Cruising into Breckenridge on Highway 9, drivers will soon be met with a new sight on the horizon. The town’s north-end roundabout, previously only populated by a few trees and some deteriorating flagstone, is getting a face-lift, including new landscaping and the placement of a new piece of public artwork.
Four finalists will present their concepts for the new roundabout sculptural piece to the Breckenridge Public Art Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The presentations will be followed by a forum at which the public can view the maquettes and provide feedback. The four artists were chosen from a pool of more than 250 applicants collected from a combination of direct solicitations and the call for entry, or CAFÉ process, which started in October, said Robin Theobald, of the Public Art Commission.
“That’s essentially a website where entities like the town of Breckenridge who want to commission a work of art can post the work of art and artists who belong to the website can get the posting and respond to it,” Theobald said.
The commission met in a marathon session and went through the pieces, attempting to pare down the entries. Theobald said the first round eliminated only about one-fifth of the entries, but consecutive rounds of cuts brought the committee to the four finalists.
“There was a lot of discussion,” he said. “Some people would like this person and other people wouldn’t. These four, when you get to the end, they were ones that everybody agreed to. It wasn’t like I wanted one and I convinced everyone else to vote for it. Everyone was in favor of them throughout the process.”
The commission has been collecting money for three years for the art installation through the real estate transfer tax, which has generated $100,000 for the sculpture. The four finalists have had since December to create proposals based on the town’s parameters, including sense of arrival to town, making an iconic and timeless statement and being sensitive to the given space.
After the presentations have been made, the public will have until Monday, March 3, to provide feedback on the pieces, and the commission will then recommend one proposal to the Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday, March 11. Though the individual pieces that will be presented are a secret until they are revealed to the council, the four finalists were willing to talk to the Summit Daily about their artistic backgrounds.
New York artist Ilan Averbuch chose to respond to the Breckenridge call for artists posting because the project seemed very much up his alley.
“In the last few years, I’ve done several public projects that were in a town or a very large project in a village,” he said, citing a sculpture he created to greet passengers at a light rail station and another project for a commuter train entry station in Tacoma, Wash.
“Breckenridge seemed to be a very interesting site,” he said. “It’s a roundabout; you travel through this roundabout, you slow down and have a moment to look at the roundabout, and it’s an entry to the place.”
Averbuch said the location is especially interesting because you see the sculpture from all angles.
“It’s one of the best ways to view a sculpture, as you move,” he said.
Averbuch has shown his work throughout the United States, Europe, India and the Middle East, but he established himself in the realm of public art in 2000, when he started working with architects on outdoor art that was more durable and had more longevity. He said there’s a certain satisfaction to creating something with a longer life span than a single exhibit.
“I am competing in Breckenridge and then it will be there for however many years that the citizens of Breckenridge decide to have the work,” he said. “It could be five years or it could be 50 years, like a building.”
View Averbuch’s previous work at www.ilanaverbuch.com.
Sculpture didn’t become a part of Loveland native Denny Haskew’s life until after he’d already been a ski instructor, river guide and carpenter.
“I was just interested in furniture and carving, and my parents lived here in Loveland and it was the first year for the big sculpture show they have here, and I think that was really the first time I saw sculpture,” he said.
Haskew was intrigued by the art form and started a yearlong apprenticeship with sculptor Fritz White soon after. The desire to create a sculpture in Breckenridge stemmed from Haskew being a Colorado native, his love of the mountains and his familiarity with the area.
“I’m a skier, and I’ve skied Breckenridge, I’ve skied Keystone,” he said. “That drive over from Breckenridge over to Fairplay and on down is so much fun.”
As an artist, Haskew said he likes doing large pieces, and it’s an honor to be chosen as a finalist for the roundabout project.
“I always like the challenge of trying to design a piece that fits with a particular site or a particular feeling or whatever it is,” he said. “It’s always a challenge, and I think a lot of artists are out there that really get a joy in being able to erect something of good scale for the public domain.
“I think the group of artists they picked is really respectable. It’s always fun to compete with people you have high regard for, so it’ll be a good competition.”
View Haskew’s previous work at www.haskewart.com.
Albert Paley has had an independent studio since 1963, and his current space in Rochester, N.Y., is home to 15 full-time employees who help to bring his ideas to life.
“A lot of sculptors do a model or proposal and then they go to a fabricator to fabricate the piece,” he said. “Because of the complexity of my work, I have my own machinery and train my own people. Besides designing it, we also execute it.”
Paley taught at various universities for 25 to 30 years before the demands of his studio took over, and he currently holds an endowed chair at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He said his work rose to greater national prominence in 1972 when he created a piece titled “Portal Gates,” which was commissioned by the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington.
The whole dialogue between sculpture and architecture or landscape design has made large-scale sculpture very site-specific, Paley said, and applying his skills as a designer and understanding the social fabric of a community are the basis of his work. He’s executed 60 large-scale sculptures.
“I have worked all over the United States,” Paley said. “I think it’s a very challenging situation to be able to bring a cultural dimension to a community and then hopefully define some kind of sense of identity with the area.”
View Paley’s previous work at www.albertpaley.com.
Seth Vandable started creating sculptures in high school before moving toward painting wall murals and taking on commercial jobs.
“My future wife was actually finishing up a design degree in college,” he said, “and when she saw my sculpting, she said, ‘This is what you need to be doing.’”
The couple moved to the Loveland area and Vandable’s career took off from there. Though he’s since returned to his home state of Texas, Vandable said he chooses to return to Breckenridge to vacation as opposed to other resort towns in Colorado.
“There’s more of a sense of history,” he said. “It’s this sleepy Western mining town. A lot of the resorts, you’ve got these little villages that seem to be built more to support the ski hill instead of it feeling like an authentic, real town with history and culture.
“This is where we come very year to ski; this is where we learned to ski. We love the town. … This is something we have a feel for — a good feel for the area, the town — so we’re just excited to have the opportunity to make a kind of statement piece for the area.”
View Vandable’s previous work at www.vandablesculpture.com.