Local artists to vie for memorial to Ethridge
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Public Art Commission members spent an afternoon reviewing art proposals in an effort to determine which prospective piece best depicts the life of Chris Ethridge.
Ethridge was struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle in October, 2001 in Boulder County. He was 31. An 83-year-old Berthoud woman was convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Friends and co-workers decided they wanted to commission a piece of art to commemorate Ethridge who in memorial services was remembered as a man who went out of his way to help others and who always wore a smile. Ethridge also was known for his athletic prowess, particularly in skiing, bicycling, snowshoeing and hockey. He also was a 10-year veteran with the Red, White and Blue Fire Department in Breckenridge.
Eleven artists submitted applications for the project, and commissioners narrowed the list to four. They include Steuart Bremner of Blue River, Brian Howard and Andrew Held of the art shack in Frisco, Dale Montagne of Silverthorne and Chaz
dellaPorta of Fairplay.
Thursday, commissioners narrowed that list to two – dellaPorta and the Howard and Held team. They now will create maquettes – small models – of their creations for final review.
Howie Cohen, a longtime friend of Ethridge’s, said he would donate an oversized Shimano bike gear hanging on his house if artists wanted to incorporate it into their design.
Commissioners selected dellaPorta and Howard’s and Held’s art, saying they felt it most exemplified Ethridge’s spirit.
DellaPorta presented a sculpture with two sweeping metal blade-like pieces atop the donated Shimano gear. Atop the blades – which dellaPorta said could be viewed as flames, a favorite trail on the mountain or the dynamics of Ethridge’s character – is a river rock. DellaPorta also placed a larger boulder at the base of the sculpture to depict the area’s mining history. A scarf-like metal band, depicting Ethridge’s spirit floating into the heavens, would flow from the smaller rock.
“I want to create a monument to Chris,” dellaPorta said. “My overriding impression of him was that he was a kind person, that he was inspired to be his fullest. This embodies the power of movement in sweeping curves; the tail shape is a last look at his spirit before he transcends to the heavens.”
“There was passion in his art, and I felt it,” said commissioner Maureen Hyland. “He didn’t need to know Chris as a person; he captured Chris’ spirit. I think his piece will be timeless. I think it’s a memorial to anybody who’s lived here and gone before. In it, I saw a cyclist’s legs, a skier’s muscular legs and a humanist element with the rock as a head and the scarf serving as the path that Chris’ soul took when it left his body. It’s a really spiritual piece.”
Art shack’s Howard and Held presented two pieces, one of which featured a talon-like base with a wheel above, onto which five abstract forms are affixed. A crank at the bottom of the base allows people to turn gears within the sculpture and thus, turn the various forms above. The forms, Held said, could depict things from Ethridge’s life, such as a flame for his firefighting, a hockey puck and bike parts. The base could also feature various quotes about Ethridge.
“These guys talked about all the different elements and how they related to Chris,” Hyland said. “The final element, the crank, is to lend a helping hand – just like Chris always did. You lend a helping hand to the piece by cranking it and bringing it to life.”
Their other piece, called “Time Passing,” depicted that same swooping talon reaching to the sky, with three curved, scythe-like forms in a circle at the top. The shadow created by the base would serve as a crude – and not always accurate – sundial, to commemorate how Ethridge was often late to events. Rocks or steps could be placed around the sculpture as numerals so people could get a rough idea of the time.
Bremner proposed a piece that incorporates two stone or metal triangular pieces, one upside-down, above and resting against the other. Atop that he would place a clock made from polished black granite to represent a hockey puck. The clock would be purposely offset from center to emulate Ethridge’s disregard for the importance of time.
Montagne’s proposal incorporated a bike tire around which he’d wrapped a woven stainless steel tube and a saw blade with dichroic mirrors affixed to the wheel’s hub. That piece was affixed to the giant gear, which was nestled into a bronze wing representing Ethridge’s spirit and set off by a background of three to six I-beams, each affixed with its own spinning wheels.
Montagne said he’d like the community to participate in the sculpture, both by including items – perhaps bike gloves, a firefighter hose nozzle and other mementos of peoples’ lives with Ethridge – in the base. Additionally, the sculpture would be interactive, enabling people to spin various wheels to depict Ethridge as someone always on the move.
“Memorials are healing experiences,” Montagne said. “You are creating something that represents a person close to your heart. Ultimately, this is a very happy, fun piece.”
The two finalists must create maquettes by Feb. 5. The maquettes will be unveiled on Feb. 14 – Ethridge’s birthday – at which point the commission will take comment from the public.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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