Editor’s note: This is the fourth of four articles about the sculptures being considered for the roundabout in Breckenridge. To read more about the artists and their work, visit www.summitdaily.com.
Albert Paley named his sculpture “Syncline,” a geological term dealing with the convoluted nature of mountain formations, which creates concave and convex planes.
“One of the things that was very germane to this project, obviously, is the sense of history, but also the overwhelming sense of the natural environment,” Paley said. “Your whole identity of a community deals with the physicality of the space.”
The challenge, the artist said, was to figure out how the sculpture could represent that sensibility with intersecting convex and concave planes.
“And the sculptures itself also leans, giving it a sense of slope, a sense of contours,” he said. “In the mountain region, one of the things that’s noticeable is the play of light. When the light comes up behind the mountains, you have stark contrast, play of light and shade, and the sculpture does much of the same thing.”
The top of the 24-foot sculpture is irregular, dealing with that same contrast of the contour of the land with the sky, Paley said, and the slopes of the contours evoke skiing.
“One of the most dramatic things with skiing are the patterns that are left in the snow, so you have this interlace of serpentine lines that come down the slopes,” he said. “So in many ways, the subtlety of that, those lines are repeated in the sculpture.”
Paley said the scale of the sculpture is important to view it at great distance and watch it define itself as you come closer. The placement in the roundabout is also key.
“Say you’re driving a great distance and you’re coming there and the first thing you see that’s quite noticeable is that turnaround, the entrance to the city, that sculpture,” he said. “Then you leave and you see the sculpture again, and it’s almost like this point of memory of when you came and what you experienced.”
Paley presented two different options to the committee for his sculpture. The first was to have the piece made from weathering steel composed of nickel, copper and iron that develops a rich, dark patina over time. The other is to have the sculpture painted an azure blue, a shade akin to the reflection of sunlight on deep snow.
“I would view the other public sculptures that you have in Breckenridge and a lot of that is figurative work, and this gives a different dimension and, hopefully, something that people can respond to,” Paley said.