like a good activity for nighttime, but interest has been low.

“I haven’t heard anyone asking about them,” he said

There were brochures about the windmills at the Lionshead information center. The woman working there, who declined to give her name, said there had been no inquiries about them.

“I have not had one question,” she said.

Sue and Ed Ploski, visiting Vail for a week from Boca Raton, Fla., were more interested in tubing at Adventure Ridge than checking out the shape of the wind.

“If I was coming by and I saw it I might go look at it, but I wouldn’t leave where I was to go see it,” Sue Ploski said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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