Urban Water Education and Stewardship program made possible by local artist
Ryan Summerlin May 3, 2012
On May 2, 2012, a 12 x 8 x 10-foot bronze sculpture of a single drop of water “weaving together watersheds and eco-systems” in intricate relief was dedicated at the new One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship (OWOW) at Metro State College in Denver. Created by Rik Sargent, the sculpture is the culmination of a five-year project designed to promote water education – and the OWOW program is the manifestation of that goal.With patronage from a silent partner, Sargent creates works aimed towards resolving environmental issues by inviting discussion “in the spirit of celebration” made possible by art, unlike in the more guarded setting of politics. A previous project centered on raising awareness about both the plight and value of wolves. As to the politics surrounding Colorado water, Sargent is quick to note, “I don’t believe there are good guys or bad guys. People are doing the best they can.” Still, while his piece underscores the significance of Colorado as a headwaters state for several major Western rivers, he recognizes the complexity of the state’s water issues – including High Country concerns over water diversion from the Blue River, Fraser River and Grand Lake, for example.”People are worried about whether Denver knows what we are doing to the High Country river system. We’re drinking your water,” he admits, though his hope is that programs like the One World, One Water Center at Metro State will become part of the solution. “That conversation is here and it’s being inspired by One World,” said Sargent, whose sculpture shares the name “One World, One Water” with the Metro State program as well as a sponsoring group that is “nationally committed to solving water problems through the language of celebration.” At Metro State’s OWOW Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship, students will be able to enroll in a water studies minor that centers on the awareness and preservation of Colorado’s limited water resources through study of water law, water engineering, water and health, water in politics and the art of water negotiations, Sargent said. The pilot program launches this fall and will be advised by a “statewide collective” in which “leadership and teaching from the Western Slope and the far eastern plains of Colorado will have a say in what is taught and how it affects the whole water community.” “We want these new water leaders that graduate to not only ski the summit and recreate in its waters, but to also understand where the Blue River and the Frasier River form and the true value to this complex watershed and ecosystem,” Sargent said. “The whole state of Colorado then as a single community can better manage the challenge of answering the questions of how to share downstream.”Sargent’s sculpture, which was promised as a donation to the OWOW program while both the artwork and the program were on the drawing board, is now located at the Student’s Success Center Building adjacent to the Tivoli theater on the Auraria Campus in Denver.
In addition to Wednesday’s dedication, two art exhibits, both entitled H2012, open today in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe as a part of a synchronous effort to raise water awareness. Presented by the One World, One Water Group, the two shows will run simultaneously and feature a variety of pieces representing the artists’ conceptions of water.The first is a juried exhibit featuring work from an open call for entries located at EventGallery 910 Arts at 910 Santa Fe Drive. Sargent will join Eric Isaac & Michael Keen of the Untitled Art Show to jury the work. EventGallery 910Arts is open Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or by appointment; the show runs through June 30.The second is an invitational exhibit at Niza Knoll Gallery at 915 Santa Fe Drive showing work by Lyudmila Agrich, Leslie Allen, Sheri Farabaugh, Gayla Lemke, Tim Flynn, Tadashi Hayakawa and Rik Sargent, including a smaller version of Sargent’s 12-foot-tall “One World, One Water” piece. Niza Knoll Gallery is open Wednesday – Friday, 1 – 5 p.m., Saturday 12 – 4 p.m. and First and Third Friday 3 – 8 p.m.; the show runs through June 16. The Art District exhibits are among a series of educational and arts events supporting 2012 as “The Year of Water” in Colorado, announced by Governor John Hickenlooper to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the legislation that created several of Colorado’s water management organizations.As to the role of art in environmental change, Sargent concluded: “Art has a way of opening discussions and making things happen and allowing everybody to relate on the same level. We are in a year of possibility-thinking and the imagining of new solutions to old water and environmental challenges.”Info:www.mscd.edu/owow – One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship at Metro State www.artdistrictonsantafe.com – Art District on Santa Fe in Denver, Coloradowww.water2012.org – The Year of Water in Colorado, 2012www.nizaknollgallery.com – Niza Knoll Gallerywww.910arts.com – EventGallery 910 Arts