For the 10th year, the Breckenridge Public Art Commission is hosting Sculpture on the Blue, a rotating outdoor sculpture exhibition along the Blue River Plaza in Breckenridge. On Wednesday, Sept. 3, the public can tour the artwork and vote for their favorite sculpture for the title of People’s Choice.
“Public art is about creating a sense of place, so it’s about community and a way for the community to feel engaged in the process,” said Jenn Cram, manager of the Breckenridge Arts District and public art program.
A voting box and brochures with voting slips will be available at the Welcome Center, 203 S. Main St., and voting will remain open through Sunday, Oct. 12. The 10 sculptures are solicited, juried and on loan to the Public Art Program seasonally, and the exhibition changes each year. In addition to the People’s Choice award, the Public Art Commission also awards Best of Show. Both commendations come with cash prizes for the winning artists, which help make the event more attractive and worthwhile to the sculptors.
“So many communities ask for a sculptor to give a sculpture on loan,” Cram said, adding that the committee also hosts a reception for the artists when the sculptures are installed in May.
The current installation includes work done by artists from Colorado, Kentucky, Idaho, Minnesota and Oregon. Signage with each work includes the title of the piece and the artist’s contact information to allow people to get in touch with artists about purchasing individual pieces, if desired, Cram said.
Patrons also have the option of buying a piece and donating it to the town for permanent display. In recent years, several pieces from Sculpture on the Blue, including “Gone Fishing,” “My Book,” “Kachina Steel” and “Lydia First Violin and Athena First Flute,” were purchased privately, then donated to Breckenridge’s permanent public art collection.
“If someone is interested in purchasing a piece and donating it back to us, they would contact me, we would meet and discuss it, and the Public Art Commission would see if we want to accept it into our permanent collection,” Cram said. The commission considers its current collection and factors such as available space and overall presentation before accepting a donation. “We see if it’s a good fit for us.”
The exhibit will remain on display through Sunday, Oct. 12, when the sculptures will be returned to their creators. Much of the work to install and remove the pieces falls to the Breckenridge Public Works Department, Cram said.
“We could not do Sculpture on the Blue without the help of our Public Works Department,” she said. “They work with the sculptors to unload them and install them each year. It’s a wonderful resource that we have for this program.”
STEEL ON STEEL
The subject matter and materials for the pieces chosen for Sculpture on the Blue are intended to be broad, giving viewers an opportunity to experience a variety of sculptural styles and to allow artists freedom of expression, Cram said. One of the sculptures, “Caught Up,” by Hood River, Oregon, artist Chris Rench, combines painted mild steel with stainless steel, a pairing that the artist said provides the durability and cost-effectiveness that many public projects require.
“When I first started years ago, I was working with these red orbs,” Rench said. “I had a vision of how they would be caught up within a sculpture themselves, creating a drip effect. It combines the mild steel in red and the stainless steel colors together. I made a version of that much bigger for a heart surgeon who was convinced it was veins and arteries, but everyone sees something different, which is the enjoyable aspect of abstract for me.”
Rench said he’s currently finishing up his 23rd large-scale project.
“With mild steel and stainless steel, you get the best of both worlds,” he said. “They are both materials that you can manipulate pretty well.”
CONVERSATIONS IN BRONZE
Sculptor Shohini Ghosh, of Highlands Ranch, said her piece “Gossip” is part of a larger series titled “Dialogue.” The bronze sculpture depicts three women sitting together.
“I liked the coordination of the two or three people, the dynamics of it, in a sculptural interaction,” Ghosh said. “I love doing sketches of women, and I find that women love to sit down and chat, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, just something you connect with friends, exchanging news and gossip and things that have happened in the day.
“I progressed to create a piece on those lines because it’s OK to meet with our girlfriends once in a while just for a fun time to let go of the stress of the day or catch up with everyone else. So that’s how the idea came to mind.”
Ghosh said “Gossip” was installed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where it was often photographed and became the highlight of many evening walks and nights out on the town for groups of women. Ghosh, who has been sculpting since 1991, said she enjoys hearing stories about interactive experiences people have with her work.
“I like sculptures that have an interactional quality and something that is not only beautiful but has meaning to where it’s placed,” she said, adding that the colorful patinas applied to the women’s dresses are also a favorite element.
“This piece has a couple of colors, each dress is colored in green, blue or red, and I love making patinas with my bronze pieces,” she said. “The patina fascination has progressed to using it on two-dimensional paintings, as well, as a form of paint.”