Steuart Bremner’s latest artistic installation can be seen in Breckenridge, at the Illinois Creek trailhead.
At a glance one might think the piece is just another picnic table and nothing more; a closer look will reveal a thoughtful blend of nature and craftsmanship, a piece that serves both a utilitarian and artistic purpose.
The installation, titled “Table of Specific Gravity,” features a large picnic table built around two trees. Two branches from the central tree hang from a piece of wire, which also supports a dangling rock. The table was made out of local beetlekill pine.
“It tells a story of where the wood comes from,” Bremner said of the installation. “If you see a table sitting there, you don’t think about the trees. But if the trees are going through the table or surrounding it, it reminds you what the table really is.”
Nature is often an inspiration for Bremner, who lived in Breckenridge for more than 20 years. Currently located on the Front Range, he often returns to Summit County to hike and enjoy the outdoors.
Bremner said he’s particularly inspired by unique natural formations, such as trees leaning on each other or strangely shaped rocks.
“The magic of a tree that’s growing out of a crack in the rock and things like that are interesting,” he said, “or rocks that are fallen or wedged in a certain way, or a field in a large valley that has big rocks sitting in it, you can look up the hillside and maybe a mile away, that’s where they came from.”
While he doesn’t want to recreate anything like that exactly, it’s that idea he hopes to convey with his art.
“What I’m trying to capture is the feeling and the enjoyment and the magic of things that happen in the world,” he said.
Assisting Bremner with the “Table of Specific Gravity” was long-time artistic partner Terry Talty. Talty assisted with the conceptual aspects, as well as sanding the planks for the table.
“The whole concept, the building of the piece, it’s so subtle, but it was to look like that picnic table that we remember from going camping in the national forest as kids,” she said. “So it’s kind of hefty. It’s not built to be as cheap as possible. It’s built to last forever.”
Talty and Bremner met at the summer Vail Art workshop in the 1970s, where they both took the same ceramics class. Between the two of them, they work with a multitude of mediums. Talty, who has a degree in printmaking and, secondarily, sculpture, also writes. Bremner’s main focus is sculpture, but he also enjoys drawing.
The thing about sculpture, Bremner said, is that “it becomes something that actually exists in space, it’s a real thing, and drawing is something that’s an illusion of space. When you make something (like a sculpture), all of a sudden you’re presenting it to the world. It has to be able to stand up or has to be able to function in the three-dimensional world.”
When he’s not working on his art, Bremner will take other jobs related to metalwork. If Breck Ironworks, for example, needs something like a handrail with tree or leaf elements, they would contact Bremner. Although this might not be part of his own sculptures, doing the work makes him better, he explained.
“The way I look at that kind of work, it’s more practice in creating something three dimensional and creating something that works,” he said. “I’m working on form, I’m working on design, I’m working on technique, I’m working on connections, how to put things together. It’s just practice and to me it all really fits together.”
Examples of Bremner’s work can be found throughout Summit County.
Blue River Plaza featured his aerovanes — another collaboration with Talty — as part of the Sculpture on the Blue event.
He also designed the bridge over the creek near the Breckenridge Recreation Center, using rocks gathered from each of the Colorado River’s confluences. The moving rock field near the Frisco library is another of Bremner’s works.
While Bremner doesn’t have anything specific to Summit County planned in the near future, it’s certainly a possibility further down the line.
To learn more about Bremner, Talty and their art projects, visit them online at www.UnsafeArt.com.